increased frame rate for camcorder capture in camtasia 2 for mac?

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I've been using Screenflow for recording screencast plus camcorder capture via firewire. I like Camtasia 2's "remove a color" feature enough that I'm tempted to switch. I've been making some test recordings, and it looks like my video captures come out looking worse via Camtasia 2 than via Screenflow, leaving the rest of the setup the same. It looks like what's going on is that Camtasia is recording the camcorder at a low frame rate (15 fps?), whereas Screenflow is using a higher frame rate.

Is there a way to tell Camtasia to record the camcorder stream at a higher frame rate?

(Or might there be some other reason why I'm getting lower quality video from the same equipment with Camtasia than from Screenflow?)

thanks for any thoughts!
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Jane Manning

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Posted 7 years ago

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Mike Curtis, Employee

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Hello Jane,

Yes, you can select between 5, 10, 15 or 30 frames per second. This is done by choosing Preferences from the Camtasia menu, then click the Recording tab.

You should see a dialog like this: http://screencast.com/t/YinlrNwk

Some other possibilities to explain why the quality seems lower than what you're used to?

Well, if you record full screen, we default to scaling the canvas down by 50%. Check out the 0:43 mark of this video for a tip here: http://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-cam...

Another idea is to check what quality the slider is set to when you Share > Export. Usually 50% is fine, but you can crank it up as well. Here's a video on this topic: http://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-cam...

I hope this is a good starting point. See what you think and I hope the quality is better. We can go from here.

Sincerely,
Mike Curtis
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Jane Manning

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Thanks a lot for all the advice - I really appreciate that.

I've now made a new recording with the "screen frame rate" set to 30 - I'm hoping this changes the video capture frame rate, too?

I already had the canvas set to 100%, and had the slider cranked up to highest quality mp4 export. I'm still not thrilled with the results, and would appreciate any advice - here's a very short (10 secs or so) video I made with these settings - the camcorder is a Canon GL2, set at 16:9 mode, which on this camcorder is 480 x 720 - I've set the canvas size to match that exactly, and done an export at highest quality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIGv4Z...

That version doesn't chroma key out the green screen, since I thought keeping things simple was best here. Does this video look like a 30fps 480 x 720 capture to you? To me, it looks like it has a surprising # of artifacts, etc.

thanks!
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Mike Curtis, Employee

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Thanks for the link. I see what you mean about some artifacting. I assume you're bringing the raw video into Camtasia, but wondered if it was possible you were recording the video as it played with the recorder in Camtasia. Is the video coming straight in or being potentially altered in something like Canon software or iMovie?

The frame rate setting is just for the screen recorder (and we edit at 30 fps), but your Canon GL2 might have its own frame rate. From a quick search it looks like it's set to 29.97, or 30, so that should be good... When you play the video in the preview window does it look better than when you export it?

I'd like to pass this sample around to some of my colleagues and see if they have any ideas. I agree that it should look better.

Sincerely,
Mike Curtis
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Jane Manning

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Thanks a lot for looking at this. The recording was definitely directly from the firewire input, not a screen capture. (The original file had a separate screencapture of my desktop, which I didn't include in the export.) The preview mode looks the same (to my untrained eyes) as the export.

Yes, you're correct that the camcorder only has one frame rate, and it's 29.97 so should be fine.

In case it helps, I've uploaded a zip file of the standalone camtasia project to GDrive that you should be able to download: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B49L...

thanks again.
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Mike Curtis, Employee

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Hi again Jane :)

I am tempted to wager that the video is streaming via the firewire live as you record, and some of the degradation is happening there, even before it gets into Camtasia. Now, I'm often wrong, so I'll hold that wager, but I'm wondering what would happen if you recorded the video (camera not connected to computer), then brought the file in after the fact, as opposed to recording the camera's live feed.

Maybe?
Mike Curtis
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Jane Manning

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Hi Mike,

That sounds like a good suggestion, and I'll follow up on it as soon as I can. In the meantime, I got my hands on another camcorder, a Canon Vixia HV40, and tried again. Here's what I did:

I recorded in both Quicktime and Camtasia 2, and compared the results. One major difference was that if I set the camera in "HDV" mode, Quicktime was still able to record, whereas Camtasia 2 wasn't able to either show me a preview or record unless I changed the setting to "DV" mode. I exported both files to mp4. One thing I noticed was that for almost identical 15 second files in DV mode, the quicktime file was considerably larger than the mp4 export at highest quality in camtasia. I'm not sure if that's a clue.

In any event, the HDV Quicktime recording is much closer to the look I was aiming at. As well as looking a lot better, I presume the sharper edges will make Camtasia's "remove a color" feature work much more smoothly with fewer artifacts than the fuzzier image I'm getting by recording in Camtasia. Is there a way I could get this type of quality in Camtasia other than recording via Quicktime or internally on the camera, and then importing? I'm planning for other people to be making recordings using the process and equipment that I set up, so I'm hoping to keep things as simple as possible.

It could just be that I'm hoping for too much, and that the process is going to need to be multi-step (either recording internally on the camera and importing, or recording via another tool like quicktime and importing), but I'd like to try to make the all-Camtasia route work if possible in order to keep the workflow smooth.

