Name: [709] Jeff Rush
Member: 84 months
Authored: 15 videos
Description: Greetings. I'm the (former) Python Advocacy Coordinator and a strong supporter of screencasts. I'm also the organizer of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Pythoneers and was con chair for PyCon 2006 and 2007 in Dallas. I'm also an independent consultant and work in the areas of Python/Zope, embedded Linux s ...

Preparing for Screencasting [ID:295] (1/2)

in series: Casting Your Knowledge, With Style

video tutorial by Jeff Rush, added 06/07

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Advice on how to get started giving screencasts, why you might want to do it and how to establish your recording studio. Then we move into planning the capture of your screencast and a few tips on using some presentation tools.

The reStructuredText for these slides is available for study and reuse.

.. include:: <s5defs.txt>

 Preparing for Screencasting

:Author: Jeff Rush <>
:Copyright: 2007 Tau Productions Inc.
:License: GNU Free Documentation License
:Date: June 21, 2007
:Version: 1
:Series: Casting Your Knowledge, With Style

Advice on how to get started giving screencasts, why you might want to do it
and how to establish your recording studio.  Then we move into planning your
screencast and a few tips on using some presentation tools.

.. footer:: Casting Your Knowledge, With Style

.. |NEXTSLIDE| image:: /home/caster/themes/screencast-800x600/NextSlide.png

.. container:: handout

   Hello, my name is Jeff Rush and this talk, "Preparing for Screencasting",
   is the first in the series, "Casting Your Knowledge, With Style".

Roadmap to Talk

.. container:: slide-display

 + `What is Casting and Why do it?`
 + `Picking a Topic`
 + `Building your Studio`
 + `Capture Settings and Formats`
 + `Planning the Capture Process`
 + `Some Tips about Tools`

.. contents:: Table of Contents
   :class: handout

.. container:: handout

   This talk is a gentle introduction to casting for instructors.  |NEXTSLIDE|
   We'll cover what is casting and why you might want to do it, |NEXTSLIDE|
   how to pick a topic on which to present, |NEXTSLIDE| and building your
   recording studio.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Then we'll move into capture settings and formats, |NEXTSLIDE|
   planning the capture of your presentation, and |NEXTSLIDE| offer some tips
   on using common tools while presenting.


   This one slide is marked up in a different style from the others, to show
   how speaker notes can be interspersed with bullet items, if desired.  When
   speaking directly from the notes, I find it easier to collect them at the
   bottom of each slide.

.. class:: handout

   Casting can be done in several formats, each with a different slant.

.. class:: slide-display

 + `podcasting` `- audio, radio talk show format`

    .. container:: handout

       The most common form is pure audio, known as podcasting.  It is a like
       a radio talk show, perhaps with guests.

 + `vidcasting` `- lectures, panel discussions`

    .. container:: handout

       Vidcasting uses a camera, pointed at someone giving a lecture or
       perhaps a discussion panel, and that sometimes switches or pans to a
       slide presentation behind the speaker.

 + `screencasting` `- demonstrations, tutorials`

    .. container:: handout

       Screencasting uses software to capture the changing view of a computer
       desktop, say during a demonstration of some software, usually with an
       audio overlay by an instructor explaining what is happening.

 + `all forms of multimedia...`

    .. container:: handout

       While they are all forms of multimedia, there are often tradeoffs in
       recording format and compression, presentation style, and teaching or
       entertainment objectives.  Podcasting is more often focused on
       entertainment, while vidcasting shows live people and their slides,
       usually at an off-angle.  Screencasting makes the computer screen the
       focal point, with emphasis on text legibility and skill learning.

       This talk is primarily about screencasting, but some of the advice
       applies to podcasting and live presenting as well.

 + `Further Research:`

    .. container:: handout

       For more information about casting, check out the Wikipedia article on
       Video Podcasting.

Reasons to Cast

 + `build a community reputation`
 + `show others what you do`
 + `leverage your effort`
    + `over a geographical area`
    + `over a period of time`
    + `be around when you're not`

.. container:: handout

   There are many reasons to get into casting.  Some of them are |NEXTSLIDE|
   building a reputation within the community, |NEXTSLIDE| showing family and
   potential employers or clients what you do and know, and |NEXTSLIDE|
   leveraging the effort put into preparing a quality talk across |NEXTSLIDE|
   a geographically scattered audience or |NEXTSLIDE| let you reach those who
   cannot attend a specific speaking engagement.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Talks also survive you and remain available when you are ill,
   retired or simply unavailable for some reason.

