Advice When Recording on iMac With 27 Inch Monitor

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  • Updated 2 years ago
Hello all.
After 6 months, I am still struggling to get my head around how this works.

I use Camtasia MAC to record training videos for applications such as Photoshop, Microsoft Word etc

I use an iMac with a 27 inch monitor which as a resolution of 2560 x1440 (not retina). I have read that it is best to target screen recordings to 1920 x 1080 as this will fit most screens.

Can someone explain in easy to understand terms the reccommended way to achieve this when using my monitor If I want the final screen recording to be 1920 x 1080 and have nice clear text. 

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Ian Barber

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Posted 3 years ago

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Jigs Gaton, Consultant

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Ian, I do the same thing, and I found the easiest solution was to attach any standard 1920 x 1080 HD monitor to the iMac and just record from the second screen. For one example, see here: 

Much simpler solution than trying to get things scaled using the iMac screen! 
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Leif, Employee

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You can set your monitor resolution on your iMac to 1920 x 1080 resolution in the System Preferences and record at full screen.  Then, when you are done recording, you can set it back to it's full resolution.

Another way is to use region recording.  Just record a 1920 x 1080 part of your screen.  Once you set up to record the region, you can resize your application to fit in the recording area.  This way there will be no degradation of the text from scaling issues.  Of course the tradeoff is that you no longer get to work in the full monitor and some views may show up outside the recording region and have to be moved into the region.
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Paul Middlin, Employee

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Both of the ideas above are great ones, IMO, Ian. The main reason you're seeing those suggestions is this:
You can totally just record your whole (big) screen, and shrink it down to 1080p in the editor, but you are inherently having to squish things down to fit in that size. Any resizing means a little loss in text clarity. So, producing a video at the exact same dimensions as it was recorded makes for the clearest picture.
That said, your video may get re-encoded and/or shrunken more if you put it on sites like YouTube/Vimeo/etc because they try to serve up a video that is small enough in size and bandwidth for where it is being watched (phone, computer, embedded in a small spot on a web page, etc). So, it will always be a little bit of a challenge.
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Joe Morgan

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Hello there Ian Barber,

I agree with Jigs Gaton, if you got the real estate available on your desktop. And its practical to switch to another monitor for your recording purposes. That’s the only way to go.

For myself, I work with dual 1920 x 1080, 23 inch monitors, I don’t have the real estate available for a third monitor. I do quite a bit of screen recording. Playing musical chairs with my primary monitor would not be practical.

Today, typical desktop monitors. Up to 24 inches, are manufactured with a resolution of 1920 X 1080.

All 27 inch and above monitors are manufactured at a minimum resolution of 2560 X 1440. Regardless of manufacturer. Which is a good thing, if they produced them at lower resolutions. The screen would look grainy. And frankly, they would be difficult to impossible to sell.

Recording your screen on a 27 inch or, even larger 4K monitor. To be produced at 1920 X 1080. Has the same inherent roadblocks.

There are couple of ways to successfully record your screen and still produce a crystal clear video at 1920 X 1080.

Option one. Temporarily change the resolution of your monitor to 1920 X 1080 and record your monitor in full-screen mode.

This comes at a High Price. In my opinion.

It makes recording a Photoshop tutorial pretty much Impossible. Why?

You’ve lowered the resolution of your monitor. Your screen appears somewhat blurry to you. So how are you supposed to do your work in Photoshop? Sharpen images correctly? Do that type of work and more? Or any graphics work for that matter?

Plus, it makes doing work irritating. Doing work on a blurry monitor is aggravating and just not practical.

So let me briefly discuss how the Camtasia recorder works.

Camtasia records exactly what you see on the monitor. However, it records at the resolution the monitor is set to.

The reason for that? It records the signal before it gets to the monitor.

Direct TV, cable boxes, etc. work the same way. If the satellite receiver is formatted to output at 1080p. The receiver is plugged into a 4K television. The 4K television is only going to receive a 1920 X 1080 signal. If you were to intercept and record that signal, you would capture a crystal clear 1920 x 1080 recording. Regardless of what you were seeing on the television.

So the bottom line, as impractical as this technique is to me, it works

Option two. Keep your monitor set to its native resolution. Set the Camtasia recorder to 1920 x 1080 and size your applications to fit within the recording window.

This too comes at a price. The image you see is sharp, yet too small.

This effectively converts the working real estate of the typical 27 inch monitor into an area that is 25 percent smaller.

27 inches ,minus 25%. Equals 20.25 inches.

So basically you’ve taken a beautiful 27 inch monitor. And turned its effective working space into 20.25 inches. You would be much better off using a 24 inch 1920 X 1080 monitor in the first place.

The situation is considerably worse with a 4K monitor. On a 4K monitor the recording area is reduced by 50 percent. This effectively reduces a 27 inch monitor. To a recorded screen size of 13.5 inches.

So hopefully, that will add some perspective to this topic.

High resolution monitors are great for many things.

 However, when it comes to recording video., The overall file sizes, creating and sharing videos. There are a number of obstacles that can get in the way. More than I will mention here.

Perhaps one day, everyone will have 4K monitors, fiber-optic Internet connections with ridiculous Internet speeds. And this topic will no longer matter.

When that happens, we will move on to bigger and better things, like. How to record 4K videos on our 8K monitors.

Regards, Joe

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Ian Barber

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Thank to everyone who has replied with suggestions. I now have a clearer understanding on how to achieve my end goal.

Thank you

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Keith Landi

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I have the Imac 5k.. Couldn't I screen record anything in less resolution anywhere on the screen and size it down in post (editing) and I can size to whatever size I need there.. And that capturing in 5K makes it simple because no screen change would be needed, but rather just treat it like any other task.. and later on, fine tune in editing.. I was wondering, because the 5K imac isn't going to miss out on quality I don't think.. Even if you recorded a 1080 p program lets say and you later played it back.. you can play such a 1080p program on only a portion of the screen, so long as it's not too tiny and the 5K monitor will bring it out with all of it's pixels.. Yes?  I was wondering. Thanks! 
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Joe Morgan

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Absolutely you can.

I'm a Windows user, but I got to believe the MAC recorders toolbar works the same.

Under custom, theres a Drop Down menu. You can chose a preset for recording dimensions.
Select Custom and type in a recording dimension.That way you can stick to aspect ratios without any guess work.