Friday, July 20, 2007

Reviewing Wink

I just used the screen-capturing software Wink to create a walkthrough of my LSC 597 Digital Library project. Since I was unable to attend the final class in person (wedding in Florida), I thought I could try out this tool and see how well it substitutes for an in-person demonstration. The price couldn't be better (free), and the export format is the nearly universal .swf (Flash).

The interface is very straight forward, with a main pane for the current frame, a set of thumbnails of all frames under that, and the local resources for each frame on the side.

You typically start by using the screen-capture wizard to either grab still shots of you whole screen, a window, or a shape. You can also set it up to record automatically, at whatever frame-rate you like, or to take a snapshot at every mouse or keyboard event. You can record audio as you go, or do it later when you're working with the frames you've taken.

One feature I didn't notice immediately is that Wink captures the frame and the cursor location separately. This means that you can move the cursor around (and change its type) to wherever you want on the frame. The cursor will move automatically as you change frames, going from the previous frame's location to the current frame's. I found that I could use this feature to save from recording continuously in order to capture mouse movement; I just needed one shot of the frame, and then I could move the cursor from link to link.

Adding audio is easy; just click the 'add audio' button on the local resources, and record. You can do it as many times as necessary to get it right. The exported presentation will automatically remain on the audio-enhanced frame as long as it takes to play the whole recording; you don't have to manually add 'stay on this frame for' (if you do, it will wait that much longer after the recording finishes...).

You can also add buttons, links, text boxes, shapes, and internal jump-to points. I didn't find any of these useful for my presentation (though I did use a text box to white out something), but they are good features to note.

The export process for my several-minutes walkthrough took about a minute and a half. The resulting file was about 5 MB. Wink automatically produces an HTML file with the .swf embedded, so you're ready to load it onto the web.

All in all, I was very pleased with Wink. If I need to do more online tutorials, I think the extra experience using it will make me like it that much more. I would need to invest in a better microphone and recording space, though. I look forward to a chance to compare it to the commercial software Captivate.

Oh, you can view my website tour here. Keep in mind, the intended audience is my LSC 597 class.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Wink is a really great tool for getting into tutorial creation without shelling out cash. I found it pretty simple to learn and as I worked more with it, it became easier and easier. The documentation isn't too bad either.

Have you played with Tutorom or Screencast-O-Matic?