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Looking for Feedback

I’ve found a cool open source free software called CamStudio that allows me to create tutorials.  It captures my screen activity, thus allowing me to create instructional videos.  CamStudio isn’t new and has been around for quite some time.  I’m just thrilled to have stumbled across it.

To test it out, I created a short video on how to add Amazon affiliate links to eHow articles.  I already addressed this subject in an earlier post, but I thought what better way to test out a new toy than to select an old familiar topic.

[flv:amazonaff.flv 420 300]

Since I can only test the video results in my own computing environment, I’m asking if you would checkout the video and give me some feedback on a few things:

  1. Video load time
  2. Video/Browser compatibility – Were you able to play the video?
  3. Video clarity (I know it gets a bit fuzzy at full screen, but I’m not quite sure how to fix that problem)
  4. Video sound (Unfortunately, I cannot change my voice, so I want to know if it was clear or muffled – A public speaker, I’m not)
  5. Was it at all helpful?

My goal is to eventually fine tune the video process to be able to offer instructional videos and tutorials on an ongoing basis.  I’ve found that sometimes a video can help explain a process much easier than a written article or blog post.

For folks who are veterans at making online videos, I’d appreciate any tips you’d be willing to offer.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Deanna October 9, 2009, 12:13 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    I have never heard of this before and I can see where it would be very useful for blogs. I watched the video and it was helpful because it made learning the topic much easier than reading instructions. The video began quickly when I hit play but paused every couple of seconds so it took awhile to get through the whole thing. Now, that could be my computer and not you, of course, but generally I can watch videos without too much trouble. I loved being able to hear your voice – now I can place a voice to your picture! Fun! Can’t wait to see more of your videos.
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..Orato.com – Writing Site Review =-.

    • Felicia October 9, 2009, 12:26 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, DeAnna. I really appreciate it.

      I think it was slow because I might have made the file too large. I guess I’ll have to learn a bit more about compressing it to make it play straight through without stopping. Back to the drawing board.

      I love the internet. There’s always something new to learn!

  • Cyn Vela October 9, 2009, 1:28 pm

    I was able to see the video without a hitch. It loaded very quickly (within a few seconds, and well ahead of the “viewing progress”). The quality was very good — I watched it in both full screen and small version. The audio was crystal-clear. Two thumbs up from South Texas! 🙂

    I have only used jing before, but I am going to try this out for size. I really appreciate the quality of the picture and sound.
    .-= Cyn Vela´s last blog ..Twitter and Digg: Can Social Bookmarking Increase Your eHow Income? =-.

    • Felicia October 9, 2009, 1:36 pm

      Thanks Cyn.

      I’m glad to know it played fine for you. This is all brand new to me so I’ve got to experiment a little.

      I think the software is great. It produces a nice product and you can’t beat the price. 😉 Hope you have some fun with it.

  • Eve October 9, 2009, 1:37 pm

    So nice to hear your voice, Felicia! Had the same problems as DeAnna – it kept pausing every few seconds, then restarting. My internet connection is not the greatest, but I watch videos all the time. I think something may be wrong. But it was so nice to hear your voice!
    .-= Eve´s last blog ..Woe Is Me: Another eHow Sweep =-.

  • Julie October 9, 2009, 1:59 pm

    Everything worked perfectly on my end. As you said, it’s a little fuzzy at full screen but I was still able to follow it just fine. Good work!
    .-= Julie @ Write for eHow´s last blog ..eHow Earnings for September =-.

    • Felicia October 9, 2009, 2:01 pm

      Hmm, so far 50% had problems. That’s a very high percentage. I see I’ve got my work cut out for me.

      Thanks for all the feedback.

  • Heidi October 9, 2009, 4:48 pm

    Worked very well for me. And I agree with the others, very nice to hear your voice!

    Sometimes I have issues with stop/starting on videos. It seems to happen randomly. I usually just pause it and wait for it to load a little bit more, then start it up again.

    To add your specific questions:
    1. Loaded fast for me
    2. I use Firefox
    3. It was clear enough to understand the process.
    4. Voice was strong and clear.
    5. It was helpful. It might be more helpful to get up a dummy ehow article so you can publish and show people what it would look like/link to on a finished piece, but I realize this was just a sample to test the software. 🙂
    .-= Heidi´s last blog ..Hell’s Kitchen: Like white on risotto =-.

    • Felicia October 9, 2009, 4:59 pm

      Ultimately, I’d like to decrease the file size to improve speed and hopefully prevent the video from pausing on some systems, but doing so causes the images to appear even blurrier.

      I guess I’ve got to strike the right balance between clarity and file size.

      Thanks for the input.

  • Shannon October 10, 2009, 12:52 am

    Wow, Felicia — thanks for creating and posting this informative video. The sound and playback are 100% fine. (I’m using Firefox.) I signed up for an Amazon affiliate account but have had trouble posting links just into my WP blog — let alone eHow articles — and your video demonstrates it step-by-step. There’s nothing like seeing the process in action. Thanks again.

    P.S. Your voice sounds exactly like I thought it would! 🙂

    • Felicia October 10, 2009, 9:08 am

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Oh, and my voice. I sound just like my mom. She always used to complain how she sounds so terrible on audio and I feel the same way. But, there’s nothing I can do about it. Public speaking isn’t my bag, but if it helps you guys, a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. 😉

  • Ignatius October 10, 2009, 12:56 am

    It worked fine for me in both small and full screen modes. It loaded quickly and there were no pauses. I use Firefox and have a fast Internet connection and a middling computer. I was listening through crummy little laptop speakers, but the audio was clear. I think the video would be very helpful to folks who use eHow or have an interest in using an Amazon affiliate account.

