Papervision3D: Getting Started with Adobe Flex (Screencast)

After completing my personal website I started considering the idea of recording some video tutorials and as a result I have just done my first Papervision3D screencast. One thing I am very pleased with is the technical part of this task. Since I’m not a big fan of Camtasia and other propriatery software this time I used VirtualDub with x264 codec instead of Camstudio and flashsv. This way the quality of the video and the file size came out amazingly well (less than 1mb per minute of recording).

Moving to what the tutorial includes:

  1. Downloading and installing Tortoise SVN
  2. Downloading (check out) the Papervision3D SVN repository
  3. Setting up Flex Library Project (in Adobe Flex Builder) for the code downloaded at step 2.
  4. Setting up Flex Project (in Adobe Flex Builder) for our first Papervision3D attempt
  5. Writing and testing very simple AS3 Class CoolCube for getting started with PV3D
  6. Having fun!
To view the “Papervision3D: Getting Started with Adobe Flex” screencast you need Flash Player 9 or later.

PS. Sorry for the lag of outline around the captions but  I was informed that I have to buy a license for JW Player (which supports outlines). This forced me to use Flowplayer which has insane set of features but is nightmare to configure.

If you have any other player in mind (or hosting which will not recompress the video), please drop me a line.

Howto Create Lossless Flash Screen Captures (Screencasts) for Free

Two weeks ago I started my search for free solution that can do cross-browser and cross-platform screen captures. After couple of days I understood that creating screencasts without using Camtasia is hard because I needed something that can do the following:

  1. Produce Flash Video (FLV) which is good for streaming
  2. Use a lossless codec for great quality
  3. Works under Windows XP
  4. Gives good quality/size ratio

The solution is Camstudio + Camstudio Lossless Codec + miniRec + FFmpeg

Camstudio is free open source screen capture software (in relatively mature state) with great set of features described on the official website ,blog and forum

Camstudio Lossless Codec is not really necessary because exporting in uncompressed video works too but requires alot more space. I tried other lossless video formats like MSU Screen Capture Lossless Codec but since I’m converting it in Flash Screen Video it doesn’t make much difference.

miniRec Audio Recorder is nice and very simple application for recording your voice while capturing the video stream. While Camstudio has build-in audio recording support I had too much troubles with it (the encoded FLVs had some strange bugs) so I’m just recording it separately.

FFMpeg – as usual the cherry of the pie now with support for the Flash Screen Video format (flashsv). With its help it is easy to produce high quality lossless FLVs with relatively small size.

How it all works out:

  1. Install Camstudio 2.5 Beta 1 – there are many tutorials on youtube about it and I’ll skip this step. Also you can check the official install screencast – which is for abit older version
  2. Install Camstudio Lossless Codec – it is quite easy, just download the archive, extract it somewhere, right click on the inf file and chose install
  3. Run Camstudio and click on Options –> Video Options. For me the best settings for getting as small as possible files are like this:
    Camstudio Settings

    (If you have any better suggestions please share with me)

  4. Download and install miniRec from here. I have not used any special settings since the voice is compressed by FFmpeg while merging the video and audio streams. My suggestion is to set a global shortcut key for both miniRec and Camstudio so it is possible to fire them almost simultaniously.
  5. Record all you want :)
  6. Get FFmpeg. There are versions both for linux and windows. I’m currently using SVN-r12810 but anything relativly recent should do the trick.
  7. The magic for converting your avi to flv is:
    ffmpeg -i input.avi -vcodec flashsv output.flv
    if you are joining with the audio use:
    ffmpeg -i input.avi -i input.wav -ar 22050 -vcodec flashsv output.flv
  8. And the result will be like this:
You do not have flash installed.

PS. The song that is used in the screencast is under Creative Commons and can be found here

Easy Way to Create Dynamic Flash Charts

For the Javascript Framework performance comparison I needed a good quality bar chart so I got my Microsoft Excel to do the work (as you can see quite good) however if you need to do some quick changes or to dynamically generate charts the answer is Open Flash Chart. It has a good API including .Net, PHP, Java, Perl and other languages support. Documentation is not great but enough to do your work. I played around with it loading data from .txt file and got the performance chart bellow easily done

You do not have flash installed.

Cool huh !!!