About SmartFocus Not Working...

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Hi everyone - We realize the SmartFocus feature is broken in Camtasia. The feature was originally designed to solve a problem of high resolution screen recordings being consumed at lower resolutions due to bandwidth or device restrictions. For instance a 1080p recording being used on a 720p canvas. Or even, dare I say, a 480p canvas. With the majority of devices now capable of displaying full resolution content, this is less of a problem today. In fact, because many people are recording at 1080p, then publishing at 1080p... SmartFocus is simply providing less benefit. 

However, to reiterate, it’s buggy and broken. Not trying to gloss over that in any way. 

So... Are we going to address this? Yes, but I don’t know what that is going to look like yet. We need to perform a deeper evaluation of the work and more importantly, prioritize it. Our queue is currently full for at least the next ten weeks. 

In the spirit of transparency, I can tell you this: One solution to SmartFocus not working is to remove the feature from the product. It’s not my favorite choice, but if we can’t fix what we have in a meaningful way within a reasonable amount of time, then removing the feature is the path that makes the most sense until we can re-introduce a tool that helps our customers easily draw attention to an area of focus in their videos. 

Thank you for your continued feedback and support. I may reach out to connect with some of you experiencing issues so I can better understand your needs. I realize this is not an ideal response if you've been frustrated with SmartFocus, but I will share what I know and keep you updated. 

-Jake 
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Jake Pechtel, Strategy Lead - Camtasia

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Posted 2 years ago

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John French

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled smart focus for Camtasia for Mac 3 - help needed.

Hi, I need documentation to get Smart focus working on Camtasia for Mac 3. There doesn't seem to be any that I can find, and every time I use it I get error messages. Mostly canvas size too big, but when I make canvas smaller than recording, I get just blank video where the preview should be and no icons above the preview area. Undo does not them work and I have to reload the project to continue. Can someone explain how I can use this very useful feature? Or is there bug in it.?
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johnCla

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled smartfocus not working?.

Using Camtasia Mac 2.9.1, when I drag/drop the smartfocus effect onto my timeline, nothing seems to happen. I've looked at the tutorial, and at the help topic on smartfocus, AFAIK I'm doing it right...My steps:
1. record at 1280x720 using the camtasia recorder
2. save, then shrink the canvas slightly - this is required, right?
3. click/drag smartfocus down to the video track

Expected - I'll see edit icons on the track indicating smartfocus animations, and when I play the track I'll see zoom in and out

Actual - I see no edit markers, and I see no zoom and pan when I play.

What am I missing?
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Richard Moir

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This makes me sad. Your own tutorial for SmartFocus nails the reason why this such a great feature. It's all about focusing the user's attention to a particular area of the screen while maintaining context. Smaller devices may now be able to display 1080p, but it doesn't change the fact that the screens are tiny, making details very hard to see. SmartFocus is surely still very important and I'm shocked to hear it's been neglected!
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Jake Pechtel, Strategy Lead - Camtasia

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Totally agree with your statement on smaller devices, Richard. Just because a device CAN display a high resolution file doesn't mean it's the best choice for the viewing experience. If you chose to produce on a canvas that is optimized for an iPhone (just as an example), and were using content recorded at high resolution on a laptop or desktop, then SmartFocus is probably going to help your editing process and focus your viewers attention. 

Are you currently using SmartFocus or zooming and panning for your videos, Richard? I'd like to hear about your experience and what is or isn't working for you when trying to direct the attention of your viewer.  
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Richard Moir

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This was the first time I made a video with mobile devices in mind, so I haven't used smart focus before. However, I knew the feature was there and thought it would be perfect for what I wanted to do.

The most frustrating thing was that the feature is there but fails in a really obscure way. Note that I'm still on Camtasia 2 admittedly, hopefully it's better in 3. If you know that a feature is broken, it would be nice if the program explained that to me.

My workaround was to resize and crop my source material then use transitions. That gave me an acceptable result.
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Paul Middlin, Employee

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Richard, I just want to make sure I am clear on what you're doing and what your options are. SmartFocus was intended to automatically apply the zooms and pans to your video. However, you can still choose where you want to zoom and pan to yourself throughout the video; you shouldn't have to crop? But maybe we're saying the same thing.
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Richard Moir

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My mistake, Zoom In/Out does do what I want! Here's what happened: I watched your tutorial on zooming and panning and it talks about smart focus for the first 5 minutes then only mentions manual zooming in the last bit. I didn't watch the last little bit of the video because I thought I knew what I needed to know and already assumed smart focus was the only way to do it.

