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Simple Digital Whiteboard for Screencasts

I’ve long knew that I have a heart for teaching about interesting topics.  Here is my first “whiteboard-style” presentation.  The rest of the blog post will explain briefly how it was made.


Binary Search Tree (BST) vs Linked Lists from Frank Rietta on Vimeo.

On my MacBook Pro, I’ve had the Snapz Pro X software for recording screencasts for a few years.  It does a good job at capturing the entire or a selected region of the screen.  It also records the microphone track.  The resulting QuickTime movie file can then be loaded into either QuickTime or iMovie to do some cropping and converting to a flat MP4 that is suitable for uploading to one of the online video services.

However, I’ve pondered for a while what the easiest way to capture whiteboard-like presentations for a screencast.  Clearly videoing the speaker standing in front of a real whiteboard with a cell phone’s camera is suboptimal at best.  Most of the time making out what is being said is difficult.

The solution to this challenge was surprisingly easy.  I recently ordered a Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch tablet.  Since I am going to be using it mostly for presentations and not graphics art, I went with the middle entry level model for $90.  Using this tablet and Autodesk Sketchbook Express, which is free from the Mac App Store, I am now able to record a screencast that consists of a crystal clear digital whiteboard and the spoken word.

After practicing for an hour, I recorded a short video on the differences between Binary Search Trees and Linked Lists.  This is the first presentation in the “CS with Frank” lecture series :-)

The audio quality is okay for a beginner. I think in the next one I will experiment with different locations for the microphone headset to see if I cannot reduce the pop.

I look forward to recording these sorts of videos!

About Frank Rietta

Frank Rietta's photo

Frank Rietta is specialized in working with startups, new Internet businesses, and in developing with the Ruby on Rails platform to build scalable businesses. He is a computer scientist with a Masters in Information Security from the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He teaches about security topics and is a contributor to the security chapter of the 7th edition of the "Fundamentals of Database Systems" textbook published by Addison-Wesley.