Another Screencasting Handbook review

Posted on April 16th, 2010 by Ian

Paul Pival has written a lovely short review of The Screencasting Handbook, his review is for Release 8 which came out in early April (Edition 1 should be Release 10 to come out around the end of April):

“Ian starts with examples of using simple tools such as Jing and Screentoaster to create quick and easy screencasts, and then progresses through different tools and techniques working towards the type of screencast that might take as long as a week to fully create, edit and distribute.  He’s got extensive experience with Camtasia Studio and BB Flashback on the Windows side, and ScreenFlow on the OSX side, so those are the tools he uses as examples”

The Screencasting Handbook now stands at just over 120 pages (I’ll release this new version over the weekend) and the text is pretty much complete – you can buy it here.

Once the new release is out the price will inch up by another few dollars, to secure the current $33USD price get your copy quickly. The finished version will retail at $39USD, this will include a set of screencasts (which I’ll be recording before the end of the month).

The Screencasting Handbook release 8 now available

Posted on April 1st, 2010 by Ian

I’ve just pushed out release 8 (April 2010) of The Screencasting Handbook, these are the new sections:

  • “Distributing your screencast” is now finished, it covers common sites like YouTube and Vimeo, how to self-host with techniques like FTP and Amazon’s S3+CloudFront and how to use off the shelf video players like FlowPlayer and the JW Player
  • “Common workflows” discussing ShowMeDo and my ProCasts workflows will give you ideas for efficiently producing your screencast
  • “Screencast software” lists all the major screencast recording and playback tools

I intend to finish writing the book at the end of this month, during the final week of April I will be recording a set of introductory screencasts for Camtasia, BBFlashBack, Camtasia Mac, and ScreenFlow along with some technique videos.

The price remains $27USD until this Monday when it will go up to $33USD – if you want to buy at the lower price you have a few days to buy the Handbook. As always I offer a “get your money back if you’re not happy” guarantee.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Come to the screencasting SkillSwap in Brighton on Jan 27th

Posted on January 14th, 2010 by Ian

On January 27th here in Brighton I’m co-running a SkillSwap evening, I’ll spend 45 minutes teaching screencasting (based on a Mac) and Andy White will spend 45 minutes teaching podcasting.  We’ll cover planning, recording, editing, distributing and mics between us.

We’re both aiming the talks at freelancers (so they can communicate better with clients) and small companies (for training, marketing and demos).  We’re also the authors of The Screencasting Handbook and Podcasting Unleashed.

I’ll cover at least these topics:

  • Free and commercial tools on a Mac (and Windows/Linux if requested)
  • Recording your first screencast with Jing and hosting it on the Web
  • Planning your screencast so it meets the needs of your audience
  • The differences between a sales/marketing screencast and a tutorial
  • Using ScreenFlow to record, edit and produce a screencast and then upload it to YouTube
  • Hosting your own screencast and other distribution options

If you bring a laptop then I can get you started with the free Jing so you can walk away with a recording and hosting solution for Mac and Windows.

If you’re in Brighton then the event is free, see details in Upcoming and sign-up on EventBrite. SkillSwap has been running for years – cheers to Nat and James for finding a spot for us.

Madgex will be sponsoring beer and nibbles, the atmosphere will be relaxed and friendly.  Nat is recording the audio for a podcast and I intend to record a video of the evening for distribution via Vimeo (but of course that won’t be the same as being there and being able to ask questions!).

The Screencasting Handbook Release 7 now available

Posted on January 10th, 2010 by Ian

As promised just before Christmas the next release of The Screencasting Handbook is now available.  Release 7 adds “Export – which file formats do you need?” so you know how to export your screencast so it works for your own distribution and in sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

I discuss:

  • HD examples for Vimeo and YouTube (with links to video examples in both sites for various export settings)
  • Export settings for MP4, FLV, iPhones (using MP4)
  • Codecs vs File Containers with a summary of all the types you’ll find

If you don’t know whether YouTube is right for you vs hosting in your own site and whether a 4:3 normal aspect ratio of 16:9 widescreen is best then the new 17 pages and 10 demo videos will sort you out.

