screen video captures with windows media encoder

More testing advice.  Sometimes you hit a bug you know is going to be hard for the dev to repro, and more to the point, you know ahead of time that when you do find a bug it is going to be terribly difficult to repro it.  If you value your relationship with the developer and getting bugs eventually fixed it helps to make repro and understanding the failure mode as easy as possible.  So one thing I’ve found can be helpful in that situation is to take a video capture.  The whole Shift-Prt-Scr (full screen) and Alt-Prt-Scr (active window) screenshot techniques are great, but for those times when a still photo is not enough, or you need to prove that you really did do what you said you did, taking a video screen capture can be the ultimate.

On Windows you can do this for free without buying fancy hardware or extra software.  Download Windows Media Encoder: 

As far as I can tell the latest version of the encoder as of this blog entry is version 9.  However you can be running the Windows Media Player version 9 or 10 to view the .wmv files that are eventually created.  In other words, Encoder version 9 and Player version 10 play nice together.  It’s really simple.  Install, walk through the initial setup stuff, start your recording, run your tests, stop your recording and there you go.  .WMV video file with ironclad proof of what went wrong. :)


Comments (1)

  1. Zman says:

    Note that you get what you pay for here. As the screen gets more complex than simple black & white (office toolbars, gradiated background etc) the screen capture codec starts going into a photo type mode and you will get some artifacts.

    Camtasia studio doesn’t have this issue but its not free and it requires a custom codec for best results (though it can use any codec). Media encoder of course has codecs already on most windows machines.

    If you want to capture DirectX type applications check out fraps.