There are a number of applications available to do the screen capture and record it to a video file. Camtasia (from TechSmith) is one good choice, although it does have some serious limitations. It requires re-routing the sound card wiring in order to capture audio contained in the presentation, and for this reason Austin does not recommend its use. On the plus side, it has a very clear user interface, which is why Kathy prefers it.
Austin prefers to use Microsoft's Windows Media Encoder. It is available as a free download from the Microsoft web site. While it doesn't have the most intuitive interface, it does do an excellent job of capturing the presentation along with audio without the need to re-route the machine's sound cables.
In both cases, there are some things you can and should do in order to get the best possible results. It takes a fairly powerful PC to both play the presentation and capture audio/video to a file at the same time. With this in mind, do the following before beginning your capture
Shut down ALL other applications running in the background, including anti-virus software, internet connections, email connections and other taskbar software.
Reduce the screen resolution to no higher than 800 X 600. You can even set the resolution to 640 X 480 and still get acceptable results for television viewing. Using this lower resolution will allow more of the computer's resources to be allocated to PowerPoint. This allows the presentation to run more along the timeline intended.
Lower the screen's color depth, preferably to 16-bit. This greatly reduces the amount of data recorded and stored.
Turn off video hardware acceleration. While this sounds counterproductive, it forces the video to be handled by the processor instead of the video card. If the video is being drawn by the video card, the information must then be moved back to the CPU for capture and requires much more work for the system.
Reduce the audio capture format to the least data required for acceptable sound. For television playback there is no need for high data rates in stereo.
Reduce the frames per second (fps) to the lowest acceptable quality. This level will depend upon what you have I happening on the screen. Lots of motion requires higher frame rates to make the captured video appear smooth.
Use a solid color for the background on the slides. A busy background, like an image, requires considerably more processor activity to capture and compress than a solid color background.
Capture the video and sound in an uncompressed format. This reduces the workload on the processor and provides a higher quality image if you need to edit the file later.
Use variable data rates for capture. You can set the data rate in the capture software. Variable data rates allow the capture software to reduce the file size and work load by using only the amount of data needed to produce a quality capture.
Once the capture is completed, decide what codec will be used when saving. If transferring to a DVD, make certain the file format is compatible with the DVD burning software you will use.
Using the Windows Media Encoder to do the capture will create a WMV file, so make sure the DVD software will be able to play WMV's. If it doesn't, you will need to add an extra conversion step.
One word of warning: Captured presentations create very large files. Make sure there is space on the hard drive for the files before starting the capture. Otherwise, you will get errors in the middle of the video capture and have to start again.
If you are concerned about having enough space or speed, do the regular disk maintenance (Chapter 8) before starting the capture process, including a defragmentation of the hard drive.