Wherever you go, whatever you do, you can usually capture that special moment with friends or family using your smartphone or camera.
But suppose you couldn’t?
Yet this is exactly what most people accept when they sit in front of their computer screen: the events that take place on screen are transient, gone or changed with a mouse click. Only the things you can download or save to your hard drive remain indelible after the session watching your screen is over.
Increasingly, the time we spend in front of the computer is leisure time on social media, using messaging or a webcam to chat via Facebook or Skype, for example.
So what, you might ask? The important point is that people spend a significant part of their lives sitting in front of their computer monitors, either working, or surfing the net, or connected to friends and family, or playing some console game.
In fact, recent Ofcom data shows we now spend half our waking lives on a computer or smartphone – working, socialising, playing or shopping.
We’re also using several types of media at the same time – with the average person cramming 8 hours 48 minutes of media into just over seven hours during the average day.
Young people have shown the biggest changes in how we use media – particularly using different media at the same time.
And the divide between younger and older people’s use of technology is narrowing, as older people are getting online and finding their way around email, online stores, or cut price holidays.
Any wonder then that just occasionally we feel the need to record the activity on our computer screen to a hard drive to share with others or to keep for posterity?
People might want to record their screens for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps to show others what we see on our screen when things go wrong, or how to do something correctly – from using an online service to using software. Or perhaps to record a presentation to post or use at a later date; or create a tutorial to post online; or to make a permanent record of an online conversation – the possibilities are truly endless.
Some entrepreneurial individuals even make a living by posting videos on YouTube that attract the website’s advertising machinery (the top 10 highest grossing YouTubers on the Partner Program all make over $100,000 per year in advertising revenue).
What has all this to do with screen recorders? Well, pretty much everything, because a good screen recorder can be used to do everything mentioned so far.
A good screen recorder allows you to create computer screen based video content cheaply, quickly and without the need for any particular specialist skills.
Once a screen recorder is started, it usually runs in the background – recording everything you see and do on the screen of your computer – until you stop the program. The recording can then be saved as a movie file for sharing, or it can be edited first – by tidying frames, adding transitions, annotations, various effects like zoom, webcam footage, a soundtrack or voiceover and so on – before converting to a movie file of your choice.
If you’ve never used a screen recorder – and there’s no excuse for not trying one out as there are plenty about that you can trial for free*, as well as some excellent free to keep versions** – chances are it’ll become an essential piece of kit once you see just what you’ve been missing.
Which screen recorder?
So which is the best screen recorder for you? You can find plenty of reviews online, such as
Examples of Use:
If you’re a teacher, or work in education, then you’ve probably heard of the Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/). The Khan Academy is an organisation providing free world-class education to anyone anywhere, through the use of an extensive website video library, which currently stands at around 2,600 videos.
The videos cover anything from kindergarten spelling to finance and history, or science topics, such as biology, chemistry or physics. Each video is a digestible chunk of knowledge, approximately 10 minutes long, and especially purposed for viewing on the computer.
If you’re interested in creating Khan Academy style videos and need a screen recorder to start the ball rolling, remember BB FlashBack Express is free to use and ideal for making simple screen recordings.
Computer forensics is a demanding field, requiring a high level of rigor to ensure the correct procedures have been followed.
Commonly, a cyber-investigation examines how a digital resource like an app, a hyperlink or a Web search box works.
It is the job of an investigator to record what he sees and hears in such a way that it can be used in court to show what the resource did at the time of the investigation.
Without a recording, valuable evidence can disappear. A Web page or a Facebook wall, for instance, may display one thing now and something different five minutes later.
Recording a Prezi
Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool, but some screen recorders are capable of recording fast-moving images to create packaged Prezi presentations (if you’re not familiar with the Prezi presentation tool, check out http://prezi.com).
Web conferences – also called webinars or webcasts – provide a way to present information in an interactive manner to a group of individuals. They are great for increasing business productivity, offering presentations to clients and business partners, holding online training, or for sharing computer applications all online.
Webinars allow thousands of people to ‘attend’ at any one time, and unlike conventional real-world conferences, the cost is a fraction of what it would be if you had to arrange a venue, seating space etc. to bring a large number of people together in one place.
A good screen recorder can make a permanent recording of a webcast which you can play back later – capturing both the PC sound and microphone at the same time – to show everything that happened, including your own contributions to the discussion. Export the recording into a format most convenient to you, for sharing internally with colleagues or publishing to the Web.
Sales and Marketing
Screen recorders can be used to produce professional, self-contained video demonstrations of software, for sales and marketing purposes.
Pre-recorded video software demonstrations are a valuable resource. They can illustrate the capabilities of an application or website in a way that static words and screenshots cannot match.
A screen recorder is great for showing students software in action and how to perform complex tasks on a PC.
Teaching in school
Because a screen recorder can record exactly what is done on a computer screen, what a user says, and how they interact with any Windows-based application or website makes it an ideal tool for teaching. In a school or learning environment, screen recorders can be used:
• To demonstrate an application or service.
• To produce ‘how-to’ films (for example, how to use a specific feature in a computer program).
• To create narrated demonstrations – this is particularly useful as software becomes more complex, allowing users, reviewers and developers to share their understanding.
• By teachers and trainers wanting to develop engaging tutorials
• By students needing to evidence coursework
• Home PC users who want to distribute on-screen content and record creation of computer art, photo and design projects
The big advantage of using a screen recorder in teaching is that it can dramatically improve the reach and effectiveness of a teacher when dealing with larger class sizes.
For example, in a class of students at all levels of ability, a screen recorder allows the same lesson to be differentiated for each child because they can go over it in their own time and at their own speed.
