N.B. Dit bericht is in het Engels om het ook voor meelezers van buiten Nederland toegankelijk te maken.
It sounded like something that was really easy to do when Hans Mestrum explained it on his blog (in Dutch), just upload a video in high resolution to YouTube, add &fmt=22 to the URL and you can watch the video in true HD quality.
Hans demonstrates it with a video that he had shot at the HAN and that he had uploaded to YouTube.
I wanted to try it with a screencast that I created using Camtasia Studio 6 but my first attempt failed. That video isn’t recognized by YouTube as a high resolution version.
Of course I didn’t give up there, but got more determined to find out why it didn’t work.
Hans had indicated that apparently YouTube also checks the bitrate . He posted this and this screenshot of the settings that he used successful in Adobe Premiere. The bitrate needs to be > 5000 kbit/sec otherwise YouTube doesn’t recognize it as HD.
Using the HD export setting that is available in Camtasia Studio 6 doesn’t work in combination with YouTube. I created a new custom profile based on Quicktime MOV, used H.264 as video codec, set a resolution of 1280×720 and (which is different from what Hans used) MPEG-4-audio (44100Hz, 16Bit, Mono).
One thing to remember is that if you don’t create the screencast in that 1280×720 resolution, Camtasia has to either stretch the video, or add black bars.
You can control that by setting the project settings in Camtasia to 1280×720 and then use the Zoom&Pan function to control which part of the recording is displayed.
But even then, you’ll get black bars above and below the video if you view it on YouTube.
That is because the viewer there in the page doesn’t use the 16:9 aspect ratio. Instead it used the 4:3 aspect ratio that is more common.
[update] Just last night, hours after I posted this, YouTube updated the default viewer aspect ratio on their site so that the aspect ratio is now wide screen and their are no bars there either for the video. You don’t see those bars in the video here in the blog post either.
The change does however mean that all my other videos on YouTube do have bars on the left and right of them.
Online HD compared
YouTube isn’t the first or only online video service that offers high definition video options.
I’ve uploaded the exact same video to Vimeo and Dailymotion, here are the links so you can see for yourself:
YouTube HD video quality is not bad. Better than Dailymotion and comparable to Vimeo, though I like the upload process of Vimeo much better
I also tried uploading the video file to SURFmedia.nl. Too bad the site does not recognize the video as streaming.
For the video to be available as streaming on SURFmedia.nl you need to convert it to a streaming MP4 file. I used Quicktime Pro for that with these settings:
The result is available here. I haven’t tried exporting into this format directly out of Camtasia yet.
Are online HD screencasts feasible?
If you can find the correct settings, if you’ve got a powerful enough laptop, high enough resolution or the need to project the screencast full screen, then HD screencasts are doable.
I don’t think I’ll be producing very many high definition screencasts any time soon. Rendering time is very long, files are huge and also on my laptop the resolution is fixed to 1024×768. So, my recordings always will have a lower ‘real’ resolution than 1280×720. But YouTube tends to set the standard for these kind of things so expect more of this to come.