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.