Friday, December 08, 2006

Inkscape Screencast - My First Experiment

A few posts ago I gave a few quick examples of shiny web2.0-like objects I created in Inkscape. Before I posted that I actually did a little half-hour attempt at a screencast with a program called Xvidcap. It failed miserably, generating a tiny video at about 2 frames per second. Not Good.

Will Simpson commented on that post that he'd like to see a screencast of some Inkscape stuff, so I took a little more time to investigate. With the exception of having to modify the first line of the configure script (changing bin/sh to bin/bash) the instructions in this post worked! So I configured, compiled and built this patched ffmpeg program that let me create a somewhat decent screencast.

The long and short of it? I created a quick screencast showing the creation of a simple black shiny button using Inkscape. Before criticizing it too harshly, read the notes and caveats below.

A few caveats:

  1. Uploading the video to YouTube significantly degraded the quality (originally 800x600 at 30fps - 1000 kb/s bitrate) - if I find a decent place to host it, you will be able to download a much better version.
  2. I don't have a microphone to create decent sounding narration so I didn't even attempt it. I may try to pick one up in the next little while.
  3. Tutorial-type screencasts are kinda (very) useless without narration, so don't expect to learn too much from it - it's really only an experiment.
  4. To help alleviate 3 minutes of utter boredom I dubbed in a nice Rob Costlow track using Kino - I hope you like some nice solo piano.


I converted the avi video from ffmpeg to dv-video for use in Kino. I dubbed in the music with Kino and trimmed it slightly. However I couldn't figure out how to get Kino to export to mpeg4 which supposedly converts best with YouTube so instead I generated an mpeg2 file which may be the main reason for the blurry YouTube quality. I've got to figure this part out better.

The patched ffmpeg program seemed to capture the 800x600 video flawlessly, but when I tried 1024x768, even at lower bitrates, the capturing program would just quit on me. Not sure why. Meh. 800x600 is ok I guess.


Will said...

Too cool! We can't hardly wait for a cast with narration. I hear that audio synchronization is the hardest part producing of screencasts in Linux. Good luck.

I didn't catch how did you get the text to appear engraved. Share?

Will said...

Found this link today and thought you might be interested. New tools for screencasting.

RichardQuerin said...


We'll see how it goes with the audio. There's also the problem that I absolutely hate the sound of my own voice when I hear it played back :)

I didn't really do anything at all to the text in that screencast. But in an earlier Inkscape related post here I showed how you can create a gradient for the *outline* of the text or shape. And if you get it right, you can make it appear to be indented a bit. Like I've said many times, I'm far from a graphic designer (just an interest of mine I guess) but it's so easy to experiment that eventually you figure out a way of doing almost anything. :)

Thanks for the link. I had actually checked out that one in my recent travels as well! I'm not sure how he was able to capture his whole screen. Mine seems to crash as soon as I get anywhere near 1024x768.

Anonymous said...

Nice screencast. Really helps in learning to use Inkscape.


Will said...

Richard, get yourself over to There is a new team of producers making Ubuntu related screencasts. You'd fit right in. Also they are looking for a new logo and they sure could use your skills.

I post a copy of the proposed logo on my site.

Check out

Anonymous said...


You can host your videos in, normaly I host my videos there and I upload in flash FLV, so I chose the size and quality of my videos ;-)

I am enjoying yours videos about Inkscape ;-)

Thank you and continue ;-) :-)