edit - This guide is quite old now so will be outdated. If you have any questions its best to come to our IRC. For the site always use a HD capture or capture from an emulator, try not to reencode the video files apart from the final encode with megui, if you do use the techsmith codec only.
This guide is for anyone wanting to record their own games even if its not for the site with just using what experience is with this stuff so accuracy isnt totally guaranteed.
edit: Dazzle recordings will no longer be accepted on this site. Emulator captures are prefered for older consoles, while HD capture devices for the more modern stuff.
HD console games should be captured at 720p at 60fps.
Ps1 era consoles should be captured at 480p or 480i then deinterlaced at 25/30/50/60fps.
Snes/genesis era should be at 480p from emulator at 50/60fps
PC games should be at least 480p, if available up to 720p or 4:3 equivalent, at 30/60fps.
-HD PVR/Blackmagic/capture cards
II)Recording PC including emulators
III)Encoding/Editing your videos
For recording consoles directly it's always best to use a HD capture device like the hauppauge hd pvr even if the console doesn't output in HD. As long as it outputs h264 files at high bit rates it should be good.
Dazzle and other SD recording devices while cheap, output poorer quality video files. With extra work you can make the files look alright but you'll always have a slight blur effect caused by it deinterlacing files by itself. The files produced will never look as good as what is produced from the console onto the tv.
HD PVR/Blackmagic/capture cards
For recording this is the best you're going to get. They will record up to 1080p using either component or HDMI cables while having some older connection options too. Recordings for this site should be at 720p due to this being the resolution of most games, along with needing a decent computer to playback 1080p content.
If you want to record PS3 games, go with the one with componant input. Ps3 encrypts its HDMI output which stops the recording device from being able to capture.
The hauppauge hd pvr is the one most people use from this site. It doesn't require a good PC to capture as the box does all the hard work by itself.
There are many blackmagic devices and you really should look at each ones tech specs. Some can do 1080p but then will limit you to 30fps, while other limited to 1080i. Some will also use your computers CPU to compress the file in real time so you will need a good PC to use.
Both should give you h264 recordings that can be edited with programs like videoredo4 or smart cutter without re encoding the file itself. These files can then be encoded with megui using avisynth or virtualdubs frameserver.
Dont expect to use these devies to be able to play your console games using your pc/laptop monitor as they have input lag of a second or so.
Dazzle recording - Not accepted for the site anymore
EDIT - some of thes settings are a little outdated. Atm i'm finding that using pinnacle studios 14 and mpeg 4 to give the best quality. I then have to use pinnacle studios to convert it with the techsmith codec and the new file i can the open with virtualdub to do any editing i want and resave with techsmith and final convert with h264 codec with megui. Older versions of pinnacle i switched to mpeg 1/2 since divx cut some of the screen off sometimes but sometimes became blocky.
I have the dazzle video creator platinum DVC170 (http://tinyurl.com/d346ek) It will only record standard definition, none of your HD action and i've never used it with anything older than a dreamcast console but it should record older consoles if they have the right cables.
With a dazzle DVC 90 or below you can use any capture program with it, however DVC100+ you're forced to use pinnacle's own software which isn't the best. Also might struggle running it on Vista but there are lots of patches you can download on the main site to getting it to work.
The dazzle accepts the standard yellow/white/red AV cables and S-video however you can't play the games via you're pc because of the input lag you will get. So you're going to need to plug the cables into the dazzle and the TV and there are a few ways of going about that.
1: Easiest but lowest quality is just to buy 3 splitters (http://tinyurl.com/cpp4us) + a AV cable (http://tinyurl.com/cphs73) or Component cable (http://tinyurl.com/anvz37). You place the splitters in the dazzle, and connect the ps2 av cables to it. You then place your av cable you bought in to the other side of the spliiter then connect other end to the tv.
Doing this will split the signal, making it less bright and you might get horizontal lines going across the screen. You can mess with the cables and splitters till its as clear as you're going to get. Having a good AV cable will reduce this by a lot. I use my original xbox component cables and the lines appear alot less than using some av cables i bought even if they're gold plated. Maybe also possible to improve with special splitters, I just use basic ones like in the link.
2: Maybe easier but not possible for all consoles. You need 2 splitters (http://tinyurl.com/cpp4us) and a universal cable which has the AV cables and S-video attached to one cable (http://tinyurl.com/c9cezr). With this you plug the S-video into the dazzle, whilte pluggin the yellow AV cable into the Tv. Then use the splitters like above for the audio.
With this the quality improves a lot from no1 and you shouldn't get any horizonal lines at all. However this method doesn't work with my Dreamcast cables, I looked into this and don't totally remember but i dont think its possible for EU dreamcast and maybe EU Wiis. No idea on other regions but there is a chance it will work.
