PowerPoint Recordings are Blurry After Production

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Hi all. Read at least 15 different forum topics on this and I still cannot get it to work. PLEASE, anyone, help me.

Windows 7. Using Camtasia to record PPT to make a video with music. I have my resolutions set correctly, yet no matter what I do, my final produced video (which needs to play on a laptop thru a projector), is blurry. All the text. My production resolution matches the resolution of the presentation. I even converted the entire PPT to a 16:9 ratio. I've literally spent 15 hours trying to figure this out. Please anyone help me, walk me thru the CORRECT process to get this to work.
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Barrett Geyer

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Posted 1 year ago

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Dave O'Rourke, Senior Software Engineer

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Hi Barrett,

I'll do my best to help.  By far, the most common cause is scaling the video.  Screen video with small text is susceptible to blurring when the video is scaled up or down.  To keep things looking sharp, you need to keep the dimensions constant all the way through... record > edit > produce > playback.

Let's start with the end in mind... what dimensions do you want the final video to be?  Keep in mind that if you scale the video (up or down) on playback, you'll lose sharpness.  The smaller the dimensions of your video, the easier it will be to playback without scaling.  So, you might try 720p (1280x720).  If your projector supports 1080p (1920x1080), then that might work too, but you'll need a laptop screen that's exactly 1920x1080, and you'll need the player to go full screen with no chrome, so that the video is not scaled.

Regardless of how you've constructed your PowerPoint deck, by default, PowerPoint will display full screen at the current resolution of your screen.  It's quite hidden, but you can change the resolution that PowerPoint uses under Slideshow > Set Up Show, like this:

After changing this setting, when you start your PowerPoint slideshow, the screen will switch to that dimension during your slideshow.  So if you record using the Camtasia PowerPoint Addin, you should get a recording with those dimensions, say 1280x720.

Starting from a new project, if you put that recording on the timeline, the editing dimensions will match your recording, meaning you'll now be editing with canvas dimensions of 1280x720, and the video should fill the entire canvas.

After you're done editing, the next step is production.  Assuming you don't go out of your way to change the dimensions during production, you'll get an MP4 that's 1280x720.

The last step is playback.  Again, the key is playing the video at 1:1 scale.  So as long as your screen is at least 1280x720 when connected to your projector, you should be able to fit the whole thing without scaling.

That's a lot of info... but hopefully this gives you enough guidance to get to the end with maximum sharpness in your video.

You didn't mention how you're playing your video.  These steps assume you're going to play the video from your laptop (not from a video hosting site).  Hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) will re-encode your video at different dimensions, and may be serving you a different video than the one you uploaded.  That's probably the 2nd most common cause of blurry video.  There are steps to avoid blurry video there too, so if that describes your workflow, that would be good to know.

Phew... that's a lot of info.  I'll stop there for now.  Armed with the knowledge that scaling (on playback) will blur your video, you can check your quality at each step in the process to be sure you can maintain a sharp video through your workflow.

Hope this helps.  Let me know how it goes.
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Barrett Geyer

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Thank you SO much for the very detailed and thorough reply.  So I've played around and am still not there, but can provide more info.

I have a Dell laptop and a dell LCD monitor hooked up as an extended display.  My laptop has a native resolution of 1920x1200, and the monitor 1680x1050.

I was familiar with changing the resolution in PowerPoint, however, when recording off of the LCD monitor (better color than the laptop display), the only resolution I can choose (other than "Use Current Resolution") is 1680x1050.  When using the laptop display, I have all the options to choose from that you highlighted above.  So I have tried using both 1280x720, as well as 1920x1200 (which matches) the laptop display resolution.

I begin the PowerPoint presentation in full screen/slide mode, and it looks fine on the laptop (and external display).  Once the recording is finished, I go into Camtasia.  Editing dimension is displaying as 1280x720.  Scaling is at 100%.  When I go to produce the file, by default, it wants to use MP4 with Smart Player (up to 480p), and shows the dimensions as 854x480 (scaled to fit).  If I select MP4 with Smart Player (up to 720p), then my dimensions change to 1280x720 (Editing Dimensions).

I willingly admit I have no formal training in video editing or production.  I understand resolutions and producing your video for the final format.  In our case, we plan to display it using Windows Media Player (not YouTube or another hosting service that will further encode/compress the file).  

Thank you so much.
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Rick Stone

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I stand to be corrected here and if I'm wrong about this hopefully Dave O'Rourke will provide clarification.

I note that you said:
...however, when recording off of the LCD monitor (better color than the laptop display)...

Sure, what your eyes see may believe the colors are "better", but in reality I'd be surprised if there's any difference at all. Because what the recorder is recording is ultimately the color values. And while they may be presented differently on that monitor, they should be the same values as what your actual computer screen has. So you may actually be better off recording on the Laptop if it provides the dimensions you need for the recording.

At least, that's how I personally understand things. I'd love to learn more about it so I hope Dave pops back in to clarify.

Cheers... Rick :)

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Barrett Geyer

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That certainly makes sense to me.  And to clarify, I have tested things out using both the external monitor and the laptop display.  Both result in blurry videos.