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  1. #1

    Rah's resource guide to creating gameplay videos and playing them back.

    This is actually a rather old guide I've posted elsewhere when GW was still in beta. Since there is a sticky asking about this, I figured I'd post it (and its a bit long.... so not a good idea to put into that thread). Its slightly updated (mainly checking links), but apart from that its in its origional form. Anyhow, enjoy.

    Rah's resource to creating gameplay videos and playing them back.

    Contents
    • Introduction
    • Playback
    • Codecs
    • Media Players
    • Video Editing Software
    • Other Encoders/Video Software
    • Screen Recording
    • Creating Your Video
    • Tips


    Introduction
    I consider myself an somewhat average video editor. Nothing too spectacular, but I have enough knowledge of video editing and imagination to create gameplay videos that are not just a simple game scene with music attached. This is a relatively simple resource guide I've decided to write to help other people in the creation of gameplay videos. It will require some effort to produce high quality videos (by high quality I both mean high picture/sound quality as well as a quality video that people will not only enjoy, but will want to come back and watch them again).

    This guide is meant for reference only. It does not explain how to use each software. I recomend looking at the official documentation for each program you are using if you wish to know exactly how to use them. The web is a huge resource, and you can find many guides written by people for all sorts of software. Google is a great search engine and you will find alot tutorials out there for all of the tools used in this reference guide. Basically, I am referencing usefull tools that can be used effectively to create videos, and some ideas on how to use some of the features for the best effect. I will detail, list or post a link to relevant features.

    The software that I mention in this guide are either free, shareware or have a demo version. I do not approve of the use of warez, so don't ask.

    This guide is also for windows users exclusively. Video editing can easily be done on a mac or linux, however some of the software I mention can only be used on a windows operating system.

    Playback
    A codec (COmpression/DECompression) is a special way of encoding data to make them as small as possible with as little quality loss as possible.

    Rule #1. If you ignore the rest of the guide then at least make sure you follow this advice: Do not instal codec packs. They are evil. They often cause codec conflictions which can crash windows and cause instability with some of your programs, and many also instal spyware on your computer. The one exception to this rule that I have ever found is the Matroska pack because it is stable and is very safe/clean to use.

    Here is a selection of codecs that I use and the order in which I instal them in. The end result is that you will be able to watch most of the video files on the internet without any problems.
    • Matroska Codec Pack Full - Download (select a full instal)
    • OggDS - Download
    • 3ivx - Download
    • RealAlt - matroska pack prompts for this as optional download (includes Media Player Classic)
      or RealOne player - http://www.real.com
    • Xvid - Download
      or Divx - Download (bundled version includes some spyware/adware I believe)
    • Windows Media 9 codecs - Download
    All of these codecs should not be more than approximately 15mb combined.

    Here are some options for media players:


    You will notice that I don't recomend using RealOne player and the normal Windows Media Player. From experience I've found both to have various issues with playback and quality. Real One player has quality loss issues, whilst the normal WMP tends to be more problematic with conflicting codecs.

    For more information on these codecs and media playback, I recommend this page http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=175 as it has helped me alot over the years.

    With the above codecs installed you should be able to watch just about any media file on the internet and can encode in a couple of high quality formats - namely Xvid/Divx (or both) and 3ivx.

    Video Editing Software
    There is a multitude of video editing software out there. Idealy you want one that supports multiple timeline editing. A timeline is a basically a layout of your video, where you can add scenes, music and special effects at specific times. Multiple timelines allows you much more control for how you edit the video, as well as keep specific things seperate for when you are working with an idea or working on a special effect.

    Two such software which both do a fine job are:
    Other Encoders/Video Software
    Only one stands out in this section and that is VirtualDub. This tool is excellent for encoding video files into a different format, or at a higher quality setting. You can also gain important codec information about the video file using this tool.
    doom9.org - http://www.doom9.org/, Whilst primarily a web site about backing up dvds, it also has alot of information about encoding including various guides.

    I don't specifically recomend windows movie maker. This isn't to say that it isn't effective or good, however I find its features and its video editing control somewhat lacking.

    In any case if you want to use Windows Movie Maker, you can get the latest version here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/d...viemaker2.mspx

    Remember to check the system requirements for whichever video editing software you use.

    Screen Recording
    Here is the fun stuff. Being able to grab and record your gameplay screen. These only work with games, and not the regular computer screen. That is not covered by this.

    Idealy you'd either send your video output to another computer to record, or to a home dvd player (or vcr) and store it there, as that has the least strain on computer resources (plus you can get extremely good quality source videos). However since I have neither, this guide is based on software counterparts.

