[Howto] Recording PC games with FRAPS

Last updated on 11 years ago
JonL
Note:
This tutorial is heavily based on the excellent one written by RickyC. You'll find the original here for further reference:
http://www.longplays.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=199&forum=1

If anything is missing or inaccurate, please tell me.
=====================================

[size=large]The game[/size]

1) You need to have the game, of course. Buy it and download it if you don't have it already. Install it in some folder. Download the latest patch available and apply it.

2) If the original game runs on MS-DOS, it is likely not to record properly. You need to use a source port. That is a new version of the game engine that someone modified to play nice in Windows XP, Vista or Seven. If you're a fan of the game, you probably already know more about that than I do. This tutorial takes for granted that the game (or the source port) uses either DirectX or OpenGL for display. If the game has a rendering option (that happens in early Win32 games, like Half-Life, for instance), use one of the above.

4) Source ports tend to add new features to make the game look better by nowadays standards (high resolution texture packs, 3D models, mouse look, translucency, smooth textures, new weapons special effects and so on). Try to disable them to remain as close to the original game as possible. Avoid fan-made enhancements and mods. Once again, it's all about being faithful to the original, NOT looking as good as possible.

5) If the original resolution was really low (like 320x200), you may want to double it, but please remain in reasonable bounds. Playing MS-DOS games in full HD will only end up in jerky playback and huge files. Rescaling video afterwards will give blurry results... and huge files. As a general rule, try to choose a resolution that is coherent with the period the game went on sales.

6) Configure in-game keyboard and mouse before anything. Choose mouse speed to suit your style. Test the game and make sure you feel comfortable with it.

7) Determine the game refresh rate. Either this can be configured in the game itself, or in recent game this is the general Windows refresh rate. The refresh rate indicates how many images per second the recorded video will contain. The most common refresh rate in the United States is 60Hz (60 frames per second). In Europe, 50Hz. The higher the refresh rate, the larger the video file. In slow moving games, dividing the refresh rate by 2 may be acceptable to get a smaller file size.
You will also need this information when adding subtitles in the video.

[size=large]FRAPS[/size]

1) Buy, download and install FRAPS. Find it here:
http://www.fraps.com/

2) Run FRAPS. Go to the FPS tab. Click on both Disable buttons to avoid triggering those functions inadvertently. Select Hide Overlay to avoid displaying the game speed while recording movie.

3) Go to the Screenshots tab. Click Disable or choose a shortcut key that you are certain will not collide with in-game functions. It would be unfortunate if pressing a key to save your game would also trigger a FRAPS screenshot, for instance.

4) Go to the Movies tab. Change the Video Capture Hotkey into something that will not interfere with in-game keys. I tend to use the Scroll-lock key because it is never used in games. Click Change to indicate where to store captured movies in. Make sure you have plenty of space available. You will likely need at least 300GB of free space.

5) To start recording, press the FRAPS shortcut key (Scroll-lock, for instance). To stop recording, press shortcut key again. To capture the game as soon as it starts, you can press the capture shortcut key before even running the game. FRAPS will start recording as soon as a DirectX application goes full screen.

[size=large]Testing[/size]

1) Run the game, start recording, play a little, stop recording, exit the game.

2) FRAPS should have produced one or more video files that you should be able to play in VLC (http://www.videolan.org/vlc) or Windows Media Player. Make sure everything works before starting the real thing. Experiment until you are confident enough.

3) Note that videos created with FRAPS use a FRAPS codec that was installed with it. If you copy the captured video file to another computer, you probably won't be able to play it because the codec is missing.

[size=large]Stopping and restarting recording[/size]

1) When you want to stop your recording session, try to reach a point of the game where you can safely save. That can be the end of a level, or an automatic save point. Press the FRAPS shortcut key to stop recording, then make sure you save your progress in the game.

2) To restart recording, start the game and reload your last position. Press the FRAPS shortcut key to restart recording.

3) You will be able to join movie parts and trim movie parts from mistakes and redundant parts later, during the encoding process.

[size=large]Recording[/size]

1) As a general advice, use the most common options in the game. If you can choose a character, choose the default one. If you can pick your route, use the default one. You may want to change the default behavior, but do it only for a good reason, like it's easier to play or it is more fun to watch. This is more of a personal advice than a real rule here.

2) Keep in mind that the resulting video should be fun to watch. This is not a demonstration of your skills, but a demonstration of the game, its gameplay, its backdrops, whatever makes it special. If you can do both, fine. But remember, not everyone likes to watch the player zooming around hoards of enemies at high speed during hours. Again, this is not an official rule, just food for your thoughts.

3) Plan before recording. Play each level at least once to find the best route. If you have problems with a particular enemy or situation, use save and reload to practice more than once.

