General Software

Autodesk Screencast Simplifies Recording, Sharing Training Videos

23 Jul, 2015 By: Randall S. Newton

For selected Autodesk software titles, the free utility records commentary and onscreen activity as well as the tools and settings in use.


In a recent Cadalyst article on professional development (“The Sly CAD User’s Guide to Professional Development”), I advised readers to tap into the power of their peers to expand their training options. Autodesk is doing its part to encourage peer-to-peer learning with Autodesk Screencast, a free utility for Windows and Mac users. Screencast enables users to easily create simple user-narrated screen-capture videos, then share them online.

Screencast is an example of Autodesk’s new generation of cloud-enhanced software: It comprises a recording application that’s downloaded onto the user’s computer and a website that processes, stores, and displays the recordings as interactive video tutorials. All videos created with Screencast are hosted at Screencast.Autodesk.com. Links to the videos can be embedded in a webpage or shared to social media sites.

By default, any videos created with Screencast are covered by a Creative Commons license that authorizes free viewing and reuse. (Creative Commons is not mandatory, but to change it the user would have to explicitly claim copyright protection as part of the video. Autodesk encourages Creative Commons in order to make the site more valuable to users.)


Screencast can record workflow data as well as the on-screen action for a select subset of Autodesk products, including AutoCAD.


Screencast started life as Project Chronicle on Autodesk Labs. The initial idea was to marry the features of a commercial screen-capture video recording product (such as TechSmith Camtasia) with context-aware special features. As it evolved from Chronicle to Screencast last year, the software gained the ability to record all the details of workflow information from selected Autodesk products. As a result, it produces videos that show not only the action in the software being demonstrated but also the mouse clicks and typing, plus the tools and settings being used.

All the associated information is stored with the video and presented onscreen as the Screencast Timeline. Today Screencast Timeline supports workflow capture for AutoCAD, Autodesk Fusion 360, Revit, Inventor, and their verticals; Autodesk says it is working to expand the functionality to other products. For unsupported products, Screencast still shows mouse movement and keystrokes.

Screencast is both a tool for creating training videos and a resource for finding and watching training videos; we’ll look at both types of functionality here.

Creating a Screencast

To use Screencast to create videos, start by downloading the application from the Screencast home page (look for the blue button in the top right corner). It is a short download — the file is about 21 MB in size — and it installs quickly.

To record videos, you must have your display set to True Color 32-bit. Because this is a common setting, I wouldn’t bother to check your display setting unless your first attempt at recording is unsuccessful.

You’ll be recording audio as well as video, so you will need a microphone. I tried both a lapel microphone and the one that’s built into my webcam; the lapel mic yielded better results.

Open the application as you would any other piece of desktop software, and a minimalist recording screen will appear. A “More/Less” button toggles the display of additional information about recording, including the active application or webpage being recorded.


When first launched, the Screencast interface displays only a few command icons; click the More button for additional information.



A more expansive view of the Screencast recording window.
 

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About the Author: Randall S. Newton


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