I recently spent about 4 hours figuring something simple out, and I want to save others the trouble. Suppose you want to basically videotape your screen activity so you can demonstrate software or a websearch and post it on online as a video. You could shoot the screen with your videocamera, but you'd prefer to have clean video output that you can edit and upload.
I wanted to convert my computer screen activity (every movement that appears on my laptop screen– even my mouse moving and my keys typing) into a movie file that I could edit in iLife (Mac). After a bit of Googling, I found a freeware/shareware application called "Replay Screencast" by Applian Technologies. Unfortunately, the free trial limits you to 1 minute, and I needed about 2. So I reluctantly paid $30 to buy the program… knowing I'd probably never use it again.
It worked like a charm- easy to use and the output was perfect. BUT its output was restricted to a stupid WMV file. My Arrogant Mac looked at the WMV file like one might view a drunk crack whore at a hospice bingo game. Fortunately, Mac offers Flip4Mac, a free tool that converts video files. Of course I learned that the free version of Flip4Mac was for viewing only — not converting. So I shelled out another $30 to get the Flip4FrigginMac pro version. The result of $60 and 4 hours? My wmv files was a white screen with no sound!
Next, I find a freeware app called VideoZilla that converts WMV to AVI. But that turns the little MMV video into a monsterous 4 GB file that I can't seem to get off my IBM laptop despite ample room on my two Maxtor hard drives. So I converted the AVI to a MPEG on VideoZilla and imported it to iLife. It looked like a UHF signal during an electric storm.
So I'm now out 4 hours and $60 with nothing to show for it. I do another Google and find the Xilisoft Video Converter, and try transfering my Replay AVI to a Quicktime MOV file. It worked.
Read Specs: Read output specificationss carefully on these. Video file types are like highschool cliques.
Research Options: To downlaod free applications or purchase advanced ones, check out: All-Streaming-Media.com.
SnagIt? I wish I had purhased a SnagIt version instead of Replay, since Replay's output is limited to WMV. SnagIt for image grabbing is one of the best applications I have (for grabbing web impages and quickly cropping them and dropping them to a website, word, Powerpoint, etc.). I'm pretty sure SnagIt has a version that does what Replay does. But I'm not throwing good money after bad.