01 December 2009

How to Make Good Screen Recordings

If you are trying to create a presentation and need to show what's happening on your screen, why not capture your entire screen with complete motion and add your own voice narration? My Screen Recorder is the perfect tool for making videos of your desktop activity for demos, presentations and tutorials. It allows you to capture your desktop screen activity while you narrate and create AVI files.
There is a professional version, My Screen Recorder Pro, which offers more features for easy conversion to different file formats and additional distribution options.

My Screen Recorder Pro, you can save your screen recordings in the popular Macromedia Flash format for distribution on the web. To enable your viewers to see your presentations without the help of any media players or software, My Screen Recorder Pro can create executable files from your recordings. You can also distribute your screen recording in standard AVI format; or the small sized and high quality Windows Media format, perfect for distribution through email or from a Web server.
Use our comparison chart to decide which application is best for your requirements.

This article provides a step-by-step explanation of how to make a good screen recording, using My Screen Recorder, from planning to actual recording.

Planning your presentation

The first step is to have a plan for your screen recording session. To start with, you need to decide whether you want to add voice narration while recording or to record the sound played by the application.

If you're going to record a voice-over narration, it is always a good idea to have some sort of script, so that you can maintain a steady voice and pace while you record. This script can also contain a list of actions (like opening particular windows), so you don't miss recording something important. You can pause and resume the recording at anytime by using the F8 shortcut key. It is a good idea to use a friendly tone of voice, even for corporate presentations.

When you want to record the audio from the application itself, set up the audio in the following manner:

1. In My Screen Recorder, on the toolbar click on Settings and select Audio.

2. Click on the Configure button.

3. To record the application's audio, select Record from speakers. Click on Auto Select to let My Screen Recorder choose the best line for you. While using Auto Select, we recommended that you disconnect the microphone. To choose manually, select the Let me select the line option. Click OK when you have done this, and then OK again to close the Options window.

It is especially important to adjust the audio settings when you are recording media players or other interactive software.

Preparing to record

To get high quality screen recordings, you need to optimize the settings of My Screen Recorder:

1. You first need to decide what screen resolution to record at. High resolution recordings played back at lower screen resolutions result in image distortion. It is generally best to determine the lowest screen resolution that your recording will be played back at, and record at slightly less than that resolution. You can change your PC's screen resolution by right-clicking on the Windows desktop and then selecting Properties > Settings. Under the Settings tab, you can lower the resolution by moving the 'Screen resolution' slider to the left. If you want to increase the resolution, move the slider to the right.

2. The next step is to decide the recording size. If you want to capture only specific parts of your screen, click on the Region button on the tool bar, then choose either the Fixed Dimensions or Rectangle option. This reduces the file size of the recorded video.

3. My Screen Recorder records the video in AVI format, which can be edited easily. However, uncompressed AVI files are very large so your recordings need to be compressed. Go to Tools menu > Settings > Video tab and select a Compressor. (Generally the default compression settings are fine.) Frame rate and Key Frame rate values also affect the file size and can be changed. If you are using My Screen Recorder Pro, you can also convert your AVI file to Windows Media Format. Windows Media files are much smaller, and can be streamed from a specialized web server (such as Video Desk).

Frame Rate is the number of frames to record per second. You can make it higher if you want smoother playback, especially for videos containing a lot of motion. However, higher frame rates also result in bigger files.
Key Frame Rate controls how often "full frames" are stored in an AVI file. A higher key frame rate can make it easier to "seek" within a video file, but it also increases the file size. The default settings of the frame rate and the key frame rate are optimum for most types of recordings, but you may try experimenting with these settings for better results.
4. For smoother recordings, especially of applications having fast action motion or media players, disable hardware acceleration by clicking on the Performance tab in the Settings window and then checking the option "Disable hardware acceleration" during recording.
Start Recording your Screen Activity
1. In My Screen Recorder, click the Record button on the toolbar to launch the Recording Options window. Please note the keyboard shortcuts for record (F8, by default), stop (F9 by default) and cancel (F10 by default). Check the option Pause before recording starts. Uncheck the Record audio while recording video box if you don't want to record audio. Click on OK.

2. Launch the application you would like to record. To start recording, press F8 on your keyboard. Now, perform the actions you want to document. My Screen Recorder will record them in the background. To stop the recording, press the F9 key.
Adding that Professional Touch to your recordings

You can truly make your screen recordings a visual treat by editing them using Video Edit Magic. You can adjust your audio narration or add new narration to your screen recording. Title text and annotations can be placed anywhere in the video to make your recording easier to understand. Video Edit Magic can save your edited recordings in a format that best suits your distribution needs.

To edit using Video Edit Magic:
1. Launch Video Edit Magic and open a new project by clicking on New Project under the File menu (CTRL + N). Import your screen recording from your hard drive by clicking on Open File in the File Menu (CTRL + I).
2. Drag the screen recording clip from the Collections window to the Timeline.
3. If you don't want to retain the recording's original audio track, and want to add narration of your own in Video Edit Magic, then click on the audio part of the recording and press the Del key. Connect a microphone to your PC.
4. Click on Tools menu > Options > Narration. Position the Seek Slider on the Timeline where you want to start narrating and click Record. Click on Options to change the Audio Device and the Audio Compressor used for recording.

Click the Record button, and start narrating into the microphone. When you're done narrating, press Stop. You will be asked for a file name, and the narration will be saved as a file, and added to the Timeline and the Media File Collection. You can record more narration by clicking Record again. When you're finished narrating, click Close.
5. You can also add effects and transitions to your video. You may need to line up the audio and Video on the timeline to synchronize them before saving the Project.

Now, your screen recording is ready to be converted into the appropriate video format for distribution. Video Edit Magic can save these edited videos in MPEG formats (for burning to VCD and DVD), QuickTime, and many other formats.

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