More Reasons to Cast

 + `improve live presentation skills`
 + `develop ability to describe technical matters`
 + `less stressful than live talk`
 + `can critique yourself`
 + `can reshoot to improve it`

.. container:: handout

   Giving casts can also |NEXTSLIDE| give you the practice and confidence
   necessary to improve your live presentation skills, and |NEXTSLIDE| develop
   your ability to describe technical architectures and software approaches,
   |NEXTSLIDE| in a less stressful environment than in front of a live

   Casting also gives you an easy way, for you and others, |NEXTSLIDE| to
   privately critique your performance and |NEXTSLIDE| can be redone
   repeatedly to polish the talk or update the content.

Picking a Topic

 + `tell others about something you're using`
 + `tackle something new and chronicle your journey`
 + `pick and explain a module`
 + `promote your project or company`

.. container:: handout

   You've decided to give it a try, but on what topic could you present?

   |NEXTSLIDE| As a programmer, you're undoubtly already using some nifty tool
   or module.  While its fresh in your mind, give a walkthrough on how to use
   it or the benefits it gives you.

   Or perhaps there is something you've been meaning to learn -- |NEXTSLIDE|
   take notes on your journey and then talk about what you discovered and

   And we all know that when you teach something to others you learn it better
   yourself.  |NEXTSLIDE| As an exercise, and to help the community, pick a
   module from the Python standard library and work to explain it clearly and

   |NEXTSLIDE| Also many of us are affiliated with an open source project or
   company.  A screencast is a excellent opportunity to recruit others to join
   you and get involved in further development.

Use a Virtual Studio

 + `a separate login, with preset tools and configuration`
 + `to cast when the mood strikes`
 + `more professional`
 + `appearance tuned for casting`
 + `less screen clutter may equal better compression`
 + `removes environmental assumptions, closer to student's setup`
 + `could securely grant remote access`

.. container:: handout

   I strongly encourage you to set up a virtual recording studio within which
   to produce your casts.  What is a virtual studio?  |NEXTSLIDE| Its a
   separate login account, within which you have prepared the tools and
   configuration that work best for casting.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Such a studio allows you to crank out a cast when the mood
   strikes you, without having to do a lot of preparation each time.

   |NEXTSLIDE| It makes you appear more professional, with the removal of
   personal elements, such as wallpaper, bookmarks and instant-messaging
   popups, from the desktop that others see.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And the studio desktop can be preset with fonts, colors and
   mouse pointers selected for readability, audio at precalibrated levels, and
   any screensaver or power management display blanking disabled.

   |NEXTSLIDE| A reduction in screen clutter may also result in better
   compression, as well as |NEXTSLIDE| remove elements that distract or
   mislead your listeners.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Last, the use of a separate login allows you the option of
   granting realtime access, via VNC or some other tool, to a small class of
   listeners or a guest presenter.

Appearance Tips - Legibility

 + `consistent lighting`
 + `disable composite/translucency`
 + `check colorization of shell elements`
 + `font selection - desktop/applications`
    + `large enough`
    + `simple, nonstylized form`

.. container:: handout

   Screencasting is about legibility, and there are many settings that can be
   tweaked to improve upon it.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Contrast is important, as is a consistent lighting scheme.
   Choose light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background,
   but don't use different schemes in different applications.  Also, a
   consistent scheme will let you choose mouse pointer graphics that work
   everywhere on the screen.  I recommend dark text on a light background, for
   a brighter overall appearance that will suit more viewers.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Be sure to disable any composite/translucency settings on your
   desktop.  Show-Through graphics may look cool, but can be hard to read in
   video recordings and certainly will not compress well.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Review your shell applications and check them for good color
   selection.  Some shells colorize the prompt itself, and commands such as
   "ls -l" will apply colors to directory entries according to certain rules.
   Also check for clear, readable source highlighting in your preferred text
   editor or integrated development environment.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And check the font you use in your shell and applications.  You
   want it |NEXTSLIDE| as large as is usable and |NEXTSLIDE| without any
   complex serif styling.

