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How to Capture Video Game Footage on Your Computer

A Walkthrough of an Essential Process for Any Video Game Video CreatorsAnthony M., Yahoo Contributor Network

Google Video FilesAs creator of many Video Game Videos (including Music Videos, Skill Videos, and Machinema), I often get emails and messages from people asking for tips on how to make them. These inquiries range anywhere from asking what programs I use to asking for tips on the pacing and editing of the video. In response to those requests I have decided to make a little feature here on Associated Content about the resources, techniques, and tips I have and use in regards to creating Video Game Music Videos. Hopefully readers will find it helpful and inspiring, driving them to create these pieces of art themselves.

Before anybody, amateur or professional, can start making Music Videos, footage needs to be captured. After all, what is a video without any, well, video? Now, the way to capture this footage will depend on what kind of game you want to film. If it is a PC game, this process can be very cheap and very easy. If you are using either a Mac or a Microsoft Windows based computer, two programs can be easily used to capture footage from almost any computer game you play. The programs I use the most are FRAPS and GameCam. Both can be found with a simple Google search and are very easy to use and install. Be aware that while GameCam is free, FRAPS charges a small fee to unlock all of its features. With these programs, you just load up any game to play and press a pre-designated key to begin capturing footage of whatever is going down on your screen. Also be aware that capturing raw video is very space consuming, so you are going to want to have a hard drive with a lot of free space in order to save the videos. While these simple programs can be used to capture video of PC games, getting killer footage from PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii games can be a little trickier and more expensive.

While much more can be done with footage captured from console games, getting the video in a workable state is something that can be very time consuming and expensive. Unlike Windows or Mac based games, console games are played on a standard TV and not a computer module. Because of this, capturing your favorite video game moments can be complicated. You will need a way to send a video signal from your PlayStation 2/3, Xbox 360, or Wii straight to your computer. This can be achieved using multiple devices, each with its Pros and Cons.

The cheapest way to capture footage from a console is to use a USB Capture Card. These inexpensive products allow you to send a video signal to the device, which will send the signal to your computer. The good thing about these devices are that they are small and inexpensive. The bad thing is that it will be impossible to actually play the game you want to capture footage from using the device, and the video will be in relatively low quality.. Because of the need to encode the video as it captures, there will be a significant video delay in terms of response time. This simply means that an action you make in the game will not be shown to you until about 2 seconds afterwards, making games almost impossible to play. Only use external devices on games in which you can save replays. This way, you can play on your normal TV, save the replay, then hook the console up to your USB Capture Card and record the replays later on. If you want to be able to capture and play at the same time you will need either a signal splitter to split the video between your USB Capture Card and TV at the same time, or an Internal Capture Card.

Internal Capture Cards are perhaps the best way to capture footage from console games for those looking for quality of picture. The Pros of these cards are that they provide high quality video and allow you to play console games on your PC with little to no video lag. The Cons of such devices are that they are much more expensive and require basic knowledge of a computer installation to set them up. Unlike the External Cards which attach to any USB port on your PC, Internal Cards require you to open your computer up and place them on your Mother Board. While this is an easy task to many, it can be daunting and unnerving to those with little PC building experience. However, it is well worth it as these cards will provide crisp sound and video, plus the ability to play the game as you capture it, without having to save replays or buy an expensive video signal splitter.

Whichever route you decide to go down, USB Device or Internal Device, the best company to buy from is Hauppauge. They are the most trusted brand of Video Capture Hardware and provide many USB and Internal Capture Devices and various price points, ensuring you can afford one of them. Almost any one you choose will be perfect to capture your sweet Halo or Madden footage.

OK, you have chosen a device to capture your console game footage, what program should you use to actually put the footage onto your computer? There are tons of options out there that I have tried, but I can only recommend one such program. VirtualDub is a free program that can be easily found with a quick Google search. It is very versatile and customizable. This is key because you will often want to dictate the speed, brightness, type, and length of your capture. This is the program I personally use to capture video from all of my PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games. As with all capture programs, the video files will be huge when finally captured. So always have enough space on your Hard Drive.

Once you have all of the necessary equipment and programs, it is time to capture the footage. Simply load up your favorite PC game or hook up your console to your chosen capture device, ready your chosen capture program, and play away! Soon you will have raw footage, primed and ready to use in your debut music video!

Published by Anthony M.

A young man born and raised in the heart of New York City, I write about what I know.  View profile

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