Camtasia outputs are resulting in lower-resolution, lower-quality versions when uploaded to Brightcove or Kaltura

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Hi folks,

Recently my company purchased Camtasia Studio 8 to be able to produce high quality movie clips for our customers. Unfortunately we are not able to view these movie clips in the quality we desire. With opening this topic, we are hoping that someone is able to give us more insight in how to produce high quality movie clips in Camtasia that will automatically fits with the H264 codec.

First, we would like to explain how we are producing the movie clips in Camtasia at the moment.

1. We choose: record the screen.
2. After recording our subject we choose save and edit and Camtasia Studio will open and a pop-up (editing dimensions) appears with the question: which size do you want your video to be?
3. We choose: dimensions 1280 X 720. Now we are ready to edit our video.
4. When we are satisfied with the result we choose: produce and share – custom production settings – MP4 flash/HTML 5 player – on the following printscreen you see the options which we always choose within the MP4/HTML 5 player section.



5. After the above mentioned selection process, we start producing the video.

The next step for us is to upload the produced movie clips into an online video platform database. During the upload process on the above mentioned video platform, all the movie clips we produced with Camtasia Studio are not able to activate the H264 codec. The company behind the online video platform database explained that the quality of the produced movie clips is not suffucient enough to activate this codec. They explained that the bitrate of the produced clips is to low. Which is quiet strange in our opinion, since we selected the hightest quality in Camtasia. We even produced one clip with a bitrate of 10000, which strangely enough, appeared to be of less quality after we checked the current bitrate.

Based on all the information we mentioned above, including the current settings we are using in Camtasia, is someone able to explain to us what we are doing wrong? Do we need to use different settings in Camtasia or is there something else we are not aware of?

We are hoping that someone is able to give us some advice.

Best,

Sietske & Rosanne
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RoSie

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Posted 7 years ago

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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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Sietske & Rosanne,

What is the "online video platform database" you are using? If you look at the videos that Camtasia Studio produces, we are using H.264-encoded MP4 content that can be exported at a high-resolution version. We are however, by default, using variable bit-rate encodings. Even if you choose the 10,000 kbps bitrate we're actually still doing a variable bit-rate with a limit of 10,000 kbps as the maximum. The average will be a lot less.


This doesn't mean that the video will be low-quality; it means that the video will vary to use more data where there is more motion and optimize for less data with less motion.

It sounds like your hosting solution is not interpreting variable bit-rate encodings (VBR) to be high-quality. This may be a bad assumption on their part. It is definitely not true that videos that are VBR cannot/should not use the H.264 encoding because sites like YouTube do it every day.

If you can give us more information regarding this, we'll be able to give you some more context for you to get some answers from your hosting provider.

Sincerely,
Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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RoSie

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Hi Walter,

Thank you very much for your quick reponse.

We are using 'Kaltura' as our online video platform database. Since we are not experts in this field, we find it difficult to say if this database is not interpretating variable bit-rate encodings.

Do you have any advice what we should do? Contact Kaltura with the question if their platform is supporting VBR? Of do you need more information from us to give a good reply?

Sincerely,
Sietske & Rosanne
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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Sietske & Rosanne,

Thanks for the follow-up. We actually ran into this problem a few weeks ago with another customer of ours. Is this a Kaltura system that you host or that they host? Is it on the latest version?

With the other customer, the problem went away after they upgraded their version of Kaltura so I believe it's been fixed. Here is an excerpt from the exchange I had with them...

---
Some of the transcoding issues in media space 2.x seem to be confirmed with the testing I've been doing in the dev 4.5 media space. I have noticed higher quality output in 4.5 with the same source material, especially when you expand to full screen. Attached is a comparison of the same 35 second camtasia studio recording between media space 2.x and 4.5.

I think there is some image quality for us to gain just in the upgrade to 4.5, so thanks for working with us to help figure it out.
---

So I think this will be a good place to look. If you're running an older version that has an algorithm that looks at "average bit-rate" to determine quality, that will likely be the cause of the poor transcoded quality. We try to get the best quality for the filesize for each of our encodings and we believe that just because there is good compression with variable bit-rate, doesn't mean it's still not a high-quality production. This can be confirmed by looking at the output after it comes out of Camtasia.

So I guess we're we at right now is asking the following two questions...
1. What version of MediaSpace are you running right now?
2. Is upgrading an option for you?

Please let me know if that helps or if there is any additional information we can provide.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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RoSie

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Hi Walter,

As far as I know, Kaltura is hosting the system. I just checked our Kaltura system and I could not see if we are using the latest version. I will contact them today with your findings to see how they will react.

Another thing I want to point out is the fact that the bitrate of the clips we produced in Camtasia are to low, according to Kaltua, to activate their H264 High codec. They explained that the clips need a bitrate of approximately 2400 to activate the H264 filter. All the clips we produced so far, don't have that much bitrate. So my next question is if it is possible to produce a movie clip with a bitrate of 2000+. Which steps do I need to take to get the bitrate that high?

