Screencasting is not for everyone. Most of the options out there are fairly full featured, but it's hard to find a good, free solution that can do as much as some of the pricey professional tools such as TechSmith's Camtasia Studio (download) or Adobe's Captivate (download). A new service that launched this week called uTipu (download TipCam for Windows) is stepping into the ring and offering up a Windows-only (for now) one-stop screencasting service that combines both a software tool to grab your onscreen action, along with an uploader that will send it off to uTipu's server farm for YouTube-like Web hosting. The hope is that anyone who wants to make a screencast or two will be able to download the app and get going without too much of a hassle, similar to what TechSmith's been up to with its Jing Project (download for Windows or Mac).
Like other software-based screencasting tools, uTipu's got a few tricks to get your screencasts looking right. You can set it to record your entire screen, or just a small section. It can also follow your cursor, and highlight what you're doing with a little translucent yellow circle. There are recording controls to pause and stop the action, as well as an annotation shortcut in case you feel like drawing on the screen John Madden-style. For audio and voiceovers, there's no post-production workspace, so you have to record your narration at the same time as the video and hope you don't make any mistakes.
Advanced users get some nice tweaks, such as VNC server setup to record screens on remote computers, and frame-rate quality controls to bump up how smooth your videos look. The one caveat is that higher frame rates also increase your file size, and uTipu's only serving up 250MB of free hosting for the time being, but about a minute of medium size video at 15 frames per second runs at about 3MB, which means you'll be able to create and send about 16 videos at the five-minute time cap. If you're close to running out of space, you can also skip the option to upload to uTipu's servers entirely by uploading them to any video hosting service that accepts the FLV Flash format.
On the whole, uTipu's off to a good start, but by not providing some post-processing tools to clean up your work, it's not offering a whole lot more than what you can get from its formidable competition, such as the zero-install Screencast-o-matic, and the cross-platform Jing from TechSmith.
I've embedded a sample of a user-created uTipu video after the break. As you can see, it's nice and big, and you can actually read the onscreen text. My less informative one can be found here.
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