Monday, 4 November 2013

Screencasts with Ubuntu Studio 13.10

For a course I am taking on Music Production at Coursera, I need to do screencasts and upload them to YouTube or similar. Before I forget what I found, I put it here. Some details about my settings:
  • I'm running UbuntuStudio 13.10 with the XFCE4 Desktop Environment
  • The screencast recording application I'm using is Kazam (during my first attempts there was an issue with libx264-123 which was causing Kazam to crash, but luckily for me the bug was solved just a couple of days ago).
  • The video editing software I'm using is OpenShot Video editor.
  • My display has a resolution of 1920x1080.

So, first I just use Kazam to record my screencast. For this course I'm mostly interested in recording the Ardour application, which has lots of information, so I will be recording the whole screen.

The resulting video has a very good quality, and I can edit it with Openshot (though remember first to stop Ardour and to stop JACK, since Openshot is not JACK-friendly). Once ready I can export it with the following settings (just by modifying a couple of things after choosing the Vimeo-HD profile given by Openshot):

The resulting video is of very good quality, and I can upload it to YouTube. In YouTube the quality is still very good, but you have to view it at the right resolution. As far as I know you cannot give a link to the video to stream at 1080p, but you can at least force 720p by adding &hd=1 to the YouTube link.

So that gives a quite nice video quality, and you could have it almost perfect by making sure that your viewers will use 1080p, but this might not be possible due to their bandwith, and in any case there is a lot of information in a full screen, so it is nice to add a little help to focus minds (i.e. zooming).

Zooming looks like it should be quite basic, but I couldn't find any other satisfactory way of doing it than by running Compiz. I certainly don't want to run Compiz in a regular basis, but I installed it and learnt how to activatate/desactivate it just for the recording session. Basically, to install it (taken with changes from, I just did:

sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-plugins compiz-plugins-extra compizconfig-settings-manager

I didn't have to do any of the other stuff suggested in that page. With that in place, I start Compiz by running in a terminal:

compiz --replace

Then I open the CompizConfig Settings Manager and configure the magnifier as per the images below (it was important to de-select the "Enhanced Zoom Desktop", as otherwise this seems to override my preferred Magnifier effect):

Now, when I'm done with the recording, if I want my resources back and I want to get rid of Compiz, from another terminal I type (which I can killl with Control-C after the command has done its magic):

xfwm4 --replace

This will kill Compiz and give me my XFCE4 desktop back.

With all this in place, I can have a very nice indeed screencast. As an example:

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