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FFcast has almost nothing to do with FFmpeg or screencast ;)
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FFcast helps the user interactively select a screen region and hands over the
geometry to an external command, such as FFmpeg, for screen recording.

FFcast 1.0 is rewritten from scratch, and incompatible with the 0.x series.


A common problem with many command line screencast tools is that there's no
easy way to specify the screen region the user want to record.  Such tools
require the target region geometry to be specified in numbers.  Due to the
limitations of the human eye and brain, we can't usually translate a region
on screen into numbers instantly or precisely.  This is where we need some
graphic interaction.  This is where FFcast comes in.

FFcast prompts the user to interactively select a screen region and instantly
knows the geometry of it.  Then, FFcast replaces the placeholders in the
screencast command line with the geometry parameters and executes it.

The placeholders are implemented as basic format strings.  The format strings
%w, %h, %x, %y, %X, %Y are replaced with the width, height, left-, top- right-
and bottom-offset of the selected region, respectively; %d is replaced with
the DISPLAY environment variable.  A literal `%' must be escaped as `%%' where
necessary.  The following is a basic FFmpeg command line using this syntax:

  ffcast [...] % ffmpeg -f x11grab -s %wx%h -i %d+%x,%y -vcodec libx264 cast.mkv

There's an alternative, convenient syntax which supports a limited set of
recognized screencast commands.  It uses `--' as the placeholder for the
predefined command-specific, geometry-related parameters.  `ffmpeg' is one of
the recognized commands; the command line above can be equivalently specified
in this syntax as follows:

  ffcast [...] ffmpeg -- -vcodec libx264 cast.mkv

The `-l' option lists all recognized commands for this syntax.



  * Bash 4.2
  * FFmpeg
  * xrectsel - for the -s option (included)
  * xwininfo - for the -w option


  * libX11

Get the Source


Git repo: git://


The usual `make && make install` works as expected.  Read Makefile for details.


Examples are always most helpful to get you started.


Start fullscreen capture.  In this simplest form, where no region-selecting
argument is passed, FFcast selects the root window and passes its geometry to
FFmpeg.  Press 'q' to end recording.  The output file is named ffcast-*.mkv.

  ffcast -s

You will be asked to select a region using mouse, then FFmpeg starts recording
the selected region.

  ffcast -vvs ffmpeg -r 25 -- -f alsa -i hw:0 -vcodec libx264 cast.mkv

Debug is turned on by -vv.  You will see in the debug output the FFmpeg command
line that's called.  Notice that `--' from above is replaced with the x11grab
input options, and other options are unchanged- That's indeed what FFcast does.

  ffcast -ws

You will be asked to first select a window by mouse click, and then a screen
region by mouse.  The recorded region is the region selections combined by
union.  Indeed, you can pass any number of -w and -s.  This can in particular
be very helpful for recording multi-window applications, such as the GIMP.

  DISPLAY=:1 ffcast

FFcast, like xwininfo and xrectsel, respects the DISPLAY environment variable.
The above records the whole screen of display :1.  This is useful when you run
a nested X server with Xephyr and want to record stuff inside its window.

  ffcast -w recordmydesktop -- -o cast.ogv

An example of using an alternative recording command, recordmydesktop (rmd).
You will be asked to select a window, and then rmd is called to record it.
The magic, again, is FFcast injects the -display, -x, -y, -width and -height
options into the rmd command line, replacing the first occurrence of `--'.
The `--' can also be omitted, since FFcast by default injects the geometry
options right after the screencast command.  Use `ffcast -l` to get a list of
supported screencast commands.

  ffcast -w % echo %wx%h+%x+%y

This uses the format string syntax.  Any arbitrary command can be used in this
syntax.  The command will print the geometry of the selected region, similar
but not equivalent to the `-p' option; they are different in that the geometry
parameters passed to `echo' are sanitized to be divisible by 2, which is not
done with the `-p' option.

FFcast 1.0 Changes From 0.x

Many of the options are removed, and the code is considerably simplified and
more readable. But the most significant change is that now the user can pass
any valid argument to FFmpeg- FFcast will never touch FFmpeg's options other
than the x11grab input ones (which is the point of FFcast).  The implication
of this is that, for example, you can easily pass audio input options to get
audio recording- a feature widely expected yet hard to implement/maintain.

The reasoning is that FFcast should not know anything about FFmpeg except for
what it must know.  In other words, I will not maintain the FFmpeg's crap,
it's the user's responsibility to keep up with whatever FFmpeg changes.  In
other words, FFcast doesn't hold the user's hands but gives him/her all the
control.  Whatever works for you ;).  The part FFcast does touch, however, is
the x11grab input options- currently something like this:

  -f x11grab -s 600x400 -i :0.0+100+100

That's it.

Users switching from 0.x can safely remove the old config file, now that no
config file is used by FFcast.

Also changed is the xrectsel program.  It now supports several format strings.
They are %x, %y, %X, %Y, %w, %h, %b and %d.  Read the source code for details.


Originally, Michal Witkowski (Neuro) posted[1] "x264 Lossless Screencast Script"
at ArchLinux forums.  I then went on and heavily modified and extended the
script, and finally released FFcast 0.x.  The idea behind Neuro's script was to
parse xwininfo's output and pass it to FFmpeg, so you can easily record a window
by simply clicking it.  I liked it, and naturally linked the behavior with the
screenshot application 'scrot'.  I wanted to find a way to select an arbitrary
screen region for capture.  I went on to look at the scrot source code, as well
as post a topic[2] asking for help.  HashBox was very kind to post his code and
even clean it up for me- I finally combined what I got from scrot and HashBox's
code and put together xrectsel.c.  All was looking good to me.

But obviously I was misguided to think it's a good idea to take control of all
the irrelevant FFmpeg options and added even more (like -t).  And then people
came to me and complained that FFcast didn't do sound recording.  I at first
still thought I should implement it, but then found that we simply couldn't-
with all the sound systems out there, there's no easy way to determine the sound
input device in the first place.  I could have added some options in the config
file and whatnot, but I *knew* I was on the wrong track, so I did nothing.

After a long time, a thread[3] at ArchLinux forums reminded me of FFcast and
the painful fact that it sucked.  I then sat down, opened the script, and didn't
read much before I started to write prototype code for FFcast 1.0.  The next day,
FFcast2 (i.e., FFcast 1.0) was announced[4] at ArchLinux forums.



Q: Why not support console recording?
A: Since you asked, you probably know that FFmpeg can record framebuffer,
   `ffmpeg -f fbdev -i /dev/fb0` for example.  The thing is FFmpeg's framebuffer
   recording is very primitive- it does not support region selection of any
   kind, just the whole screen.  Even if it did, we wouldn't be able to do the
   same kind of interactive selection as in X.  Due to these limitations and
   the goal of FFcast, the user is better off using FFmpeg directly.
   I also recommend 'ttyrec' for your tty recording needs.

Q: Can I record audio using FFcast?
A: Yes, you can do everything you like with FFmpeg since FFcast 1.0.

Q: Why is the video quality so poor?
A: That's none of my business- you're the one responsible to pass the right
   flags to FFmpeg, not FFcast.  That said, if you think the default FFmpeg
   flags are stupid and suck, feel free to suggest a decent combination.

Q: Why does FFcast not do foo-bar-baz?
A: Probably it shouldn't.  In many cases, the right solution is to wrap around
   FFcast/FFmpeg a quick and dirty specialized script- especially regarding
   encoding options.  By design, FFcast is basically FFmpeg with an interactive
   selection plugin and probably shouldn't do your foo-bar-baz.

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