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What is a screencast

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Wondering what is a screencast and how is it different from a video recording?

Wondering what is a screencast and how is it different from a video recording?

The Internet age has spawned quite a few terms that were not in the lexicon of most people just a few years ago. Everyone now knows that the Web is not referring to a spider web but is talking about the Internet. Terms like Troll have also taken on new meanings thanks to the rise in popularity of discussion forums and social networks. What once only described a mythical creature that liked to feed on billy boats is now the widely recognized and sometimes highly prized turn of phrase when referring to someone who is only posting in order to infuriate and annoy other Internet users.

The Internet is always evolving and starting its own memes so quickly and so completely that there are entire websites that are dedicated to keeping track of those memes and cataloging them for people who might have stumbled upon them for the very first time.

In that vein, a fairly new term has been cropping up in the everyday conversations of Internet users. This term hasn’t quite caught on the way some of the other more well known terms have managed to become familiar. The term? Screencast.

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If you have ever heard someone refer to a very helpful “screencast,” you might think you had heard them wrong. Once you got them to repeat themselves and you knew that you had in fact heard them right, you were probably asking yourself, what is a screencast?


While you might think this is some complicated web application that only the nerdiest of the nerds know about, it is actually quite a helpful tool and is usually geared more towards people who are not Internet savants as a way to get them caught up to the rest of us.

If you have had a decent amount of experience using the web, then you probably understand what a screenshot is. The screenshot is basically the first cousin to the screencast. A screenshot is pretty much exactly what it sounds like as it is actually a picture, taken by your computer of a particular screen someone was browsing. These are usually used to help someone demonstrate something quickly and easily by taking a camera shot of what it is the user was doing. We’ve attached a screenshot of a screencast to this article so that you are actually getting a demonstration of both.

By this point you have probably then managed to guess what a screencast might be. A screencast is a video of what a person was doing, again taken using a program on the computer they are using. The best screencasts tend to be those that are fluidly showing you how to complete a task. The best of the best of the screencasts are going to actually be accompanied by a voice over in the video so that not only are you watching someone complete a task, but they are walking you through the steps as they do them.

Screencasts can be about anything that an Internet user wishes to demonstrate, but the nature of the program usually means that they will be about some sort of task that is done operating a web application. A screencast can even be about something like how to find a gift online or navigate your way through a specific website. Screencasts are often uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, or are embedded in the website that produced them. Screencast that are “private” – intended only for a specific audience, can be uploaded to the “cloud” and then shared with link by email.

The only real requirement to make a screencast for the public is that it should actually be informative and practical and be a video that is showing what they are doing, as they are doing it. Beyond those caveats, there really isn’t any rules on what a screencast should cover or how long it should be.


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