    It is recomended that you have at least 512mb ram and a processor that is higher that 1ghz. Not only are you running the game, but you are also recording the screen, which does take up alot of processing power. I suggest to try both and see which one works the best on your system. I have 1gig DDR ram and a 2.6 P4. Recording at highest resolution with full graphics is ok, although it will occasionally stutter.
    FRAPS is a nifty utility that can record the game screen and sound. It saved the captured video data in uncompressed format, which is very high quality but very very large. I recommend having at least 3-4gb free hard drive space (minimum) if you plan on using this. The shareware version is a bit limited to what you can record and for how long. Default codec is Fraps Uncompressed. Audio is recorded uncompressed.

    GameCam is extremely usefull, for the simply fact that when you record, it saves it in a compressed format which results in very small video files but at a reduced quality. However it makes it easier to record alot of scenes because of the smaller file size. This is my current favorite screen recorder software because of its options and small file size. The shareware version disables some features (more importantly the compression codec) but has no length for your video duration. Default codec is Microsoft MPEG4v2. Audio is recorded uncompressed.

    Creating Your Video
    Even MORE fun stuff. This is a step by step approach to creating your videos and tweaking them to look better.

    However, be AWARE that this can take quite alot of time.

    • Set up your recording software. Make sure you know what the hotkeys are to start/stop recording, and that you have enough room for the saved video footage.
    • Play the game and record. I recomend you do a small 10-15 second recording for the first time so that you can check your games performance whilst recording, and check how large the video file is for the length of time recorded. Once you know how much harddrive space is needed, continue recording what you want.
    • If you just want to distribute your recordings as they are now you have 2 options. If you used GameCam you are perfectly fine to distribute it right from the start because of the file size. However if you used FRAPS or want to change the codec used for your recording that was made by GameCam, you use VirtualDub to encode the recording into a much smaller and manageable file.



    An excellent guide for encoding with VirtualDub can be found here - http://www.divx.com/support/guides/guide.php?gid=8. Also note that you can encode into any codec that is listed in VirtualDub's codec list, however the settings and quality for each codec will vary, in some cases by a lot. You can also use VirtualDub to join your video recording with a seperate audio track, thus adding your choice of music/audio to your video.

    Recomended codecs in order of personal preference:
    • Xvid
    • DivX
    • 3ivx


    I would recomend staying aware from using the Real codec, as I find its quality loss too great. I also recomend not using the windows media video codec (*.wmv's). It is very usefull if you want very small file sizes, but if you want the best quality:filesize ratio use one of the above listed codecs.

    Load up your video editing software (This covers Adobe Premier or Unlead. If you are using another editing software check its documentation). Make a new project (remember to save often). The first thing that you should do is start importing the video clips you wish to use. Each time you add a video clip, it gets added to the project library. These clips can be further adjusted so that you can choose a specific scene from them to use. These clips are your backbone to your gameplay video.

    Locate the timeline. Its ussually in the middle of the screen and is easy to see. (Check official documentation for more info and/or as needed). To add a clip you simply click and drag the video clip from the project library to the timeline. You can further adjust the possition of the clip by dragging (see documentation), and you can edit the parts you want even if they are on the timeline. Remember to save often.

    Timelines can also support dragging audio tracks onto the timeline. They can be manipulated just like the video footage. You can also split the audio from the video footage and treat it as a seperate entity (even delete it) on the timeline.

    There are many special effects that can be used, such as adding text or adding transition special effects between two scenes. Check the documentation and definately save often if you are using special effects.

    With each video editing software, there is a project setting list where you can set various properties of your video. Video Codec, output file, video fps etc. Sometimes this pops up when you first start the project, other times you need to open it up manualy and configure it. Again check the program's documentation (very important to check the documentation whenever it doubt). Did you save your project before hand?

    Start the encoding process. Encoding can and will take a while - especially if you want high video quality and a small file size. Idealy, for ease of distribution purposes you will want to have a 3-4 minute video be approximately 30-40mb in size. I personally aim for an encode of 13-15mb per minute of video footage (not including audio).

    Tips
    Before you start creating a gameplay video, work out what exactly you want to do - more so if you plan on editing a variety of scenes together. It is hard work, and can typically take around 8 hours to produce a quality 5 minute video clip.

    Again with music you need to know what you want. Music seldom matches the video footage unless you actively edit the footage that way. Keep in mind that music not linked to the video footage can end up being just as good as one that is matched to the video footage. However in general you must put in the effort to get a matched audio/video.

    Don't give up. Hard work pays off with this. Put in the effort and it will show in your gameplay video.

    Keep special effects to a minimum. There is an old saying "too many cooks spoil the broth". The same is true for the various special effects that video editing software can include. Special effects are there to enhance your video so keep that in mind. Its a good idea to avoid using special effects unless they enhance your video in a desired manner. Don't just use them because they are there.

