|Image from Nils Geylen, under a CC|
Mac users on OS X are privileged in the fact they get a great screencasting tool hidden away in Quicktime Player. By selecting 'New Screen Recording', it's quick and easy to create high quality screencasts, using either the Mac's inbuilt mic, or an external device. The resulting files can be imported into iMovie to edit them, meaning you can polish them up easily, and add text, music, transitions etc.
Screenr is made by the same people as the commercial Articulate Presenter, and runs from your web browser on Mac or Windows. It's easy to sign in with Twitter, Facebook, Google or Yahoo accounts and presentations can be uploaded straight to YouTube, or downloaded as mp4s. The downside is you are limited to a five minute limit (on the free account), but this often more than enough for simple screencasts or software demonstrations, or several videos can be bolted together using editing software.
Screencast-matic is another browser-based system that also works well on Mac or Windows. Ignore the silly name, this is a great system that allows you to record up to 15 minutes, and add webcam footage to your video. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube or Screencast-o-matic's own server, and files can be downloaded as mp4, flv, avi or (if you're feeling old-school) animated gif. Users with free accounts are, however, stuck with a 'Screencast-o-matic' watermark on the bottom of their videos.
Screencastle is a one-click, browser-based screen recorder. It's a newer service, and doesn't look quite as impressive as those listed above, but has an advantage of having unlimited record time. There is no login, instead it hosts the videos, and supplies the links to the video in various formats as long URLs. Unfortunately the only download option is flv, and although it supposedly works on Mac, I've had trouble getting it to work.
Jing is a downloadable piece of software from the makers of Camtasia. It sits on your desktop in the form of a "sun" that hovers at the top of the screen, and it's easy to click on it and create both short screencasts, and annotated screen grabs, which can be shared via Techsmith's own Screencast.com. You're limited to five minute videos, and annoyingly in the free version the videos save as swf files (which are useless for editing purposes), but it's still a nice tool for quickly grabbing and sharing onscreen actions.
Hang on, didn't I just say Camtasia was expensive? Well it is, but you can download a fully-functional 30 day free trial that will allow you to evaluate the product, and may be enough time to do that project you need to do... We also have Camtasia in the Information Commons Creative Media Room, so if anyone wants to come and have a go then please get in touch.
So they're the best ways I've found to Screencast for free. Anyone else got any more?