Thank you in advance.

Sietske & Rosanne
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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Sietske & Rosanne,

"Too low of a bitrate" isn't typically considered a problem if the content has great quality. Most times our customers consider good quality + low file-size to be a feature. That's what I'm suggesting you address with Kaltura; I believe they're making a false assumption when it comes to variable bitrate files being low-quality. Our variable bitrate files are not low-quality. You can confirm that by just looking at the videos to see that they can be high-resolution/high-quality with a lower overall bit-rate than what they are expecting.

The short answer is that we don't have a setting in Studio for Constant Bitrate (CBR) files. I'm sorry, but we've optimized videos to be as small as they can be while still maintaining the quality.

However, if you want, you can use the "Production Wizard" and choose "Custom Production Settings".


And then under MP4 - Flash / HTML5 player you can specify a higher quality setting which will get you a larger output file and thus a higher overall average bitrate.


You could also change the "Encoding mode" (shown in the picture above) to "Bitrate" and specify a bitrate there, but that is not a minimum or average bitrate, that's a maximum bitrate.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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RoSie

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Hi Walter,

Is it possible for you to give a reply to the questions in our previous comment whether it is possible to produce movie clips with a bitrate of 2000+?

Thank you in advance.

Sietske & Rosanne
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. If you choose a higher quality setting or higher bitrate setting you will get a higher overall bitrate. But no, there is no way for you to "guarantee" a minimum bitrate within our software at this time.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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RoSie

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Hi Walter,

Apologies for all our questions in this topic.
Let's say that we are not experts in this field. :-)

We contacted the Kaltura hosting company and informed them about this topic and the problems we are having. Below you can find a summary of their reply:

1. Our company is using an open source version of Kaltura and not Kaltura Media Space.
2. It is at the moment not possible to convert a video in the H264 flavour/codec if the video is not having a bitrate of at least 1500.
3. According to our hosting company Techsmith made a plugin specially for Camtasia.
http://exchange.kaltura.com/content/c...
Apparantly this plugin is no longer available.

So to summarize, might this plugin be an option for our 'problem' or do we need to accept that it is not possible to gerenate a bitrate of at least 1500 for our movie clips? Or is it possible for us to 'manipulate' the production of the movies so we can be really sure that the bitrate of each movie clip is at least 1500? (We tried the options you mentioned before with the encoding mode and changing the quality, but is does not generate a movie clip with a bitrate of 1500)

Hope you are able to help us.

Best,

Sietske & Rosanne
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shannon sellars

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Hi. I'm new to this conversation, and by now you may have it resolved. I'm also a new Kaltura customer (we use the Moodle plug in and also soon, MediaSpace) and so I was intrigued by your conversation. Where do things stand? Is the problem fixed?Did your transcoding settings in the KMC play a part in the problem? Were you able to disable everything but the source file (and just play it), and if so, how did it look?

I hope that's not too technical or way off base.

Thanks,
Shannon
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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Sietske & Rosanne,

The link that you included in your last message is no longer available. What it is referring to is the integration between Camtasia Relay (the product on which I primarily work) and Kaltura MediaSpace. This will not help you in your situation unless you're also a Camtasia Relay customer. (To this point we've only been talking about Camtasia Studio.) Even in this situation, we're sending Kaltura Quality-based/Variable-bitrate encodings. In that case, Kaltura MediaSpace is handing the videos correctly and by NOT assuming they are low-quality.

While you indicate you "tried the options I mentioned", what specifically did you try? What were the specific settings you included? Did you set the quality setting to the highest setting? That should've resulted in a much higher average bitrate. Do you have a link to the output file that it created?

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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Dan

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I know this is an older thread, but hopefully you can still help Walter. I think I know the answers but want to confirm. We produce videos with Camtasia. When using versions prior to 8 we had a higher bitrate on the final video. The new videos with version 8 have a much lower overall bitrate. This is problematic for us because we upload the videos to Brightcove which will then create multiple renditions with lower bitrates, but because we can't produce a high enough final with Camtasia 8, we are stuck with one rendition.

We max the Recording Quality and the Producing quality to a 20k bitrate, yet the overall videos are coming out between 600-900kbps. In version seven we could produce and get bitrates at around 2400kbps now they much lower in 8.

Is this known and is this acceptable for Techsmith?

Thanks.
Dan
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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Dan,

Please contact me via my email address below and I'd like to try to duplicate your behavior with your source files. I can provide you with a place to upload them and I'd like to try to recreate the behavior.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
w.pelowski@techsmith.com
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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As a follow-up to this thread, I received Dan's video and rendered them in both CS7 and CS8. The file sizes were comparable in both, but I agree they weren't of the bandwidth that he wanted. Even using 100% quality or a bitrate of 20,000 Kbps, I only got an average bitrate of 651 Kbps as an output. While the bitrate was lower than expected, the quality of the output was excellent. It had what we typically think our customers want it to have, high quality but a lower file-size.

