Introducing a screencaster called Kazam

There are many screencasting applications out there at the moment.

gtkRecordMyDesktop, Istanbul (and for the hard core!) xVidCap. The trouble is, they were created WAY before screencasting became so popular, and so try to meet the demands of an audience which has changed dramatically.

They built on old principles which simply don’t apply anymore, and discontent with the options I saw, I decided to design (and hopefully make) my own.

I started with the main window from which you start the recording. I looked at the existing Linux screencasting tools and others (such as the excellent Screenflick for Mac OSx) and noticed a HUGE difference. Looking at Screenkey, the user is only presented with very few options to begin with, so they can just get started, whereas with the Linux ones, the user is drowned with options and configuration – all they want to do is get started!

I started to mockup my own main window (you can see the process below). The first iteration had less options than the Linux ones, however I still felt as if it was too difficult for the user to just START! Then came the idea which my design is now based on.

I decided that the initial recording of my screencasts should not be encoded into OGV, MP4 etc. Computers have so much storage today, that I decided it is better to forget quality etc. in the beginning, and let the user deal with it later. this was one of my biggest problems with the Linux ones. If you set the quality too low etc. you would have to record to whole screencast again – not acceptable in my mind.

So the options I included on my main window were the video and audio sources (optional) and I also did a third iteration where a screenkey-like option is offered to the user.

After this window, an application indicator (or status icon for our GNOME friends!) will appear in the panel, and start counting down from five. A translucent black window will also appear at the sametime, counting down from 5 at the same time. This allows the user to prepare for the screencast, but also having the indicator appear and countdown with the black window, shows that they are connected, with no need to explicitly tell the user through some documentation. While recording, everything is as normal, with the indicator acting as the means to pause and finally finish recording. The mockups of the indicator and the black window are shown below.

Once the user elects to finish the recording, a small window popups, telling them that the recording has finished, and asking them what they want to do. They can either edit the screencast with Kazam (the name of our application) or with any other video editing application (such as PITIVI). Another option is to save the video file in its current uncompressed form. This is if they want to edit it later, or if for some reason their video editor is not in the list. The purpose of this window is to smoothly link the recording of the screencast with the editing and final output.

However I realise that for many screencasts, a powerful video editing software package such as PITIVI can be a bit overkill and not suitable to quickly get a screencast out onto the web. Therefore I have included BASIC editing capabilities in Kazam, but with the clear guideline of not trying to replace applications such as PITIVI. A mockup can be seen below, where the user can now adjust the quality of the video and audio, and even crop the video in an easy-to-use separate dialogue. The final use of this editing part of Kazam, is to quickly export to a number of sources. These include (but are not limited to) YouTube, Vimeo, VideoBin, to file etc.

Just to let you guys know, this will not take place of my work on Wasiliana, just something I was working on when I was getting to grips with Genie. Hopefully one day I shall make such an application…

Links – deviantArt Gallery with all mockups

30 responses to “Introducing a screencaster called Kazam

  1. I like the look of this, it would be nice to see a Screencast tool on linux which I can easily setup!
    Seen on OMGUbuntu

  2. Pingback: Introducing a screencaster called Kazam (via andrew@thisblog) « Neojames13's Blog

  3. Hey.. This sounds really great! And the mockups look promising!
    Your really like your thoughts about kazam, and we really need a nice recordingsoftware for linux!

    Hope the future of kazam is not to far away πŸ™‚

    Greetings Andreas

  4. Calota Romeo

    I would like to help with this project if you would be interested.
    Code, translations, etc.

    • Well, I am trying to work on Wasiliana at the moment and get to grips with Genie, however it is a definite possibility I may try to start working on it (it will be useful for when I do screencasts of wasiliana πŸ™‚ )

      In this situation, I would definitely contact you.

      • Calota Romeo

        If you do decide to contact me I know my way around QT and could help with the interface implementation int it. In connection with your response to sheytan’s post. πŸ™‚

  5. Is this a working app now? Can i get it somehere? πŸ™‚ Oh, and the UI will be GTK, right? If yes, then why not Qt? πŸ˜€

  6. yomartins

    Great work! Hope it will make real.

  7. dismal_denizen

    I completely agree that original captures aren’t treated with enough respect in current Linux screen recording applications. Since most users will spend the majority of their time recording, it is definitely preferable to keep the original video in a “raw” format (as long as settings are available for those with limited storage). You wouldn’t write an application which tells users to take a photo again or record a song again – why should screencasting be any different?

    Thanks, now I feel really depressed that an application like Kazam doesn’t exist πŸ™‚

  8. I like your ideas, although I’m a little confused by the menu bar appearing on all the windows. Are they separate dialogs, or just a single main window that changes it’s appearance at each stage? And with such a clear workflow, I’m not sure the menu bar would even be needed.

    I’m not yet convinced by the idea of storing uncompressed full-size video though. The problem isn’t just that it takes up a LOT of space, but also that the speed of the hard drive (and the need to use it for other tasks during the recording) limits the frame rate. Compression at a sufficiently high quality level that acceptable transcoding is possible afterwards is probably more sensible.

    • They would be separate dialog, and yes the menubar/empty toolbars have not yet been decided on.

      As regards to uncompressed video, this is defnitely something I would have to research and experiment with, as I am not claiming to be an expert but thanks for the heads-up πŸ™‚

  9. lokimonster

    There are sometimes problems with screen-casting interactive 3D content I think you should be careful in this area.

  10. Looks great! I’d love to use this app. gtkrecordmydesktop is sometimes a pain in the ass.

  11. It does look really great and I love your mockups here… I’d love to do more screencasting on Ubuntu for sure. One interesting comment is that you seem to have arrived at very similar UI choices to ScreenFlow on the Mac – which is not necessarily a criticism, just an observation! πŸ™‚

    • I won’t deny this πŸ™‚ I did look at Screenflow amongst other applications whilst looking for good ideas, but as you said, it is definitely not a crtiticism – ScreenFlow seem to have exactly the right idea!

  12. Ubuntu is definitely missing good screen-casting software that is simple to use.

    I’d also like to help if you’re interested. Depending on what language you are planning to use, I would be able to hep with coding and I would definitely be able to help with testing.

  13. Pingback: ON 150 expresate, con videos, screencast, audio | Odaiba Net

  14. Tobias Wolf

    Have a look at Byzanz in git.

    The UX is simplistic and the recording method is probably sane because the guy knows what he’s doing.

    It can record to a uncompressed format for later processing. Even better, it can record to lossless Flash ScreenVideo format that is compressed using damage deltas and 4:4:4 color sampling. This format is ideal for later editing. Storing full frames uncompressed on disk will generate a lot of i/o, which might be problematic.

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  18. Davide

    That’s so great!
    I was waiting for a program like this since first time I installed ubuntu (4-5 years), because on Windows, Camtasia was very excellent! Hope you will improve this tool.
    Great job, again πŸ™‚
    PS: ( Off-Post ) How do you make mockup?

  19. This is what i need. I tried recordmydesktop,but YouTube not playing the ogg theora format. Thanks for the application

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  21. Nice to see some fresh thinking on the UI. I made a tutorial for how to install kazam on debian squeeze in case anyone else had problems getting it to work there.

  22. Pingback: Kazam Screencaster 0.12 | Three Wise Men

  23. That’s a grreat software; Thanx

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