Silverlight Screencasts


A while ago MikeT popped up on IM with a crazy idea to create a set of screencast videos covering the common topics in Silverlight 2 development. Not only that but he wanted to build a custom player to view them. And he wanted to do it in say, a week or so...

Next thing I know I find myself in a room with Mike and a whiteboard. About 30mins, some frantic scribbling and one cup of tea later we had something like 40-45 video topics we wanted to do.

Next thing I know, he's sent me a custom player app that he's built (I didn't like it much on first pass, or second much to his frustration). And then he's created a whole bunch of the videos and bought a domain name and wants to know about Silverlight streaming and codecs and initParams. He's like a demented person. He's obsessed with Silverlight!

Anyway, the end results are at http://www.silverlightscreencasts.com. Mike built the app and made the lion's share of the videos as well. When we update for Beta 2 I've offered to try and redress the balance a bit...

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There's a massive amount of effort goes into this sort of thing and one of the biggest challenges turned out to be the transcoding from the original AVIs into compressed WMVs for download and streaming. In particular we hit a few issues with the constraints imposed by the Silverlight Streaming service which meant re-editing and / or re-encoding (and modifying the player app to support "chaining" of videos). Given it can easily take an hour or so to transcode one video, this turns into a very lengthy process (but it does heat up your study quite effectively).

Ben Waggoner has a great post about Expression Encoder 2 settings, optimising screen encoding for Silverlight and what the various settings mean. I got great results using the settings (which we ultimately didn't use!) but it can mean a very length encoding process.

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