Thursday, March 20, 2014

Capturing Game Footage

Capturing "Footage"
I've been traveling a lot these past two weeks so I missed a post... However, I'm hoping to make up for this by offering a few extra video posts from time to time because I've started recording myself and myself playing video games! As boring as this sounds the process is actually made amusing thanks to the fact that I'm comically awful at games and the dialogue between myself and my girlfriend, StatzMeister. My interest in recording playthroughs started with the birth of Nanogamers, watching my friend Helios mow through the minions of darkness. It seemed like fun and capturing game footage didn't seem like it could possibly be difficult for me, because I've done my fair share of recording, short-films, and video-editing.

We started off by trying to capture footage of the game Thief on my Playstation 4. The PS4 has a built-in video-capture function, so I thought it would be pretty straight forward. Something like:
Step 1. Plug in a microphone.
Step 2. Push the capture button twice.
Step 3. Stop when you feel done and edit the video footage in the PS4's native video-editor.

However, the process described above does not function as advertised. 
First, it was a bit of a nightmare getting a quality PS4 headset that didn't turn our dialogue into a laughably jarbled recording. It took us some time to find a microphone that would capture both of our voices. However, despite this setback it turns out that the PS4's native capture button only captures footage in 10 or 15 minute increments. This would be acceptable except that there is no indication as to when it stops recording your footage(!), meaning that you just sort of have to set a 15 minute timer and remember to double-tap the capture button every time the timer goes off. The final straw in our PS4 came capturing adventure was when we discovered that you can only record 5 videos for a given game before the capture function stops working for that game (without any indication!). We've been unable to find a fix for this either, but some articles online have suggested that Sony intends to fix these issues in the future.

The upcoming game capture we're working on
Helios, an old and dear friend who is heading the Nanogamers movement, saw our frustration and kindly gave us a capturing device called the "Game Capture Pro HD." It comes with some very basic editing software and was extremely easy to set up. For a second night in a row StatzMeister and I sat down to play Thief 4 only to be thrwarted by the fact that the HDMI output of the PS4 is HDMI-P, meaning that it's protected, specifically preventing us from streaming/capturing footage on devices like the one i'd just purchased. A few Youtube videos offered fixes using a splitter, but ultimately we concluded that this was inaccurate. Again, Sony is expected to make a patch that fixes this in the future, but the future is vague and far away... 
Fortunately the release of Dark Souls 2 on the X-Box 360 (which took a "mere" 4 hours to download) inspired us to think outside the box (rather, inside the x-box). Realizing that the Xbox 360 (and Xbox One) naturally supports game capturing we just needed to figure out a way to capture the audio of our talking. I rigged up a recording system entirely apart from the Game Capture Pro rig, and in a few short minutes we were off to a good start! The Game Capture Pro HD was pretty much as easy to use as advertised. Install, click, and go.

After recording enough content for two episodes in one sitting, the only thing left to do was sync the talk-audio with the video in the built-in editing software. I set the volume levels between the in game volume and the audio of us talking so one wouldn't overpower the other too much and it was pretty much ready to upload to youtube. This was a pretty interesting trail and error process and I'm happy to share it.

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