Robert N. Phillips
CEO, Lasotell Pty Ltd.

How often do you hear people who are trying to provide documentation make that cry? Let me tell you about one of the most underused tools on our Lasotell computers, Lotus ScreenCam.

Lotus ScreenCam has to be one of the easiest tools to use—start the application, press the record button, then speak and demonstrate what you want to explain, press stop. Save the file as a standalone executable or as a screencam file that you can view with the free SCPlayer.

Microsoft also provides a camcorder application that makes AVI files. We have seen a series of training programs provided as .mov files, but our experience is that the Lotus ScreenCam movies have better frame rates.

The quality of the sound in the movie is controlled (in this order) by

  • The sampling frequency you choose—the higher the frequency and the more bits, the better the sound but the larger the file.
  • Your sound card—lower performance cards can be compensated for, to some extent, by using the highest sampling frequency they support, but you cannot beat having a good quality sound card. (And it does not have to be the top of the range—for example, a Creative Vibra 128 does a very reasonable job.)
  • Your microphone—head-mounted noise-reducing microphones are not expensive. Buy one.

Obviously, movies can be linked and accessed from CD or across the intranet or Internet. ScreenCam movies tend to be quite large so Internet distribution is not practical unless you know the customers have broadband access.

But remember, like any other document, the movie content needs to be planned, which means an Information Plan, a Content Specification, and so on. If you do not plan the content, do not be surprised if the users do not understand the demonstration either.