First thing to choose is the application that will do the actual screencast. From rough investigation I discovered these three that are available in fedora/livna:
- instanbul - easy to use, however almost non-existant configuration, output compressed terribly much, which makes the video small but ugly
- xvidcap - configuration options are pretty good, you can customize the output as much as you want, however tend to freeze during captioning, also does not support encoding to theora
- gtk-recordMyDesktop - seems to support output only to ogv/theora/vorbis, not very well handled area selection, adds skeleton track to the output, usage not very intuitive
Next, we need to decide about the content - will we add commentary? If yes, will it be spoken or via subtitles? Subtitles are very good for translating, you just use the original one and use e.g. subtitleeditor (in fedora repos) to make a translation without changing the subtitles timing/styling. Also it's good for deaf people. On the other hand, you need to show the subtitles somewhere, which might render the part of screen on which they are shown unreadable. You can minimize the costs by using styled subs (e.g. ASS/SSA) to position the subtitles, but you'll then need special programs that can handle the styling (e.g. mplayer with -ass option).
Audio has the drawback that it can be hard to understand, for the person doing the screencast harder to create (not all of us are good English speakers), also it's harder to make a translation. So I guess subtitles are overally a better choice.
Now what format choose for video? If I had a choice, I'd go with MPEG-4/AVC (H264) which is excelent format with probably the best quality to compression ratio (and is pretty much used for most of HDTV content). It has however a drawback of being patent encumbered which renders it not an option for videos targeted on all Fedora users (even though you can play it in Fedora if you install additional codec packages from livna, but that's not an official Fedora repository). Software patents also put out of the game most of the other codecs, which leaves Theora. It has pretty good quality to compression ratio and is already the output of the gtk-recordMyDesktop, so if you are content with the compression, you don't need to recompress/re-encode the video.
Lastly we need to choose a container format. In opensource world the best choices are probably OGG/OGM/MKV (listed in no order). I don't know if OGG can handle subtitle tracks and OGM seems to be rather hack of OGG to better support videos. It's not much widely used either. On the contrary Matroska Video (mkv) is designed to be portable, fast, open, ... It can contain almost anything which renders it almost ideal container for shipping videos (it can contain multiple video, audio, subtitle tracks, fonts, various other files..., and yet it's generally very fast). It also comes with handy tools that makes adding new subtitle or audio track to existing video a piece of cake [mkvmerge(-gui)].
So what's my choice? It's obvious from the previous text:
- ASS/SSA subtitles
- Matroska Video (mkv)
- (optionally Vorbis audio)