For reference, here are youtube results:

Camtasia 2, via DV mode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P00_TN...

Quicktime, via DV mode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbeJp3...

Quicktime, via HDV mode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1YL_4...

Thanks again for your help with my trying to maximize the quality and ease of use I can get from Camtasia 2.
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Jane Manning

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Quick update: wasn't able to import the quicktime movie into Camtasia (any suggestions? Handbrake couldn't open it to turn it into an mp4) but I was able to record via firewire with iMovie, and export that as an mp4 and import it into Camtasia. It worked great, and the "remove a color" worked much better than with the lower-quality videos - I was even wearing a greenish shirt, and was able to just lower the tolerance to compensate. Here's a 5-second export via this method:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO4dw4...

Now I just need to figure out whether there's a decent way to smoothly get higher quality videos into Camtasia, or whether I'm better off just exporting Camtasia's screen recordings as mp4's into Premiere or some such, and working in there. (In which case I guess I should aim to figure out whether there's still an advantage to recording the screencasts in Camtasia rather than Quicktime.)
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Paul Middlin, Employee

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Hello, Jane. It took us devs a little while to understand what we were seeing here, but I think we've got a handle on it now.

It looks like when you hook your older Canon GL2 up or the Vixia in DV mode, you're getting a lower resolution video than when you do the HDV mode on the Vixia. That's why when you sent it up to YouTube I could see all the way up to 1080p as opposed to only up to 480 on the first two videos you sent us.

It is unfortunate that Camtasia doesn't "see" the Vixia when it is in HDV mode, as opposed to DV mode. It does not appear to be an issue of FPS- from the sample you sent me you were getting about 29FPS, which is super. The video is smooth. Rather, it is the quality at which is is encoded. We're using a "Photo JPEG" codec on the camera video, it seems, which is normally OK for little Picture-in-Picture style video going along with a screencast, but isn't looking great against the green background here, especially in low resolution. I find it usually looks pretty good with the built in iSight cameras that come with Macs, but alas, that is not your situation!

It does seem to me that we need to improve the way we encode the video when coming off of external high-end cameras. Something to maintain high quality, without impacting the performance of your machine (which can be difficult- encoding high resolution video is a demanding process). We'll have to give this thought.

In the mean time you're right- it's up to you to decide if recording the video on the camera and bringing it in is worth the effort or not. Camtasia's value as a screen recording Editor will have to speak for itself; we offer a lot in terms of zooming and panning, annotating your video with callouts, highlighting clicks and cursors, etc. But how that compares to your use and Premiere you'll have to evaluate during the trial.

Let us know if there is any more help we can provide!
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Jane Manning

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Paul, thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I spent much of yesterday experimenting with different ways of getting high quality video into Camtasia 2 for Mac. I found two ways that worked: I could use a camcorder that recorded directly to mp4 (I used a Canon Vixia hf m52) and then import those files directly, or I could stream via firewire into Quicktime and then export to mp4 and import. Both ways worked.

But one thing I found was that after combining with a screencast stream and exporting, Camtasia occasionally crashed (this happened twice yesterday) while exporting my videos. These videos were longer than the 10 second or so ones I had done before, but still short - just under two minutes each.

In terms of recommending Camtasia to my users, I'm nervous about whether the use I'm suggesting (working with HD video in Camtasia) is far enough from Camtasia's core use case that we're likely to run into problems like that.

My reason for wanting to try to make this work in Camtasia isn't so much to have access to the special editing features like highlighting clicks/cursors etc (my users don't use those much), but to keep things simple, since some of these users have never done video editing before, and Camtasia has a much gentler learning curve than Final Cut Pro or Premiere. But if I'm going to have them dealing with crashes and other hiccups because our use case is unusual (HD video files of up to about half an hour), I might be better off biting the bullet and having them use software for which that's the core use case.

If it'd be possible to switch to private email for this discussion (I presume you can get my email address from this system?) I'd love to talk with you more about this.

Thanks a lot,
Jane
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Paul Middlin, Employee

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I'll do that
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Dan Fullerton

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Would love to hear more about how this is working out, as I'm trying to do something similar!
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Jane Manning

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Hey Dan - we ended up switching to Premiere for this, since our lighting conditions aren't perfect, so the more flexible chroma-keying settings (more knobs to twist etc) seemed to give us better results. Good luck - I'd be interested to hear what you're trying to do, and how you decide to do it.
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Dan Fullerton

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Hi Jane... I'm trying to make educational videos for my physics classes which are screen casts, along with a green screen for myself. The first time I tried it, it worked beautifully... (http://www.aplusphysics.com/courses/r...) Repeat trials, however, especially as the days have been darker, have left quite a bit to be desired as far as removing all the green without leaving myself a green halo (http://www.aplusphysics.com/courses/a...). Since I'm limited to what I can do in my classroom as far as lighting, etc., was considering trying to split up the video after recording, doing my chroma keying in Premiere, then pulling back to Camtasia:mac... but sure would be nice if I could just make Camtasia work from a simplicity standpoint!

Using a high-end webcam so far, but also have a Canon ZR850 camcorder that has a bit more functionality as far as zoom color balancing that might improve the effect. Just ordered a Firewire cable to give it a try next week. Thanks for the feedback!

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