Make Animated GIF Screencasts Easily With Byzanz

People always love videos. We’ve all heard the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Now it has changed slightly: “A video is  worth a thousand pictures and words”. A video will describe things much better than pictures and words i believe. Now a days mostly bloggers and writers are switching to make video tutorials instead of text tutorials and uploading them to their blogs, sites and social media video sites such as YouTube etc. In my personal thought, making a video article is much easier and time saving process than writing a text article with lot of images.

There are so many tools available out there to make videos of a running X desktop, the one today we are going to discuss is Byzanz.

Byzanz is a simple tool and GNOME applet to record a running X desktop to an animated GIF, OGG Theora or Flash for presentation in a web browser. Byzanz records animations for presentation in a web browser. The user interface and source code of Byzanz are simple and easy to understand and don’t contain any necessary features.

Byzanz does not interfere with the task you are recording, neither by keeping a large settings window around nor by consuming all your CPU during a recording. Furthermore  it  consists  of two different tools, byzanz-record, which allows you to make recordings from the command  line  and  byzanz-playback,  which  makes  it possible to convert debug recordings into other supported formats.

Install Byzanz On Ubuntu. Linux Mint & Debian

Add the Byzanz PPA using command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/byzanz

Update package list with command:

sudo apt-get update

Now install Byzanz using command:

sudo apt-get install byzanz


Application Options:

       -a, --audio
              Record audio from the default input device. This only  works  if
              the output format supports it and will otherwise cause an error.

       -c, --cursor
              Record mouse cursor

       -d, --duration=SECS
              Duration of animation (default: 10 seconds)

              Delay before start (default: 1 second)

              X display to use

       -h, --height=PIXEL
              Height of recording rectangle

       -v, --verbose
              Be verbos

       -w, --width=PIXEL
              Width of recording rectangle

       -x, --x=PIXEL
              X coordinate of rectangle to record

       -y, --y=PIXEL
              Y coordinate of rectangle to record
Help Options:

       -?, --help
              Show help options

              Show all help options

              Show GTK+ Options
Output file:

       After  byzanz-record is finished, the recording is written to FILENAME.
       The format is determined  by  the  filename  extension.  The  following
       formats are supported:

       byzanz - Record  to Byzanz' internal debugging format. This is useful for
              benchmarking Byzanz or if you want to convert the  recording  to
              multiple  formats  later.   You  can  use  byzanz-playback(1) to
              convert the file.

       flv    - Record to  a  Flash  Screen  video.  This  recording  method  is
              lossless.  Use  it  if you want to postprocess the file in other

       gif    - Record to an animated GIF image. Use this if you want to  record
              a  mostly static screen with a limited amount of colors, such as
              using a file manager or an  office  application.   This  is  the
              default and will be used if an unrecognized extension is used.

       ogg, ogv
              - Record  to  an Ogg Theora video. This format supports audio. Use
              this if you want to  record  dynamic  contents,  such  as  video

Sample Video creation

Here how i created a short animated GIF video in my Ubuntu Desktop. Open up the Terminal and type the following:

byzanz-record --duration=20 --x=0 --y=0 --width=1024 --height=800 sk.gif

The above command will create a GIF file named sk.gif in the current directory. Open it up using any image viewer or Firefox browser.

Sample output:

sk For more details about Byzanz refer the man pages.

man byzanz

References: Ubuntu Byzanz man pages