4) Record small sessions at once. Prepare, say, 2 to 4 stages, then record them in one go. Create a savegame at that point as soon as you stop recording so that you are sure to be able to restart playing/recording from there.

5) After each recording session, move the resulting video files to a different folder, so that you don't delete them by mistake. Never delete any of them before the whole movie is finished, encoded, uploaded, and accepted by the Longplays.org managers (you never know).

6) If anything goes wrong (like you die, or you screw up), you can decide to stop recording, delete the bad video files (only the ones that you just screwed up, of course), and start again. Longplays do not need to be perfect, but you have to possibility to restart as many times as you like. Take advantage of that.

[size=large]Recording on slow PCs[/size]

1) If your computer is not fast enough to run the game and capture it at the same time, the resulting video will probably look bad. The best option of course, is to record on a faster computer. But the next few hints may help you get better results anyway.

2) Try choosing a lower resolution in the game. Less pixels to display, to capture, and to store to disk, that should help.

3) Try setting the FRAPS output folder to a separate physical hard drive. Avoid writing to an external hard drive connected through a slow connection like USB 2.0 cable.

4) Try lowering the in-game framerate (and the FRAPS capture framerate accordingly).
G
Actually, the refresh rate in the US is 60Hz (60 fps) since it uses NTSC. The Refresh rate in Europe is 50Hz (50 fps) since it uses PAL.

NTSC:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTSC

PAL:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAL

You also need to mention about recording the game with emulators (especially with those with ReRecording and save them in lossless format like Fraps, TSCC, Lagarith Lossless, FFV1, or Huffyuv). Also need to mention, if editing is needed edit the video in Virtual Dub or similar video editing tools like Avidemux and save it in lossless format again.
Tsunao
But why save a video edited in Avidemux or VirtualDub? It makes the process longer especially when saving the final video (put videos in VirtualDub, cut stuff out, save video, use MeGui vs. put videos in VirtualDub, find frame number and use trim, use MeGui)

Editing can be done using AviSynth.

When I cut things out, I use the trim script.

trim(x, y)

X is the frame where you start, Y is the frame where you finish.

For multiple trim.

e1=trim(x,y)
e2=trim(x,y)
e3=trim(x,y)
e1 + e2 + e3

I just build on from there (e4, e5,...,e9000). Frame numbers can be found in VirtualDub (my preferred program)

Excerpt from my script for Golden Sun:

e1=trim(370, 743850)
e2=trim(757501, 1824069)
e1 + e2

p1=trim(1, 842225)
p2=trim(849571, 1810049)
p1 + p2

First one was initial trimming.
The second one was from missing one section. (loaded a save state). Since I was lazy to edit the first one, I decided to just make a few trim section.

Other than that, I will edit the small error (why didn't I see that? >_>)
G
You can do it that way if you want. I prefer to remove them manually with virtual dub or Avidemux. It's easier for me to know unwanted frames have been removed. Megui is more of a video encoder with very limited video editing features. Virtual Dub can do a lot more when it comes to video editing. I only recommend removing frames in Megui only if there's a very small number unwanted frames that need to be removed. If the video needs heavy editing, for example, recording a game from an emulator with hundreds of thousands of save states used that has no ReRecording throughout the game, then it's better to edit them in virtual dub since there are so many save states used and almost hard to tell when used last if used so many. I also only recommend using virtual dub + Audacity to fix audio desync problems especially if the audio desyncs throughout the video in a non-constant way.
KiethSomataw99
When I recorded Rail Chase 2 with fraps, the resolution was small and it created several videos which were large. How do I compose them into one video while reducing size? Do I use windows movie maker?
G
Keith, when you record with Fraps, it always splits the videos every 3.90 GB simply it does not use OpenDML. I don't recommend using windows movie maker since it lowers the quality making the video looking really bad and lowers the frame rate in half. To merge all the files in one file, use Virtual Dub, open the first file by going to file > open video file, then connect the rest of the files by going to file > append AVI segment. Then go to video > compression and choose a lossless codec such as Techsmith Screen Capture Codec (TSCC), Lagarith Lossless, Huffyuv, etc.

What resolution did you record the game in? Sega Model 2 arcade games like House of the Dead and others have a resolution of 496 X 384. So you may have to run the game in the window in order to record the game's correct resolution.

You can also use MeGui to merge all files by following this link here:
http://www.longplays.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=1479&forum=22

But if you have any problems, then use Virtual Dub to merge them into one file. Or go to the IRC Chat room for additional help.
JonL
The FAQ that details the next step (encoding) also describes how to deal with multiple files. You should refer to it, since you need to use it to add our signature, anyway.

Dealing with multiple input videos requires very little additional work.
Play long and prosper!
What Computer Recorder a shoud use I am in serbia but in serbia they are not selling any of computer recorders I need some free computer recorder to upload a longplay for like 2 hours
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