I have been doing written and audio versions of my tutorials for a number of years, and they have been well received. But usually they are about using software of some kind, and I thought it was getting to be time that I looked into creating videos and putting them on YouTube. After all, isn’t that what YouTube is for? I know my wife and I tend to go to YouTube first when we need to figure out why something doesn’t work, or how to fix something that is broken. So let’s do this!
The first thing you need to do is get some software to capture what you are doing on your computer. There are a number of options here, some paid, some free. In the paid category, Camtasia (formerly Camtasia Studio) seems to be the one to beat. I know a number of YouTube creators swear by it as producing the best quality of video and having lots of features. Camtasia can do the basics, but it also does more advanced stuff like Cursor FX, which lets you add to your cursor when the video is created so that it stands out more and is easier to follow. And it lets you plug in a Web cam and do a picture-in-picture so that while you are displaying your screen your audience can also see your smiling face. That is not a must-have feature for me, since I have been properly described as having a face for radio. You can do Green Screen in Camtasia, add Closed Captions, add Animations, add Annotations and Call-outs, etc. The link I gave will let you look at all of the features. I suspect that if I was trying to monetize my channel and make a living from it I would probably pick Camtasia. The other thing about Camtasia is that they are a local (Michigan) company, and I know someone who used to work there. This is available for Mac and Windows. This goes for $300US.
This is one for when you want to record what you are doing on your phone. DU Recorder is a free app, available for both Android and iPhone, and works without root privileges. You can record up to 60 fps, up to 1080p video output, and up to 12Mbps in quality. It also has editing capability, which is not necessarily a must-have, but is definitely a nice-to-have. You can always edit in another application like Kdenlive or OpenShot, or even in a proprietary app like Adobe Premier, but I think there is definitely a benefit to doing everything in the one app.
Xbox Game Bar
Xbox Game Bar is built in to any Windows 10 computer. Just type “game bar” into the search box and it should come up. Of course it should be no surprise that with gamers recording their exploits to upload to YouTube and Twitch that a utility like this would be made available. Equally of course, it is Windows-only, which is limiting. It is designed to record game clips, but it can record anything on your screen perfectly well. As a game clip application, it is limited to 30 mins of recording in a single video, and I have watched game videos that are longer than that. Still, if you are on the Windows platform and want a free app you already have, this may be worth a look. For what I want to do, which is tutorials of open source programs on Linux, this is a non-starter.
When you think of Zoom, a screen recorder is not what comes to mind. But it does have that capability as part of its conferencing options. The link I have here will give you the instructions, but there are a few things to note. First, it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but not for iOS or Android. So it is really a desktop recording app. Second, you need to enable Recording in the Account Settings. And this capability is there for the purpose of recording the Zoom meeting itself. So you need to do a little hack here and share your screen in Zoom and then record. Here is a video that explains the basics of this: How To Record Your Computer Screen For Free Using Zoom. You can do some nice stuff like annotate your screen while recording, which is a white-board type of feature. Unfortunately you do not have any control over your video quality, but a lot of people have Zoom on their computer these days, so it is handy if you aren’t going to do a lot of videos.
There is a free version called Flashback Express, and a Pro version that is a free 10-day trial, then you have to buy it. The Pro version is only $49US, so significantly cheaper than Camtasia. So how do the two versions compare? They both will capture your screen and record it. They both will also capture a Webcam and incorporate it into the video as a screen-in-screen. They both let you add commentary, have no time limits, and do not add any watermarks. But what the Pro version gives you is a full editing suite built into the application, apply video effects, add text, images, and sounds, and finally, it lets you save in all formats. The express version is limited to saving *.mp4, *.avi, and *.wmv. Now depending on what you want to do, the Express version may be all you need. I think that with *.mp4 and *.avi you can upload to any site I know of. Here is a good video if you want to know more: FlashBack Express – the best free screen recorder(Review and indepth look).
Apowersoft Free On-line Screen Recorder
The Apowersoft Free On-line Screen Recorder is different take on this because it is on-line (though you do have to download a launcher the first time you use it. It has a lot of good features found in the paid apps, such as mouse hot-spots (this puts a colored circle around your cursor, making it easier to follow), Web cam picture-in-picture, and the ability to record a region on your screen instead of just the whole screen or a particular window. Unfortunately, it appears to be a Windows-only application. You can see a video about this one at How To Use Apowersoft Online Screen Recorder.
Nvidia Shadowplay is something you may already have access to if you run Windows and have an Nvidia graphics card. It is not the most full-featured app in this category, but it does have the most essential features. It can easily stream to Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook. It can accept a Web cam for that picture-in-picture effect. And in some ways the fact that it has fewer features can make it easier to use. You can see a brief tutorial here: How to Use Nvidia ShadowPlay (Beginners Guide).
AMD Relive is the counterpart to the Nvidia Shadowplay, and is available for Radeon video cards. So no matter which video architecture you favor, you have the tools. I have seen comparisons of AMD Relive vs. Nvidia Shadowplay, but I seriously doubt anyone is going to base their purchase decision for a video card on how good the free software is, at least among the gamers I know. I find many of them have intense brand loyalty. But in either case, you have good free software available, and coming from the video card manufacturer you can benefit from tight integration between the hardware and the software. If you are primarily interested in recording high frame rate games, it can make the difference. A nice review is available here: AMD ReLive: An Awesome Shadowplay Alternative!
Screenrec is a free screen recorder that is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It was developed for business use, but you can use it for YouTube videos and game recording as well. It has annotation tools, can capture from a Webcam, and offers some cloud storage, though you will probably want to keep files on your hard drive or server since the storage they offer is limited. For more information and a tutorial check out: ScreenRec – Free Screen Capture for developers,support,projects [indepth review].
ShareX is an interesting possibility. It is a free and open-source program, licensed under the GPL 3.0 license, as the Github page states. But it is only available for Windows due to the development technologies they used. It looks like a very interesting option if you are on Windows, and I love the GPL licensing, but I don’t think it is the best choice for me. A tutorial is available at How to Use ShareX (Beginners Guide) 2021.
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS): OBS Studio
OBS is what I want to use. It is open source softeware, licensed under the GPL v.2. It is cross-platform, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. And I was leaning in this direction before I started researching the altrnatives because it is the software used by Dr. John Campbell for his YouTube channel, which I follow. I saw how it could combine multiple cameras, including a document camera, bring in video from interviews with people all over the world, and make a seamless presentation. And when I started looking for resources under the “best screen recorders” search term, this was literally on every list I found. So I think it is worth a look. There is a good tutorial here: How to use OBS for Screen Recording or Streaming – Beginner Tutorial.
As we have seen, there are a lot of good choices out there to fit anyone’s budget or needs, and you might make a different choice than I did. But you have a lot of options available. Next, I plan to dive into OBS Studio.