Appearance Tips - Movement

 + `slow down window movements`
 + `use window roll-ups`
 + `disable virtual screens/desktops`

.. container:: handout

   Movement about the screen is a key part of a screencast.  When you're
   watching a power user operate the keyboard and mouse, it can sometimes be
   hard to follow along as windows zing and zoom around the screen.  You're
   never sure which key was pressed.

   |NEXTSLIDE| |NEXTSLIDE| One thing that can help is to animate and slow down
   the various window movements.  Many desktops provide some way to do this.
   For example, under Linux using the Enlightenment desktop, you can open
   windows, minimize and window-shade scroll them slowly.  Here is an example.

   (insert demonstration of opening a shell window, window-shading it and
   unwindow-shading it)

   I recommend use of window-shading, as it makes it easier to see where a
   window went, and when you're getting it back.  The other ways of using
   Alt-Tab or some special window selector aren't standard and so may not
   familiar to everyone.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Unless you're using them in your talk as alternate presentation
   areas, be sure to disable multiple or virtual desktops.  Accidentally
   bumping the borders of your screen and suddenly switching desktops can be
   disconcerning to viewers.

Appearance Tips - Spacing

  + `use a presentation resolution (800x600 or 800x592)`
  + `multidisplay arrangement (onscreen/offscreen)` `(xinerama)`
  + `conserve screen real estate`
     + `disable tool/menu bars in editors`
     + `disable certain bars in browsers`

.. container:: handout

   The spacing on your screen is a scarce resource.  You want display elements
   as large as possible for readability, but you also need everything to fit.

   To reduce the size of the final video and have it fit within a browser
   window it is common in screencasting to |NEXTSLIDE| use a smaller size of
   screen, such as 800x600.  I use the slightly shorter 800x592 as some screen
   recorders can achieve better compression when both dimensions are multiples
   of 16.  Some video distributors transcode that to a delivery format of
   640x480 which also are multiples of 16, so starting with multiples of 16
   removes some sources of distortion.

   Now 800x600 isn't much room to work, so it can be useful to adopt
   |NEXTSLIDE| a multidisplay setup.  On a laptop, you can often set things up
   so that the LCD display and an external CRT monitor are side-by-side
   displays onto the same logical screen.  Under Unix, this capability is
   called |NEXTSLIDE| *xinerama*.  You can then set your screen recorder to
   capture only the CRT monitor portion.  Such an arrangement lets you treat
   the LCD display as an *off-stage* preparation area, from which you can drag
   windows or click on iconbars when needed during a talk.  This lets the
   *on-screen* area be focused on the point being discussed without being
   cluttered with screen elements not currently being used.

   |NEXTSLIDE| You should also take steps to minimize waste of screen real
   estate by |NEXTSLIDE| turning off unnecessary elements like toolbars in
   editors or |NEXTSLIDE| browsers.

Video Capture - Choice of Tools

 + `for Mac OSX,` `IShowU`
 + `for MS Windows,` `CamStudio` `or Camtasia`
 + `for Linux,` `vnc2swf` `, xvidcap` `, ffmpeg`

.. container:: handout

   There are several software packages for capturing screen activity, across
   the various operating systems.

   |NEXTSLIDE| For the Mac, there is the commercial package |NEXTSLIDE|

   |NEXTSLIDE| For Windows, there is the free |NEXTSLIDE| *CamStudio*, and the
    commercial |NEXTSLIDE| *Camtasia*.

   As a Linux user myself, I haven't used those and will leave it to others to
   rate them.

   |NEXTSLIDE| For Linux there are the open source packages |NEXTSLIDE|
   *vnc2swf*, |NEXTSLIDE| *xvidcap* and the lower-level |NEXTSLIDE| *ffmpeg*.
   I'll talk about those in a future screencast devoted to screencasting under
   Linux specifically.

Video Capture - Settings and Formats

 + `capture format != delivery format`
 + `avoid SWF if you want editing`
 + `800x600` `, lossless` `, 5 frames/sec`

.. container:: handout

   Once you've selected a capture tool, there are a myriad of possible

   |NEXTSLIDE| The first thing to realize is that the capture format does not
   have to be the same as the delivery format.  Sometimes, especially if you
   have a slower system where advanced processing on the fly might interfere
   with your presentation, you want to capture in an uncompressed or minimally
   compressed format, and then postprocess it into something smaller afterward.

