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What is a Screencast?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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A screencast, also known as a video screen capture, is a recording of computer screen output. It usually includes audio to narrate the happenings of the recording, though text is common too. Basically, screencasts are movies of what is happening on a computer. Screencasts are often used to record how a certain program functions, highlighting its best features and capabilities to convince consumers to purchase it. They can also be used to document exactly how to accomplish something, like fixing a computer problem or using a complicated aspect of a graphics editing program.

To create a screencast, the user must have the appropriate software, which can be downloaded. The capabilities of the software differ; for example, some are not designed to record audio. Besides the ability to support audio, popular features include allowing the user to draw on an image, automatically upload to free hosting, and save in different file formats. Each program has specific advantages and disadvantages, but there are usually dozens of programs to choose from. The price of the software varies considerably, though some programs are completely free.

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Once the software begins recording, the user begins the demonstration. In many cases, the user starts off by introducing herself or the company and telling the audience what the video will cover. For example, in a how-to screencast about editing a photo, the user might state her name, what program she plans to use to edit the photo, and where to download that program. After that, she might proceed to edit the photo while explaining the process in detail to the audience.

One use that gained popularity involves Internet marketing. People marketing solely or primarily on the Internet can, and frequently do, reach a new audience by showing off their products in a video. Some people prefer to watch a video about a product rather than read about it, so screencasts are usually popular among this audience. A screencast does not usually replace the sales letter and screenshots, however.

In addition, it is not unusual to view a screencast in a classroom or seminar setting. A teacher can record the correct way to solve a problem and then play it during class on an interactive whiteboard. Sometimes students are the ones to demonstrate the correct way to solve a problem, and the screencast is played for another class later on. This technique works similarly for seminars; the organizer can record the first demonstration and sell this digital recording to people who could not attend.

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