Free screencasting tools and resources

I found a great resource on PBWorks about screencasting (a digital recording of computer screen output often containing audio narration) in addition to some tips for creating the content.

Screencasting is great for short tutorials when it is easier to show than tell.

The page lists a number of free tools for capturing and annotating screen images and short screen recordings: Jing, Screen Toaster, and Screencasto-matic. These tools allow for embedding of your presentation on your blog or website.

If you need to create a screencast that is longer than 5 minutes you might still need a for-cost solution: SnagIt or Camtasia Studio have lots of features.

Can’t wait to try these out!

Have you used any of these tools? What did you think?

Hobnox Audiotool lets you create your own electronic music

If you’ve been looking for something a bit like Garage Band that you can use on a PC or a Mac, you might like Hobnox Beta’s Audiotool and Tone Matrix, which works directly from your browser.

The Audiotool looks and acts like a mixing board and you use your mouse to turn on the instruments and rhythms you want to use. It’s not exactly intuitive, but it’s hard to mess things up and you can get a rhythm going just by clicking a couple buttons and hitting the play button. The tool itself took a bit to load, but once it was open I didn’t experience any delays of the tool.  Though if you don’t have a broadband connection you  might have a hard time using this tool.

In addition to the instuments, there is something called the tone matrix. The user clicks on as many or as few dots as she wants and when the play button is pushed everything comes together to create, hopefully, something that sounds good. I wasn’t able to produce anything that sounded TOO terrible.

Recording is easy. You hit the record button in the upper left corner and you can record up to 5 minutes at a time. The recorded file is saved to “myFiles” where you have 2,048 MB of storage. If you want more storage than that, you will probably be able to buy a premium account soon.

The file is saved in OGG format so it’s easy to download the file and then put it into another audio editor like Audacity if you want.

I will have to continue playing with this tool more to see if I can really get something that would work as background music for a podcast or video. What I have been able to create so far sounds very generic and electronic.  Here are some examples of songs created using the Audiotool, but beware this page crashed my browser once.

The Audiotool isn’t the only thing Hobnox has. The welcome message says you can:

– WATCH: Videos on Hobnox-TV or images, videos and music uploaded by other users on the Stage
– CONNECT: find new friends and/or like-minded patricipants and start a music, film or art project in the Community
– CREATE: create a blog and check out the Noxtools to make music or to go on air with your own livestream

Let me know what you think about Hobnox and its Audiotool.

Recording podcasts with Skype

Trying to create a podcast with someone remotely? Here’s a video on how to use Skype and Audio Hijack Pro for Mac to record conversations you have on Skype. The drawbacks? Audio Hijack Pro costs $32 (though if your recording is less than 10 minutes long you don’t need to pay for it). This application seems to be the most highly regarded by podcast enthusiasts. Call  Recorder is another Mac application with a free trial period and you can buy it for $14.95.

And for Windows? CallBurner is free for 14 days, Pamela is free for 30 days and $29.95 for the pro version (or you can get the basic version, which will record calls up to 15 minutes for free), and Call Graph is a free, ad-supported platform, though I’ve seen a few comments that the quality of the recording was not ideal. Lifehacker featured a post on Call Graph.