    One thing I would mention is that anyone using this kind of screen capture should be very careful about what information is showing on the screen. You don’t want to give a hacker useful information about your accounts. You might find a tool in the software that would allow you to blackout or blur personal information. I don’t know the program, so I’m not sure if that exists, but please be careful when you’re displaying information on a screen capture. There is often more there than you would think.

    • Felicia October 10, 2009, 9:13 am

      Thanks Ignatius for the warning.

      I thought about that and thought I had been careful, but you’re right. I agree that I show just a little too much info than is necessary to explain the topic.

      I’ll look into finding a software that blurs out unnecessary info.

  • jen October 10, 2009, 9:54 am

    Looks great! Sound and load time were fine. The only thing I would do differently is to zoom in a little more. Once I viewed full screen though, I was able to easily see what was going on!

    Thanks for doing this!

  • Ignatius October 10, 2009, 10:55 am

    If you search YouTube for CamStudio, you will find a lot of instructional videos. I don’t know if I can add a link here, but here’s a video that talks about options for compressing your CamStudio audio and video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiug3H3c4gk .

    It looks like you may have to download an add-in compressor to get the smallest file size. If that YouTube doesn’t help, you will find lots of others linked in the sidebar or you can do a search.

    One of the YouTube tutorials I looked at indicated that CamStudio can do screen annotations. You might be able to use that tool to just write over your personal information with additional text or cover it up. I did a search on YouTube for “annotations camstudio” and got quite a few hits. Since I don’t have the program, I can’t check out the tips, but you might find something that would work for you.

    If you can do what you need inside CamStudio with annotations, it is likely to be a lot easier than using an outside graphics program. However, if you want to try an outside program, Gimp is a free program that does a lot of what Photoshop does. I think plug-ins are available for it to work with common video formats. Just go to gimp.org or search for “Gimp” on Google for more information.

    • Felicia October 10, 2009, 12:02 pm

      Wow, thanks Ignatius. Your information is so helpful.

      I’ll check them out this weekend.

  • Crystal October 10, 2009, 4:16 pm

    Wow Felicia – this is great! In answer to your questions:
    1. The video loaded fine although I was experiencing some delay so paused to let it get ahead. This is a common problem on my end and nothing to do with your video.
    2. I’ve got IE 8 and was able to play the video.
    3. As you mentioned, it was a little fuzzy in full screen but not enough to be a problem at all.
    4. The sound was fine once I adjusted my speakers.
    5. Very helpful! I’ll be adding links to my eHow articles when appropriate.

    Congratulations! The capability to add video is a great addition to you blog!
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Comment and Maybe Win a Cookbook! =-.

    • Felicia October 10, 2009, 4:21 pm

      Thanks for the feedback. I think once I really understand what I’m doing, I could be dangerous! 😉

  • Wendy Kelly October 10, 2009, 5:43 pm

    Felicia!I watched the video on my little net book (eee PC) and my Mac G5. No problem at all on my Mac but the eee PC is just way too much of a baby for your video : ) — it took a long time to load and paused quite a few times.

    I think your voice sounds really authoratative but friendly…a good mom voice : ) My boys walked by and said “who’s that nerd?” I said, “that’s not a nerd…that’s my favorite person in the world right now after you guys—(probably a bit hyperbolic, but you are creating such a cool blog here that I am a bit defensive)—” and my eldest goes, “ohhhh…I see…she’s a mom, not a nerd…” : )

    Anyway, good, clear explanations, good sound quality. I could follow what you were doing easily. I watch a lot of this type of video with my sons, and yours looks like you are off to a good start!

    I definitely agree with the idea that you should hide personal information as much as possible.

    Great job. Thanks for sharing and asking for feedback.
    .-= Wendy Kelly´s last blog ..Jul 28, How To Give A Massage =-.

    • Felicia October 10, 2009, 7:49 pm

      LOL!!!! 😀

      Wendy, I read your post and let out the hardiest guffaw! My hubby wanted to know what I was laughing at so I read your comment to him. He got a good chuckle from it too.

      Thanks for our delightful feedback!

      Boys will be boys!

  • Lisa October 15, 2009, 8:07 pm

    Well, your Camtasia experiment went much better than mine, and I agree with whoever said that your voice sounded just like we expected. You never said “um” even once, wow.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..They keep sending me money every day =-.

    • Felicia October 15, 2009, 10:47 pm

      Oh wow. I didn’t notice that. I think my next one will be filled with “ums.” 😀

  • Majinc October 21, 2009, 11:20 am

    1. Video load time

    Loaded quickly, I use Foxfire

    2. Video/Browser compatibility – Were you able to play the video?

    I was able to view it and had no problems, but the computer I loaded it on is the newer one, so maybe that is why I did not have any problems.

    3. Video clarity (I know it gets a bit fuzzy at full screen, but I’m not quite sure how to fix that problem)

    Video was fuzzy for me, but it could be my eyes… (Cataracts *smile*)

    4.Video sound (Unfortunately, I cannot change my voice, so I want to know if it was clear or muffled – A public speaker, I’m not)

    After reading your blogs for the last six months, it was great to hear your voice! it was slow and deliberate, great for the presentation. You were not loud, or too soft, it was good!

    5. Was it at all helpful?

    I will probably try to figure out how to offer webinar type presentations with this tool. You are awesome. (You are my mentor) My webpage needs serious updating. I will steal some ideas from you!

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Felicia October 21, 2009, 1:15 pm

      Thanks, Majinc.

      I just took a quick look at your site. You could do great things with the video software to help your students.

      Glad I was able to give you a few ideas!

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