How Technical Hardware works with Camtasia - Request for Customer Education

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Background: So, not a week goes by in this forum where I don't see three or four “My copy of Camtasia is running slowly” posts – be it Mac
or Windows. And in these posts, everyone does the same thing: posters ask to narrow what the person was doing when the issue occurred, as well as the technical specifications of their machine. Posters and employees often advise the person to submit a ticket. But oftentimes, there seems to be a clear bottleneck; e.g., someone only has a few GB of free hard drive space left on their computer; someone has barely enough ram to run Camtasia, Chrome, Spotify, etc.; someone’s CPU is woefully underequipped.

Problem: There seems to be an opportunity to help most folx understand what components (GPU, CPU, RAM, HDD vs. SSD, etc.,) of a machine contribute to performance in an NLE and how.

Before I had to upgrade my computer this spring, all I knew was that more RAM let me have more things open at once without experiencing performance loss. But even more than that, I think there’s an opportunity for the TSC team to help us understand how computer specs contribute to performance in Camtasia, specifically.

I say “Camtasia, specifically,” because, from my vantage point, I don’t think all NLEs are programmed to run the exact same way; or differently put, I don’t think DaVinci Resolve and Adobe Premiere Pro use the CPU/GPU in the same way.

Recommended Solution: Similar to how the “Getting Crisp, Clear Screen Video” tutorial blended general screen recording best practices/monitor resolution education and how they specifically applied to Camtasia, I’d love to see a training resource that helps us understand each computer component, and how Camtasia uses it.

Obviously, if you tell someone to get a mid-tier or top-of-the-line CPU, GPU, SSD and plenty of RAM, they’re going to have a much better experience on Camtasia than someone whose machine barely meets the recommended requirements (or worse, doesn’t meet the minimum requirements).

I know Ed’s posted the following TechSpot articles:

And that might be a good starting point, but folx might also want a slightly more condensed version. 

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paulwilliamengle

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Posted 4 weeks ago

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paulwilliamengle

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And just so I'm perfectly clear, I imagine a good deal of the education I'm requesting is across-the-board for any video editing work. That part, I acknowledge, you can google and learn on your own time.

But when I see people posting about how $1500-$3k rigs are getting middling performance, I think:
1) that's good feedback for the TSC Dev Team
and
2) that might represent a failure to understand how TSC uses the hardware to allow someone to record, edit and render the video.  
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Ed Covney

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Paul - You worry too much.

Its like buying a stereo in the 60s or 70s. Rule of thumb was Budget what you want to spend, then spend half on your components, half on a pair of speakers. Most spent $100 on speakers and $900 on the rest. It sound more like a $100 system. But easily upgrade-able later. 

You can mis-match computer components also, although the rules are elusive and ever changing. I'm not a gamer, but as a general rule, I tend to see what they buy: Large, very easily serviceable cases, that have air-flow up the yin-yang; A+++ mother boards, huge power supplies, max memory, and $3,000 video cards (I'll pass on the video). 

You could/should start looking today - even if you don't intend on buying in the next year or two or three or . . . . Take a year(s) to read those articles, I don't think I could make "Cliff Notes" and I'm pretty sure the authors wouldn't either. But I have thought of downloading all the pages, dividing them into 236 topics, indexing each and creating a "Look-up" on every item of interest and topic discussed. 

Anyway, I'm already researching my next one, so stay it touch, compare notes, OK?
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paulwilliamengle

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I would really like that, Ed. I've always appreciated your advice, even when I didn't understand all of it. 
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Joe Morgan

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I like the concept.
However,
I think this may open a can of worms.

I think people that build their own computers. Are probably TechSmiths worse nightmare.
Providing free tech support for the home builders must create additional cost overruns due to build errors, overclocking, etc.

What  happens when someone purchases or builds a computer based on the knowledge gained by watching these TechSmith tutorials?

If the new computer aligns with TechSmiths tutorials/recommendations. Yet, its better suited as a boat anchor. Or has some unrelated issue?

It seems like it could create a real liability issue to me.

TechSmith doesn't build computers, do they even posses the expertise?

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Ed Covney

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Joe - From my experience, people who build their own PCs, know what they're doing. On-line buys are second, brick and mortar buys are last.

Paul brought up a couple of excellent points even though I never suspected anyone would try to digest everything in a couple days. I was already familiar with half of the material as I had already seen what TechSpot published from Intel's "White Papers."
I'd also recommend that anyone who wants to get knowledgeable on today's hardware start there, even if you intend on buying an AMD based system. 