    Screen resolution plays very little importance on file size when encoding your video to its final form for distribution. Your bitrate is the single most important aspect of encoding video. However this differs based on your source footage and codec that you are using. The same is somewhat true for capturing footage as well, although this is only true if your video capture software encodes the footage (ie: gamecam). Fraps actually encodes your footage slightly, but not enough so that there is minimal difference between screen resolutions.

    Keep your source video unaltered. I have 2 directories, my source directory and my work directory. My work directory is where I save all of my video files after I've changed or tried something. This can be an issue if you lack the harddrive space.

    Serving your movies to the community

    Movies can be stored here on gwonline.net for free in the Movies section of the site. You only need a forum account. Other members can leave comments on your movie page also.
    Last edited by SonOfRah; 22-12-2005 at 06:07.

    [color=yellow]~Rah[/color]
    [color=white]---------------------------[/color]
    [color=red]-=\[color=orange]Death Is Only The Beginning[/color]/=-[/color]

  2. #2
    A nice guide, but I disagree with the wmv codec not being on the list, it is far better than the divx codec nowadays. And it doesn't add the divx logo to your movie like the divx codec does.

  3. #3
    Very tired... will read first thing in the morning... but, do you include how to black out your skillbar and such easily in the process of making a gameplay video? If not, Id like to know how.

    If so, yipee!

  4. #4
    I can easily tell you how to do that. First load the movie in an editing program such as Adobe Premiere. Then export one of the frames as a bitmap file. Make sure the image size remains the same as the image size of the clip. Then load up the image in an art package such as Adobe Photoshop and cover the skillbar with a filled rectangle of anycolour, except blue. Next select all the rectangles you made to cover up skill icons, and press right mouse button and choose reverse selection. This will select anything but what you just coloured in. Now make the rest of the image a perfect blue colour. Save the file, and load it in your video editing program. Insert the image in a second video track so that it overlaps your entire gameplay footage. Apply a bluescreen effect to the image. (Often found amon the video keying effects)

    Now all you need to do is export the video and all your skill icons will be covered.

  5. #5
    not to be picky, but its called masking. :xmas16:

  6. #6
    Depends on the program you use. In the latest version of Adobe Premiere they call it keying. For some reason they find it important to come up with new terms for it with every new program.

  7. #7
    No skillbar etc.... easy. Ctrl + Shift + H (turns your interface on/off).

    What codec you use is typically based on the user. I for one dislike wmv's (and especially windows movie maker) but thats me. I find Xvid superior to DivX, and at least its open source so you don't have to pay for it. Another problem with wmv's is that it's licensed and as such you become somewhat limited in what tools you can use.

    For example,
    I do all of my video editing, effects etc with Adobe Pro and I export the final video product at maximum quality (without sound). I then use VirtualDub to add the music, and then use it to encode the source to my final product - using several of its filters to clean the picture up. VirtualDub however does not work with wmv's at all.

    [color=yellow]~Rah[/color]
    [color=white]---------------------------[/color]
    [color=red]-=\[color=orange]Death Is Only The Beginning[/color]/=-[/color]

  8. #8
    This was really nice done, the guide is awesome for starters.

    Keep going and :xmas26:

  9. #9
    Indeed, wmv is only useful as a final compression. It is not at all handy during editing, but then again you should be compressing after the editing anyway. But filesize vs quality is pretty good with wmv, if you know which quality setting to use. Check out some of the video I made in the movie section, very small with minimal loss of quality.

  10. #10
    GWOnline.Net Member
    Posts

    25
    Very useful article.

    Quote Originally Posted by SonOfRah
    For example,
    I do all of my video editing, effects etc with Adobe Pro and I export the final video product at maximum quality (without sound). I then use VirtualDub to add the music, and then use it to encode the source to my final product - using several of its filters to clean the picture up. VirtualDub however does not work with wmv's at all.
    FWIW - I recall reading somewhere that direct exporting to Xvid using PPro is not advisable. Something about XVid being a non-linear codec or somesuch. (I could most certainly be wrong, someone care to correct me pls?)

    SonOfRah could you explain more about how you 'export at max quality'?
    For PPro, what/how do you export at max quality? Is it possible to detail the steps?

    For PPro, what rendering codec do you use? (This is selected at the start of a new project). I recall reading somewhere that certain codecs were better for the rendering previews.

    Again for PPro, when creating a new project, do you use Custom Settings>Editing Mode (Video for Windows) ?? Or do you use a Video Preset? I used the Custom Settings but always wondered what others used. Just curious.

    For VDub, which filters would you recommend to use?

    Sorry for all the technical questions.


    PS: I sent a PM. I think you can ignore it as some of the questions are answered here. Apologies for the confusion.

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