Another “How Do I?” video on the Microsoft TechNet website

I was just catching up with my RSS backlog and noticed that another one of my videos has made it onto the TechNet website. In this one, I take a look at preparing for and deploying Windows Server 2008 Read Only Domain Controllers (RODCs).

There’s more to come too as, a couple of hours ago, I submitted a follow-up video on RODC password replication policies (I’ll write another post when that goes live but for more videos on a variety of topics, subscribe to the TechNet How-to Videos RSS feed).

More “How Do I?” videos on the Microsoft TechNet website

Back in September, I mentioned a couple of screencasts I’d recorded that were up on the Microsoft TechNet website.

I just noticed that a couple more of my videos have made it onto the site and these can be located using the links below:

One of my videos, featured on the Microsoft TechNet website

If these topics aren’t to your taste there are plenty more “How Do I?” videos on the site with a wide variety of topics and presenters (an RSS feed is also available).

Poor performance with Camtasia Studio fixed by adjusting the screen resolution

A couple of days back, I mentioned some videos I’ve produced for Microsoft. There are various technical requirements for the way in which these videos are produced, one of which is that I have to use TechSmith Camtasia Studio 5 (which seems pretty flaky at times – in fact, it’s the only application ever to have caused a blue screen of death on my Windows Server 2008 workstation – and that was the first BSOD I’ve seen with a non-beta version of Windows in a long while).

When I’m recording these videos, I tend to capture the video on my external monitor whilst I have Camtasia Studio and any applications related to the demonstration running on my main display (then I move them to the recording area as required). Today, I was really struggling to make anything run at a decent speed whilst I was recording and the capture rate dropped to a measly 0.5 frames per second (on a computer with a 2.2GHz Intel Core2Duo CPU and 4GB of RAM).

Last time I’d recorded anything, I’d dropped my monitor resolution to 1024×768 but this time I was using it at full (1680×1050) resolution and Camtasia was just recording a 1024×768 region of the screen. As soon as I reduced the monitor resolution, performance was back to it’s normal level (encoding video on a machine with integrated graphics is always going to hit the CPU hard).

So, if you have to use Camtasia Studio (I blogged an alternative method using nothing but Windows software a while back) and you are experiencing performance issues, try adjusting the monitor resolution.

“How Do I?” videos on the Microsoft TechNet website

One of the things I’ve been working on recently is producing some “How Do I?” (HDI) videos for Microsoft. Basically they are 8-30 minute screencasts looking at implementing a particular technology and these IT Pro-focused videos are coming online on the TechNet website.

The two I’ve produced so far are both concerned with the server core installation option for Windows Server 2008 and are based on my presentation at the UK user groups Community Day last April. My first two videos are available at the links below:

Hopefully people will find them useful – I’d be interested to hear any comments.

Recording Windows Media screencasts

Next month, I’ll be delivering a couple of presentations on behalf of the Windows Server Team UK at the Microsoft UK user groups community day. It won’t be the same without Scotty (who first invited me to take part) and I’ve never presented to a large group before so, frankly, I’m more than a little nervous (and if I’ve asked too many questions in one of your presentations – I’m thinking here of Eileen, Steve, John, James, Jason, et al. – now is the chance for you to get your own back).

Anyway, I’m working on some insurance policies to help make sure that the demo gods look favourably on me – one of which is pre-recording some of my demos. In truth, it’s not just to make sure that the demos run smoothly, but also to condense 10 minutes of activities down into 2 (watching progress bars during the installation of Windows components is hardly exciting). So, I’ve been recording some screencasts (aka. blogcasts, vodcasts, vidcasts, video podcasts, etc.) to fall back on. It turns out to be quite simple – based largely on a post that John Howard wrote a while back with recorder settings for Windows Media Encoder (WME).

First of all, download a copy of Windows Media Encoder (I used 9.00.00.2980) and it seems to run fine on my x64 installation of Windows Server 2008, although I’ve just noticed that there is an x64 version available that I will install and use next time.

Next, drop the screen resolution and colour depth. John recommended 800×600 pixels at 16-bit colour depth but I used a slightly different method, capturing just one window (a remote desktop connection to a another machine, with the RDP connection running at 800×600). I also found that the capture was a little taxing on my graphics hardware, so it was worth dropping back to the Windows Vista basic display settings for a while (I reverted to Aero once I had captured the video).

When WME loads, it starts a wizard to create a session – I chose to ignore that and configure session properties manually. The key items are:

  • Sources tab: Provide a name for your source, check video and select Screen Capture (click configure to select a window or region for capture), check audio and select an appropriate source (I chose to record without any sound and added a soundtrack later).
  • Output tab: Deselect pull from encoder, check encode to file and enter a filename.
  • Compression tab: Select a destination of web server (progressive download) with screen capture (CBR) video encoding and a voice quality audio (CBR) audio encoding, select a bit rate of 93kbps and edit the encoding to use Windows Media Audio Voice 9 and Windows Media Video 9 Screen, with a custom video format and no interlacing or non-square pixels, finally, edit the buffer size to 8 seconds and the video smoothness to 100.
  • Attributes tab: Add some metadata for the recording.

All other settings can be left at their defaults.

After recording (encoding) the required demonstrations, there should be some .WMV files in the output directory. I had planned to edit these on the Mac but decided to stick with Windows Media and downloaded Windows Movie Maker 2.6 instead. This is a little basic and a bit buggy at times (with some caching going on as I took several takes to correctly narrate the screencast, sometimes necessitating exiting and restarting the application before it would pick up the correct recording) but on the whole it was perfectly good enough for recording screencasts.

The resulting output was then saved as another Windows Media File, ready for import into my PowerPoint deck.

I’m not going to start screencasting on this blog just yet. Firstly, it will kill my bandwidth (although I could use YouTube or another online service). Secondly, writing is time-consuming enough – video will just be too labour-intensive. Thirdly, I don’t think I’ve found any content yet that really needs video. In the meantime, I’m hoping that this method will allow me to show some working demos at Microsoft’s offices in Reading on on 9 April.