I am very curious about the Liqid PCI based NVMe hosts/ RAID controllers, they were not very forth coming. And since they don't intend on inviting guests until after July, I'm in no hurry, and I'm first in line when they do re-open.

In the mean time, I'm all about Optane - not today's but 3, 5 or 10 years in the future. What Intel is planning is quantum in nature. PCs that can rival today's super computers (ponder that for a moment): 16 or 32 GB of L3 cache and 2 - to - 128 TBs of DIMM based storage. OK, their DIMM based Optane is only 40-45% as fast as DIMM memory (fixed frequency), but 16 or 32 GBs of L3 cache!! It will rock all boats in the ocean.  I just pray I live long enough to have one. 

 
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paulwilliamengle

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I guess my point is - even if you're building a prebuilt PC, knowing what how the components work towards your video editing goals and the Camtasia software would be a plus. 
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Joe Morgan

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I  think you misinterpret my point Ed.

A short time ago a poster was complaining about long render times or playback issues.
I forget exactly what the issue was?I believe it was render time."Or both"
He had already opened a support ticket.
The actual problem?
He overclocked his RAM .
Builders love to tinker.
They use dual CPU server boards as personal computers. I could go on.

I don't assume that all builders are qualified to do so.
Especially if its their first build.
Or, their less than knowledgeable gaming friends with drawers full of spare parts helped them to boot. 


There must be a million and one possible computer configurations.
Semi-compatible components that will still run, yet create bottlenecks.
Getting something wrong cannot be all that difficult.
Novices playing around in the bios must create errors that are quite a thing to behold.

On several occasions, you yourself have stated you understand how to make Camtasia run smoother than everyone working at TechSmith. So it must be pretty easy to get something wrong.
Clearly, everyone at TechSmith isn't that clueless.

To the best of my knowledge, software manufacturers provide the system requirements  to run their program. Nothing more.
At least, I've never come across one that provides deep dives into configurations. Thats what I was getting at.

Tutorials are not a bad Idea.
At the same time, computer advancements and releases don't seem to follow a time table. I'm not so sure a video guide or tutorial could remain up to date for any significant period of time.   
 
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paulwilliamengle

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Ed, my understanding is that video editing benefits from more cores/threads first and clock speed, whereas gaming benefits from clock speed first and more cores/threads second, as video games (I think) generally function as a single-threaded application.
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Ed Covney

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Hmmm, hadn't thought about it much, but I think anyone can benefit from more cores and more memory.  Higher clock speeds and having hyper-threaded cores, a little less so. But IMO, your over thinking this. All user types can benefit from very fast computers. Only you can produce the cost-benefit analysis of what you need vs. what it costs $$.

Imagine producing videos for a living and you had no problem getting jobs. Do you charge by the hour or by the job? (You're buying the PC so I assume you're an independent?) If you charge by the hour, there's no benefit to having the biggest and best PC.

When I retired from the Navy in '88, I took 6 months off and interviewed once every week or two and got the feel of where the community was and wasn't.  Every IT dept I interviewed for, was needed data base design and development, but rather than hire on, I bet on myself and within a year, had to hire help. It all started when I did a freebie for the USOC Table Tennis committee (an automated ranking system). 

I don't do much DB work anymore, and what I do - do, I don't charge for, so no paper-work, maximum enjoyment. I'd like to find someone here, that enjoyed video work as much as you, I'd teach you what I wanted videoed, you could do the videos. Of course you'd use my PC and I'd pay you by the hour!
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Kevin Liu, Staff Software Engineer

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Hi paulwilliamengle,

Great post and a great discussion and contribution from others, thanks for bringing this up.

I will try to explain this briefly in the case of Camtasia Windows, Camtasia Mac works slightly differently, but most concept still applies.

First of all, an end to end workflow in Camtasia (or any typical NLE software) consists of decoding, rendering and presenting (preview on screen) or encoding (write to a file). The overall performance is controlled by the slowest part in the workflow. And the slowest part can be any part of decoding, rendering or presenting/encoding etc depending on the project you have on timeline. Camtasia needs to leverage both CPU and GPU as well as other part of the system (eg: hard-drive performance etc) to deliver the final results in real-time.

With that in mind, here is a few bullet points:
* Camtasia is not (yet) optimized for any specific hardware (being it CPU or GPU) given the broad customer base Camtasia has. I understand some NLE favors NVIDIA over AMD's GPU or vise versa, some may be optimized for certain type of CPU. We are reluctant to do this type of optimization to any specific hardware since we have a very big customer base and different kinds of hardware they may use. But please do give us feedback what you think on this.  

