capsule review

Pixetell Basic

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pixetell Basic

When it comes to training someone to use a piece of software, completing an intricate procedure, or just demonstrating a better way to do something on the computer, it's always easier to show than to tell. Pixetell Basic does exactly that: The software records movies of whatever happens to be running on your PC--either the entire desktop, or a single window or portion of the screen--as you record a narration. Once you've recorded your raw video from the desktop, you can record additional video of yourself speaking to a Webcam, then edit the final piece together into a punchy, easily-shared package. Even though you can record and produce videos on Windows only, users with a Mac or Linux computer, can view the final product.

Whenever Pixetell is running, the program leaves open a small, unobtrusive tab at the top of the screen. Mouse over the tab and it expands downwards, providing you with a menu that lets you begin recording from the desktop or a webcam. To record from your desktop, you just click the Screen Recording menu item, and once you've chosen to record either the entire screen or a portion of it, just click the record button, then run through your demonstration. When you're done, click a stop button, and the recording you made ends up in a clip bin where you can string together various recordings into a final project.

When complete, the program itself can upload the video to Pixetell's servers, where only someone with the hard-to-guess URL generated by the program can view the video. If you want to host your video elsewhere, or attach the video file directly to an e-mail message, you can also produce the video into Flash Video .flv, Quicktime .mov, or Windows .avi or .wmv formats. Because the Pixetell service also hosts the videos you produce, the company charges an annual fee to use their application and service .

An experienced creator of screen capture videos (using Camtasia Studio), I found it extremely easy to get started using Pixetell, and I really appreciated the design of the user interface. The intuitive and convenient recording controls, which look like a floating doughnut, would have been simple to learn even if I hadn't been familiar with screen recording.

As with most video capture tools, Pixetell has moderately high minimum system requirements, which guarantee a smooth video that doesn't hiccup or jump during recording. The program also will not run without the Adobe Flash plug-in for Internet Explorer--something I didn't already have on my testbed PC--but if you don't have it, the Pixetell installer downloads the Flash installer for you during the installation process.

Ontier, the makers of Pixetell, offer two versions for sale. The basic, $99-per-year version differs from a $199-per-year Pro version in three important ways: Videos have a hard limit of five minutes in the basic version, while the Pro version has no such restriction. The Pro version also lets you password-protect the videos hosted on the Pixetell service, so only authorized users can watch them. And the Pro version lets you use the product to carry on multi-party video conference calls.

Adobe Premiere this is not, but you're not editing a short subject for consideration by the Academy, either. Pixetell gives you the basic tools you need--presented in a clean, uncluttered frame--to easily record from the screen and a camera, dub in a voiceover, and put together a nice-looking training video. And for $99, that might be all you need.

Note: The $99 price is for a one-year license to use the software and its related service. The software runs only when you're using the trial or if the subscription is active, according to the vendor.

--Andrew Brandt

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Pixetell Basic

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