I’ve also extended the discussion about recording resolutions in the previous chapter (“Screen resolution and your recording area”) so you record at the right aspect ratio and resolution to fit your export format.

If this is your first time here then check out Paul’s review, he’s written a nice description of what’s in the book.

To get your copy either buy it (fully in the knowledge that it is 2/3 written but not yet finished) or join the notifications list.  I offer a full refund at any time if you buy it and find that the Handbook doesn’t tell you what you need to know.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Screencasting Handbook Review

Posted on December 30th, 2009 by Ian

I’m very excited to have my first proper review for The Screencasting Handbook, Paul McGovern is a new reader and he’s given the book a thorough bit of coverage:

“…up until now there really hasn’t been a standard point of reference for those interesed in the concept or who wish to learn more.  The Screencasting Handbook then is just such a guide, a comprehensive introduction to the world of screencasting…”

The book is currently at release 6 (release 7 is under way as I type), Paul notes this and is supportive:

Even in it’s incomplete form The Screencasting Handbook makes for very informative and engaging reading for those interested in screencast production. The book caters for novices and experts alike and even those who consider themselves well exposed to the concept should find something of interest here.

If you’re ready to get your heavily discounted copy of the Handbook, buy it here.  If you’d like to be kept informed, visit the homepage and join the mailing list – it is a low-volume list where I send you updates telling you about the new topics that are covered (and warning you of upcoming price rises as the book becomes more complete).

Tags: , , , , ,

New Handbook ready – read on for December’s updates

Posted on December 23rd, 2009 by Ian

I’ve just released the next update to The Screencasting Handbook – with this update the book has doubled in size to 77 pages.  The current version is Revision 6, you can see the full table of contents on the homepage.

The important additions are:

  • New “Making a screencast in 1-2 days” chapter, it is 30 pages long and contains a lot of my hard-learned experience from the last 5 years
  • Addition of 3 sets of checklists for each of the 3 “Making a screencast in …” chapters, these will ensure that you never miss an important step before you invest time making your screencast
  • Addition of 2 new examples in the “What’s the value of screencasting?” chapter

File export settings to follow and then more tutorial screencasts

In the first week of January I’ll release another update that covers file export formats and discusses how to export crisp screencasts in the right format with a small file size.

After the January update I’ll begin work on a new set of screencasts that show you how to use Camtasia (Win), Camtasia (Mac), ScreenFlow (Mac) and RecordMyDesktop (Linux) to record and edit your first full screencast.

Buying your copy

I’m releasing an update every month, the intention is to finish the Handbook early in 2010.  The current price is $27, this is almost a 1/3 discount from the price of $39 that will be in place when the book is finished.  Visit the homepage and join the mailing list to get a purchase link to buy your copy now.

Why must you join the mailing list?

I’m very aware that people normally buy books that are finished and this Handbook is a constant work in progress.  I want purchasers to be on the mailing list (you can of course get off of it at any time!) so they get my update emails and they know that I’m releasing improvements every month.

“4 Steps to Planning a Tutorial Screencast” on the ScreenFlow blog

Posted on December 18th, 2009 by Ian

Lynn over at ScreenFlow was kind enough to invite me to write a guest post on screencast planning.  I’ve written a two page post on the 4 steps to planning a tutorial screencast, it should give you some ideas on how to think about:

  1. audience – who are they and what are their needs?
  2. outlining – what’s the shortest and best demo to teach your audience?
  3. scripting – how to write a simple script that you can follow
  4. distribution – what to include so your screencast works wherever it is distributed

Tags: , , , , ,

Screencasting Interview on the Internet Marketing Podcast

Posted on December 17th, 2009 by Ian

Yesterday I was interviewed by Andy White (author of Podcasting Unleashed) on the hows and whys of screencasting for marketing software products.  Some of the links mentioned are listed here.

We discuss:

  • How to get started at zero cost (using Jing (Win/Mac), QuickTime Pro (Mac), BBFlashBack (Win) and RecordMyDesktop (Linux))
  • Professional screencasting packages (Camtasia and BBFlashBack Pro on Windows, ScreenFlow and Camtasia on Mac)
  • Tips for structuring the demo
  • Tips for audio production
  • (briefly) The Screencasting Handbook
  • (briefly) my ProCasts for professional screencasting

My interview runs for the last 20 minutes (from 0:37:00 to 0:52:00):

You can download the mp3 for offline listening.

