November 13, 2004 tools

Tons of Fun with Windows Media Encoder

I’ve been wanting an easy way to capture screen demos and audio for a while and after stumbling across Jon Udell’s post on Movies of Software, I thought I’d give Windows Media Encoder a try. Here’s what I learned:

  • I really like giving short little vignettes imagining an audience; I didn’t think I would
  • The preparation for recording a screen demo is the same as a real demo, i.e. I want to make sure I know what I’m going to demo before I do it
  • The preparation does not include lighting or another person to run a camera or a microphone, which means that I can do it on a whim at 5am on a Saturday morning
  • My built-in mic at normal speaking volume works great
  • Capturing a particular screen doesn’t work very well because I’m likely to move between windows without knowing that I will ahead of time. Instead, I should capture a region of the screen, ideally something not too large so that it fits well in a video window
  • Medium quality may not be good enough. I did 13 minutes at medium quality, which resulted in a 3MB file and good audio, but the screen itself was nearly unreadable. Maybe the screen itself was too big?
  • Stop other apps before capturing a screen, otherwise you’re bound to get slowdowns in the capture, particularly in the audio
  • Talking in my kitchen at normal volume for 13 minutes will waken my wife (sorry, sweetie)

So, while I wasn’t happy with the results, I’m very jazzed about the medium. Expect to see more.