Screen Capture and Web Demos

Screen capture is used not only to take a still image of a screen but to show a user’s experience on a short video complete with typed characters and movement of a mouse cursor. It can be a useful tool for adding elements to a presentation like a website product demo or a computer-based how-to process, or even to rotate a 3D design in Tinkercad.

It can show how a prototype will work faster than a handful of slides or explanations. Like most other pieces of an advanced presentation it is best to use screen capture sparingly, but when it is needed it can be a huge time saver in explaining how a computer process works.

Remember, don’t use this to capture someone else’s work!

screen capture of creating screen capture
A good tool will let you crop your view so you are only recording the parts of the screen you need.

Choose your tool

We suggest doing most screen capture on a computer. There are very few free tools that will capture a moving screen on mobile, and there is no cursor to display. (Probably someone is developing these tools right now.) Here are two free, computer-based options for screen capture.

Flashback Recorder: The (free) Express version of this tool should be everything you need to capture your screen. It has the added benefit that it can record your computer sounds as well if you have added music or sounds to the presentation.

Screencast-o-matic: This also has a free and paid version, but the free version still has plenty of options including adding voice-over from your microphone. This can be helpful if you do not intend to use Powerpoint for your demo.

Set up your screen

Make sure your screen is how you need it to be, with the window or portion you want to record maximized and the focus of the product in the center of the screen. This way if you need to crop later, it’s easy.

Record your demo

You may need a few angles or a few takes to get the right amount of content. It always helps to record more and edit some pieces out than to realize you have to go back later. Using an editing tool, you’ll be able to cut several pieces together to show different angles or different parts of the process. It may help to run through and record the entire process several times, so you have options and sections to choose from.

Finishing up on the cutting room floor

Regardless of which option you choose, you are likely to need to edit your results. Save your file as an mp4 or other general, video-compatible format so you can edit it and show it later.

Show off your creations from different angles

Be sure to check the video editing sections for free editing tools. These will come in handy especially to cut out screen load times or other delays, to crop the screen, to edit several segments together for a comprehensive demo, and more.

Lesson One: Intro to embedded media
Lesson Two: Appropriate animations
Lesson Three: Screen capture
Lesson Four: Recording a presentation
Lesson Five: Putting it all together
Further Resources