VNC/FLV screencasting problems – (vnc2flv) and vnc2swf

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by Ian

I’m having a problem with .FLV video recording on Mac and Linux machines using vnc2flv and vnc2swf.  I’m playing with automated screencasting ideas and I like the idea of using VNC-based tools.  I can generate .SWF files without a probem, .FLV output from both programs causes a weirdly flashing screen.

Update – problem solved.  The underlying problem was that VLC wasn’t playing the .FLV video correctly.  Using other video players (e.g. ffplay, MPlayer, SWF and FLV Player) the .FLV renders correctly on both Ubuntu and Mac.  Thanks Brian.

Update – I’ve added some notes on the far more successful Windows test at the end.

I’ve recorded the problem for both programs (including an example of correct behaviour for SWF output):

I’m using the most recent versions of each program:

  • x11vnc 0.9.9 as the VNC server (it exports localhost:0 for the two recorders)
  • vnc2flv 20091114
  • vnc2swf 0.9.5 Nov 15th 2008

vnc2flv is an update of vnc2swf which just exports an FLV video.  The command line I use is:

flvrec localhost:0

For vnc2swf I change the output filename (using -o) to switch between FLV and SWF output:

./ -n -o test.swf localhost:0
./ -n -o test.flv localhost:0

As you’ll see in the video for the FLV output I get a weirdly flashing screen (it flashes the screen, then black, then the screen, then black…).  For SWF output the results are fine.

This behaviour is the same on my MacBook and on two Ubuntu 9.10 machines (one with an ATI card, the other with an NVIDIA card).

Via vnc2swf I can convert the SWF to an FLV using  This converts the SWF into an equivalent FLV (with no flashing nonsense), so presumably the underlying FLV encoding library is working.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what I’m getting wrong?  The author of vnc2flv has a demo video which shows it working fine on a Linux machine using x11vnc but otherwise I don’t see many posts about the tool and none that address my problem.

Update – compiling on Windows:

To compile vnc2flv on Windows you need to install MingW32, add the path (probably c:\mingw32\bin) to the system PATH and then compile using this line (which is different to the line it suggests you use when you first run ‘python install’):

python build --compiler=mingw32 install

Install pyGame before vnc2swf, I downloaded the vnc2swf Win32 exe.

To get both to run you’ll need to edit your system PATH again and add your Python’s Scripts directory, it probably looks like ‘c:\python25\scripts’.

Results when running vnc2swf and vnc2flv on Windows whilst recording the vnc session on my MacBook (using x11vnc 0.9.9):

  • vnc2swf -n -o test.swf (the MacBook’s IP address) – a perfect SWF capture
  • vnc2swf -n -o test.flv – failed, it won’t recognise .flv (nor with -t flv)
  • – a perfect .flv output video, just like test.swf

Links for the Internet Marketing Podcast

Posted on December 16th, 2009 by Ian

This post accompanies the Internet Marketing Podcast post, I was interviewed by Andy White on the hows and whys of screencasting for software marketing.  These are the links that were mentioned in the podcast.

My interview runs for the last 20 minutes (from 0:37:00 to 0:52:00):

To see how you could make your first screencast watch my ‘Making a screencast in the next 30 minutes‘ tutorial.  It uses the free Jing and I’ve embedded the resulting screencast (via so you can see what the result looks like.

To see three microphones in action by Andy White see Mic round-up: sE2200T, Samson C01U, Shure SM58.  Andy recorded these videos for his Podcasting Unleashed eBook, you get to hear how the mics sound and you get to learn some useful microphone techniques.

If you’re interested in BBFlashBack on Windows see my review of BBFlashBack 2.6.6.  I also mention Camtasia (for Windows and Mac) and ScreenFlow for Mac.

If you have screencasting questions do come and join this Handbook’s Google Group.  The Group is free to join and we have 100 screencasters (on Mac, Windows and Linux) with different levels of experience and tools.