I am producing a software training DVD and would like to record a demonstration of the software by capturing what is happening on my computer screen through using a screen capture programme. Are there any free screen capture programs out there that anyone could recommend?
The freest one is to shoot it off an LCD with your camera:-)
On the PC side, the popular choice in screen recorders is Camtasia or Snagit, on macs it's SnapzPro from Ambrosia. Not free, but not very expensive.
You can also go with a scan converter recording to tape. These range from 99 bucks to over six grand. I have access to converters on both ends of that spectrum. The cost relates almost directly to the quality and features you get. The more expensive ones have better flicker reduction, the ability to zoom in tight as a handfull of pixels with clarity, to color-correct, freeze-frame, position and scale, and save various closeups of the different target areas of the screen as pre-sets like a multicam switcher.
The cheap one just gives you the whole screen, clearly, and maybe one level of somewhat steerable zoom view. Good enough to transfer a powerpoint slideshow with. They plug in between the computer and an external monitor, or from the VGA port on the laptop.
Often you can rent one of these scan converters for the day, ask around.
One reason you might pick a scan converter over a software based grab utility is if you want to observe the screen activity without ANY interference with the target machine's processes or settings. Also, these grab programs make pretty large file sizes that take up hardware space and sometimes slow the drive's access time. Scan-converting to tape avoids that and puts it in a video format of your choice, ready to edit.
The choice depends on your specific needs and situation.