Improve Camtasia video quality?

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  • Updated 4 months ago
  • (Edited)

I'm creating screen capture videos with sound and I'm publishing as mp4 with the highest quality I can get out of Camtasia 9.1.2. The videos look okay on my computer and on Vimeo, but they're fuzzy and of poor quality when I upload them to my LMS. 

My LMS provider suggests a bitrate of 5000 - 8000, but the most I can get out of Camtasia is 1654 when I set the encoding quality to 100%. Can anyone suggest a way to get better quality video out of Camtasia?

Camtasia settings:

Resulting file properties:
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catkins

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Posted 4 months ago

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Dubie

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In the window in your first screenshot, change the Quality option to Bitrate and then make your desired setting.



Higher doesn't relate to better as in your first screenshot indicates ( The red text)
It's about finding a good balance.

If as you say your vids look good locally and on Vimeo I would suspect something with your LMS  hosting.

I go with a 65% quality setting and anywhere I upload to are good after they have of course propagated fully.

Dubie:)

(Edited)
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catkins

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Yeah, I've tried maxing out the bitrate setting with the same results. I think you're probably right about the LMS being the issue; I'm just exploring all the options.
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Dave O'Rourke, Senior Software Engineer

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The videos look okay on my computer and on Vimeo, but they're fuzzy and of poor quality when I upload them to my LMS. 
If the produced file looks good, then it's not a bitrate issue.  In fact, it's almost never a good idea to mess with this setting.  It won't give you better looking results, just a bigger file.  MP4 with Encoding mode = Quality at 65% should produce a good looking, well compressed MP4 file in almost all cases.  You're probably best leaving that setting as is.

It's more likely that the video is getting scaled on playback in the LMS, and you're losing quality because of the scaling.  Screen video looks bad when you scale it.  It's the nature of the beast.  To keep it looking sharp, you need to play the video at 1:1 scale.  If you don't have control over the LMS side of things, you may have to produce a video with smaller dimensions in order to improve the sharpness in the LMS.

As a test of this theory, you could try to record + produce a short 10 sec video at a much smaller dimension... say 854x480, and then check the sharpness of the resulting video in your LMS.

Hope this helps.
(Edited)
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catkins

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Good idea. I'm working on that now.
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catkins

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Dead end there. The video in question is a screen capture, and I tried capturing at the LMS video player size: 950x575. I have to zoom way down in the browser window I'm recording to get the whole page in there, so the original looks like crap, and then the video looks even worse. It's not as bad as the other videos, but it's still pretty bad. This isn't a workable solution.
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David Demyan

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If the video is embedded in a SCORM package produced by Storyline, I have found the video quality often suffers from over-compression in the authoring program. There are settings in Storyline to overcome this limitation (and implied bias against imported screen videos created by non-Articulate authoring software).

In Storyline, select the video and on the Video Tools > Options tab, select Compression = None as shown:



When producing the Storyline course for the LMS, in the Properties section, select Quality = Custom and adjust the slider to the top (9).

Follow the other recommendations on maintaining high quality in Camtasia to create your MP4. Then these settings will give you "passthrough" resolution on the videos and do not re-compress them in the Publish process. Similar settings can be made in Storyline 2, but were not available in Storyline 1. Note that your Storyline-produced SCORM package should and will be larger.
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Rick Stone

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I'm aware that some LMS' will force a video into playing inside a smaller window when it is presented to the user. What is your LMS? Have you explored what the actual video dimensions are when the LMS presents it to the viewer? If this is what is happening, I might think the answer would involve creating your videos at that specific size so no distortion will occur.

