In this video, Mike is going to cover just a few reasons why you may have a blurry video, and also some terms that may help you understand what exactly is going on.
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Post-production begins in pre-production.
Before you ever click the record button on your screen recorder or camera, ask yourself two questions: 1) where will my video end up being displayed? and 2) what resolution is my computer screen or camera? These are the first questions you need to ask yourself when you begin creating a video! Will my video be displayed on a mobile device, a high definition TV, or maybe an ultra high definition billboard? What are the screen dimensions of my computer monitor or camera?
I can’t stress this enough, you always need to be familiar with what resolution you are shooting with and delivering to.
But what is screen resolution exactly? Screen resolution is the dimensions of your screen, most commonly measured in pixels. High definition editing and production dimensions are 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) and 720p (1280 x 720 pixels). But whatever screen resolution you have available, always try and record in the highest resolution possible. We will get to the reason why in a bit.
For example, here at TechSmith, we know we will be most often exporting videos to 720p for YouTube and our website; so when we record, our screen dimensions are usually 1080p. The reason we record in a higher dimension is because when we edit, it gives us flexibility in zooming and scaling footage. Your footage becomes blurry when you zoom in or scale footage larger than what you originally recorded at.
Depending on the content, you can get away with scaling or zooming slightly larger than 100 percent without viewers noticing, just be aware.
Nowadays, there are ultra high definition monitors, which is also commonly referred to as 4K (2160p) or 8K (4320p), or Retina display, but unless you have a very powerful computer, I would recommend 1080p to get started because if you do record in those higher dimensions, you will end up with very large files, thus slowing down your computer dramatically.
The second set of terms I want to cover are vector art vs. raster art. Raster art is made of a certain number of pixels and vector art is based on mathematical calculations. In other words, raster art cannot be enlarged without losing quality and vector art does not use pixels and therefore is resolution-independent. If you are a Camtasia or Snagit user, you may have noticed that some callouts are in vector form, they can be scaled without losing quality. This can also be seen in applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator or After Effects which base a lot of their editing techniques on vector art. There are a ton of stock image sites that offer both types for purchase.
Finally, the last topic I want to cover is file formats. This topic can get very confusing very quickly, but my main piece of advice is try and use the .MP4 file format (or H.264) whenever possible. This ensures a high quality video, at a low file size. Plus, almost all web and software applications accept this as a universal format and they play well on almost all devices. So when you can, convert your footage to .MP4.
I know this is a lot to cover and can be confusing at first, but once you start practicing and experimenting for yourself, it will start to make sense. Just remember, record as big as possible, then edit in smaller dimensions, keeping in mind where this video will be displayed. As always, feel free to add comments or questions below, and thank you for your time.
If you’re using YouTube to host your videos here is a handy PDF regarding resolution and blurriness.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2015 by Mike Gruszynski and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.