3:This method should get the same quality as above but you need to have a TV with output ports or maybe if your console has a mini screen. You simply get AV cables, plug them in the output of your tv then into the output of the dazzle. My tv doesnt so i've never tried but I do have a ps2 mini lcd and this is what I basically do.
Ok now hopefully you have pinnacle studios running, and your dazzle is getting the video. In the settings select pal if your game is running at 50fps/50hz, or NTSC if you're playing a US/JP game or 60fps/60hz. For capture format I use DivX because older versions of virtualdub couldnt open mpeg, set it to custom then data rate to 8000(can be what you want but higher the better, and resolution to the max 640x480.
If you're recording widescreen you're forced to use mpeg1/2. Select mpeg 2 and pick custom and the highest settings again. Then its as simple as selecting start Capture. You can alter the brightness/colours to whatever you think looks best.
The quality of the dazzle is average but good enough if you encode it correctly. However you may also get a buzzing noise in the background. Can be irritating but you can clean it up after you've recorded with Audacity. Other problems you might have is rarely the recording will stop, or skip for a few seconds but i'd check back at the screen every once and a while to make sure its still going.
Another more expensive way but less messy. This just involved buying a DVD recorder and recording the screen when you're playing. Then take the disc and copy the files over to your pc for editing. No idea on the quality but i presume it be pretty good and not sure if it can handle HD content.
Recording PC including emulators
Recording your PC is pretty simple and you'll should get very good quality. However these methods would require a good CPU and the more HDD space you have spare the better.
Two main methods I like. Either using Fraps or Camtasia studio's recorder.
1. Fraps (http://www.fraps.com/) is the first choice. It will only record programs that use DirectX or OpenGL so you should be good with pc games but also any other application that use them, eg google earth. Its as simple as opening fraps and pressing record after settings the framerate and output folder.
The framerate you select should be the maximum your game is going to run at. If you set 30fps and the game is running at 60fps then you could get slowdown unless frameskip is set. If the game is running at 30fps but the menus are at 60fps you'd still want to set 60fps or menus will slowdown.
Files that fraps output will be pretty huge, could be around 1gb per minute to maybe a 1gb every 2 minutes.
If your pc is slow i'd recommend recording and setting the game at 30fps. Most longplays here will be 30fps and youtube won't show any higher either. Also lowering resolution and setting the output folder to a different HDD than the game is running off will help. External HDDs may not be fast enough either to record high resolutions and/or 60fps and will cause slowdown. Some people may find fraps not recording sound, they should check their sound options in control panal and make sure stereomix isnt muted. Not too sure how to solve that problem though.
You may also want to hide the framerate number that fraps shows on the game while recording otherwise it may appear on the recording.
2. If fraps can't record then the next bet is Camtasia. Camtasia's recorder is a screen recorder and will record anything on the screen you select in the little box. Its perfect making guides on your desktop however when its recording a lot of action, like games, its generally not going to be that smooth.
You will set the framerate, and sound options then select the area you are wanting to record, or you can make it lock to an application. Because of the way it works you're best to record games in windows mode.
My results have never been that smooth with games but to help you should either lower the framerate camtasia is capturing, lower the resolution/area of what you're recording and/or change the codec from techsmith codec to XviD. There was a tutorial video i found with information how to get smoother results but I lost it. There are a lot of guides online still though. I've not found much difference between camtasia 5 and 6, though I like the layout of 5 much better. Anything lower than that then the screen recorder won't be half as good.
The above two methods could be used here too though i'd avoid camtasia for this. Fraps is best for dreamcast/ps1/n64 emulators though it depends with video plugin you use, eg in epsxe should will let fraps work while others wont. Anything passed dreamcast really won't emulate well so i'd avoid, even dreamcast emulation is still shaky and results would depend on what game you're doing.
There is a much easier way to record emulators though than using fraps. You need to find emulators that have built in features to save your input commands and output a nice avi file. Each one may work a little different but they all generally save what you press, including when you load save states, then when you finish you can "play back" what you did and save it as an AVI if you want, all with missing out your mistakes that you had to redo with loading states. So you can pretty much look bad ass in your video even though in real life you loaded 1000 save states.
It will let you pick the codec to save the video with and i'd recommend you use techsmith capture codec (http://tinyurl.com/csj94k) for this and pretty much anything you want to do. It a lossless codec so will keep maximum quality but you need to install the demo of camtasia for it to work. You should also set the codec to "faster compression" before using it in the configure menu.
Here is a list of emulators that do the input thing. Try to test them out first because bad input emulators will go out of sync when playing back.
