NCH Software Debut Video Capture

NCH Software provides a lot of video editing tools for both Mac and Windows users. Debut is one of them – a screen recorder that lets you capture your screen, webcam, and audio all at once, for a very reasonable price if you upgrade from the free version. 

In our last Debut review, we called it “an amazingly capable free  screen recorder”, filled with features, such as scheduled recordings, that you’d usually associate with premium paid-for software. It came highly recommended then. But how does Debut Video Capture fare in 2022? 

NCH Software Debut Video Capture: Pricing

Free for personal use, subscription or lifetime license for commercial use 

As you’d expect, this is software that you need to pay for, but you might be surprised that if your needs are solely for personal use, this is actually a free screen recorder. 

Download the software from the Debut Video Capture homepage and you’ll see this quote: “Get it Free. A free version of Debut video capture software is available for non-commercial use only. If you will be using Debut at home you can download the free version here. No signup required.”

Be warned: you will get constant reminders to confirm your non-commercial status every time you launch the screen recorder app. 

There are multiple different editions of the software. However, we scoured the NCH website, and were unable to find comparisons between the various options offered to you. For instance, there is a Home Edition – which also isn’t for commercial use – that claims to offer more tools than those in the free download. But the site doesn’t list what these are. 

The Pro edition, which supposedly has even more tools to offer, grants you a commercial license, meaning you can profit from the screen captures you make. 

Additionally, you have a subscription option. Billed quarterly, this plan includes all future upgrades. If you prefer renting your software, this could offer real value.  

Pricing: 4/5 

NCH Software Debut Video Capture: Interface

The interface feels pretty antiquated, but is filled with tools and features (Image credit: NCH Software)So many options can be a little overwhelming for newcomers 

At first glance, Debut’s interface isn’t especially stylish. It feels extremely dated, as if it came straight out of the 90s, with big square buttons at the top filled with what looks like low-res icons. It’s not the best introduction to the free screen recording software.

Still, what it lacks in style, it makes up for in options. There are so many of them. 

You’ll find tools to capture the whole screen, narrow that down to a cropped section of said screen, or just select one open window. 

You can control your webcam, choose its resolution, decide to make it full screen, or as an overlay. 

You have the ability to connect other devices and record from there, even through a network, and if you have more than one screen connected to your computer, well, you can choose which one to focus on.

This is all very impressive, especially for software that’s free (or, if your use-case demands, is relatively inexpensive compared to competitors like Camtasia, EaseUS RecExperts, and FlashBack Express). 

You can capture video from many sources, including screen and webcam, but also any capture devices connected to your computer, or a camera on a network  (Image credit: NCH Software)

You’ll also find a handful of VFX. This includes adding text captions and watermarking footage. There’s also a green screen tool, and a handful of color filters (black and white, negative, and sepia).

However, be aware that these effects are applied during the recording process. So, that means you cannot alter them in post, limiting their usefulness and versatility. Still, having tools is better than not having them.

Take a trip to the Preferences tab, to see all the ways you can customize the software. These are conveniently divided by categories, such as video, audio, hot-keys, cursor, and so on. There’s even an option to schedule your screen captures, and even make that a regular occurrence.

Applying the handful of effects is easy, but this must be done before the recording starts (Image credit: NCH Software)

We do like the option of showing mouse clicks as that can greatly help when making a video to explain how something works.

But, we recognize that so many options could feel intimidating, especially if you’re new to screen recording software.

The good news is, you only need to hit the red Record button to start a new video (by default this captures your entire screen). You can worry about the fine-tuning as you get more comfortable with the software.

Interface: 4/5 

NCH Software Debut Video Capture: Recording

Once captured, you can play your footage back via a small preview window (Image credit: NCH Software)Great on a PC, audio issues on a Mac 

When it works, Debut Video Capture works great. We were able to capture video, record the computer’s audio, have our webcam as an overlay – everything worked as expected.

The video streams are recorded separately, and it’s advised you wear headphones, so the audio from the computer doesn’t bleed into the audio from your microphone. But this is standard fare for screen recording programs.

You’ll be offered an option to do ‘fast-selection’. It’s recommended when capturing gameplay for instance, to make sure you get the highest frame rate while recording. We found that this setting gave better results all round, so we kept it as the default for all future recordings.

You’ll find many audio options, but try as we might, we didn’t manage to capture the sound directly from the computer on a Mac (Image credit: NCH Software)

However, there is a huge caveat: all this is fine on the PC, but we encountered a pretty big problem when trying to do the same on the Mac.

It wasn’t the visuals – those were fine, as was the webcam. The problem we had was with the audio. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the software to record any audio coming from the Mac itself.

One solution we eventually settled on was for it to be recorded via the microphone, but that’s far from ideal, leading to much lower quality audio (and demanding the need for a post-production audio editor). And we found it made it impossible to record it separately from whatever we felt like narrating.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Perhaps there was one magic button hidden from view, as we had no similar issues when trying out competing software. Unfortunately, our experience during the course of the review was marred by this.

Recording: 3/5 

NCH Software Debut Video Capture: Editing

Your editing options consist of trimming the start and end of your clip (Image credit: NCH Software)Top and tail your video, like a French bean… but that’s about it 

Aside from being able to trim the start and end of a clip, you have no editing options here. That puts Debut Video Capture on par with even some of the best free screen recorders. But it’s a disappointing miss in software full of hits. 

Thankfully, since your recordings are saved separately, your clips are primed to be edited elsewhere. You even have numerous format options when it comes to exporting them.

On its own, Debut Video Capture is not meant to edit your recordings, but NCH Software isn’t shy about promoting its VideoPad video editing software packages, if you’re in need of one.  

Editing: 1/5 

NCH Software Debut Video Capture: Scorecard

PricingFree for personal use, budget prices for commercial use4InterfaceSo full of great features it may overwhelm4RecordingGreat on PC, audio issues on Mac3EditingNext to no video editing tools1

Should I buy?

(Image credit: NCH Software)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

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