Writing the user docs for GTG was coming along quite nicely but I wanted to add a little kick so instead of all screnshots, I decided to make some screencasts. This was a completely new task for me as I never did any screen recording or video editing on Linux. But hey, this GNOME experience is about doing the things the new way, right?
As far as recording what happens on the screen, the choice seemed clear – recordMyDesktop. This a is simple, no frills app, works consistently and produces a decent result. I did not, however, test any advanced options so those remain to see…
OGV video file that recordMyDesktop outputs works perfectly in Mallard with a simple syntax:
<media type="video" src="videos/get-started.ogv"/>
The intention was to keep the video file size as small as possible so I did not record the audio. Unfortunately you can not do much more with recordMyDesktop apart from, well, recording your desktop. The problem with the straight recording is that it does not offer enough visual clues as to what are you doing especially if you do not provide audio. However, I was unable to find the program equivalent to Camtasia for Linux – something that is easy to use but offers certain features for making instructional videos. PiTiVi seemed too simple
and has only one video and one audio layer* and I found both Kdenlive and LiVES not very intuitive and way too complex for what I had to achieve. There are more video editing apps available (Cinelerra, Blender…) but again, it would be like using a cannon to kill a mosquito.
So at first it seemed that I had no other choice but to jump back to Windows, edit the screencast to add some color and callouts with text, and reimport the video into Mallard page. This approach involved the additional requirement of converting the OGV file. I found that both OggConvert and Transmaggedon did a very good job. You can see the result by clicking on the image below (it seems that I am unable to insert the video player here so you’ll have to bear with the link towards YouTube):
Video lost a lot of quality during the YouTube conversion but the version that will be in Mallard is decent enough. The ideal situation would be having a video editor with at least basic instructional features that can handle the OGV files natively so there is no need for conversion that is almost always lossy.
After accomplishing this step, I remembered that the user documentation files will eventually be localized so the embedded text is not a solution. I also remembered that Tiffany mentioned that videos in Mallard can be subtitled easily and that’s the work I have ahead. Stay tooned…
PS: Venus revealed itself for the last time this century right on my birthday! Here is how NASA saw it (click the image to open the video in a new window).
* Thanks bronte for commenting that this is indeed possible…