Now that I understand that SmartFocus is supposed to automatically zoom, I don't think I would ever use it.

Thanks for listening!
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david_griffiths

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Hi All,  would be awesome if the auto smart focus could just pick the current cursor position and magnify that area of the screen by a pre-selected percentage (and perhaps ensuring that the video didn't move off of the canvas if the cursor is at the edge of the screen).
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Andy

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Same issue using Camtasia 3. It's a real shame this feature doesn't work. Doing screen casts on a retina display means you *have* to use Zooms and pans a lot for anything that you're doing to be visible (even if viewed on a reasonably sized screen). Creating all of these manually is such a pain. So much easier if you could plan your mouse movements during recording so that smart focus would give you a decent 'draft' of potential zooms/pans that you can then edit. In other words, so much easier if the feature did what it was supposed to do. So, fixing this gets my vote ....
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screencast

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I toss in my vote, as well. I record on a retina display, and the movies I generate are on a smaller canvas. SmartFocus was one of my favorite Camtasia features when I started using Camtasia. I'd like to vote to bring it back, if that's possible. It save a ton of time!
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fletchermartin

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This is a very useful post. Thx for sharing this.
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jim

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Looking for Smart Focus to come back... would like to see some automation of zooming in / out on screen areas when doing screen recordings.  Gets a little tedious doing this manually. Any updates regarding the status?
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seth

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I am trying to use the SmartFocus and/or SmartFocus at Time feautre to record a click by click video where the viewport follows the mouse. It's actually fine if the viewport is a small screen - it will ultimately be in a small ~5 second gif - it doesn't need to be in the native resolution of my laptop. Please see my thread, I would appreciate any help.
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evan

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It's a feature that was included, and thus should be fixed.  I can't use it at all, yet it's a feature that I constantly want.  Bad form Camtasia.
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damianrx

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Please don't tell me that smart focus is dead.  regardless of screen resolution it was a quick way to allow viewers to be Focused on what you are showing.
Manual zoom in and out just doesn't cut it.
This is the main reason for getting camtasia.  I am starting to turn to Magix Vegas as it can track while zooming.
Camtasia to me was never meant to be a video editing tool but a desktop capture tool with cool features.
Anyone?
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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Official Response
We've done an overhaul of the SmartFocus algorithm which will ship with the next Camtasia Major. In my testing of it it's gone back to being a pretty useful starting point for focusing on the screen. We're looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Brooks Andrus
Camtasia Technical Product Manager
Mobile Technical Product Manager
TechSmith
(Edited)
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evan

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That's great, but I'd also like it on the version that I've already bought - it was a feature that was disabled, so I would like it enabled please.  
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damianrx

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@Brooks appreciate the positive feedback.   Unfortunately it looks like I will miss out on this fix...
I did read your other later post and Camtasia 9 does not work "correctly" it sort of works,  so in my mind and others on here it is broken.

Even the first post from Techsmith admits it is broken.

Quote "We realize the SmartFocus feature is broken in Camtasia" - Jake Pechtel, Strategy Lead - Camtasia
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jack.swaton

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That's fantastic. I upgraded less than a year ago but did not purchase the add on major Upgrade license since in my view upgrades should always be available for at least a year. I hope others like me won't have to pay the fee for this important functionality that went missing.

Respectfully offered,
Jack
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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Just to be clear, the currently shipping SmartFocus algorithm is not "broken". It works as designed when it was delivered back in 2007ish. As designed, we wanted to encourage people to record at full screen and then produce content in what were at the time standard web friendly resolutions (720p or less). It still works nicely if you follow those constraints. But the world has changed and it's much more common to have larger recording sizes than 1080p and produce at larger than 720p. If you don't do this, then the feature feels buggy / broken.

The redesigned algorithm has been adjusted to work with pretty much any canvas size that is less than the original recording. The algorithm for automatically focusing is also brand new. We didn't tweak some things here, we completely re-did the feature.

Why am I explaining this? In an effort to help you understand why we consider this new feature work that will not be ported back to older versions of Camtasia. I know that bums some of you out. Keep in mind we have to balance the effort of producing value in new versions of Camtasia with the cost of updating older versions of the software. Unfortunately, the costs of going back and updating are significant and we are very judicious about putting effort into products that shipped years ago.

