I create a lot of screencasts for my classes. I have evolved to mainly using screencasts to provide solutions to quick questions, of which I have roughly 400 this semester. Because of this, I can save a lot of time if I can import my PDF file of quiz questions to my screencasting software so that I do not need to re-write the questions.
It is not convenient for me to create videos at work. I have a Linux box in my office, but it is a bit unreliable for screencasting, and I do not have complete control over it to make it reliable. For instance, I had screencasting in my office figured out a year ago, but now my Wacom Bamboo tablet has stopped working. I do not have the permissions (I don’t think) to fix this, since we have a central Linux administrator (I also don’t immediately have the know-how to fix this tablet issue, although I think I could figure it out).
Another alternative is to use a Windows machine elsewhere on campus, but I don’t really like leaving my office.
Instead, I decided to start screencasting from my iPad at home after my family has gone to sleep. This has a number of advantages: there is comfortable furniture, I can see what I am writing on the iPad (as opposed to the Bamboo tablet), and there are tasty snacks.
The main issue me was deciding which screencasting app to use. I have toyed around with Doceri previously because it is free, but I was concerned that it did not support importing PDF files. I had heard great things about Explain Everything—it supports but I was wary of committing to a $2.99 price tag. I am merely a consumer of both Doceri and Explain Everything; neither company has paid me anything to write this post.
Because I have 400 videos to make, I decided that importing my PDF quiz file was important enough to spend $2.99. The file imported well, and I was able to create a couple of screencasts.
But the problem came in when I started uploading the files to YouTube. It was taking Explain Everything roughly 10 minutes to upload a two minute video. Because I have 400-some videos to create, it is simply unacceptable to spend 500% of the time I spend creating the video in uploading the video.
So I went back to Doceri. It turns out that there is a very easy work-around for import PDF files in my situation. I can open my PDF quiz file in Dropbox, take screenshots (press and hold the power button, then press the home button) of the questions I want to do, and then I can import the screenshots easily into Doceri from my Pictures app.
The great part: Doceri takes about 10 seconds—rather than 10 minutes— to upload a two minute video. This has worked extremely well—I was able to create 35 videos in two hours last night (as opposed to the roughly eight videos I would have been able to create with Explain Everything).
I was so happy with Doceri that I paid them $4.99 to remove the watermarking on my screencasts.
[Edit: Andrew Stacy and Dale Buske reminded me that I meant to write about the Explain Everything Compressor. This is a $15 app for a Mac (not the iPad) that does the compressing for you so that you can continue to make screencasts on the iPad while the Mac compresses. I was very close to purchasing it, when I decided to give Doceri another chance (Robert Campbell was very encouraging here). The bottom line: I get to save $15 and avoid having to use two machines by going with Doceri. Additionally, I found some reviews saying the compressor was mediocre, and I didn’t want to spend $15 on something that doesn’t work well.]
I hadn’t read anything about this being an issue with Explain Everything; I imagine that it might be because Explain Everything has greater editing capabilities, so it stores more information. But this is not a feature creating quick and dirty screencasts.