Screencast toolbox for my OrgMode screencasts

Stig asked in the comments, what tools I use to record the screencasts on my system. Well, here we go:

My computer is a workstation with 2 monitors, the main one with 1920×1080 resolution and an other one with 1280×1024 resoluiton. I’m running Debian 8 (Jessie) and I’m using the XFCE desktop on that machine., but since its all userland tools every other Linux distribution should do as well. The microphone is an USB microphone that is part of my webcam.

I tried some of the screencast tools that come with Debian. The first shot with kazam was very disappointing, I was able to record a screencast and view it in mplayer, but when uploading this to Youtube I got the message, that the audio codec is unknown and therefore there was no audio in that sample.

The tool I’m currently using is vokoscreen. I record the 1920×1080 screen, this is perfect for YouTube HD videos. The video settings I did are those:


I went for a frame rate of 18fps. There could be a lower setting as well, but the problem is that lower frame rates in the video make the mouse pointer jump around. Videoformat is mpeg4 stored as an AVI. The Audio codec is libmp3lame. Vokoscreen shows the recording time in sthe status bar on the bottom of the window, so all you need is to have an eye on that during recording to avoid that videos get too long. I have this window on my second screen (the one that  I’m not recording) to see.

This works nicely. Since I’m recording Emacs sessions I was also looking for a good tool to visualize the keystrokes, because Emacs (also known as Escape-Meta-Alt-Control-Shift) uses a lot of them. I found the key-mon package in Debian and this one fits perfectly for the job.

keymonKey-mon is hovering above all windows and it shows perfectly which special keys or mouse buttons are currently pressed. With this people that watch the screencast can „see“ what I’m doing on the keyboard and I guess that is very helpful.

The „Shownotes“ that I show on the left side of the screencasts are made with Libreoffice and exported as PDF so that I can show them with a minimum of window decoration using the evince document viewer. The Font I’m using for visualizing the keystrokes is called „Keystroke“. Debian comes with a font named „Linux Biolinum Keyboard O“ which also has fonts for keycaps, but this font has the problem that wider keys like „TAB“ are cut off at one side when exporting them to PDF. So I looked around on the web and found Keystroke which is a free True Type font.

The technical part of screencasting is easy. But its still a bit of work to prepare the stage before recording. I try to keep „typing things“ as small as possible and prepare a lot of the things I’m showing in advance. Then a backup of all affected file, one test session, restore the backup and then I start recording.