For folks who are willing to pay for updates, I'd really encourage you to take a look at our maintenance plans. They are a cost effective way of keeping up to date with the latest and greatest version of Camtasia without shelling out the full cost of an upgrade every cycle or two. Maintenance also gets you additional training and support benefits that don't come with the plane old perpetual license. It's very similar to a subscription that still leaves you a perpetual license to the software that you purchased. It's worth at least taking a look at.

Best,

Brooks
Camtasia Technical Product Manager
Mobile Technical Product Manager
(Edited)
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evan

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Not good enough.    You kept a feature YOU KNEW wouldn't work on the quality of video your customers were most likely using, rather than upgrading.  I only bought the software a little over a year ago.   

Customers shouldn't need to buy the maintenance package to get updates, if those updates are within a year.  Customers shouldn't need to buy updates so they can use features that ARE ALREADY INCLUDED in the software but you guys decided they weren't worth optimising.   

I am really disappointed here, particularly with your lame reasoning, Brooks.  
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damianrx

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@Brooks 
Unfortunately it looks like I will miss out on this fix... 
Camtasia 9 does not work "correctly" it sort of works,  so in my mind and others on here it is broken.

Even the first post from Techsmith admits it is broken. 

Quote "We realize the SmartFocus feature is broken in Camtasia" - Jake Pechtel, Strategy Lead - Camtasia

Power to you for getting back on track and making the software do what it is originally made to do - Screen capture with auto zoom with the ability to easily add various functions to make the videos interesting.

Point taken re what it was originally designed for but points taken away for not staying on top to system specification progress.  Someone dropped the ball.
If it was trying to be a high level video editor I think you're just wasting resource. IMHO
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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Several members of the community have requested that TechSmith attempt to be more transparent. That's all I was trying to do here. If I've offended any of you, or appear insensitive to your concerns, my sincere apologies--that was not my intention at all.

I'm committed to driving Camtasia forward and addressing the concerns of the community about areas of neglect, or desired improvement. I hope you will join the team and I on that journey. The plan is to make the next several years (as far as I can see into the future) of major releases impactful and valuable enough that upgrading and maintenance are no brainers.

If you have additional concerns and would like to discuss further, please feel free to reach out to me personally at b[.]andrus[at]techsmith.com.

Best,

Brooks
Camtasia Technical Product Manager
Mobile Technical Product Manager
TechSmith
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screencast

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@Brooks, I understand your rationale, but at best, it doesn't make sense. At worst, it might actually constitute fraud if you knew the feature didn't work when you released the software. (For reasons I don't understand, software companies seem to think that advertising one thing and delivering another is perfectly legal. It isn't.)

"You bought software for a feature that had code that we wrote in 2007 therefore you got what you paid for" doesn't fly. Just as if I signed up for a support contract using a credit card that later expired. You wouldn't expect me to say "well, the card worked when you ran it the first time, therefore I deserve all upgrades." 

Your software advertises SmartFocus. I have upgraded for the last FOUR versions of Camtasia and have used the feature on several occasions, and as long as it's there in the app, I expect the feature to work. If you removed it entirely when it broke, that would be one thing (something, by the way, that might have stopped me from continuing to be a customer), but you didn't. 

The good customer service response would be to say "all of you who said you needed this two years ago and it was broken get this feature for free, since that's what you thought you were buying at the time." 
The bad customer service response is to say "gee, we chose not to fix the problem even though we knew it was broken, and you upgraded expecting it to work, and because we had to do work to get the software to work as advertised, you need to upgrade a second time." That's a REALLY crappy response. 

I use Camtasia, Snagit, and Jing, on both Windows and Mac. AND I'm perfectly happy to switch to FIlmora, Loom, etc. You're in a competitive market and I'd much rather go with a company that didn't charge its customers twice to get the functionality that's documented and in the app interface the first time around.
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johan.bromander

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Question - is this issue solved in Camtasia 19? I'm currently using Camtasia 18 on Mac. Every time I try to use the SmartFocus feature I get the error message mentioned earlier. Really annoying since it's a powerful feature that I expected to wowkr as intended. 
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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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The new algorithm shipped with Camtasia 2019. I suggest you give it a try and see how well it will work for your needs.

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