UW-Madison Kaltura - Screencasting Software Comparison and Review
Author: Jacob Seibert
Editor: Josh Harder
In this document three different applications used for recording your screen are explored, compared, and reviewed.
UPDATE (12/17/2015): As soon as we have access to CaptureSpace Lite, we will be adding it to this review.
Screencasting software is used to capture the user’s computer screen and is often supplemented by a webcam. This type of software is great for recording lectures, creating supplemental material, recording walkthroughs, and many other applications. There are some great free options out there that do not have a good review or comparison chart such as Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Screencast-o-matic, and Screencastify. This review is for faculty and staff using screencasting as part of their instruction. I wanted to focus on ease of use and capture capabilities. A good fit needs to be both intuitive and provide just the right number of options for capturing, editing, and exporting.
|Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)||Screencast-o-matic||Screencastify|
|OS X||OSX 10.8+||OSX 10.6+||As long as you have chrome|
|Windows||Windows 7/8/10||Windows Vista+||As long as you have chrome|
|Linux||Ubuntu(14.04/15.04+) / Arch Linux /,OpenSUSE / Gentoo / Build From Source||No||As long as you have chrome|
|Premium||Free||$15/year||$22.72 (one time)|
|Microphone||Up to 3 Mic/Auxiliary
or Mic device
|Desktop Audio Recording||Up to 2 Desktop Audio
|Yes (pro only)||Yes|
|Full Desktop Recording||Yes||No||Yes|
|Desktop Windowed Recording||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Crop Size of Video||Yes||Yes (Pro Only)||Yes (Premium Only)|
|Trimming/Timeline Editing||No||Yes||Yes (Premium Only)|
|Video Codec||H264 - MPEG-4 AVC
|H264 - MPEG-4 AVC
|Audio Codec||MPEG AAC (mp4a)||MPEG AAC (mp4a)||Vorbi Audio (vorb)|
After testing Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), Screencast-o-matic, and Screencastify, I feel the best option for experienced users is OBS. However, for someone looking to pick up screencasting quickly, Screencast-o-matic offered the right balance of ease-of-use and functionality.
Video Walkthrough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TPfAVqsY80 (Please note that OBS updates frequently, so this video may not be of the most recent version.)
The range of options available via OBS was amazing considering it is completely free. Although targeted at professional video game players who want to live broadcast and record their gaming sessions, OBS has solid applications within the realm of education (see Anastasia Salter’s blog post on ProfHacker for more information). OBS had the greatest variety of input options and allowed for the most customization. The ability to preconfigure scenes containing various inputs and quickly switch between those scenes while recording was a powerful feature. The use of scenes is comparable to switching between cameras on a television show. For example, in one scene I displayed my PowerPoint presentation along with my webcam while in another scene I displayed just the PowerPoint.
Although OBS has a great number of features and customization, it may be overwhelming to someone who is unfamiliar with screencasting and the options available to them. Most options are not clearly spelled out. For example, when selecting from the list of sources there is no option for “webcam”. Instead, you need to add a “Video Capture Device” and designate that the video capture device is pulling video from your webcam. Fortunately, if you are curious enough, randomly clicking on options is usually fruitful. OBS was designed for users with some experience in video and audio editing, but is not insurmountable by the novice.
OBS also provides a feature that none of the other tools in this review have—live streaming. With a little experience, you can quickly stream to the most popular sites such as UW-Madison Google Apps YouTube Live Streaming, Twitch.tv, and Hitbox.tv! All of these features make OBS a great option for experienced users looking to do something different with their screen captures.
Video Walkthroughs: http://help.screencast-o-matic.com/
Of the tools in this review, the most accessible screencasting option is Screencast-o-matic. Unlike OBS, Screencast-o-matic starts up ready to use, with three clearly visible options for getting started (Whole Screen, Webcam, or Both). It is already set up to your video and audio devices on your computer so there is almost no setup required to start recording. The interface is very easy to navigate which allows the user to worry about what they are recording, not on how to record. Before saving the video, you can review the recording you just made. This allows you to catch mistakes before doing more extensive editing. After completing your screen capture, Screencast-o-matic provides an editing interface in which you can clip and crop your video. Unfortunately, you can only crop the beginning and end in the free version, but the pro version is only $15/year and offers more editing and capturing options.
Although Screencast-o-matic is easy to use I did find some buggy behavior while working on this review. People with two monitors will find that it tricky to get Screencast-o-matic to move your selected capture area to your other monitor. It took multiple tries to get this to work (on all operating systems). I also noticed that on some versions, the settings option would disappear if you wanted to change anything once you got it to the second monitor. Even though this is annoying, the main reason I like this software is because it is easy to use. If you are looking to do more options with multiple screens, that is where OBS shines. Screencast-o-matic is easy to use and still offers a lot of cool options for creating and editing video. The most recent version was just release so hopefully future updates will address these multiple monitor issues.
Video Walkthrough: https://youtu.be/je6c7yhAfts
Last but not least, we have Screencastify. In some ways it was a bit of the odd duck in this review. Screencastify works as an extension in Google’s Chrome browser, which means it works wherever you can install Chrome (which is a lot of places). It’s tight integration with Chrome means that you can quickly and easily record whatever you are doing in a webpage within a tab in Chrome. Pretty cool! Although you can record your web browser using OBS and Screencast-o-matic, Screencastify’s integration with Chrome means that you don’t have to separately resize your browser window and capture area every time you adjust what you are recording. Besides quick tab recording, I found Screencastify’s free version to be restrictive. It would tease me with cool features, but then, at the last second, it would tell me to pay to get that functionality. Although it is only $22.72 (one time payment), I found both OBS and Screencast-o-matic to be more robust and easier to use. I would rather take OBS’s less user-friendly interface or Screencast-o-matic’s yearly $15 dollar payment over Screencastify.
OBS had the most customizable features that allowed for some very cool capturing and streaming options and was my personal favorite. In a very close second was Screencast-o-matic, as it is the easiest to use and navigate, and for only $15/year you can get some very cool presentation and editing options to add to your screencapture experience. Finally, compared to the other two, I felt Screencastify just didn’t quite operate on the level of the other two tools. Its free option too restrictive and overall, wasn’t able to perform as well as the other two. Additionally, it was just awkward trying to operate screencasting software within Chrome. In my opinion this was yet another downside to using Screencastify. For more experienced users I recommend giving OBS a try, and for anyone looking for easy editing features in a friendly user interface, Screencast-o-matic is your best bet.