Making a ‘spectrovid’

It is possible to use screen capture software to create an animated spectrogram with associated sound — a ‘spectrovid’ — such as the one below of migrating Common Scoter and Redwing.

To do this you’ll need a screen capture program such as TinyTake for Windows or QuickTime for Apple. TinyTake allows capture of a section of the screen whereas Quicktime only captures the whole screen. No doubt other packages are available. The steps below are for saving a video using TinyTake, assuming you have already installed it:

  1. Load the audio file you want to record into Audacity (or Raven Lite) and get the time and frequency axes scaled to your liking. If you’re planning to share the spectrovid on social media it will work best if the video image is not too large. Aim for the spectrogram to cover no more than a quarter of your screen.
  2. Open TinyTake and use the Capture menu to select Capture Video; use the cursor to create a box covering the spectrogram window. Press record in the TinyTake toolbar then press play in Audacity. At the end of the audio clip stop TinyTake. You can now save your video as an mp4 file and share.


Note, if you don’t hear any audio on the video you may need to edit TinyTake’s settings (cog wheel, bottom right) and on the Devices tab change the microphone, for example to Stereo Mix to use the internal sound card. If this doesn’t work, and if your computer has separate microphone and headphones input sockets, you can connect the two with an audio cable, though I found the quality wasn’t as good.