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The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia

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Sarah Harding
The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Feb 1, 2011 at 1:05:01 am


I've been struggling to create a video about how to use a certain software for a client using both Camtasia and FCP. I'm using Camtasia in Windows because the software is a PC program and I need to be able to do live screen recordings within that software. I don't know what the client intends to do with the video so I'm trying to get him the best possible quality. I’m exporting both the live capture and still images as a .mov file so that I can edit everything in Final Cut. The still images I'm using in Camtasia are mostly white text on a blue background and are an odd size - 720x540 (they were provided by my client.)

Everything looks fine in Camtasia...until I export it. The images lose some of their sharpness - they seem softer. I’ve tried every possible export option available, though Camtasia doesn’t seem to have a lossless option. When I import the exported files into Final Cut (after setting the sequence settings to the same as the Camtasia export settings) they still look soft, but the quality isn’t greatly decreased from the original export. Once I've finished editing the various components in FCP and I export the project it looks awful, like it’s got the same soft focus lighting/blur effect they use on Barbara Walters. Like in Camtasia, I’ve tried dozens of different compression types - No compression, Uncompressed 10 bit, Apple ProRes 422, H.264, even the TechSmith codec. While some options look better than others, they’re still really soft. It’s driving me mental. Does anyone have any advice?

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David Roth Weiss
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Feb 1, 2011 at 2:18:52 am

You're seeing the effects of DV compression. No one who uses screen capture software professionally uses the DV codec.

DV operates in 4:2:0 color space, and it chucks out huge amounts of color information during compression and then interpolates (guesses) what color to make pixels nearby. This erodes the edges of graphics, text, and stills making them ugly, aliased (jaggie), and soft.

If you were doing this on the Apple side only I would suggest screen capture using the ProRes codec. However, on the Windows side I'm not sure what to advise you to use. Possibly 8 or 10-bit uncompressed if your hard drives are up to the task?

Oh, and BTW, when you say "I've tried dozens of different compression types," you seem to be discussing simply exporting to a different codec. That's not the issue and that won't help at all, you have to capture and edit using the better codec.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.

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Jeff Greenberg
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Feb 1, 2011 at 4:34:44 am

Two things. Your client is giving you square pixel video, the equivalent of 720x486, non-square.

I'd export QuickTime animation codec to bring it to the mac looking great. Then throw it in an uncompressed SD timeline. This should look dead on perfect.


Jeff G

Apple Master Trainer
Avid Cert. Instructor DS/MC
Avid & Color Videos
Compressor Essentials

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Brad Bussé
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Feb 1, 2011 at 11:34:52 pm

When exporting to Animation codec, check the resulting exported .mov to ensure that the frame rate is what it should be. I've been capturing footage for a 720p @ 29.97 Hz ProRes timeline, and when I tried exporting to Animation, the file only exported at about 15 fps. What I'm doing now, is capturing at 1920x1080 30 fps with the recorder set to save as .avi instead of camrec, and then exporting as the default "Web" profile, which keeps the same resolution and frame rate, and exports as a .mp4. Then I convert that in Compressor to ProRes as 720 or 1080 to work in my 720 ProRes timeline. I tried rectifying the workflow to export in the Animation codec, but the last time I tried it was with a longer file, and Camtasia ran out of memory. My PC is running 64-bit Windows 7, and I think it has 8 GB of RAM for its quad-core, so I'm assuming Camtasia is still 32-bit.

You may find that you may need to do some slight color correction to bring back some saturation since some of the color data is lost in conversion to .mp4

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Sarah Harding
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:49:23 am

Thanks to all! I'll give these suggestions a try.

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Palmer Wallace
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Sep 8, 2011 at 4:00:55 pm

Hey All,

I couldn't seem to get this process to work, though I am very new at Camtasia and a novice to intermediate with Final Cut.

My canvas size on Camtasia is 720x450 which is native and unchanged. I adjusted the picture a bit on the actual slides so I can crop the top url along with the bottom toolbar on my Mac.

Everytime I export Camtasia it looks bad regardless of what I choose and I also downloaded the Ensharpen codec and that created problems as well to where the picture was blurry on the export.

I did as you suggested to another user by exporting it as a Quicktime animation and importing into a DVNTSC SD timeline into FCP and it looked worse.

Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated b/c I have ALOT of work that needs to be done in Camtasia and taken over to FCP to polish.


I edit stuff and continually have questions about the stuff I edit

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Palmer Wallace
Re: The Epic Battle Between Final Cut and Camtasia
on Sep 8, 2011 at 6:18:32 pm

Ok, I made an ensharper export of a project and it looks a little bit better but I've tried to create a project around it using NTSC and 1080i with no luck. Both projects it seems to throw the Camtasia footage through a loop.

Any suggestions?


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