Since I started working on the video series for Mac servers, I had the opportunity to try out a few different application for video screen captures. Some are good, some are better. Here are the Mac screen recorder options I found and what I thought of them.
Demo: No time limit but “Demo Version” appears on movie
The product had a few neat options like the ability to stream to a DV camera and updated feedback on free disk space. The program can also record audio and full screen. The only problem was that it crashed on me everytime I tried to record a movie. I am on an Intel iMac and this app is not a Universal Binary. It doesn’t seem to run under Rosetta at all.
FreeMacBlog Score: 2/10 It may be a nice Mac screen recorder, but it needs to be updated to work with Intel Macs.
Screen Movie Recorder
Price: $18.83 (15 Euros)
Demo: Time Limit On Movies
This application has a very easy interface. There are three options to choose from upon startup. You can choose the frame recording speed, you can chose to have the recording follow the mouse and you can choose whether to show the mouse or display it as a cross. Personally, I had a hard time seeing the cross on the recording so I’d prefer to keep the mouse as the regular icon, but I don’t think that is an option.
You start the recording with the item in the menu bar. This menu item gives feedback. Green means ready, Red means recording, yellow means encoding. As soon as you start, you’ll be asked to draw the size of your frame and then off you go. Once you are done, the encoding is fast, but Quicktime is the only option.
I didn’t like the fact that there was no audio recording option. Also, the Application needs to stay in the dock while you are recording.
FreeMacBlog Score: 7/10 – Easy interface. Needs audio recording and a hot key combo for recording start. Mouse should be visible if desired.
Demo: 15 second movies only
The obvious advantage this app has is the ability to export the movie as SWF, FLV, and Quicktime. This is great for those who prefer to use flash for size and compatibility. However, there is no audio recording option.
You can choose whether to record a certain area, just one window, or the whole screen and recording is started with a key combination. But, the application stays there in the dock while recording. I like the fact that the frame rate is chose automatically because sometimes that is hard to gauge for inexperienced users.
When you are finished with the movie, the encoding is pretty quick. You can choose to save the movie in all three formats at once. Also, once it is finished, the app gives you the chance to take a look at the movie. If it is not what you were looking for, you can re-encode it changing the frame rate and the mouse settings.
FreeMacBlog Score: 8/10 The flash output is a huge benefit. Also, I like the second chance encoding options. I’d really like to see a audio recording option and a more lenient demo.
Demo: Large text on video recording
The first thing you notice about this app is the ability to set presets. This is incredibly useful. You can have different ones for podcasts, online tutorials, Love CPU Usage, etc. There are three there by default, but you can add as many as you’d like.
You have the option to record different quality levels of audio (with visual feedback and AAC compression), and can encode the video with any of a large list of options. (H.264 by default) You can choose whether or not to record the mouse. Also, you can slow the capture rate when the mouse is not moving. This is great for while you are just talking. It keeps the final file size down.
There are four capture sizes to choose from, you can can drag the corners to your desired size. You have full control over whether iShowU has an icon in the dock, automatically hides itself when you begin recording and whether or not it shows up in the status bar.
FreeMacBlog.com score: 9/10 This Mac screen recorder is close to perfect, but I wish the demo was a little less annoying so you could really see the finished video.
Snapz Pro X
Demo: 30 days unlimited, with annoying pop-ups
This is the grand daddy of video screen capture programs, but personally I think it is being surpassed. First, there is no Universal Binary for this app. It ran fine under Rosetta on my Intel iMac, but it wouldn’t start up at all on my MacBook.
The demo on this product is very giving. They really let you try it out. There are a ton of options to tweak…maybe too many. Personally, I don’t like the way it takes over your regular screen capture. I prefer an application that I can start up when I need to record my screen, and then quit when I’m done.
I do like that the application runs headless and records audio.
The encoding take a LONG time when you are finished with your video. I suppose this has to do with the fact that it is running under Rosetta for me. The finished product does look good though, and I like that you can change the size in encoding. (For example, have the movie be 60% actual size)
FreeMacBlog Score: 6/10 I may catch some heat for this low score, but I just think the app is too all-encompasing when you just want to do a quick video or two. The lack of support for Intel is going to be more and more obvious as people switch over. Also, the price is incredibly high. (Update: 6/28, They have now released a new version of Snapz Pro X. It is not Universal, but it is said to perform better on Intel Macs.)
When I started looking for video recording options, I didn’t know there were this many Mac screen recorder options out there. After trying them all, I think I’ll stick with iShowU. The developer offers a good product at a good price. Also, he is quick to offer support. The second option would be Screen Mimic, especially if you are intending to work with flash videos.
When it comes down to it, I’d love to see this ability included in Mac OS X.
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