How to Record Interviews on Skype and FaceTime on OS X

Have you ever wanted to do interviews on video conferencing software and record the calls for your podcast or blog with side-by-side video? Or perhaps you just want to preserve your video calls for fun? It is possible to do this on the Mac relatively easily, but there are some pitfalls.

In this article we look at the various ways you can capture your video conversations on the Mac with both FaceTime and Skype.

Obviously you could just use a screen capture software to record your whole screen. This is not ideal, as you need to crop the video afterwards.

In actuality, QuickTime has a feature to record the current screen as video for tutorials and the like.

Create a new screen recording.

It’s easy to use. Just open QuickTime and select “File -> New Screen Recording.” Once you click the record button you are given the option of recording all or part of the screen. Select part of the screen with the mouse, then click the button to start recording. Simple but not perfect. Why?

The problem you have with this method is that video is great, but the audio is recorded from the line in because it was designed to record screen-captured tutorials. So the Quicktime method is okay if you only want to record the video or if you can find a way to redirect the audio internally from Skype to the input. It’s very fiddly. Or this method might also be okay if you are recording the audio separately. But who does that?

Quicktime menu.

So for an all-in-one solution, Quicktime is not ideal. A better method is a third-party capture software like iShowU, Copernicus or Capture Me. They do a great job of grabbing the area of the screen with the FaceTime or Skype window, and for most people this would be fine. Of course the main issue is that any screen capture has to also capture both sides of the audio, and like Quicktime, screen capture software tends to rely on microphone input rather than internal audio routing.

An easy alternative, if you have Yosemite on the Mac and iOS 8 on your iPhone, iPod or iPad, is to link it to the desktop and record FaceTime or Skype calls from the iOS device directly onto the Mac. You use Quicktime as before, but you link the iOS gadget to the Mac using its Lightning to USB cable, and use the output of the iOS device as a “camera” which can be recorded in Quicktime.

Create a new movie recording.

Once the phone is connected to the Mac, start Quicktime and go to “File -> New Movie Recording.” On the down arrow next to the record button, you can see that the iOS device is now an option as the camera and microphone for the recording.

Click the record button.

When you get an incoming Facetime call, click record on the Mac and carry on with the conversation. When it’s complete, click the Stop button and you will be asked where to save the recording.

Note: even if you have iOS 8 on a pre-Lightning device, like an iPhone 4 or iPad 2, this won’t work. The secret to the process is the Lightning cable which is capable of shunting video to other devices.

By far, the best method of all is to use software like Call Recorder for Skype or FaceTime or Snapz Pro X for all IM clients. Of these, the best is probably Call Recorder for Skype by Ecamm, and although it’s $30 to buy the software, there is a free trial available.

The benefit of this particular program is that it can record both sides of the conversation and present them Split Screen or side-by-side, just like the pro bloggers do. In this mode the video images are cropped to fit side-by-side in an HD frame. You can also record Audio Only and Local and Remote video feeds only.

Call Recorder for Skype split screen.

But even better than this, you can record the two video feeds separately so you can edit them together, switching cameras to the person speaking each time they talk just like in a TV interview. You can also click the pencil button during the recording to add markers during the conversation to bookmark and save a text file of the timings of each part you marked.

Add markers when recording.

Ecamm also do a version for Facetime although that lacks the sexy split screen option.

These are the ways that you can record your Skype and FaceTime calls for later use. Do you record interviews for video blogs? What software or hardware method do you use?