videotaping a screen

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 06 2010 - 11:20:49 PST

> I want to videotape website navigations. One sees this all the time
> in =
> documentaries. I assume they use cameras

I doubt it.

> instead of capture software, since the resolution of that is not
> sufficient.

?? that depends on the software and it's settings, the resolution of
an LCD display is what it is, you can't make it higher, and capture
software can record it exactly. (but see further discussion below)

> So how do I get the best possible image quality using a camera?

Video rephotography of a video display screen generally LOOKS like
rephotography in one way or another and is generally used for
aesthetic effect. Getting a 'transparent' looking image is difficult.
The problems are different with LCD displays and CRT displays. CRTs
crete more problems with roll bars due to the difference between the
scan frequency of the monitor and the frame rate of the camera. You
want to set the CRT to 60Hz refresh and use a higher end camcorder
such as a DVX100 or Canon XG-A1 that has an option for fine adjustment
of the scan rate. An LCD display shouldn't have the roll bar problem,
but once you bring the screen into sharp focus you'll get moire
issues, so the best you can do is leave it just soft enough to get a
smooth looking image.

In general, unless you want to show people doing the navigating, if
you just want moving images of what's happening on a computer screen,
screen capture software is your best bet. There are many different
programs with different features and qualities. The most popular on
the Mac is probably Snapz Pro. You can get good results, but you need
to experiment with the settings for converting the captures file into

You mention 'insufficient resolution' and I wonder if you are trying
to get detail of a part of the screen. If so, the problem is the
resolution of the screen itself, not the method used to capture it. I
went through all this to create a scene in a narrative film where a
character looks at a wikipedia page on his Blackberry, and then later
we see the screen of his computer as he searches for something on
Craig's List. I captured the webpages, rehotographed them a variety of
ways. Nothing worked. Finally I realized I had to uprez the source
itself. So i captured the pages and editied them in Seamonkey to make
everything really big (e.g. changing the basic font size for the page
from 12 to like 36), manipulating the layout to make my new magnified
page represent a portion of the or relation to everything else. I
think you can install oversize cursors in your system, but I didn't
want to do the whole capture process over again, so I just got a still
image of a bigger cursor, put it Final Cut Pro as a layer over the
screen footage, and used Motion tab keyframes to animate the new big
cursor arrow, so it would cover the old small cursor arrow...

In short getting a simple image representing someone using Craig's
List that actually looked nice was a hell of a lot of work.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.