Camtasia (Windows): Recording Video Games for Editing

Problem

Recording footage from video games can be a very system-intensive process, even on a computer that exceeds our recommended system specifications. Sometimes the video game can record choppy or come out as black video. Here are a few tips and tricks to get the best possible performance from Camtasia Studio when recording.

Solution

Free up system resources – Reboot computer, and exit all other applications

Both the game you are going to record and Camtasia Studio will be utilizing a lot of memory and processing power, so any spare resources that are available will help. It is best to limit your running applications to just Camtasia Studio and the game you are going to record. A full reboot of the computer, and running just those applications can also help to clear up any other resource issues that can occur from leaving the operating system running for long periods of time.

Disable Aero (Windows Vista/7 Only)

Aero is the term for the slick visual effects in the main Windows interface. It provides the see through “glass” effect on title bars, allows previews of minimized windows, and some enhanced alt-tabbing visual effects. Unfortunately, these effects can be a drain on system resources.

To turn off Aero, go to Start -> Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Personalization -> Change the color scheme. Choose one of the Basic color schemes to apply.

Basic_Theme.png

Set the game to play in windowed mode

For optimum results, we recommend playing the game in windowed mode at 1280x720. Most games will have this as an option in their video settings. The reason we want to avoid a Fullscreen, Fullscreen Windowed, or Borderless mode is because of some resolution switching that can occur when moving into the game after you start the recording. With the game running in a window of a set size, you can tell Camtasia Studio to record that area of the screen exactly, and not have to worry about video issues from a game maximizing onscreen.

With a game like Minecraft that does not have specific resolution options, setup can be a bit trickier. There are different applications and custom launchers that can be used to force the window to be 1280x720, but these will force the whole window to be that size – the actual gameplay region will be smaller. Instead, start up the Camtasia Recorder and set your recording region to be 1280x720. Then, resize the game window so that the gameplay area is within the green bounding box of the recording area. This will record only the gameplay, and not the window heading and border.

Third-party Recording

Some of our users like to use a utility called FRAPS for the recording process, as it was designed from the ground up specifically to capture video information directly from the game and write it out to a file. If using FRAPS, we strongly recommend setting the recording framerate to 30 FPS. Camtasia Studio works on a basis of a constant 30 FPS during the editing process, so any higher framerates can result in a choppy video or performance issues when editing.

FRAPS.png

Even when using a third-party tool to record the video, we still recommend recording at around 1280x720. Some machines may be able to handle 1920x1080, but this amount of information will be a lot for Camtasia Studio to process. 1920x1080 is also a resolution that can be overkill in terms of quality. There are plenty of YouTube channels that have stuck with 720p as their highest quality setting.

Another issue with software like FRAPS is that they write to an extremely large, uncompressed file. Longer recordings can easily fill up an entire harddrive, and it can be worthwhile to compress these files to save space and enhance performance in Camtasia Studio. There is a free utility called Handbrake (www.handbrake.fr) that can take a source video file and convert it into a MP4. That MP4 file can then be imported into a Camtasia Studio project and edited.

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