Genesis - http://tinyurl.com/agu55q
GBA - http://tinyurl.com/bfxdf6
SNES - http://tinyurl.com/cmjslm (Not tested new version)
PS1 - http://tinyurl.com/croqmd (Never used)
Arcade/Neo Geo - http://fba.emuunlim.com/
DOS - http://tinyurl.com/aapked (never used)
Amiga - http://www.winuae.net/ (no input recorder but its has its own output options)
Be warned though that if the game you're recording contains any random element to it then when the game is playing back that random element could affect it and through the game out of sync.
Other emulators that don't have the input recording feature and would need fraps for are.
PS1 - pSX 1.13 (http://tinyurl.com/7ssdko) or ePSXe 1.7.0 (http://tinyurl.com/5g54p8)
N64 - Project 64 (http://tinyurl.com/848dy)
DC - NullDC (http://tinyurl.com/b9grq3)
NDS - No$gba (http://tinyurl.com/26gttq) Needs camtasia to record or any other screen recorder.
You will needs bios/flash and roms for emulators to work. Not going to link.
I didnt know where to put this prob better in the console section but it fits in with PC recording too. Two ways again to record, either have custom firmware and install remotejoy/remotejoylite or buy the psp AV cables and try to use one of the methods for recording consoles.
Im not going to explain how to install custome firmware, its too complicated and I dont want to be the cause of you ruining your psp if i miss something out.
Remotejoy and remotejoylite will let you play psp games on your PC screen or TV. Then you either use camtasia if using remotejoy to record or Fraps with remotejoylite. I'd go with the fraps and lite version but remotejoy cannot run with everygame. It will freeze your psp on a lot specially during saves. Again using remotejoylite isnt something im going to explain here so i'll link a guide to it.
Never used guide so i dont know how good it is. If you hate use google to find another and start again. The latest version of remotejoylite is 0.19 from what i remember, while normal remotejoy was 0.15 maybe. You will need to set the psp CPU to 333MHz or the games could cause slowdown. You should be able to change it by holding select in the psp menu and cpu options will appear depending which firmware you have.
You'll also need a 3.5mm Jack cable to record the psps audio if using remotejoy. Fit in the psp headphone output and then hook it up to your pcs line in or maybe microphone. Then use a program like Audacity to record the audio while playing. This is not needed if using remotejoylite with fraps.
Encoding/Editing your videos
This section will be pretty brief and basic.
Now you have your video files you might want to edit mistakes out or resize while also keeping quality levels up. So its a good idea not to encode it over and over otherwise quality will drop and good idea to use a good codec.
A program i'd recommend is Virtualdub (http://www.virtualdub.org/) It pretty much all you're going to need when you're used to it. Also can help with sound syncing by selecting some of the framerate options and encoding batch files incase your video is split into many parts.
When encoding i'd use the Techsmith capture codec (http://tinyurl.com/csj94k), it will hold quality a lot better than XviD, it will take up more space however. If you have to XviD is ok at best settings but don't try to keep reencoding like that. If you're using a dazzle then the quality already isnt perfect so more XviD encoding won't help it. You need the demo of camtasia to use techsmith codec though
I normally edit and join everything then output in one big file using techsmith ready for the final encode for youtube and the site.
If you want to do another type of video with special effects, speeding up and all that jazz Virtualdub won't cut it. Try something like Sony Vegas Pro. I wouldnt recommend them types of programs for game videos though for quality reasons and speed. Always stick with virtualdub!
For this I use megui and h264 codec for video and aac for audio. Maybe mp3 for youtube audio. h264 is pretty awesome at getting you small sizes with good quality though works a lot better when the game has little movement during game or simple colours.
I use the guide on recordamigagames.org.
You may want to change the quality settings in megui since that guide was for 50fps 2d amiga games. Try to aim for at the most 1gb an hour for 720p content. I normally change the quality settings from 23-27.
For joining video and audio files, and splitting them up i'd use mkvmerge (http://tinyurl.com/a6plj). This can cause desync with youtube now, so its best to use the joining in megui itself under tools.
For PSX, PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, N64, and Dreamcast:
I have a Dazzle DVC 150. It has RCA cable inputs and outputs, and a USB output.
I plug any of my consoles into the RCA inputs, run RCA cables from the outputs to the TV, and the USB from my dazzle to my PC.
Pinnacle Studios is my capture software. It captures in Avi format, but will hang up
when I try to edit avi files. I use "E.M. Total Video Converter" to convert the AVI files
to MPG files. Then Pinnacle will edit them with no problems.
I use "Any DVD Converter Professional" to compress and convert to MP4, using
X264 codec. I Then use Boilsoft Video Joiner to join the video parts together to make
one movie file. It is the fastest program that I have found and doesn't loose any picture quality.
