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Old May 11th, 2010, 12:17 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Annandale, VA
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Totally Clueless


In my job, I have been given the task of creating a series of videos demonstrating and supporting a software product that we sell. The more I work at this, the more I realize how much I do not know.

I am creating (or trying to create) the videos on a DELL Laptop with a CORE2 Duo T2750 2.00GHz processor with .99GB of Ram running Windows XP and I would like to edit the videos on my I-Mac with a 2.66GHz Core2 Duo running Mac OS X 10.5.8. The program I am trying to video only runs on PC so I have to start there.

I have been trying to use Camstudio to create the videos. It seems to work well enough, but there is a serious problem with the audio and video de-syncing. I have tried to deal with this by using Virtualdub on the PC and the result has been huge .AVI files that don't playback well at all. After making only a few files, my Camstudio folder grew to over 30GB and filled my hard drive. I deleted everything I could and got the hard drive down to about half full and now I'm starting over.

I am beginning to wonder if I am going about this in the right way at all or if I should be using some other software program that will work better or in a more conservative file format. I tried converting the .AVI files to .SWF Flash files in Camstudio but the video resolution went to pot. If anyone can suggest a set of tools and a workflow that has worked for this purpose, I would really appreciate it. Any books that would be worth reading would help as well.


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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:02 PM   #2
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you might look at On2Technologys Flix standard or Pro. I use standard and take my AVIs into it and convert to FLVs but have converted some to SWFs. It has enough latitude to make changes so you're not stuck using a standard template although the templates work very well. It's not a budget killer either at least FlixStandard isn't, IIRC about $30.00. It works very well and produces a superb image.
It's been my experience that FLV shows better than SWF but maybe it's just me. ;-)
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 01:03 PM   #3
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Location: Charlton, MA
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Hey Tom,

I'm not familiar with CamStudio but you should check to see if you can change the recording settings. It sounds like you're creating uncompressed files (which will be absolutely huge). If the processor can handle it (or you don't mind capturing at a slower framerate), you should try capturing in a more compressed format.

I've had luck in the past with Snagit ($40 software - free trial).

Once you have a file recorded, you should be able to convert it to a format that your mac will be able handle (I think this will depend on what you use to edit with on a mac).

You may also want to turn down the resolution of the laptop before capturing. It will create smaller files, run better (less pixels to process), and might mitigate a lot of your issues.

As for the sound de-sync, I'm not sure why that's happening. Something may be wrong with the capture settings or your computer may be having trouble playing back the large files.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #4
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Location: Willmar, MN
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I'm a former software developer and because of my connections in the vertical software industry, I end up doing a lot of these kinds of software demo and training videos. The one thing to keep in mind is to do as little transcoding as possible. That means avoid rendering and re-rendering into different formats (AVI, FLV, etc.) If possible, always keep the video in the same format with the same codec. You want pixel-for-pixel accuracy throughout the capturing, editing and rendering process.

If you want to do a good job, you're going to need to stop trying to do this with free software. Believe me I've been in that insanity before - where a software company does not want to spend money on software! Invest in a copy of TechSmith Camtasia. It will have everything you need to record the screen, edit it into a professional video and produce a format you can distribute. It only costs $300, plus you can get a 30 free trial.

As was mentioned before, get that original recording screen down to the smallest possible size. Don't record at 1920x1200, instead try 800x600 or even 640x480 if your software will fit into that size window.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 03:56 PM   #5
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Following up on Chris' excellent advice (do follow it!)...

When he says "pixel-for-pixel accuracy", this is a really key concept in these projects. The original resolution of the capture should be the delivery resolution, period. This is what makes these projects look like they should.

So, as Chris suggests, you need to determine the minimum resolution that will adequately demonstrate the software. Set up the software at that window size, and remember, you might need to come back and do more work at precisely that size.

Then, maintain this resolution through every subsequent step, through to the final delivery.

Camtasia is the standard for this kind of work, and for good reason. The TSCC codec is excellent for capture. Usually, I'm outputting flash, but, at the same resolution as the capture, and, not until the very end of the process.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old May 11th, 2010, 09:06 PM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Annandale, VA
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I appreciate the advice from everyone.

We could probably afford Camtasia once the "proof-of-concept" stage is passed, but I have to see if I can even get this to work with the computers at hand. Maybe I'll try the the 30-day trial version. It seems like a lot of folks like Camstudio, but what little online support there is presumes a level of video know-how that I ain't got (yet). I was shocked at how big the files became just from being re-synced in VirtualDub.
I-Movie09 only handles .DV and .MOV files so that requires even more crunching. I think I'd be better off trying to keep it all in one app, but I don't know if this aged laptop PC will handle it? I'll try to lower the resolution and I'll try to figure out how to match the resolution between whatever I record in and the .FLV file. I've worked in graphic software for many years and it's amazing how little good that is doing me. Video is a whole new world.


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Old May 16th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #7
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I have to disagree with the uselessness of the free CamStudio.

Free or not, I had great results with it; recognizes all the video codecs installed on the computer and I've used it with the Canopus HQ codec with no problems.

You might have set something wrong in your video settings.

Just out of pure curiosity, reading this thread, I fired it up for the first time on my Win7 machine... works like a charm. I have the 2.5 version "portable" (does not need installation).

By the way, as far as I know, Camtasia is the commercial version (further developed) of the CamStudio.
Ervin Farkas, CDVS
Certified Legal Videographer
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Old May 25th, 2010, 07:24 PM   #8
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Annandale, VA
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I am liking Camtasia

I'm glad Camstudio worked for you. I read a lot of favorable reviews, but I couldn't get anywhere with it. Camtasia worked on the first try. It has a lot of extra features I'm finding useful as well.

Tom Burke
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