Screencast recording on Ubuntu 10.04 (and 9.10)

Creating screencasts is not only modern - often a short 2-minute video can be more helpful as a 2 page documentation.

There are two major screencast recording tools available in Ubuntu. That said, I always had troubles with them because I do want sometimes different behaviour or I had issues with the sound. I want to give a very short overview to make it more easy for you to choose the right tool in the right moment and to get the output you want:
  • gtk-recordmydesktop
    Very easy interface
    + Works out-of-the-box
    - Option to follow mouse available and keeps the mouse always in the center of the frame (I think, this disturbs, when watching the video).
    - Cannot export/save as MPEG-4 or AVI or anything else - just .ogv (the open format)
  • XVidCap
    + Can produce different formats (MPEG-4 is the default, but you can switch to .ogv also)
    + Option to follow mouse available and keeps the frame steady until you move the mouse near the frame border (this way it is more easy for the user to follow the video instructions - you should only make sure that the border of the video is not to near to your primary working area otherwise you get a similar effect as with gtk-recordmydesktop)
    - The GUI is slightly less intuitive
    - Using the package from the Ubuntu 9.10 or 10.04 repository does not bring you sound support (at least not when trying to create MPEG-4). You have to install the .deb package manually by downloading it from sourceforge (current version is yet 1.1.7 - although the same version seems to be in the repository, that is a different one and does not work - strange, but fact).

I basically use both applications. When I produce local screencasts for end-users that I just save on their local machine for later reference I use gtk-recordmydesktop and just leave it as ogv. That used to work even when Skype + TeamViewer is running and I did the recording remotely. It even recorded my sound coming through Skype! When I want to upload a video to YouTube (or vimeo and others), XVidCap is better because it immediately produces MPEG-4 which fits better for YouTube and similar services (I tried uploading an ogv file from gtk-recordmydesktop to YouTube which failed to replay correctly - indeed it is not mentioned on the appropriate help page).

Especially for the case(s) you prefer gtk-recordmydesktop you might need to convert the created video to the finally desired format. I have seen many ways (reading blog posts and watching screencasts), e.g. using WinFF, VLC Media Player and using Devede. Using Devede was the only one that worked for me (see http://vodpod.com/watch/3665200-converting-your-ogv-files-to-mpeg4-).

In any case you should have the ubuntu-restricted-extras installed (using synaptic package manager or sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras) for doing video or audio stuff. I would also install ffmpeg.

I also usually have to put the sound input to a high level otherwise when replayed on several machines (e.g. notebooks or external monitors with poor speaker power), even putting the volume to highest level brought only low level sound.

Final note: It might be necessary to quit Skype (if you have it running) to avoid sound or video juddering.

Related post: Ubuntu 10.04 with docking station.


Anonymous said...

I just tried gtk-recordmydesktop in an Ubuntu 10.04 install. No idea if anything recorded. I could not get rid of the select window box when I stopped recording. Will be trying XVidCap.

Both Screencast-o-matic and ScreenToaser claim to work with Lunix. Both of them crashed Firefox when I tried them.

Martin Wildam said...

I tried the ScreenToaster the last time more than a year ago when I was still on Windows at work. There it worked. Never tried on Linux because other options.

Regarding the window selection: You mean the read rectangle displayed after you selected the window in the preview? Or do you select the window on screen via context menu in notification area?

When I hit stop in the system tray, it is gone in both cases for me. I would imagine that it is probably an issue with graphic. If you quit the application from the notification area / system tray with right-click and quit it should be gone anyway. The videos after recording are in your home folder.