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How to create a screencast of your Linux desktop

Screencasts have become a very popular way to make tutorials to explain how software or services work in recent years. Let’s look at how you can make them of your own cool project, or anything cool you're doing with Linux...

This article originally appeared in Linux User & Developer magazine.

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Screencasts are short narrated video screen captures of your computer screen. They are usually shared on the web and used heavily by tutorial websites. They make tutorials a lot more lively and at times can be more effective than tutorials that use only text and images. You can create a screencast quite easily and share it with others on your website or over a video sharing service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Let’s look at how you can create a screencast using free software on your Linux desktop or laptop. We’ll set up the software recordMyDesktop through Ubuntu and then create a simple screencast so that you can see how the entire cycle works.

Virtual Box

01 Let’s make a screencast

To explain how to make a screencast on your Linux desktop or laptop, we’ll install the software recordMyDesktop, set it up and then create a simple screencast. The screencast we’ll create here will be about how to install software on Ubuntu Linux using the Synaptic Package Manager. First we’ll look at what are the different elements involved in performing this task, then we’ll look at the installation of the software, we’ll create a storyboard for the screencast, before we proceed to recording the video and audio. After the recording is done, we’ll edit both the video and audio elements and add some text to create the final product.

recordMyDesktop has a simple and clean interface that leaves out all the complicated options

02 The plan and the storyboard
Before you start playing with all the cool tools involved in making your screencast, it is quite important to plan things out. You need to figure out what your screencast aims to do, how long it’s going to be, what the level of understanding the audience you are creating this video for is, among other things. You also need to write a storyboard for your screencast. A storyboard is a rough representation of the video and can be used as a general timeline of scenes. Each scene would address a different aspect of your product. In the screencast we are working on, we would need the following:
1. Introduction (explain to viewers what you will cover in the video)
2. What is Synaptic
3. How to launch Synaptic
4. How to install software using Synaptic
5. How to remove a package
6. Adding/removing repositories
7. Refreshing your sources
8. Comparison to other package managers
9. Conclusion (a few words summarising what you have covered)

03 Write the script
Once your storyboard is ready, you have a scaffolding of your screencast. Now it’s time to fill this in with some content. The content we are using in this screencast consists of a video and an audio commentary. In this step, you will need to write out the script for the audio commentary that you will read out for the screencast based on the storyboard. Read the text out loud a few times to make sure things are fine and that you are comfortable with the commentary. Let’s get our hands dirty with the video now.

Continue to: Page 2 – getting down to business

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