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Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation

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Justin Farrar
Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:43:24 pm

One of my clients wants an animation in all of her videos of a Google search being performed, scrolling through the results, clicking links, and navigating her web site.

I typically do this type of thing with ScreenFlow or similar screen capture software, but it has a very low-budget look to it. "Zooming in" on results just involves blowing the image up way over 100%... Mouse/scrolling movements aren't very smooth... It's not ideal.

What are some ways to improve on this method? How do they achieve this in the commercial world? I'm pretty novice when it comes to motion graphics, After Effects etc... but are there any tutorials anywhere that might be helpful in stepping my game up with this?


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Steve Brame
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 12:48:55 am

We've used Techsmith's Camtasia for years, and the results are incredibly smooth and clear.

-------------------------------------------
"98% of all computer issues can be solved by simply pressing 'F1'."
Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 1:37:45 am

I second Steve's vote - I've used it for several years, and it will do 1920 x 1080 no problem. It can even be set up to zoom in and follow mouse movements automatically, allow for call-outs, and do animated selections. It's well worth the price:

http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 3:21:27 pm

If it is real web browsing, your methods are to shoot the screen with a macro lens, which can give some artful effects, or to grab the screen in Camtesia, then build the flying camera effects by compositing the screen recording onto a fake screen and flying a virtual camera around it in Aftereffects or Apple motion. While that sounds scary, it is not at all as hard as you might fear and will give great results.


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Stephen Smith
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 3:55:17 pm

You can zoom into the web browser. On a mac you hit Command and the Plus Keys.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Justin Farrar
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 4:14:15 pm

Thanks everyone for the tips. Camtasia looks similar to ScreenFlow and Screenium which I've been using, but I'll check it out in case I can get better results with it.

I think Mark Suszko is closest to what I'm looking to achieve, and shooting the screen with a macro lens might be the best place to start. Might take some fussing to avoid glare, etc... but will probably look more tasteful than zooming in on my web browser "zooming" within a screen capture software, which involves some distortion.

I agree, compositing onto a fake screen and adding motion would look great but probably be far beyond my abilities..


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Nick Griffin
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 5:09:46 pm

I've found when shooting screens it's best to get the largest one you can (30" if possible) and then experiment with different resolution settings to find the combination with varying focal lengths of zoom that give you the least moire pattern interference. As with most things, make time for experimentation before you're on the clock.

As to what the big time pros use, and I'm surprised no one has mentioned it, are "scan converters," dedicated hardware based boxes that take the computer signal in and output beautiful quality video. I believe for the most part these are what networks use. Last I checked these boxes are quite pricey or available only with the rental of edit rooms at larger facilities.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 5:46:46 pm

Not a "big timer", but we use a scan-do Ultra scan converter for many types of capture on web sites as well as powerpoint shows, particularly for live recordings and trainings. You kind of get what you pay for in scan converters, and my personal opinion is that none of the under-a-grand models are quite what you want for broadcast uses except to show a full screen powerpoint with.

Our Scan-Do cost 6 grand new and there are better models out today. Most people who don't need it regularly will find they can afford to rent a better scan converter than they can afford to buy. As the price goes up, you get more features including multiple pre-sets so you can essentially work the converter like a switcher with multiple camera views of the screen.

There's still a place for shooting the screen with a lens, especially off a CRT: that horrible moire'd look of the individual coarse pixels showing, is sometimes exactly the aesthetic you want. It looks more "tech-y".


Getting back to compositing a virtual look: this really is NOT as scary and hard to do as people think. If you know nothing about Apple Motion, one of Stephen Smith's COW DVD tutorials will easily get you trained up to the point you could tackle this.


The "recipe" would be to snap a high def still of the screen head-on, with the screen just blank and reflecting a little light. By adjusting opacity and blend mode, that highlight will end up on your screen capture footage and help "sell" its reality. In Motion, it is very intuitive to control proportions and crop the footage to fit into the screen in a wide shot. Then you can lock those elements together by grouping them, just like grouping layers in a photoshop document.

Next, select "new camera" and when it asks for a 3-d camera, say "yes". You get an on-screen camera control like a ball that you can rotate and move with your mouse to adjust the camera's position and zoom level. Super easy. Add virtual lighting to taste, using controls just like the camera control. You can render out non-moving camera perspectives this way and cut between them in FCP. Or you can add camera moves to really jazz things up, and Motion gives you pre-made canned moves, or you can easily keyframe your own.

Really, with a hands-on, I could teach my 16-year-ol daughter to do this in twenty minutes. So be brave and try this out: I think you'll really like the results and it won't take all day to achieve.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 5, 2013 at 7:25:28 pm

This was done in three minutes, just to give a rough idea what you can do in motion.



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David Wilson
Re: Simulating "screen capture" with high quality animation
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:40:04 am

Nice ideas you share here. I am new here and i have no experience about these things but i am interested in these software and programs. thanks for nice piece of work.


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