8 Replies Latest reply on Oct 12, 2010 9:44 AM by the_wine_snob

    Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD

    SMGI

      I'm trying to create a DVD of some screen capture footage using Camstudio and/or Camtasia, import to Premiere Pro CS3 and burn to DVD, but the end result is always horrible - text is unreadable, graphics blurred and choppy. I'm capturing at 1024x768. I've searched high and low, but nothing I've read is working. Here's what I've tried:

       

      • Capturing using Lagarith Lossless Codec, Full Frames (uncompressed), Microsoft Video 1, Xvid MPEG-4 codec, Techsmith codec
      • Editing on a DV timeline at 720x480 and 1024x768
      • Editing on a uncompressed timeline at 720x480 and 1024x768
      • Editing with pixel aspect ratio of 1.0 and 0.9
      • Using the Desktop editing mode

       

      I'm exporting using the MPEG2-DVD setting in Premiere.

       

      The footage directly from Camstudio and Camtasia looks fantastic. It's after it's brought into Premiere that the quality suffers.

       

      I'm merely a hobbyist, so I hope everything I've written down makes sense.

       

      Thanks

       

         

         

          • 1. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
            Dan Isaacs Level 2

            Well, there are some facts to consider here:

             

            1. DVD resolution is substantially lower than, say, a 1024x765 screen capture. Small text that is legible on-screen will not be nearly as clear at the reduced size.
            2. Premiere's scaling is a bit soft, so text will be even less legible than it may be otherwise with better scaling algorithms.
            3. Over-sharpening in an attempt to make the text more legible can cause "buzzing" – particularly on interlaced display, which can look even worse than blurry text.
            4. Super-sharp text does not tend to compress well to lower bitrate MPEG-2.
            5. Since the aspect ratio must be changed, you cannot preserve the original pixels or perfect sharpness, since some scaling will always be required.

             

            So, if it can't be too soft and it can't be too sharp… make it larger. Here's what I do:

             

            Preparing the Captures:

             

            1. Use Techsmith codec to capture.
            2. Open the Techsmith AVI in VirtualDub
            3. Go to Video / Compression and choose Lagarith lossless codec. Made sure that it is set to RGB and null frames are enabled (checked)
            4. Add Video / Filters / Resize and set it to Absolute: 2048x1530, filter mode: Nearest Neighbor. Here, you are using "point resizing" to double the image size while maintaining maximum sharpness. The kind of resizing does not usually work well for photographic images, but it is ideal for screen captures: maintaining the sharp, boxy look of non-antialiased text. It will help us from losing too much detail when the video is scaled down later on.
            5. File / Save as .avi from VirtualDub

             

            Cropping, Scaling and Filtering the Captures in After Effects

             

            1. Open After Effects and create a composition that matches your intended output (such as 720x480, DV aspect ratio, 29.97 fps, etc.) and set it to the length of your screen capture.
            2. Place your (very large) AVI on this timeline and scale it to fit within the safe area (something like 25% of original size), call this composition "establishing_shot"
            3. Create a new Adjustment Layer above the main video track. Apply Effect / Blur & Sharpen / Fast Blur to the Adjustment Layer (Blurriness=0.5, Blur Dimensions=Veritcal, Repeat Edge Pixels checked). This is to soften it a bit vertically to prevent issues on interlaced screens.
            4. Duplicate the "establishing_shot" comp and rename the new one, "medium_shot"
            5. Modify the scaling of the AVI in the medium shot to approximately 45% of original. Add motion and/or scaling keyframes to keep the focus loosely on the main action on-screen; such as the area where the mouse pointer is. (You may want to set the keyframes' Temporal Interpolate to "Hold" so it will simply cut to the action instead of trying to animate all of the panning.)
            6. Duplicate the "medium_shot" comp and rename the new one, "close_up"
            7. Modify the scaling of the AVI in the medium shot to approximately 75% of original. Add motion and/or scaling keyframes to keep tight focus on the action.
            8. Render all 3 comps from AE as either DV (for better editing performance) or Lagarith (lossless quality)

             

            Editing in Premiere Pro

             

            1. Import your 3 "shots" into Premiere and place them in a Multi-Camera sequence
            2. Nest the Multi-Camera sequence in your main timeline and switch back and forth between the 3 views as needed

             

            So, the "establishing shot" will show them the entire screen. Small text will not bet legible, but it will give them a good idea of how things the screen is laid-out. The "medium shot" will let them see text fairly well – and it allows them enough space to see how the "focused" text relates to other elements. Finally, the "close up" will give them the best view of individual menu items and buttons; showing how things highlight when clicked, etc.

            • 2. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
              SMGI Level 1

              Thanks for the detailed response Dan. I'll give it a shot.

              • 3. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                the_wine_snob Level 9

                Dan,

                 

                Nice article! I'm definitely going to be linking to this thread a lot. Now, that does mean that it is likely to become active, beyond what the OP needs, so keep your eyes out.

                 

                I read your step-by-step with great interest, as I have been looking at Camtasia, and most of my research on editing the Techsmith material has not been all that favorable. Personally, I want to say, "THANKS!"

                 

                Your input is always appreciated and of great value.

                 

                Hunt

                • 4. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                  Dan Isaacs Level 2
                  Add Video / Filters / Resize and set it to Absolute: 2048x1530, filter mode: Nearest Neighbor.

                   

                  Keep in mind that these settings assume a 1024x765 source (the example stated in the original post). The dimensions you resize to in this step should always be exactly double the original size.

                  • 5. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                    shelbeedee

                    Preparing the Captures:

                     

                    1. Use Techsmith codec to capture.
                    2. Open the Techsmith AVI in VirtualDub
                    3. Go to Video / Compression and choose Lagarith lossless codec. Made sure that it is set to RGB and null frames are enabled (checked)
                    4. Add Video / Filters / Resize and set it to Absolute: 2048x1530, filter mode: Nearest Neighbor. Here, you are using "point resizing" to double the image size while maintaining maximum sharpness. The kind of resizing does not usually work well for photographic images, but it is ideal for screen captures: maintaining the sharp, boxy look of non-antialiased text. It will help us from losing too much detail when the video is scaled down later on.
                    5. File / Save as .avi from VirtualDub
                    Thank you for the advise, I've been trying to figure out how to make videos from Camtasia play in Premiere Elements. However I do not see any of the options you mention in step 3 above. Am I doing something wrong?

                    • 6. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                      the_wine_snob Level 9

                      There might be a few other tips in this ARTICLE and its links.

                       

                      Good luck,

                       

                      Hunt

                      • 7. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                        shelbeedee Level 1

                        Great, thank you!

                         

                        I got through that part, but as for After Effects, I cannot get a trial because it says I need 64-bit, and I guess I have 32. Is there a way to do it without After Effects, or should I purchase it? I wanted to make sure it worked before buying it, but if there isn't a way to do that, it may be my only option.

                         

                        Thanks!

                        • 8. Re: Camstudio/Screen Capture DVD
                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                          I have not used Camtasia/CamStudio material myself, so am not qualified to comment on the workflow.

                           

                          Sorry, but good luck. Maybe others can direct you there.

                           

                          Hunt