Pyro HOWTO Video

This page documents how you can make tutorial videos (often called "screencasts") as shown on

You could make movie files in a number of different formats. However, to remain compatible with as many OSes as possible, we recommend making Flash movies (SWF files). There are commerical solutions for this task, but you can also do this with completely free programs. We use a 100% Python solution that captures a VNC desktop, and converts it directly to a SWF file. This should work under Linux, Mac, or Windows.


  1. Download and install VNC, server and viewer. Under Fedora Core 4, simple run yum install vnc vnc-server as root. You might want to change your ~/.vnc/xstartup:


# Uncomment the following two lines for normal desktop:
# exec /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc

[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup
[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources
# xsetroot -solid grey
vncconfig -iconic &
# xterm -geometry 80x24+10+10 -ls -title "$VNCDESKTOP Desktop" &
gnome-session --sm-disable
gnome-session  &
  1. You'll need a way of recording audio and producing MP3s. We use audacity. FC4 users run yum install audacity as root.

  2. Finally, you'll need [WWW]pyvnc2swf. Put these in your current directory. Look for a version 0.6.5 or higher (which has a patch to work with audacity MP3 files).

/!\ To get audacity to record, I had to run alsamixer, press F4 and turn all of the capture devices up to 100%.

Recording a movie

  1. Start up a vnc server: vncserver -geometry 800x600 and give it a password. 800 x 600 is big enough, but not too big.

  2. Open up a view to the server vncviewer :1

  3. Start vnc2swf python -o output.swf -C 800x600+0+0. Select port 5901 (the 1 refers to the :1 of step 1). Press start. A window will appear to enter the password. Type it in, but don't press "Ok" yet.

  4. Start audacity, and press the record button.

  5. Wait three seconds, and then press the "Ok" button of vnc2swf.

  6. Speak and click, type, etc.

  7. When finished, stop recording and then press "Stop" of vnc2swf.

  8. Export the audio as an MP3. Make sure you select ID3v2 when you export. Save it as "audio.mp3"

  9. In audacity, delete the first three seconds.

  10. Now, add the audio to the swf video file: python -V -C 800x600+0+0 -c -o output-audio.swf -a audio.mp3 output.swf

  11. You can now load the file output-audio.html and watch and listen to your movie.

Cleaning up

  1. vncserver -kill :1

Pyro Modules Table of Contents


  1. PyroModuleIntroduction

  2. PyroModuleObjectOverview

  3. PyroModulePythonIntro

  4. PyroModuleDirectControl

  5. PyroModuleSequencingControl

  6. PyroModuleBehaviorBasedControl

  7. PyroModuleReinforcementLearning

  8. PyroModuleNeuralNetworks

  9. PyroModuleEvolutionaryAlgorithms

  10. PyroModuleComputerVision

  11. PyroModuleMapping

  12. PyroModuleMultirobot

  13. FurtherReading

Additional Resources

  1. PyroIndex

  2. PyroAdvancedTopics

  3. PyroUserManual

  4. [WWW]Pyro Tutorial Movies

Reference: PyroSiteNotes