   Another reason for capturing in a minimal format, is that it can make
   postprocessing easier, since more of the original signal is retained.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And you don't want to capture in the flash SWF format if you
   intend do any editing as few if any tools support it.

   In summary, you want to capture in something like |NEXTSLIDE| 800x600,
   |NEXTSLIDE| use a lossless or near lossless format and, for screencasting
   and unlike video, |NEXTSLIDE| at 5 frames per second.  You don't need movie
   frame rates for slideshows or source code discussions.

Audio Capture - What to Record

 + `microphone input`
 + `loopback of system sounds`
 + `second microphone for guests`
 + `use of VoIP/Skype for guests`
 + `voice, system sounds on separate channels`

.. container:: handout

   When screencasting, you have choices to make on audio recording.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Certainly you want to record the microphone into which you are
   speaking.  But you may also |NEXTSLIDE| want to capture any sounds played
   by your computer, to give clues to your listeners on what is happening
   onscreen, or because you are demonstrating multimedia processing of some

   Some sound cards have an internal loopback bit that can be set in the audio
   mixer, that cause the recording process to pick up a mix of the microphone
   input and audio output.  For others, you'll need some kind of external
   audio mixer hardware that plugs into the microphone input of your system.

   |NEXTSLIDE| If you plan to do interviews or shared demonstrations with
   another person, you may also want a second microphone.  You'll need that
   external mixer hardware to merge it into the signal.  Or if your guest
   isn't physically at your keyboard, you can use |NEXTSLIDE| some kind of
   voice-over-IP or skype facility.  This can be very useful if you're using
   desktop sharing as with VNC.

   |NEXTSLIDE| One last tip.  In my case, since microphones are often
   single-channel, I capture my voice and the system sounds on separate
   left-right audio channels.  This makes is easy to postprocess one or the

Audio Capture - Format

 + `16-bit signed`
 + `raw or lossless compression`
 + `but not high-CPU compression`
 + `sample rate of 8000-22050`
 + `format suitable for editing`

.. container:: handout

   Audio formats for casting are pretty simple.

   |NEXTSLIDE| The most common sample size for audio is 16-bit signed.  As
   mentioned for video, you |NEXTSLIDE| want to capture it raw or in a lossless
   compression format, but |NEXTSLIDE| avoid compression that puts a strain on your CPU if

   For simple speech, you don't need DVD-quality audio sampling rates.  Using
   a rate of |NEXTSLIDE| 22050 samples/second is fine, or if you're tight on diskspace,
   you can go as low as 8000 samples/second.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Use an audio format suitable for editing, such as simple .wav.

   MP3 and Ogg Vorbis for fine for delivery but not ideal for editing, because
   of their lossy nature.

Keyboarding in the Studio

 + `learn keyboard equivalents`
 + `use global keys to start applications`
 + `other uses of keys are`
    + `sounds`
    + `window arrangements`
    + `zooming in for emphasis`
    + `cursor highlighting`

.. container:: handout

   While giving your talk, you'll need to activate various presentation
   elements.  While many of us are used to using a mouse for this, the mouse
   movements can be distracting.

   |NEXTSLIDE| For your applications, learn their keyboard equivalents and
   park the mouse out of the way, unless you are pointing at something.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Define global keys to start applications.  I've programmed my
   *Windows* key, in combination with letters A-Z, to kick off specific
   programs, such as *Windows-T* for a terminal, *Windows-B* for the browser.

   |NEXTSLIDE| |NEXTSLIDE| I've also programmed the *Shift-Windows* key, along
   with letters, to play various presentation-appropriate sound effects, such
   as lead-in audio.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And special keys are useful for initiating certain window
   arrangements and |NEXTSLIDE| zooming in for emphasis, such as *Control-+* in firefox or
   *Control-Enter* for certain Nvidia video chipsets.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Some desktops have features for the vision-impaired that are
   useful for presentations.  Under Gnome, you can enable a setting where
   tapping the control key causes a visible ripple or effect around the mouse
   pointer, to draw a viewer's attention to a specific spot.

