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animating or screengrabbing mouse cursor movement?

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philipp hahnanimating or screengrabbing mouse cursor movement?
by on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:33:13 pm
Last Edited By philipp hahn on Sep 9, 2016 at 2:34:12 pm

i'm doing explanatory videos which feature an onscreen (custom) mouse pointer on top hovering on top and pointing to elements onscreen.
i know this could all be animated by hand but i am looking for a more efficient way since i will have to do a LOT of these films.
ideally i would just finish the film and then, while playing it back in realtime, move the mouse accordingly and record that.... but how would i do that?

starting points which come to my mind:
- use the after effects' write on feature. this gives me the path with timing and everything but afaik i can't do this on top of a playing video... or can i? or is there any other way to this efficiently right out of ae (which would be best)?
- not use ae. modify the mouse cursor on system level, then use a screengrabber. this would not give me modifyable paths but i could live with that. i would however need this cursor on alpha or a solid color - so i could key this layer and put it on top of my film. that means, for this to work i would need a screengraber which can record ONLY the mouse cursor. all screengrabbing software i know of, can _also_ record the mouse cursor but not solo...
- maybe there is even a dedicated software solution for this? i can't believe i'm the first human facing this problem...

all help is highly appreciated, thanks a lot in advance!

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Mike SevignyRe: animating or screengrabbing mouse cursor movement?
by on Sep 9, 2016 at 3:02:33 pm

Hey Philipp,

I've done a few of these for corporate website 'How-To' videos. I tried several solutions including recording the screen in real-time. For this I found that 'Snag-It' (Windows) was the best solution, it gave me the best framerate (~10fps). Since I do a lot of screen capturing I've since dedicated a separate machine to do the capturing using a BlackMagic Intensity Pro. My main working computer has dual monitors (TitanX) with a 3rd output mirroring one of the monitor's outputs into the Intensity Pro on the other computer which is recording in realtime. This allows me to record in 1920x1080 @ 23.976 with no dropouts whatsoever.

However.. I found that using video screengrabs was detrimental when making these videos because any changes had to literally be re-recorded and creatively spliced in. Since I was working on corporate websites things would change on a daily basis (new button, text body, graphic, etc).

I found that the easiest and most flexible way to achieve this was to create a library of stills of the website and anything I needed. This meant taking screengrabs of the website (in all states, like dropbox clicked & unclicked) in highres, piecing the different pages together in photoshop and downloading all the different mouse cursors I needed (from google). The benefit of doing it this way was more than just being able to swap the graphics easily, it also allowed me to dynamically animate the page with motion blur, really narrow down the timing, creatively animate between the pages and add custom highlights anywhere I wanted. It sounds like a huge undertaking but once you have all your assets ready to go it's pretty straight forward and produces the best results in my opinion.

Mike Sevigny

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Frank FeijenRe: animating or screengrabbing mouse cursor movement?
by on Sep 9, 2016 at 3:08:26 pm

Use 'motion sketch' for the mouse movements...

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philipp hahnRe: animating or screengrabbing mouse cursor movement?
by on Sep 14, 2016 at 8:48:36 am

hey you two,
thank both of you very much for your help!

the screengrabbing approach is most interesting but i'm not sure it solves my problem (i only need the mouse or mouse path...).

regarding motion sketch: this seems almost exactly like what i'm looking for! only question: i did not find a way to do this while the rest of the animation is playing in the background (which i would need to see to know where i have to move). is there any solution for this?

again, thanks so much for your help!

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