Screen video tips

Several folks wrote with questions and comments about the OS X screen video I posted the other day. I mentioned that Media Encoder was the capture tool, but didn't specify how I got from Windows Media to Flash. For that, I used Camtasia Studio. I've heard good things about Qarbon but haven't had a chance to try it yet. Chris Ryland, from Em Software, wrote to recommend SnapzPro X 2 specifically for OS X (and QuickTime).

Also, Yoz Grahame wrote to alert me to a cool VNC hack, vnc2swf, a VNC viewer that records Flash movies. Getting it running, on either Fedora or OS X, failed my 5-minute rule. (I.e., if it takes more than 5 minutes, it's not a good use of my time.) But the example movies prove that it can work. And it's interesting to watch the author of vnc2swf, Yusuke Shinyama, driving various applications in a mixture of Japanese and English.

By the way, have you ever wondered what happens if you point a VNC viewer on one box (say, a Mac) at another box (say, Windows), then launch a VNC viewer on the second box and point it back at the first? Here's what: hall of mirrors

Update: Karl Fast reports that he's seen a demo of a (still unreleased) new screen recording tool from Users First (great name!). The product is geared for usability analysis:

It is a client-server system. You have a CD for the client machine (Windows). It automatically runs off the CD. No installation required. This is a huge plus for capturing real work environments.

The recording program runs on MacOS X. It finds the client machine over the network. It can record an audio stream and multiple video streams. So one stream would be the screen video, but you can also capture users facial reactions and an audio stream, all synchronized.

You get pixel-perfect capture (it uses VNC), over the network, without having to install anything on the client.

There is more, but like I said, it's slick. Finally something really geared towards the usability-engineering/ information-architecture/interaction-design/user-experience crowd.
Great idea! Part of my recent keen interest in screen videos is exactly for this reason. Conventional usability testing is a prohibitively expensive process. Cheaper and more convenient ways to let developers look over users' shoulders could have a huge impact on sofware usability.

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