Planning - Shooting Philosophies

 + `run straight through`
 + `short segments, perhaps sliced together`
 + `video first, then dub audio`
 + `duration?`
 + `one long talk or many small ones?`

.. container:: handout

   There are several schools of thought on how to shoot a screencast.

   |NEXTSLIDE| The most simple is grab your microphone, fire up your
   application and run through your entire presentation.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Another approach, especially good for long talks, is to record
   short segments and splice them together later.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And then there are those who choose to focus first on what they
   are doing rather than try to talk and operate software at the same time.
   They shoot just the video, and then go back and dub the audio track onto
   it.  You may though need to leave enough time in the video to say
   everything you going to say or do extensive editing to overlay the audio.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Regardless of approach, you need to consider how long to make
   your talk.  Many I've seen on the net lately are just 5-10 minutes long,
   for quick demonstrations.  If you're presenting a complex topic, you'll
   obviously need something much longer.  One benefit of casting is that it
   can be as long as you need, and unlike face-to-face presentations doesn't
   have to fit into a fixed timeslot.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Of course, a long video will be a much larger file, and if
   listeners cannot stream the video, some will be reluctant to download a
   huge file just to check it out.  In that case, provide shorter chapters or
   a single talk preview video to get them interested.

Planning - Tools to Use

 + `slides`
 + `browsing websites`
 + `emacs for showing source`
 + `ipython or IDLE for interactive coding`
 + `image viewer for photos, diagrams`

.. container:: handout

   During your talk you may make use of several tools:

   |NEXTSLIDE| For slides, perhaps Microsoft PowerPoint, Openoffice Impress or
   restructured text with the S5 extension.  I'll talk more about that in the
   next slide.

   |NEXTSLIDE| To visit sites for techniques or content, a browser with
   features and extensions for presenting.

   |NEXTSLIDE| For reviewing source code, your favorite text editor or
   integrated development environment, like Emacs, tweaked for legibility and
   navigation features

   |NEXTSLIDE| For interacting with the Python prompt, *ipython* or *IDLE*
   make good choices.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And maybe some kind of image viewer, for diagrams or

A Pitch for Restructured Text

 + `restructured text using the S5 slides mechanism`
 + `i.e. Simple Standards-based Slide Show System`
 + `benefits`
    + `your favorite text editor`
    + `focus on content, not appearance`
    + `converts to HTML, PDF`
    + `intersperse speaker/handout notes`

.. container:: handout

   |NEXTSLIDE| For slides, I'd suggest the use of Restructured Text, with the
   *S5* slides extension.  *S5* stands for |NEXTSLIDE| "Simple Standards-based
   Slide Show System" and was created by Eric Meyer.  S5 itself is unrelated
   to Python but has had support for it added to the docutils module, which
   implements Restructured Text parsing.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Restructured Text has many benefits.  |NEXTSLIDE| It is written
   in flat text files and therefore you can use your favorite text editor.  It
   is also platform independent.

   |NEXTSLIDE| By doing a lot of the presentation for you, it lets you focus
   on content and spend less time tweaking appearances.

   |NEXTSLIDE| In addition to producing slides, you can also make your
   presentation available as an HTML page or PDF document.

   |NEXTSLIDE| The S5 extensions also allow you to sprinkle notes between
   slides that don't show up in your presentation but are available in the
   HTML/PDF formats.

Planning - Emacs

 + `readable, resizable font`
 + `syntax colorizing?`
 + `M-x setnu-mode`
 + `need to experiment with`
    + `code folding/outlining`
    + `jump-to-method/tags`

.. container:: handout

   The Emacs text editor makes a good choice for talking about source code.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Be sure to select a font that is readable for your screen size
   and color.  For focusing on select code portions, learn how to quickly zoom
   in and out.

   |NEXTSLIDE| Getting all the syntax colors right can be tricky and you may
   find it easier to turn them off.

   |NEXTSLIDE| There is a useful Emacs macro *setnu-mode* that, by enabling
   line numbers along the left margin, lets you verbally refer to portions of
   code by line number.

   |NEXTSLIDE| |NEXTSLIDE| |NEXTSLIDE| And the code folding, outlining and
   support for source tags in Emacs may be useful in your talks as well.  I
   myself need to check these out more fully.

