CamStudio 2.0 is a free screen capture tool that can be used in the creation of tutorials, demos, and such. You can configure it to either output a SWF or AVI file. I prefer AVI because it enables me to edit, add title screens, and do general production tasks before outputting to FLV for delivery. CamStudio gives the user quite a bit of flexibility in choosing the codec used to compress the video. One such codec is the “CamStudio Lossless Codec v1.0” which does a fine job of maintaining high frame rates, while preserving small details and even rendering gradient washes correctly.
The trouble with the AVI files produced in this way is that when brought into Premiere Pro 2.0, the quality takes a nosedive. It seems that Premiere does not interpret the codec correctly and so renders a lot of black space (seemingly due to the encoded alpha channel) and really chunks up a huge portion of the video- the framerate is thrown off considerably as well. When attempting to “Interpret Footage”, turning off the alpha channel helps somewhat, but the framerate is still shot. However, performing the same action in After Effects Pro 7.0 actually does interpret the footage correctly! I am able to ignore the alpha channel when interpreting footage and everything renders great.
So if you are only doing light screencasting work and don’t want to spend the extra $$$ on something like Camtasia or Captivate, and assuming you already have Production Studio– this is a really fine solution.
EDIT: I have had good results using the LZOCodec v0.4 codec with CamStudio and then editing in Premier. You still need to interpret the footage by ignoring any alpha channel data, but the video will function properly on output.