The Best Video Screencast Software Money Can’t Buy

Making videos using free screencast software is easy and fun, once you get past the first TAKE!

Ok, so you’ve never made videos, or maybe this is your first romp in the screencast software market, it can be a little confusing.  Let’s spend a moment going over what a screencast is, then we’ll cover some of the best free screencast software tools for creating them.  Sound cool?!

What is Screencasting?

free-screencast-software
My arsenal consists of both Paid and Free Software

Screencasting is what you would call a video version of a “screen capture” (which is still as simple to do as combining (ctrl+printscreen) on a PC or about 10 ways on a Mac.  It’s a technique of producing a faceless video by capturing a video image of the users screen while working through some type of process, whether it be a software installation, setting up plugins or how to get past a tough level in your favorite video game.  Screencasts usually show the viewer how to use a particular component of Linux, Windows or Mac, or perhaps a certain kind of software program, or as in the video below, how to do a screencast!  They are primarily used as teaching aides and do a very good job of getting a point across.

Screencasting is great for those folks who are a little camera shy.  There is no need to put on any makeup or pretend to be an actor for you to gather a fan base.   All it takes is a little background knowledge in a subject and the ability to walk someone through the task to produce some expected results.  Many of the “How-To” videos that are made as walk-thrus for anything related to computers, even building one, are done through one form or another of screencasting or faceless video.

Some of the Best Things in Life are Free

I’ll be honest, there are several different free software suites that are all good at producing top quality, finished results when it comes to video capturing.  When I got started in this industry, I didn’t know which software to use so I started on Google and tried a few out.  However, free doesn’t necessarily mean free for commercial use!  Be sure to read the license agreements with any free software files you download.  These are a couple of really good freebies that you can use commercially, if free is your thing.  It certainly is mine!  So first, I’ll cover the free one’s I like best in this article and move on to paid versions in another article down the road.

Jing by TechSmith

jing-free-download
Try Jing First! You’ll LOVE it!

If I were to recommend any free software for screencasting, I would start with my favorite, by far, which is Jing by TechSmith.  It’s a great little screenshot/screencast utility that doesn’t cost a dime, is fully capable of capturing screenshots and video (videos that are under 5 minutes in length).  The thing I love about Jing is that everything is in one little program that can be brought up with a single function key or resides as a little sunny face on the edge of your desktop.  You also have the added luxury of textual and graphical markup of your screenshots to add more information to your liking as you see fit.  Please note, Jing captures video in .swf format only.

Jing‘s bigger brother is known as SnagIt ($49) and is found under the products section in the top menu bar of that same website, along with what I consider the Grand Daddy of all screencast software which is called Camtasia.

Now Camtasia comes with a significant price tag attached to it ($299) but does offer a free 30 day trial if you want to check it out.  The thing I love about TechSmith software is that they have married all of their screencast and screenshot software with online elements that allow all of there products to work together seamlessly.  This would also be my number one choice for any marketers out there because of several of its unique call-to-action features.

I’ll be putting together my Camtasia Review HERE in the coming days, so be sure to come back and take a look.

CamStudio the Open Source Answer

camstudio

Maybe you’re big into Open Source (I know I am!) But, if you Google CamStudio, (Camstudio.org) don’t be surprised to find a bunch of bad reviews on this one, but don’t let that startle you.  I didn’t provide a link to the .org site because the reason that these bad reviews exist has some merit. USER BEWARE!  I DO NOT recommend downloading and installing from the .org website!

The commercial software installation package that CamStudio is incorporated with contains some optional software add-ons that could be considered “malicious” (though they’re really just a nuisance).  They vary at times, but are usually browser search bar plug-ins that can wreak some unnecessary havoc on your machine if you’re not careful to avoid installing them during the initial setup.  As a side note, CamStudio captures video in .avi format only.

I recommend you avoid the commercial software download unless you’re technically inclined and capable enough of avoiding these problems.  You can bypass all of this headache by  using this direct download link at SourceForge.  This link will lead you to the latest stable release of the software without the pain of the commercial installer.  It is not the advertisement-supported installer found on the main .org website.camstudio2

No viruses have been reported from the main installer (but PUP’s or “Potentially Unwanted Programs” are reported with all the fanfare and red-text warnings that viruses are nowadays….) Nuisance-ware is what I’d call those!  Anyway, the above version works just fine – better, in fact, in some ways, since the new version managed to break the function keys operation while trying to appease Minecraft players…

Try Jing first.  Then if you want to challenge yourself from a technical perspective and create longer videos, then try the SourceForge link for CamStudio.  But again, BEWARE! The optional software that is included with the commercial version of CamStudio found on the .org site has caused some people, that were unsure of how to protect themselves, to run into some serious computer problems.

In order to run CamStudio you will also be required to download either the Open Source “JK Lossless Video Codec” in .zip form at Sourceforge or you can also download the CamStudio Lossless Codec v1.5 windows installer below the software download package on CamStudio.org.  There is both a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the video codec in the .zip file, it’s best to install the 64-bit version if you are running a 64-bit operating system.