* Some part of the workflow relies more on CPU and some other part relies more on GPU performance, but a typical workflow involves both CPU and GPU. It is also not necessary that the work being done on GPU is always faster than on CPU. For example, TSC2 encoded TREC decoding (even is done on CPU) is usually still far more efficient than decoding a MP4 (which can be done on GPU by default).

* There is also data communication cost. For example, even I have a good CPU and GPU, but if I don't use a fast SSD, a traditional HDD would slow this down and those good CPU or GPU is not going to help me much. Another example is GPU, the ability of a video card for fast computation (rendering) for Camtasia frame rendering  is usually less important than the bandwidth of the GPU (eg: the rate uploading data from BUS to GPU and read-back from GPU to CPU for further processing). The bottleneck is usually either not decoding a media fast enough or not sending the data fast enough to GPU for frame rendering and composition. Basically Sometimes is the sync-point between CPU and GPU that's slow and has the most overhead.

* Camtasia is also set up so during the rendering of timeline, we will not use all the powers you have on your machine,  and still leave you some breath room for other apps running at the same time (eg: use web browser or word processor etc) and this is intentional. But you may make some tweaks to change this behavior (see my other post linked below for details).

* Camtasia doesn't use an intermediate editing format (IEF) yet to specifically improve the editing performance. Basically some NLE software would convert all media files to an IEF that's optimized for editing performance and translate this back to use the original media during the time of encoding. Because this introduces some complexity to our customers workflow and Camtasia has been working very hard for usability to avoid any unnecessary complexities. However please do give us feedback if you think adding an IEF step is important to you.

With all that being said above, I don't know it would help anyone who just needs a hardware check list to purchase a new computer for Camtasia use, because I just don't have one :) 

But here is some tips for hardware:
* Get a SSD when possible. Also avoid importing media from a network drive, copying those files to your local drive would help quite a bit for performance without costing your any money.

* Get some good amount of RAMs, at least 16GB, but a typical machine would be 32GB or more nowadays.

* Get a CPU that would also good to work with other part of the hardware.

* Get a GPU (video card) with a good amount of dedicated video memory if you could. GPU with shared memory usually wouldn't be as good and tend to be the bottleneck. Also check online test or report that sometimes has results on the bandwidth of the GPU communicating with the BUS,  usually if it has good bandwidth for both up (sending data to GPU) and down (reading-back from GPU) it'd be also good to work with Camtasia. Some gaming machine may have good up speed, but not other way around, because gaming usually doesn't need that read-back rate.

Some tips for making a performed Camtasia project:
* Choppy timeline preview doesn't necessarily mean a produced video is also choppy, always try the produced video to verify the video quality. Camtasia provides ways to produce selected part of the timeline (range selection then produce) or preview manager to generate a short produced video for quality check.

* Overly stacked timeline (many many tracks and videos on top of each other) is usually slow;

* Heavily edited timeline (with hundreds or thousands editings such as cut, split etc) is usually slow. Consider flattening the editing (eg: produce the chunk of the timeline to a file then swap in) for improved performance;

* Heavily nested groups would make the timeline getting slow;

* Media with heavily applied video effects and behaviors would be getting slow;

* TREC usually has better editing performance than MP4 on timeline;

I had an old post couple of years ago talking about rendering performance in general, some concept still applies if interested: 
https://feedback.techsmith.com/techsmith/topics/some-tips-on-getting-faster-rendering-performance-wi...

Thanks for all your feedback and stay safe and healthy!

Kevin Liu
(Edited)
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Ed Covney

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Kevin - It appears setting "ProductionThreadPriority" to any value changes nothing, Windows continues to run Camtasia (2020.0.1)  at "Normal" priority no matter what settings I use. I can effectively set its priority in task manager, but then I'd have to do it each time Camtasia launches. Can you fix this for us?
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Kevin Liu, Staff Software Engineer

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Thanks for the feedback. Sorry for the trouble. I will take a look at our code and see if this is still working as expected.
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Kevin Liu, Staff Software Engineer

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Sorry for the delay. Yeah, I looked at the code and the switch still gets set as expected, however there may be other factors that won't let it use all the powers (eg: bottleneck somewhere else depending on the project). So we are working on a better way of doing this. I will post a message here when a new build is released for that. Thanks!