BB Flashback Express: powerful, free screen-recording program


BB Flashback Express is a free screen recording program that can capture your PC’s screen, sound, and webcam video and supports capturing graphics/animations, including 3D graphics. It offers a high degree of control over your video (output resolution, quality, file size, recording modes, mouse autoscroll, and cursor highlighting effects).

Saves resulting files as either FLV’s, AVI’s or SWF’s, and offers the ability to easily upload videos to YouTube or embed them inside a webpage.

I must admit that I almost passed over this program for a number of reasons: the “Express” (i.e. free) version has two paid counterparts, and it requires registration with a valid email to get a free license key; plus there are a number of good, free, screencasting freeware (e.g. CamStudio, Debut Video Capture), as well as well known web services like Wink and Jing.

However let me tell you from the get go that this software is simply excellent, and is in fact one of the best free programs in it’s class. It provides some excellent options than most freeware programs I’ve used do not, and it is a well thought out, well designed software.

Top 10 12 things that I really like about BB Flashback Express:

  1. Change resolution while recording: you can capture the whole screen or part of the screen and the software can automatically resize the output to a pre-set resolution. For example you can capture fullscreen and set the output size to, say 640×480 and not have to worry about resizing it later on.
  2. Can record moving graphics: from the options, you can specify whether to use the normal capture driver (for regular screen activity) or GDI/DirectX, for moving graphics and animations. I successfully tested capturing full-screen games; the results for both 2D and 3D graphics were excellent (although I did witness some choppiness with the 3D graphics, but am unsure as to what degree the settings I used contributed into this).
  3. Can capture fullscreen, a user-defined region, or a specific window: I particularly like the third one (locking on and capturing a specific window); very useful when demo-ing software and for some reason most free screen recording programs lack this option.
  4. Can record videocam input: how cool is that? I don’t have one so I did not test this.
  5. Can create AVI’s, FLV’s, but also SWF’s: The latter is notable in that BB Flashback Express provides the option to create an interactive video (see below).
  6. Can create interactive events inside a video: specifically when outputing to SWF, you can define “mouse click” events to stop/continue the video
  7. Autoscroll (keep mouse in or near center): if you decide to export only a smaller subset of your movie (for example export a movie captured at 640×480 at, say, 320×240), you can ask BB Flashback Express to track the mouse and export the area around it. Which is to say you can keep the mouse at or near the center.
  8. Cursor highlighting: you can highlight the mouse and mouseclicks so that they are emphasized on the screen (very useful for demoes). You can even edit exactly what the highlighting will look like (see image to the right).
  9. Export specific range/frames only: although this free version does not allow you to edit the video directly, you can make a note of your desired beginning and end frames and enter those into the “wizard” that pops up on the export process.
  10. Automatically upload to Youtube/web page: with your YouTube username and password. Or it will provide HTML and embed code to easily insert videos into your webpage.
  11. Hotkeys: allows you to define hotkeys for use
  12. The interface: can reside in the system tray or, interestingly, as a cool-looking strip in the taskbar.

Differences between free and paid versions: paid versions allow you to add text to your videos, to edit them visually on the timeline, and to export in more formats. There are other differences listed here. A nice set of features, but you can find freeware programs to substitute for them if you need to.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: simply terrific. One of the best in its class.

Version Tested:

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, Vista; 32 and 64 bit.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 7.2 megs).