efficient terminal/console screencasting

Andrew Pantyukhin infofarmer at FreeBSD.org
Thu Nov 22 15:09:26 PST 2007

On Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 10:00:48AM +0530, Girish Venkatachalam wrote:
> On 21:26:41 Nov 21, Andrew Pantyukhin wrote:
> > A while ago I needed to screencast a terminal to a class of
> > students in real-time. It turned out to be quite straightforward
> > with screen(1) in multiuser mode.
> screen(1) is really cool. :)
> > Now I want to record screencasts and allow people to watch them
> > later. I'm looking at recordmydesktop, but the innefficiency
> > strikes me: I'm operating in text-only environment, there's no
> > need to record every frame as a flat bitmap. Whatever codec I
> > choose, the files will be huge and of low quality.
> How about ttyrec(1) and ttyplay(1) ?

Oh, yes. I've tried ttyrec a few years ago but have completely
forgotten about it since. Thanks, it helps a lot!

> > What I need is something like script(1) on steroids:
> > - accurately record the complete state of my terminal window at
> >   any given moment
> > - store it as a succession of updates, each represented in a
> >   text-based format (as opposed to pixel-based)
> If you want pixel based output then there are quite a few options but
> none to my taste. As you mention they all are bloated.
> > - record timings correctly
> > - allow for a method to record speech in the background
> This you have to do manually with sox(1). Not a big deal. A simple shell
> script can do what you want.
> > - allow for a method to play it all back in sync
> This is no big deal either. If you want to create a video, then you have
> to go in for pixel based stuff. You can however do efficient compression
> and use a good codec like x264 or something.
> > Has anyone heard about any tool which would help me achieve at
> > least some of my requirements?
> Your idea seems good enough to create an open source tool that does
> exactly what you want.

I'm still hoping to get by with some hacks, but you might be
right. It's a pity and almost a surprise there's no widely
available text-based video codec. Maybe I just need to try my
luck on mplayer-related mailing lists.

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