Shown below are some examples I created to test the average bitrate for different types of recorded media. Notice how high motion (Music Video) affects the average bitrate as the quality settings or the bitrate settings are increased.


There just wasn't anymore file size to be gained by increasing these sliders. This is due to the fact that the transcoder did not need to encode any more data using a Variable bit-rate setting because there was so little motion in the video he sent me. (Had this been a video with a lot of motion, the file sizes could increase substantially.)

Nevertheless, I understand where Dan is coming from, because Brightcove wants a higher average bitrate in order to provide their different encodings for streaming. (Note: This problem is not exclusive to sending our videos to Brightcove.) So while the content from Studio is of excellent quality and has a low file-size, this problem still exists. I will try to work with the Brightcove folks to figure out if there is some other format we could send them that would allow them to transcode the bitrates they want to use.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com =
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Daniel St. Hilaire

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Walter,

I really appreciate the effort and time you spent researching. I do agree the quality overall was great, and the small files size was a plus, but I'm happy that you and TechSmith see the issue with our specific need for a higher average bitrate requirement for working with a third party streaming service like Brightcove. Until this can be addressed by either TechSmith or Brightcove, we'll produce as we have been and use the original final Camtasia rendition with no conversions on the Brightcove end.

Thanks,
Dan
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Michael Wright

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Hello,

I am seeing this issue as well.  I record content for a customer of mine and they use brightcove as their media delivery platform.  The end result video has to be over 400kbps video for brightcove to convert the recording to a mobile accessible format.  The video I capture has a video panel and slides.  Is there a solution to manually up the video throughput kbps count when rendering a video within Camtasia?
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Sam Cruz

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Hi Walter,

I am just reading these thread and find the same issue. My company started using Brigthcove to show our videos in our dealers platform and website. However, we are experiencing the same problem Dan had with the bit rate and quality. The videos i produce look clean, crisp and are of high quality. But once they get uploaded to Brightcove they look awful and lose the nice look. We had to stop showing our videos for now because they look so bad.
Can you help me?
These are my settings:



Sam Cruz 
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Kim Smith

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And now I'm here too....any solutions with working with Brightcove? HELP!!
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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I've talked this over with our Development and Product management folks again and we still believe that artificially inflating the size of an already crisp video is a questionable solution to this problem.

The following Brightcove blog post from 2011 indicates the following which might be of help.
https://blog.brightcove.com/en/2011/06/top-10-tips-encoding-and-high-quality-video-playback#sourcere...
3. Preserve your source file as a rendition
If your source video file is in H.264 format, you can choose to keep
your original source file as an available rendition. This option lets
you retain an H.264 master that can be at an even higher level of
quality than Brightcove's highest-quality rendition. In addition, when
you select this option, your H.264 source video is available
immediately, as soon as the upload is complete, and you don't have to
wait for the video to be transcoded before it is available in the Media
module and in your players.
Now above they're talking about an even higher potential bitrate, but if they are keeping the original copy, it should also work in reverse where you can keep the lower bitrate (yet still high-quality) Camtasia output and link to that.

And here is another part that touches on Screencasts.  Here they're basically saying not to scale the video which is the equivalent of using the "Custom production settings" in Studio and choosing a video size that is the original or one that at least keeps the aspect ratio.
5. What is the content in your videos like? Is there a lot of action? Is there almost no action at all (screencast videos)? 
Factual or news type videos typically require lesser quality than an
action packed longer-form video or an engaging nature film which will
require much higher quality. 

If you are producing screencast videos with very little action at
all, other than the occasional change of a slide, be sure to export the
video at H.264 at the same aspect ratio as your recording and use some
of these techniques for configuring your player.
So, my suggestion would be to once again search through your options in Brightcove to see if you can keep the original rendition of the file and use that as the version that you serve up to customers.

Getting Camtasia to produce a very large 3,000Kbps or higher output of a Screencast that looks virtually no different than the 250Kbps output of the same video, (I'm using that number from a video I created just now) does not seem like a great idea.


If someone wants to put me in touch with a Brightcove engineer on your behalf, I'll be happy to find a mutually agreeable option for all of us.

Sincerely,
Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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I should also mention that I tried this process again with a 10 minute PowerPoint presentation with Camtasia Studio 8.5.2 and the highest overall bitrate I could achieve was 2,361Kbps.  My recorded PowerPoint had no animation and was very bare-bones so if you had images and any sort of movement in yours, the file size would likely be higher.  But here were the settings I adjusted to make this happen.

Please keep in mind, this is NOT considered a recommended solution to this problem, but if you want to try it, you're welcome to see if it will get you a higher resolution output when the video is transcoded by your hosting provider.  (It will depend on your particular content recorded and the algorithm the hosting provider uses to determine what qualifies as "high quality".)



(Here is the original resolution version of this graphic.)

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer
http://www.techsmith.com
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craig.rodgers

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Is there a way to increase the frames per second count? Up from 30.
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Walter Pelowski, Customer Solutions Engineer

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No, there is not.

Walter Mitchell Pelowski
Customer Solutions Engineer

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