Impatica Knowledgebase

KB-000356: Camtasia Hints & Tips

Regarding the use of Camtasia video materials we've had best results producing video at just 256 colors - this gives the sharpest, cleanest end results (especially for screen grabs and session captures).
 
For narrated session we'd also recommend recording audio at 32khz, 16-bit, mono and, as usual, most care should go into getting the microphone settings just right and ideally, minimising the level of background noise. This should give excellent audio reproduction in both Impatica for PowerPoint and OnCue presentations (especially when 'impaticised' using the 5xAu Law setting)

Here are some specific comments and observations regarding the use of Camtasia:

1) Colour Depth:

In order to achieve true lossless Camtasia-style video compression with the Impatica video encoder it is necessary to export 8-bit (256 colour depth) source video files from Camtasia.

Source video files greater than 8-bit (i.e. 16, 24 or 32-bit depth) will be rendered with the standard lossy JPEG style compression even though they have been produced with the TSCC.

The original screen recordings can be recorded and edited at normal system bit-depths, but the final export file for use with OnCue (or Impatica for PowerPoint) should be an 8-bit TSCC encoded export.

Some colour shifting will occur as Camtasia downsamples to 8-bit. This is normal and cannot be avoided.

You should experiment on the system being used for screen captures to see what works best -- but our results suggest that setting Windows 2000 systems to 24-bit and Windows XP systems to 32-bit prior to recording produced the best results.

It is probably best to limit recordings to a single application window.

Often starting a new application in the middle of a recording can produce an undesirable colour shift when downsampled, so it is best to begin recording with the application(s) open and visible in the recording area -- then minimize the application(s) or move the windows out of the way before proceeding with any introductory preambles if required.

If editing original TSCC encoded videos in another application (such as Adobe Premiere) then be sure to select the TSCC as the source and export codec -- but then always re-open the final export in Camtasia and re-export the final 8-bit version from Camtasia.

This is true even if you are editing 8-bit TSCC encoded source files in the other video application.

2) Recording multiple on-screen applications in one recording session:

In some cases you may want to document a process where you begin in one on-screen application and then switch back and forth to other applications.

In this case, produce a complete 8-bit version of the entire presentation and then impaticize as a Full Presentation.

This will produce a series of .imv video clips in the project's video folder that span the entire Full Presentation length.

At the point where you switch to the other application(s) you may find that the colour palette is completely out of line with the initial on-screen application.

In this case, go back to Camtasia and export individual clips of the other application(s) that correspond with the individual mis-coloured .imv clips. Then go into the Video Only mode of OnCue and translate the individual clips so that each .imv starts off with its own 8-bit palette.

Rename these new .imv clips to correspond with the names of the original mis-coloured .imv clips in the full project's video folder and replace.

It is also possible to export several versions of the full presentation where the first frames of the source video(s) are from each application so that you end up with several Full Presentation translations, each based on the initial palette for each on-screen application presented.

Then you can populate a custom video folder with the appropriate .imv clips based on each application's unique 8-bit palette.

3) Frame Rates:

Obviously a higher frame rate used during recording will produce a smoother looking on-screen capture. 12 or 15 FPS (Frames Per Second) captures should be sufficient.

However, the impaticized version may exceed your bandwidth expectations and it may be necessary to impaticize at a lower frame rate. Rates as low as 3 or 4 FPS often work quite well with screen captures.

Be sure to check the Video Info tab after impaticizing and observe the actual bandwidth achieved.

With a 12 FPS source video you have a choice of producing 1,2,3,4,6 or 12 FPS impaticized versions.

With a 15 FPS source video you have a choice of producing 1,3,5 or 15 FPS impaticized versions.

Due to the nature of motion capture in screen recordings and the lossless 8-bit compression process you will often find that modifying the frame rate has little effect in the final bandwidth.

For example, going from 3 FPS to 6 FPS does not necessarily mean doubling the bandwidth/file size. In many cases the increase will only be 10% or 15%, so it always best to try a few Video Only translations with a short, representative portion of the source video at various frame rates before committing to a final frame rate for the entire Full Presentation version(s).

Once you have determined an appropriate frame rate for a given frame size and target bandwidth you will probably find that most screen captures of that same frame size will produce similar results at that same frame rate.

4) The OnCue Video Info Tab:

After an OnCue project has been impaticized you are taken to the Converted Projects screen in the OnCue user interface. Here you are presented with a list of Converted Projects and four tabs. Select the Converted Project you wish to examine and then click the Video Info tab and observe the results...

In the Source Video/Audio File section in the upper left ensure that the Color Depth is listed as 8 bit.

The individual .imv clips are listed in the Translated Impatica Files section.

All 8-bit clips should be listed with an Output Quality of 100%.

The Target Speed (in the Translation Settings Used section) is basically ignored for 8-bit source files -- however, the speed reference is used in naming the .imv clips.

Instead you should take note of the Actual Bit Rate reported for each clip.

The figure can be a little misleading for short clips as a higher than average bit rate will be indicated as the initial large screen graphic streams in, creating a lump in the stream as it first loads but then the incremental changes during the rest of the screen capture result in good compression and smooth playback.

Note that all this information is no longer available after you have pressed the Done button in the OnCue interface.

To be certain of smooth playback it is necessary to upload the full presentation to a server and view the content over the anticipated connection types.

5) Audio Settings for Camtasia Screen Recordings:

Camtasia has notoriously poor quality audio downsampling routines. Camtasia's 8kHz downsampling is really not acceptable. It is better to record at a higher sample rate and then not change the audio settings at any point during the editing and exporting process.

32khz 16-bit, mono is an ideal setting, although 16khz 16-bit, mono will also produce reasonable results.

If you have the bandwidth, then the (5x) Au sound setting (in the Sound Format box under the Presentation Options tab) generally provides excellent audio quality compared to the default Compact sound setting.

Note that the 5x only refers to the size of the audio stream in relation to the default Compact sound setting. The size of the video portion will not be changed in any way.

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