Windows Movie Maker

I’m currently doing some work for JISC TechDis, which requires me to undertake an inclusive review of Windows 7. At first, this was a shock as I haven’t used Windows regularly since the days of XP and 2003. I only dabbled with Vista, often giving up the will to live: After a few  months of dabbling, I bought my MacBook Pro and haven’t looked back.

I’ve grown to like some of the features offered by Windows 7 and in time I may well write about my experiences and findings, but for now I want to delve into the ways I’ve tried to capture evidence and present training resources. 

It would make sense (wouldn’t it?) to do screen captures and edit them on the machine  was using? Well, I thought that would be a breeze but it’s been less than straight forward! My first thought was to use Screenr. This would allow me to present an online version or a downloaded .mp4 version – both of good quality. Coupled with a word-processed ‘How To’ document and a transcription, I’d thought it would be ok. However, it’s impossible to edit after completion….

So, because Windows ‘Live’ Movie Maker (LMM) is ‘new and improved’ and it now edits more than .wmv and .avi movies, I downloaded that with a view to muting my audio and relaying a new audio track over the top.
David Sugden (dsugden) on Twitter
Well, I used to be able to make Windows Movie Maker (WMM) sing and dance and often stood its corner against Apple’s iMovie enthusiasts. The WMM 6 that came with Vista was Vista’s one stand-out success but LMM bears no resemblance.
I spent half a day trying to get it to do ‘stuff’ before posting my frustration on Twitter. The one reply tells its own story!

So how was I going to make my edits? I thought I’d start again, ditch Screenr and use CamStudio instead. But CamStudio can be dodgy on Windows 7, the USB stick version (on AccessApps) often crashes and on occasion, so does the downloaded full version. Furthermore, I was still faced with the editing problem.

I then thought to search t’Internet!

And hey presto – I downloaded WMM 6 [Get it here: http://members.shaw.ca/wmm6/wmm6.html], installed it and although it won’t allow me to record audio directly over the movie, I can razor bits of audio (can’t see a razor or cut tool at all on the new and improved (sic) LMM) and mute as required. I can then lay over Audacity created voice overs with ease. However, I can’t edit my Screenr creations, I HAVE to use CamStudio. But (another but?) I can do screenshots, crop them in the new Paint, use the motion effects in WMM 6 and record audacity as they go through the motions. A bit of ‘stretch to fit’ then seems to work well.

It’s a bit of an arse about face to work, but if Screenr won’t do – there you go. Of course, if it was OSX I was working with …..  😉

b.t.w. – what have I missed with Windows Live Movie Maker? Is it really bad, or am I just not looking in the right places?

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Screen Recordings

I’ve referred to screen recordings (screencasts) in the past but have never written anything specifically about them.

There are a number of tools out there which capture screen events along with any spoken dialogue and many of them come at quite a cost, which is fair enough if you need to regularly create professional output. However, many of us only need to create the odd screencast and don’t have the means of paying for such tools. I will therefore concentrate on just three free tools: one for a Mac, one for a PC and one for both (on the ‘net).

CamStudio [http://camstudio.org/] is a free tool which works on PC platforms. It’s also available to work from a USB stick as part of RSC Scotland’s AccessApps provision. With CamStudio, full screen, or a chosen region can be recorded and the output can be .avi or .swf.

Quicktime Player, on Mac’s OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is also a useful screen recorder. It only records full screen but thanks to Cath Ellis (@cathellis13 on Twitter) I am aware that regions of the screen can be recorded if you have ‘Lion’ installed.

See http://screenr.com/OZxs to learn how to ‘trim’ the screen recording on the fly.

Shows various sites used to register with ScreenrScreenr [http://www.screenr.com] is a web based tool. It can be used on a Mac or on a PC – provided that Java is installed. There is no need to register with Screenr provided that you have an account with any one of a number of other services (see picture). Record any part of the screen. Output is hosted on Screenr servers and shared via URL (embed code provided). Also available to download as .mp4 file or upload direct to YouTube. The video clip above was recorded via Screenr, to show how Quicktime Recorder can be used. It was then posted to YouTube so it could easily be embedded into this WordPress blog.

How would you use a screen recorder? Which would/do you use?