TotM – May 2013


TOTM – Tip of The Month – May 2013

Bob Freeman

Making Movies, Audio and Screen Recordings with QuickTime Player

This isn’t really a "new" feature, in fact I think it’s been part of QuickTime Player version 10 since Snow Leopard, but it’s new to me and perhaps to you as well. I recently discovered you can now use QuickTime Player to record one of three media types: Audio, using your Mac’s built-in microphone if it has one or from a separate microphone plugged into the audio input jack; Screen capture – whatever happens on your Mac display will be recorded in a movie file but with no audio; and Video Camera – from an attached video camera that would let you stream audio and video from the camera to a file on your Mac via USB or FireWire or some other interface. Haven’t tried this last one yet.

You can only choose up to two of the three, but which two depends on which others you have selected. 

If you choose "New Movie Recording" you need to have a video camera attached to your Mac system, otherwise it will tell you "There is no connected camera" and won’t let you click on the Record button. You can also select "New Screen Recording" if you wanted, but not "New Audio Recording". 

If you select "New Audio Recording" you can only choose to make a "New Screen Rercoding", and the "New Movie Recording" is greyed out. 

If you choose "New Screen Recording" you can only choose to make a "New Audio Recording" and the "New Movie Recording" is greyed out. You can choose to record from any display, in case you have more than one on your system. You can also choose to record the entire display or any rectangular portion of it. It’s probably a good idea to only record as much of the screen as you need to, as this will allow the file to be as small as possible, but these files can still become very large, so make sure you have plenty of disk space available before you start one of these recordings. Audio files are much smaller than screen recordings, which are smaller than movie recordings.

This is a really neat way to make a recording of how to do something on your Mac and send it to a friend or relative or business associate so they can virtually stand over your shoulder and see how you’ve done something on your Mac that might be much harder to describe than if you could show them. To do a recording, just open up QuickTime Player (it’s in the /Applications/Utiliites folder if you don’t have it in your Dock). Then select one of the three menu options – "File/New Movie Recording" or "File/New Audio Recording" or "File/New Screen Recording". Each of these choices will then bring up a small dialog box with a red record button in the center. You just click on this "record" button and it changes from red to grey and starts recording the media type you selected. In the case of creating a screen recording, it also prompts you with "Click to record the full screen. Drag to record part of the screen" on whichever display the screen cursor is currently located. Once you click or drag out an area to record, you still need to click inside this region to start the actual screen recording. 

Once you’ve recorded what you want, click the grey record button again, and it then stops the recording process and finishes writing out the data to the disk. It saves all the files it creates in your "Movies" folder, so don’t worry if you accidentally click the red close window icon in the top left corner of the window. The data has already been saved and awaits your further attention.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about these recordings. When you’re recording only a portion of the screen, you shouldn’t do anything that would cause the window that is the source of the content you’re recording to move. For example, if you’re recording a portion of a Safari window that has a YouTube video playing, you can’t move the Safari window or have another window pop in front of the Safari window that occludes the section of the screen you were recording, without probably affecting what you’re recording in a very negative way. So once you’ve started a screen recording session, don’t move or change the source window location or size unless you’re recording the entire display and moving windows is part of the process of explaining what you’re attempling to show someone else, and don’t do anything that would cause another window to pop in front of the source window. Another issue to keep in mind is that when doing audio recordings, the source of the audio is the built in microphone of the system, although there is a way around this with something called Soundflower and ohter similar utilites, but more about this in a moment. This works great if you want to add some verbal comments while something is playing on the screen to explain what’s happening. However, if the content that is playing on the screen has it’s own audio and it plays through your Mac’s speakers or audio out jack to an external speaker system, your microphone will likely pick some or all of this up but will probably not sound very good. With Soundflower or similar utilities installed on your system, it allows you to redirect the audio from an application to be rerouted through the audio input so that it will sound much better if recorded. Basically it changes the audio input from the internal speaker to come from the audio output and bypasses the feedback and/or distortion that usually happens when trying to record audio coming from an application that is playing it through the speakers and have the internal microphone pick it up.

Hope you find some interesting uses for these new QuickTime Player features.

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