Cheers... Rick :)
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catkins

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The LMS is Edvance 360. Checking the player window size is a good suggestion, thank you. I'm checking into that now.
(Edited)
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catkins

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Nobody's really addressed my original question: how can I get better quality out of Camtasia? I just created a new video as a test, selected bitrate as the encoding mode and set it to 8000 as my LMS recommends. The published mp4 video STILL only shows data rate 1194 kbps and total bitrate 1320 kbps. Why aren't the final numbers even close to what I'm selecting?
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rg

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I don't know why this should be so.  I just checked an MP4 from last year using the earlier v8.6 and the SD video (854x480) had a total rate of 1805 kbps (1677 kbps data rate).  If I recall correctly, the output was set at a quality level of 60% (chose quality over bitrate).
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David Demyan

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I'll just say it since no one else has addressed it. Sorry, you can't improve the base quality of moving screen captures recorded at less than 100 dpi. It's not Camtasia that is the limitation; it is the nature of screen captures: you cannot improve the visual quality of what amounts to a rather course pixel bitmap. As reported, however, you can dramatically increase file size and bitrate in an artificial way that does not improve visual quality, and is therefore useless.
(Edited)
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Rick Stone

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Hmmm, I don't believe I've ever seen anyone mention DPI as related to capturing videos. I thought DPI was totally a print thing for sending high quality images to high resolution printers.
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David Demyan

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Thanks for the clarification. I did mean ppi.
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Joe Morgan

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Video dimensions are based on DPI. It’s 72 dpi.

Fun fact...
A 4K video can actually look better played back on a 1080 P monitor.
Render better "Color Wise" due to the way pixels are compressed together to create 1080p.
Downscaling to 1080 takes away some sharpness, no avoiding that.But 4K downscales pretty much without issue looking very good. The high dynamic range is probably worth it in some cases.I'm not sure I would do it all often. I still don't own a 4K camera because I object to file sizes, render times, and difficulty sharing.

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David Demyan

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Adobe Premiere also does a good job of smoothing the rough edges and making the visual experience more pleasing. However, I have never been happy with what they do with screen text. To my eye, smoothing does not make screen captured text bitmaps more readable, which is key in software tutorials.

Hence, there is a need to set the appropriate recording screen size and post production zoom-and-pan animations are common. Today's applications often cover a 1080p screen with tiny text and require radical cursor movements to accomplish tasks. For example, entering text in a field in the upper-left corner of a wide window and requiring the user to click [Save] in the lower-right corner. Rather than require my tutorial viewers to squint and misinterpret data, I slow down the pace and zoom in to make it readable. Tutorial producers sometimes lack the patience to create video instruction this way and often end up with ineffective tutorials.
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Joe Morgan

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Hey catkins,
I've opened a support ticket on this. I could be wrong but  I don't think this low bit rate rendering issue you're experiencing is at the heart of your problem. And rendering at a higher bit rate will resolve your troubles.

However, Camtasia shouldn't prevent you from trying.And clearly it is.
I've encountered the same roadblocks.I've peen poking around at this issue and peeking at it for a couple of days now.
To make a long story short, the image below is a 60% quality rendered video of instructions for creating a animated graph in Camtasia.Total bit rate is 535kbps. Thats it 535.
The video is 1920 x 1080 and the UI is very dark.There is very little motion and color. So you need very little  video information to get a clean video.
So I tried switching to 8,000kbps with your problem in mind. My file size dropped ???
I changed the profile to High, Raised the Level up and tried to understand what was going on. I Even rendered at 20,000 bits. It came out to 655bits.
Bear in mind, these videos all look crisp, sharp, no Complaints!
But they render like I'm in variable bit mode. Heres the properties and a screen shot of the video of the 20,000 bit render.


I used the same codec and footage in Premiere Pro. Set it for 8,000 bits.
Got a 1414kbps total. The audio was actually set a little higher at 320kbps. Still, the video was 1097kbps.



I encountered  similar results using a 2560 x 1440 trec recording with a lot more color and motion.Maxing out at around 3,400kbps. At that point I threw in the towel and got a hold of tech support. You may want to open your own ticket?
Oddly enough, when I starting working with some 4K footage.Set the output to 10,000 bits. Which is far to low for 4K nature footage. It did what it was told.Producing a 11,438kbps video.

So, maybe that was an accident? I don't know? "X number of" bits constant bit rate means just that. So somethings broken {:>(

When I hear something from tech support, I will update this post.
(Edited)