*BB FlashBack Pro – http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/BBFlashBack/Home.aspx
** BB FlashBack Express – http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/BBFlashBack_FreePlayer.aspx
BB FlashBack Pro makes an excellent corporate communication tool, enabling staff to easily pass on information within an organisation – from error reporting if things go wrong at a computer workstation, to creating and distributing screen recordings for employee training – without having to call on additional company resources. By improving information exchange, BB FlashBack delivers instant benefits to all parts of the organisation. Read more here: http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk/Solutions/Corporate.aspx
Recording games is always a tricky one – they often use video hardware acceleration that can’t be recorded, and a lot of CPU, which leaves little for BB FlashBack to do its work.
However, if you are playing something like Minecraft, it is possible to get good quality recordings using BB FlashBack. Many examples of good quality recordings that BB FlashBack users have been able to achieve when recording Minecraft can be found on YouTube but you can be see a couple of great examples recorded using the free Express edition of BB FlashBack here and here.
To get similar results, try the following:
- Make sure you have ‘MPEG’ record mode selected. This mode is the best at capturing moving video because it can capture at a much higher frame rate and create much smaller FBR files than GDI and Capture Driver modes. You can select this mode on the Record Mode tab of the Recorder Options window.
- Find a frame rate that works well for your PC. It is often tempting to go straight for a high frame rate but this will not always give the best recordings. Infact, sometimes it will even give worse results than lower frame rates because it puts too much burden on the PC’s CPU. Generally it is best to set a low frame rate initially – say 10 fps or less – and, once you have everything working, do a series of test recordings where you gradually increase the frame rate until you get the best balance between frame rate and CPU performance.
- If you get a black region where the game should be, this is because the game is using video hardware features that can’t be recorded. You should go into the settings of the game and see if there is an option to turn off Direct3D or video hardware acceleration and use software rendering instead.
- In some cases, setting Windows 7/Vista to a ‘basic’ theme instead of an ‘Aero’ one can improve performance.
- The fewer pixels BB FlashBack has to record, the less CPU it needs. For example, recording a 1280×720 desktop will give better performance than a 1920×1080 recording. If you want to upload your recording to YouTube, the lower of these two resolutions will often give satisfactory results.
- If you see a yellow highlight around your mouse cursor, you can easily remove if by ‘Highlight Cursor…’ menu under ‘Effects’. In this menu, simply uncheck the tick boxes next to ‘Highlight Mouse Cursor’ to remove the highlight and ‘Highlgiht Mouse Clicks’ to remove the pulse effect when a mouse button is clicked.
- By default, BB FlashBack does not limit the length of time that you can record for (the only limitation is the amount of hard drive space you have on your PC to save the recording) but if you recording for an exceptionally long length time, performance may start to deteriorate so try to avoid recordings that are several hours long. If you need to record for hours and have BB FlashBack Pro, try enabling the ‘Break the recording into fixed size files’ options in the ‘File Size Limiting’ tab of the Recorder Options. This will divide your recording into more manageable sizes as you record and reduce the load on your CPU. Once you have finished recording, use the BB FlashBack Pro Player to join the movie segments back together into a single movie.
Blueberry has launched BB FlashBack version 4, the eagerly anticipated upgrade of the company’s best-selling professional screen recorder.
BB FlashBack 4 combines outstanding performance with a host of fantastic new creative features, including fade transitions, an easy to use annotations ‘gallery’, blur tool, the ability to add notes to the movie at record-time, export to GIF, and much more.
Whether educating an audience, annotating a webcast, creating a tutorial, demonstrating a product, or making a screencast for friends or your social network, BB FlashBack 4 now comes with a number of new tools that simplify the creative workflow to help movie makers deliver engaging content – faster and easier than ever before!
What’s new in BB FlashBack 4:
- Fade Transitions – Now you can add transition effects to join clips when creating your movie. Add them during editing, or let the software add them automatically when inserting a FlashBack movie or video file.
- Gallery – Simplify the editing workflow by creating a gallery of in-movie annotations like textboxes, images, highlights etc. You can just drag objects in and out of the gallery to save them and add them to a movie. The gallery includes a range of annotations to get you started.
- Blur Tool – Blur out sensitive details in a movie – great for creating movies that feature sensitive or personal data.
- Record-time Notes – Make notes during recording and see them as textboxes in the movie. Just move the cursor to the top of the screen and start typing into the popup Notes window. Recording will auto-pause and restart when you’ve finished.
- Export to GIF format – For easy embedding into Web pages.
Plus numerous other improvements have been made to the software to ensure BB FlashBack 4 remains the best professional screen recorder on the market for tutorial makers, demonstrators and educators.
David Francis, Project Manager for BB FlashBack, said: “The way we use our PCs has changed dramatically over the last few years, with users spending more time online connected to colleagues, clients, friends or family via their computer, and wanting to create content for their audience like a true pro.
“Factor in the range of hardware devices now available – including tablet and smartphones – and you have the basis of our thinking behind BB FlashBack 4: It’s designed to meet the needs of todays’ screen recorder users – from educators and trainers, to sales and marketing professionals, to video and social media devotees.
“Ultimately, we’ve worked hard to simplify the process of screen recording, and offer fantastic new cutting-edge features at outstanding value.
“We are confident BB FlashBack 4 will be well received by both professional and novice screen recorder users alike.”
BB FlashBack is free to download on a 30-day trial. It can be installed on the same PC as BB FlashBack v3 without any risk, and is free to customers who have purchased BB FlashBack since 31st August 2012. Earlier purchasers can upgrade for only $99.
Details are available from http://www.bbsoftware.co.uk