Andrew Townsend Responds to #AskMeMonday

One of the questions I get asked a lot is about the difference between 720 and 1080 in regards to exporting options. This is tied with the canvas size of your project and the size of your assets. Below I’ll outline some of that information for you.

When you record video, whether from a camera or from your desktop using screen capture software, you record it at a certain size. This may be 100 pixels by 100 pixels (a square), or 800 pixels by 600 pixels (more of a rectangle), or any other combination of sizes. If you are going to record in standard video shapes (or aspect ratios) you’ll record in 16 by 9. This is not 16 pixels by 9 pixels, that would be tiny. But you’ll record in that ratio.

That is where the video sizes 720p and 1080p come into play.

If you measure up the side of your video 720 pixels high, then you’ll come out 1280 pixels wide when using the standard 16:9 ratio. That’s about 921,600 dots being displayed in your video. This is the minimum for being considered “high definition” or HD.

The larger standard of size is 1080 pixels high, and 1920 pixels wide. This gets you over 2 million pixels being displayed 24 times (or more) per second. This is also considered HD, but a much higher quality.

You would be wise to pick which of these standards you are going to use very early in your production planning. Why pick early? Because if you record your video at 720 by 1280 (also know as 720p) but you want to export your video as the larger 1080 size, then you’re going to have 1,152,000 pixels that the computer is making up in order to expand to the larger size, and it will reduce the clarity of your video.

Here is an example. Below I have a video that I have shot with the opposite problem. I shot this video at 1080 pixels up the side, but my project settings (or canvas) are set to only 720 pixels up the side.

You can see that the video bleeds off the side quite a bit. Now, I can resize the video down, and it won’t cause any problems because we’re just compressing the pixels. The information for each available square is actually there. I can still produce a high quality 720 video with this footage. This is one great reason why you may as well just record all of your video at 1080, just to be prepared.

But what if I want my 1080 video to be produced at 1080, but I am seeing it is being cropped, as viewed above? This is an easy fix in Camtasia.

First, select the sizing menu and scroll down to Project Settings.

This brings up a menu that allows you to make general project wide changes such as the size of your video and the color of unfilled space.

Select the Canvas Dimensions drop down menu and you’ll see all the of the presets, organized by standards. It is here you can select from your two HD options, 1080, and 720.

One other aspect of this that comes up repeatedly is whether our Camtasia templates come in 1080 or 720. The answer is yes to both. Our templates are made in vector graphics. This means that if you add one of our templates that is sized for 720, like the Sharp template for example, you can resize it to 1080 with absolutely perfect quality.

I’ll demonstrate. Below is the Sharp lower third graphic over the video at 720p.

You can see this is a nice crisp 720p graphic. But my video is 1080, so I’ll expand my canvas, and then resize the lower thirds graphic. With a video, it would become blurry and less defined. But since it is a vector graphic, it looks just as crisp and clean.

So I hope this answers your questions about aspect ratios and canvas size. Let me know if you have more questions, and as always, I’d love to see your projects that use the eLearning Brothers Camtasia templates!

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