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Capture computer screen to video

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Ron Obvious
Capture computer screen to video
on Aug 1, 2006 at 4:37:50 pm


We're trying to create a ideal setup for capturing studio demos and interviews. An example would be a talk show ofrmat with two people being shot while one demos on a laptop. The output on the laptop is shown on a large flat panel LCD TV.
I'm wondering at the best way to capture to video the output from the computer screen. The way I see it there are three different ways to do it.
1. Use software such as Camtasia to capture to a file on the computer.
2. Shoot the screen with video camera
3. Capture computer output to DVCam tape via a VTR hooked up to the S-Video output on computer and loop to large screen.

Solution #1 requires the software be installed on demo laptop. The resulting file can be quite large. Also the file is likely compressed with codec(s) that are not conducive to maintaining high quality into the editing phase (in Final Cut Pro).

Solution #2 is great to bring into editing program such as FCP. However it's difficult to ensure clean non-glare lighting while maintaining good lighting for people. Location of display panel can also be difficult so that the screen does not get in way of people and vice versa. Resoltution of resulting video is not as 'clean' as I'd like to see.

Solution #3 seems like the best way to go. One should be able to output directly from S-Video on laptop to DVCam VTR thereby maintaining cleanest source to bring into the editing program. I can't see any downsides to this unless the VTR is not capabable to capturing the output from the laptop. Would this be a problem?

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Mark Suszko
Re: Capture computer screen to video
on Aug 2, 2006 at 8:36:16 pm

Well, camtasia does not output live,it's a recorder, so if you are wanting a shot of the two people on the set with the laptop output blown up on a monitor alongside them, you'd have to fake that in post. That adds time to the project. If you could record live, you'd save a lot of time.

The way to do it live that works for me is a quality scan converter attached to the laptop: this works in real time, so you can take the scan converter output thrua D/A and IMAG it to the on-set monitor as well as time it and feed it into a switcher as if it were it's own camera shot. That would look really slick, and save hours in the edit.

Yes, you could do this same thing with the direct s-out of the laptop if it has that, but the converter lets you scale and proportion the image to fit TV safe title area, and reduce flicker, as well as blow the image up to high maginification for some of the really tiny details you want to show clearly.

I always personally endorse the scan-do line from Communications Specialties, having used them a lot, but there are plenty of other brands out there that can work as well. The good ones are several grand, so for a one-time or infrequent user, you'd want to look at renting it instead of a purchase.

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