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Recording seems blurry, aka: retina vs non-retina


You've made a recording; but it looks 'blurry' to you.  Here are some reasons this can happen:

  1. Retina vs Non Retina
  2. Scaling 
    1. In the Instant app 
    2. Viewing the final recording at anything other than 1:1

Any of the above can cause a blurred result, which is a lot more noticable when recording text.

Retina / Non Retina

Note: only applicable if you're recording a retina display.

In iShowU Instant and Studio, there's the option to specify 'retina' recording modes. Here's what they can look like, side by side.  What you're viewing is also scaled, but you get the idea. It's the same content, but the right hand side has twice the definition.

The below image captures an area that is 640x720 in both non-retina and retina. This is intentionally so I can create a side by side 1280x720 to show the difference between retina/non-rertina.  The LEFT hand side is non retina.


This is a picture of the two movies; side by side. The retina one has way more definition.

BUT: That definition is ONLY visible on a retina display.  If you take the left hand side video and show it on a normal non-retina display it's actually very legible and clear.  In fact it looks exactly the same as if you'd recoded it from a non-retina display to begin with.


The above shot is the retina display, captured in non-retina mode; and then shown on a retina display.  To my eyes it looks like like the original does when viewed at 1:1 (sometimes this help site scales images...)

So retina-mode looks fantastic. So why bother with non-retina (the default)?  Two reasons you should always consider it:

  1. Target audience: Do you know for a fact that your audience has a retina display?  If not; record in non-retina mode. They will never see a difference and your recording will look absolutely fine when they see it.
  2. Performance: This is a biggie actually. Retina mode puts four times the load on your system during capture, and in some cases (5k iMac I'm looking at you) can result in significantly reduced frame rates.
  3. File size: Not so much a biggie these days, but retina records can be large. Think multi-GB large. 


The other reason you may view something 'blurry' is any scaling at all.

  1. If you're not viewing it at 100% (1:1), text will look blurred.
  2. If you've set any scaling on the recording in Instant, text will look blurred.
  3. If the player (YouTube) is playing back at a lower resolution than your recording, text will look blurred.

Here's the setting that's important in Instant. DONT do what I show here (3/4 size). You want "Same as input":



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