This is the second post in a series on Capturing and Captioning a Screen Reader Demo.
Recording the demo means capturing the video on the screen as well as the audio from the screen reader and my verbal explanations. Since I am using the JAWS screen reader I will be working in Windows 7 via a virtual machine on my MacBook Pro. The first challenge is finding a screen recorder. I used the free BB Flashback Express 5 product from Blueberry software which works on Windows.
Many people use Camtasia from Tech Smith and it has the advantage of having versions for both Windows and OS X (although you need to purchase each separately). I tried demo versions of both software and preferred BB Flashback Express – your mileage may vary depending upon your needs. I was a bit remiss as an accessibility advocate as I did not evaluate either for the accessibility of the product itself.
I provide just a brief explanation of my recording experience as this post is not meant to be a detailed explanation of using BB Flashback Express. I’ve tried to capture the important recording choices that you should be able to apply to other recorders.
I did modify the record settings in BB Flashback Express Recorder. I elected to record just the window containing the Firefox browser where I was running my Web application, the Readium.org open source EPUB cloud reader. I wanted to record sound so I selected the source as the PC speakers. The second source is the microphone of the USB headset I use with my computer. This allows me to capture JAWS speaking as well as my voice providing explanations. Here is a capture of the record screen showing my selections to record the window and sound. :
Be forwarned that once you enter the land of media recording you can become easily overwhelmed with formats and settings and CODECs – oh my! I generally used the default recording settings. The recording process itself was pretty simple. I pressed the Record button, selected the window, and ran through the demo. When I stopped the recording accepted the option to save. The resulting video is 7 minutes long.
BB Flashback Express saves the recoding in its own .fbr format but the companion BB Flashback Player offers the option to export to .swf (flash) or .avi. Since I dislike Flash and it is harder to find free conversion software that accepts flash, I converted to avi. There are many settings to select when converting. On the options panel I used the default Microsoft Video1 codec. I selected this because it is the default and I know it worked for me in other recordings. I claim to know nothing of value about codecs! I also selected a key frame every 25 frames but I can’t remember why. Here is a screen shot with those options selected.
Pressing the OK button brings up another screen with more options. The only change I made was on the frame rate tab where I changed from the default of Full frame Rate (10fps) to ½ frame rate (5ps). I did this based on experience. The free file conversion tool I use later has a size limit. If I did not lower the frame rate my videos were greater than the 100 MB size limit of the free tool. The quality at 5 frames per second was sufficient for my demos.
WARNING – IE 11 in Windows 7 can not play .mp4 videos with a height greater than 1088 pixels! This tripped me up in the first video I recorded – it would not play in IE 11 and I had no idea why. Thankfully I found this post, html5 video in IE 11 – size does matter! You can resize the video later but it is easier to just record at a size that is acceptable to IE.
So, I have a 7 minute recording of running a Web application in Firefox with JAWS. It is saved in .avi format. Now what? The next step is converting this file to a format I can use to add and edit captions and display on the Web. See Converting File Formats.