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How do I capture a video of the desktop for playback in Macromedia Flash

Does anyone know of a good screen capture application (video, not snapshot image)?  

I need to record as an AVI or MPEG etc for use on either a DVD video or Macromedia Flash movie. This enables me to show tutorial videos on how to do certain PC tasks.

I have already tried two applications which screen capture to AVI video. However, when importing the AVI (which is perfect) to a movie editting application such as Pinnacle Studio 9, the quality is massively reduced so that any text becomes a complete blur - I have also tried changing settings to maximum output quality.

So I need either:
* An appication that automatically encodes to DVD video / Macromedia Flash movie (either is ok)
* An movie editting suite / encoder which does not cause degredation in quality.

Any help is appreciated!
Adrian Thompson
Adrian Thompson
5 Solutions
Tom RayCommented:
Adrian ThompsonSoftware Engineer and Consultant for Website Development and Online MarketingAuthor Commented:
Thanks! I'll confirm it does the trick after I download it shortly.

Looking good!
Also check out captivate from Adobe.  It tends to export smaller files, especially for standard application captures.
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Sounds like Pinnicle is using a different codec than what you captured at.
You should capture your video at the best quality setting (.MOV - DV/DVCPRO codec)
I have nothing but problems from Pinnicle. Stay away! Depending on what you need to do, just import your video into Windows Movie Maker. You can export it to a .wmv if you want or an .avi (depends on how long your video is, the file cannot exceed 2 gigs.)
If you don't need to edit it at all then you can just convert it to whatever format you want with an encoder...ctharp suggested MME9 which is good but if you want complete compatibility then convert to an FLV (Flash video). You can download a Flash demo and use the encoder or there are plenty of other free apps like Riva which will encode it for you. If you want the best quality and professional, post back with what you plan on doing with it and I can give you advice on which tools to buy to make it look great on the web. As far as DVDs are concerned, Nero will do it just fine.
Adrian ThompsonSoftware Engineer and Consultant for Website Development and Online MarketingAuthor Commented:
Hi everyone...

CamStudio works but I'm having problems with the resolution and exporting to FLASH.
Adobe Captivate looks great but am deciding if I should spend £435!
Yet to try Microsoft Media Encoder 9

I will post back again soon as things progress!

lowsky13 - I have Nero and burning to DVD is not a problem... it's just the editting and capture. I intend to capture the desktop suitable for video at 1024x768 with sound input via microphone. The end result will then be put on DVD but FLASH is also great (although it may be too large for flash, esp regarding download times)... The videos will be tutorials on how to do certain tasks on the PC; each lasting about 5 minutes. I already have Pinnacle and editting is a must. However, I am happy to use any software for this.

Thanks again to everyone for your help!

1024X768...no wonder your words are crumpled...video size is 720X480...Pinnacle is trying to squish it in and I'm not that familiar with Pinnacle to give any advice on how to fix that. My advice is try resizing your screen to fit the native video size. I'm sure in your screen capture program you can drag the size you need...try that and see if that helps.

If you want to spend the money...if your a professor or in school you can get an educational discount on Avid. Highly recommended.
Adrian ThompsonSoftware Engineer and Consultant for Website Development and Online MarketingAuthor Commented:
Hi all,

Sorry for the delay here - I have been skiing in Canada for 2 weeks and now playing catch-up! Thanks for all your comments.

I have tried Adobe Captivate and it seems excellent. HOWEVER - it takes ages to save any captures (for playback) over 5 minutes and editting is slow too.

My PC has an SATA RAID-0 array, Sempron 2800+ and 1GB Corsair XLS Dual Channel RAM. This is really good for most applications but I guess Adobe assumes we have some crazy quad core system or something!?! The Adobe Captivate is totally unusable because of this. On the plus side, it seems to do everything I want.

Still problems with CamStudio and trying MS Media Encoder 9 is next on my list.

lowsky13 - Fantastic observation regarding the resolution (clearly 720x480 is NOT proportional to 1024x768). It's so obvious now you told me but I never would have thought of it! Thanks.
Adrian ThompsonSoftware Engineer and Consultant for Website Development and Online MarketingAuthor Commented:
I have not managed to implement a definate solution. However, all your suggestions have really helped me along the right path! Many thanks.

When I get more time to investigate, I may open a new question with my findings. So watch this space! Thanks again to you all.
Adrian ThompsonSoftware Engineer and Consultant for Website Development and Online MarketingAuthor Commented:
Some great tips. Cheers.
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