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Using WME

Those who read my article on converting DVD videos for use with Pocket PC will be very familiar with the WME interface. You will see a selection of wizards that will help lead you through the process. In this article, we’ll skip the Convert A File Wizard you learned about earlier and highlight Capture Screen. Click OK to go on.

In the next panel, you have the ability to capture a specific window, a screen region, or the entire screen. I like to capture an entire screen, but this much data capture will increase your video file size quickly. So let’s start with lesson one: trial-and-error is an acceptable learning strategy. At some point, the more screen space captured will result in less video quality. There aren’t any absolute rules for this.

If you clicked the Next button, go back now! Many new users forget to select the checkbox labeled Capture Audio From The Default Audio Device. If this is not selected, your video will be very quiet.

In the next panel, you will click the Browse button to name and locate the output file. Be sure to locate the file on a drive or partition with lots of empty disk space!

After you find a place for your file, you select the right balance between file size and video quality. If you intend to email the file, small sizes and low quality are a must. If you want a quality video for use with your managers, select the High radio button.

After these grueling decisions, you will have the ability to embed your name and copyright information into the next panel. This metadata will be cast into your video file, so don’t write words you’ll later regret. After you click the Finish button, you’ll find you are not...finished.

You have one last chance to review and change your settings. Here’s a setting you should review: the checkbox labeled Begin Capturing Screens When I Click Finish. If it is selected, clicking the Finish button starts the recording immediately. Some are surprised by this setting and can record some awkward initial seconds to their video. I deselect it, which enables me to compose myself and then select the green Start Encoding tool in the toolbar when ready.

Well, after I click the OK button in the dialog box, another confirmation explains how the WME box will close, and recording will start. I know, this seems silly—all those confirmations for every little step. Don’t worry, you can selectively disable many of the warning panels. And then you’re left at the active application window; with this, you can demonstrate the application while giving great verbal explanations.

So what do you do to stop recording? If you select the WME icon from the taskbar, a dialog box labeled Encoding Results allows you to close the video and play the output file. You can even start all over by selecting the New Session button. So treat yourself. Click the Play Output File button. Windows Media Player will soon play your masterpiece.

Wow! I’ve recorded two or three minutes of training video and had a file so small, it could be sent nicely by email. How will you use this? Are you a Visual Basic developer? Imagine sending your customer your latest RAD efforts for approval. Got an especially troubling customer who is thought-challenged? Give him a training video and show him how to pause the video and check his own settings. And for those of you in security, these videos can really help your system administrators learn needed security technical settings. The applications are endless!

But don’t think you can play a commercial DVD and then use this tool to record it. The quality won’t be there.

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