Creating Narrated Powerpoints/Screencasts in Ubuntu

I am looking at options for creating narrated presentations and demos for an online class I am teaching next semester. I can use Camtasia/Camstudio/etc. in Windows fine, but I am looking for options to use in Ubuntu.

OpenOffice doesn’t have a “record narration” option like Microsoft Powerpoint does, but you can install (using synaptic) the application gtk-recordMyDesktop to record video and audio of anything you do on your computer, see this tutorial. In a way this is even better than Powerpoint narration because I can easily demo other things as well, such as websites or an application, or switch to Gimp/Inkscape as a whiteboard of sorts, ala Bill Verplank. You can even hook up a webcam to record yourself or things outside your desktop. Sometimes it helps people comprehend better when they can see your gestures while you are explaining something (see for example research by Susan Goldin-Meadow).

One thing I have found though is that gtk-recordMyDesktop, unlike other apps that use audio like Audacity & Skype, did not recognize a USB microphone. However it worked with a regular microphone plugged into the microphone jack fine. It outputs videos in the ogg format, which can be converted to other formats using tools like mencoder, ffmpeg, or vlc. See for example this thread and this mencoder tutorial. I’m not sure that a conversion is necessary though, as VLC is free and plays pretty much every video format and works on any platform.

There are also programs available on Ubuntu like kdenlive for editing your video. It has an interface similar to Apple iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.

Posted in opensource, technology
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