Planning - Firefox

 + `firefox`
    + `disable minimum font size`
    + `developer extensions`

.. container:: handout

   |NEXTSLIDE| To give you the ability to zoom smoothly in Firefox, be sure to
   |NEXTSLIDE| disable the minimum font size in the preferences.

   |NEXTSLIDE| And there are many extensions for Firefox that may be useful in
   talks, from examining the webpage source during a webserver talk, to
   standards compliance testing.  I hope to cover some of these in future

Wrapup for Now

 + `To Review`
    + `Pick a Topic`
    + `Construct your Studio`
    + `Plan the Recording Process`
 + `Contact me:`
    `Jeff Rush <>`

.. container:: handout

   That concludes this part of the series.  |NEXTSLIDE| To review, we're
   covered |NEXTSLIDE| how to pick a speaking topic, |NEXTSLIDE| construct
   your studio with various tools, and |NEXTSLIDE| plan the recording of your

   Look for the next talk in this series, in which we cover the actual
   screencasting process itself, followed by a third talk on what tools I'm
   using for casting under Linux.

   Thanks for listening and I hope some of you will be motivated to get into

   I hope to refine and expand this talk with feedback from listeners, so
   |NEXTSLIDE| |NEXTSLIDE| please let me know where I get it wrong and how it
   be improved.

   The slides and script are available under the GNU free documentation
   license, for you to reuse or change.

   Local Variables:
   mode: rst
   mode: outline-minor

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Show some quick comments >>

All comments excluding tick-boxed quick-comments

Thank you, Jeff, for this clear and expressive screencast.

23. cbienmueller Mon, 26 Jul 2010 13:31

Nice work, easy to understand, even for me as a german - thanks

22. Streaming Video Recorder Fri, 28 May 2010 03:32

An excellent informative read. Thanks for the post.

I am unfamiliar with Python programming and would like to use screencasting. Is there a basic tutorial or can you point me other resources. Please note, I am not a programmer.

Also, is there a way to incorporate Creative Suite 3, make video products that multiple users can view at the same time.

Thank you!


Excellent. It would be usefull some information about where to find videos on audio and video compression formats and other especific technical topics. Thanks.

19. Amelia Kornberger Mon, 25 Jan 2010 08:48

Doing screencasts is a totally new topic for me, I explore it in the course of a technical writer training. So I research the internet a lot .

My native language is German.

The flow of words was a bit too fast for me as a non-native speaker. However, I got a lot of input which i appreciate very much. Thank you!

Kind regards from Austria

Thank you for sharing this. I liked it.

Excellent content. Will definitely get into screencasts now.

Useful introduction to the topic. I guess with S5 though, there is little opportunity to include pictures and/or animated diagram to keep the interest of the participant. The same goes for including questions (even if answered after a pause) to get participant to think what he/she has just seen.

As far as topic content is concerned though, its right on the button for my needs at present as I enter the realm of becoming a screencaster.

Although I'm aware you are not a Windows fan, you should consider the ScreenToaster option (which, as its browser based, would also support Liniux platforms).

Thanks for the insightful information.

Mark... (UK based).

15. anonymous Mon, 19 Oct 2009 05:31

I'm new to screen-casting, and found your introduction very enlightening.

I'm off now to follow up on some links you gave.

Many thanks

14. anonymous Sat, 10 Oct 2009 21:21

good talk. thanks

13. anonymous Mon, 03 Aug 2009 03:14

Thanks very much for putting out there some educational content and i think a things in education are changing screencasting may be the easy option to go in order to make multimedia learning content.I would also please like to know if you have ever written a book about screencasting as i will be ready and glad to buy it or any recommedations.Thaks once again.Galabuzi(germany)

12. anonymous Sun, 19 Jul 2009 18:51

Your presentation was very helpful but I am just beginning to learn screencasting. I have to learn yet about keyboard shortcuts and how to use sound or voice with my presentation. I have a webcam with my laptop but I think I need a webcam that I can easily move around. Your presentation is very helpful to me in making my plans. Thank you.

11. anonymous Thu, 04 Jun 2009 13:19

Thank you so much for taking the time to great this screencast. I'm just getting started myself and there is a lot of useful information! Thank You!

