Let's focus on getting good results when recording from a large space like 1920x1200 or 1440x900 to a smaller device. Typically this is for web presentation, which right now tops out at 1280x720 (another good example is the iPhone at 480x320).
The tips below are intended for a workflow where you know ahead of time that you'll want to edit, add titling, or do voiceovers later. In other words, put the footage through all other applications before finally compressing down to H264.
Throughout the entire editing process you want to keep the quality of the footage as high as possible. This leads us nicely to rule number one:
- For MacOS 10.5.x & 10.6.x (Leopard and Snow Leopard respectively, record using Apple Intermediate Codec. If you're on MacOS 10.7.x or later use JPEG.
It's technically possible to record a large area (e.g: 30" LCD Panel) and have that scaled down to show on an iPhone, but it'll look like this:
- If recording full screen don't scale down too much,or put in appropriate zooms when editing the footage.
- Never compress twice: This is related to rule #1, but it's worth repeating. If you've got to put the footage through multiple programs (iMovie / FCP -> iDVD for example), don't recompress the footage if you can avoid it. Have the footage output again in Apple Intermediate Codec. Finally, after you're happy that your editing is complete, you should compress into H264, using multi pass mode. Either Stomp or QT Pro can do this (Stomp is easier, we think, but we're biased!)
- If you're going to scale down your footage, do it at this last stage and not before.