For SNES, Genesis, GBA and any other Emulators, and PC games (some with Dosbox):
My Computer is a 2.40 GHz 2 Quad cpu with 3 gb ram running Vista Home Premium SP1. I use Camtasia for all my PC games and emulator games and have no problems
with video nor audio. ( Though the audio gave me a fit until I figured out how to capture it...if anyone needs help on this, I would be happy to help) I have found that when recording a game from CD or DVD, it is better to have a CD/DVD Virtual Drive, so that there is no lag time or skipping. I use "VirtualDrive Pro".
I record these in 640x480.
I hope that others will get into recording video games so that we can have a big variety of games. Personally, I only record games that interest me, and I am sure that other
people do the same. If I see a request of a game that I would like myself, then I am
more apt to record it.
If you want to record the N64 AVI file then use mupen64. So heres the website and go to http://mupen64-rr.googlecode.com/files/Mupen64%20v8%20installer.zip Please Right click on the mupen.exe - properties - compatibility - check "Disable Desktop Composition" that if you want it to get this thing working.
Plus the DS emulator I use and it's called DeSmuME why? because it record the AVI file but please get the 9.5 version of this emulator http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/desmume/desmume/0.9.5/desmume-0.9.5-win32.zip?use_mirror=hivelocity
Recording movie file (.mmv):
Make a movie file of whatever Master System game you have in mind. (I did a test with Sonic The Hedgehog). Load the ROM and go to Movie -> Start Recording. Play, abuse savestates, and what-not. After you are done recording, be sure to stop the recording (Movie -> Stop Recording/Playback).
Making the AVI file:
Open the degavi that you downloaded. Choose the same ROM you used to make the movie file, the movie file (.mmv), and choose a directory you want to output the video into. Choose a codec (I'm all for ffdshow codec. Others say Techsmith, but I have a beef with it), leave the audio where its at, click Encode, and wait. :3
Note that you won't be able to open it in Windows Media Player (might open in other media player...thingies...iunno), but don't worry. It loads fine in VirtualDub.
I use FCEUX for anything NES. Rather than 2.1.2, it is 2.1.4a.
I used it for the Crystalis (making AVI without using the movie function) and Kick Master (made a movie file and then played movie and made AVI file) longplays (and on my personal channel, The Legend of Zelda and I think G.I. Joe.). I pretty much say it IS the best emulator for NES recording.
I normally made Let's plays for youtube and I'm really newbie to this complex encoding so I have some questions:
After recording the video files with Fraps, the next step would be exactly what?
Can I put two video files togheter on Virtual Dub or the program just re-encode a single video file? Do you guys only merge all the 3 min parts at the end, with the mkv merger, keep 30 minutes files or what?
What's the average size for the videos after they're re-encoded with virtual dub? And on the final merge? This for a recording like Half-life 2 on a 1680x1050 resolution, using half size of the original size. I reencoded with MPEG2 on videopad with the highest KB/S rate wich was 9000 and got 500 Mega for 10 minutes. I just wanted to know to see how much disk space I will have to save for my longplay records.
And a little offtopic, if I wanted to make 15min flash versions right from Fraps, is there any good free program to do so?
Just replace "file01.avi" with the directory to your video file. If you have multiple ones, you have to do it for all the other parts as well. It's not that bad.
If you need to "edit" out, you can use VirtualDub. That is what I use. I then save it using ffdshow codec. There is also an AVS script that can "cut" parts out a la VirtualDub. You have to figure out the frames to "cut" though. =/ VirtualDub helps, even if MeGUI has a video preview (VirtualDub is faster for searching.) The AVS Cutter in MeGUI is located under Tools.
What's the average size for the videos after they're re-encoded with virtual dub? And on the final merge?
Depends on the codec for VirtualDub. As for the merge, it will usually be MUCH less. Size is determined by the settings when using x264 thing. To give you an idea: I did a Heavenly Guardian Longplay. The original recording was 32GB for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Re-encode with VirtualDub (to "edit" out mistakes) and came out to 50GB. After doing all the merging and stuff, it came out to 600-somethingMB (how I got a 1GB file when I uploaded it on my channel, I do not know).
I'm familiar with using fraps and then reediting with videopad and uploading to youtube.
That whole scripting thing is very new to me, but nothing some reading (lot of reading actually), questions and practice won't do.
Another thing that will be a step learning curve is the Virtual Dub, but the video merging was the biggest question of them all, the rest is more a logical thing.
About the reencode videoparts and sizes, I'll see what I can manage over here.
Thanks for the info, coming soon Dead Space (maybe, I may not have the guts to do it...) and Lost Horizon. Don't know in wich order.
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