Where’s OBS?

I’m sure many of you open source gurus or video aficionados are wondering why I didn’t include Open Broadcaster Software in this review.  Well, there are two reasons:

  1.  Open Broadcaster Software (O.B.S.) is primarily a live feed video streaming software package that can do screencasting, but there are many more bells and whistles than what a newbie, looking for a simple screencasting tool, will ever need.  The beginner may get a bit intimidated.
  2. The latest release for this open source gem came out on Oct. 2, 2015 and I have yet to get it installed to do a full-blown review, but be advised, it’s on it way!  Look for it in a stand-alone review in the near future!

When You’re Ready to Graduate to the Big Leagues

Below is a link to a short screencast video about making screencast videos!  This was put together by my good friend Kyle over at Wealthy Affiliate.  There are also a couple other non-affiliate links to a few more video software packages that can be used for creating your own professional screencasts!  Check it out!

How to Record Video Using Screencast Software

When it comes time to edit your video files, there are also a number of free choices available to you.  You’ll find those reviewed in an upcoming article. If you’re a Windows user, you can simply load your videos into Windows Movie Maker, which is supplied by Microsoft as a free download.  If I have enough interest, I’ll be happy to do an article showing how to use that program also!

In the mean time, enjoy your video making adventures and when you’re ready to move up to the paid software packages, you can return here for my reviews on some of my favorites like Camtasia (as I mentioned above) and Corel Video Studio Pro, which is a very reasonably priced suite of video production tools that you can order online or buy off the shelf at your favorite software retail store!

Until then… SMILE!  You’re on… well, you get it!  Be sure to leave a question or comment below!

leland-best

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Written by 

Leland Best - CEO of Best Conceptions LLC, has worn many hats over the past 35 years. He has trained and certified in Radio/TV/CATV Production, Automotive Design, Firefighting and Fire/Water Damage Restoration. Leland has been working with computers and the internet since their inceptions, and during his 25 year career as a Civil Designer his home-based business served several Fortune 500's. Leland and his wife Jenna call the Shiawassee River their home where he currently follows his passion as an author, live streamer, video producer and affiliate website builder under the brands BCBLive!™, and The Megabit Affiliate™.

8 thoughts on “The Best Video Screencast Software Money Can’t Buy”

  1. Hello – thanks for this excellent information.

    This screen video capture software looks “right up my street” so thanks for this. And it’s FREE, even thankser for that. And it works – just tested it.

    That’s thanksest of all!

    When starting up everything needs to be free to really make life easier. That’s why I’d recommend Wealthy Affiliate and that’s why I use them.

    Best wishes – Andre Kish

    1. There is no doubt that Free makes life easier Andre, especially for those getting their feet wet! I know as I started out, everything I did was to keep my endeavor on a shoe-string budget. This is the main reason I’m out here swimming with the sharks in an attempt to discover all the gems hidden out there that “money can’t buy!” So glad you like the software, I use it all the time!

      I got a little chuckle when you stated it was “right up your street”, in these parts we say “right up my alley!” Funny how the subtle changes reflect our travel around the globe!

      Take care!

  2. Very informative article I have been looking at this type of software and it is always difficult know which one will do a good job and is cost effective .. this sounds just the sort of thing I was looking for so will go and check it out see if I can follow and understand the process, I have just been using snippet tool for screen captures.. thank you

    1. Your welcome Katie! Thanks for the kind words. I think you’ll LOVE Jing if that’s the one you’re trying now (I HIGHLY recommend).

      Very simple to use and has some very nice mark-up features to enhance your screenshots. It’s default puts a little sun symbol on your desktop screen that you can drag around the border to place it anywhere you’d like, or you can turn it off entirely and just set a hotkey (which is what I do with F6). Very easy to use and professional quality!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Loved your take on these programs. This is a subject I was thinking about doing just today. Your comparison is easy to follow and understand. Even for me who doesn’t know anything about it really! Your site looks very professional! How long have you had this website? While some of it is over my head, I was still able to understand the majority of it. Loved Kyle’s video on there too!
    Regards
    Cindy

    1. Thanks Cindy! I have a CableTV producers license from back in the day, but have been doing video and blogging for a few straight years now! The site has evolved over that time to what it is today! Glad that I could add some value to the subject for you! Good luck on your own productions and thanks again for stopping by!

  4. Hi Leland,

    This is extremely useful, I’ve been meaning to create videos for quite some time now, I just haven’t figured out , how I was going to set this up, use for a background in my video etc.

    With something like this software I wouldn’t need to worry about this at all though. I’m not overly technical, which software would you suggest for someone who isn’t massively technically capable.

    1. I would probably suggest ManyCam if you’re not too into “lots of technical settings” and video/audio jargon. It’s a little more directed toward the “average Joe”. If you ever want to walk through the good and bad of any of the systems or software I mentioned, just let me know in an email and I’d be happy to help.

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