10. anonymous Mon, 25 May 2009 12:04

Thanks Jeff..just an excellent presentation!!...I never would of thought of all of those contributing factors without your help..

9. anonymous Wed, 03 Dec 2008 02:45

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the introductory screen cast. You sure got me interested in screen casting.

The presentation was well planned and structured, but the volume was too high which led to distortion and unpleasant peeks.

8. anonymous Thu, 24 Jan 2008 19:02

Thank you for a great presentation full of valuable tips and techniques.

I just would like to point out an issue that is affecting the technical quality of the presentations, and that you might want to also include it into a new version of this one, once you have corrected it. I am talking about the sound quality. There are too many "clipping" to the signal, which is very annoying and actually "hurts" when you are listening to it with closed headphones as I did. By "clipping" I mean, audio signal is saturated, i.e., the recording level of the microphone was too high for the peaks of the voice, resulting in the signal being brutally digitally chopped at those peaks, which creates a terrible loud kind of a "cracking" sound. My suggestion is, that when the quality of the audio is planned, the actual recording level must be tested to avoid at all costs the clipping. It is best to use a lower recording level when recording, so that the maximum peaks would not go beyond say, 80% or so. Then at the post production stage, this audio can be easily amplified (normalized) by using for example the great Open Source free software Audacity, to have the audio at 100% and zero clipping.

This is just a very simplified explanation, but this note should not be this long.

I hope this helps to improve a great job.

Many thanks!!

I. L.

7. anonymous Thu, 19 Jul 2007 10:03

This is a great video! When I have the time, I hope to use screen casting to support my teaching.

Doug Jones

Chris, I've not seen any problems with using an 800x592 screen size, other than to remember not to put something in the excluded region that you're presenting on. But then I try to keep what I'm talking about in the middle of the screen where possible.

I've taken your license advice to heart and, after reading your linked resources, am using a CC license on my talks now. Not a simple matter.

Hi Jeff,

Just wanted to let you know that your video displays fine on PC-BSD (Opera). The quality of your presentation gives us something to shoot for.

I have just finished installing PC-BSD, so I am looking forward to your tips on screencasting in linux (which hopefully will also work in FreeBSD).

Great job!


Licensing is an interesting area and one that we've not really addressed - we assume the CC Attrib, Non Commercial unless an author specifies otherwise.

We learned recently that we need to drop Non-Commercial if for example Mark Shuttleworth were to refer to videos at:

which is a request from Alan Pope (they will host copies of Lucas and Marius' excellent Ubuntu ShowMeDos). Lucas+Marius have chosen a dual license for now for Alan.

Sooner or later we here will have to firm up our default license...that's bound to be lead to an interesting discussion!


One more thing, Jeff:

This is not my area of expertise, and IANAL, but I would urge you to consider releasing these and future materials under a less restrictive license than the GFDL.

Please see for an overview and for detailed information.

Jeff, thanks very much for producing this screencast. I found your tips helpful, even after producing two series hosted here on ShowMeDo. This should be required viewing for current and future ShowMeDo creators!

I have a question about the 800x592 size that you use for casting. Do you see any disadvantage to this size in comparison to the standard 800x600 (other than the obvious loss of 8 pixels)?

Also, I am interested in learning more about your technique in capturing system and mic sounds. I have wondered about ways to do this on Linux, perhaps with JACK or some other tool.

Hi Jeff, great first video! It is very cool to see you using S5, it is a great presentation tool.


Showmedo is a peer-produced video-tutorials and screencasts site for free and open-source software (FOSS)- with the exception of some club videos, the large majority are free to watch and download.

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Educating the Open-source Community With Showmedo

Although as important as the software it supports, education and documentation are relatively neglected in the Open-source world. Coders love to code, and explaining how best to use or improve the software tends to be deferred or even sidelined.

At Showmedo we believe the community can play a vital role here and also say thanks for the tools and software that make our lives easier. If you have a piece of software you love or a programming langugage you are enthusiastic about, why not make a screencast showing others how to use it? All the stuff you wish you'd been told, the tips, tricks, insights that would have saved you time and frustration.

Screencasting is easier than you think, and we're happy to help you. You can emailus for advice or just use some of the how-to screencasts on the site. This screencasting learning-pathis a good place to start.

Kudos and Thanks for Jeff



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