Not Quite Stanley Kubrick   5 comments

This year Windsoar decided that she would once again play muse to those who were interested in receiving a topic from her.  I did not participate last year, but when I saw she was once again taking on the project, I was excited to request a musing of my very own!

Here was my musing:

You’ve recently been doing a lot of boss videos. Can you walk me through the recording/editing process?

Since I have been doing a lot of videos, I thought “why not!  I can talk about this”.  And now here we are :)  To get started, I should let you know that I feel I’ve graduated from Ed Wood levels, but I’m also not producing anything of Francis Ford Coppola quality either.  However, I have enough of a hang for what I’m doing, that I think I can offer some tips for people just getting started.

What You Will Need

There will obviously be some basic components that you will require for your both your system and on the software front if you’d like to get started in the business of recording your raids in WoW.  WoW will already put a strain on the resources of many PCs, so if you are truly interested in doing some heavy recording you will likely want to make a few investments.  For what it’s worth, I haven’t regretted a single penny that I’ve spent on my FRAPS project.

Here are my recommendations for what you may want to get started!

  • FRAPS – as far as I know this is currently the best video capture software for things like WoW.  I might be wrong on this front, so if someone uses something else, please don’t hesitate to comment on that below!  FRAPS is relatively inexpensive and very easy to set up and use.  If you intend to do any serious recording at all, spring for the full version.  Otherwise you will be limited to very short segments of recording with the free version.
  • A Video Editing Software – I have favored Sony Vegas.  I use the Movie Studio suite, which runs between $60 and $120 depending on where you purchase it.  Some of the more serious folks use Vegas Pro, however it’s quite expensive ($500-$700) and a very big investment.  I found that the version of Vegas in the Movie Studio suite can sufficiently do everything that I require.  (As a side note, I tried using the video editing software I already had – Adobe Premiere – and it does not render the large WoW avi files well).
  • Audio Recording Software (if you intend to do any voice work) – I have only used Audacity, which is completely free.  I am sure there is other voice capture software out there, but I have not used any of it. 
  • A very large, very fast Secondary Hard Drive.  Video capture is a huge strain on your system and takes up a lot of storage space.  When I first got started, I purchase a 1 TB internal hard drive with a very fast write speed.  I have all of my videos write to this hard drive so that the hard drive that I am playing WoW on isn’t trying to facilitate both running WoW and writing the video.  I found this to be extremely key to ensuring that I have smooth play while recording, and that the video capture is not interfering with my performance.  If you intend to start doing a lot of video capture, I would recommend that you make this investment.  Hard Drives are relatively inexpensive these days, and I believe I spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 for the drive I have dedicated to FRAPS work.
  • RAM – like everything else with computers, the more memory you have the better you will run!  I don’t know the “minimum” amount that you’d want to run with, but when I decided I was really going to get into video recording I went ahead and doubled what was currently in my system.  Right now I run at 12 gigs of RAM.  It’s likely more than is needed for this, but I didn’t want to risk not having enough and having the video capture negatively affect my game play.  RAM is pretty inexpensive these days.  I want to say that I again spent somewhere around $100 (maybe less?) for the extra 6 gigs of RAM I added to my machine.

Obtaining Video

Once you decide that you are ready to go make sure that you’ve got FRAPS set up to record where and how you’d like (I believe that I limit mine to 30 fps, but leave pretty much everything else at the default settings).  I, personally, turn off the option to record the sound with it, but that’ is simply my personal preference.  FRAPS is very simple to set up and use.  Honestly, the capturing part is the easiest of all the steps!  It can be summed up in two steps:

  • Activate FRAPS to capture by hitting your “record button”.
  • Play Game

That’s it!  It really is that simple!

Now, one thing to note is that the video files FRAPS is capturing are huge.  If you wipe, or didn’t get footage that you like, I recommend going in and removing the video that you aren’t going to keep right away.  If you are trying to record a first kill, there will be a lot of junk that you don’t want to keep from the many wipes that you had.  If you don’t intend to review the footage after the raid for analysis purposes later, delete it straight away as it’s just going to eat up space on your Hard Drive. 

Lastly, make sure that when you are done recording you stop recording!  Otherwise you are going to end up with a ton of random video that you don’t want!

As a side note, FRAPS will break up the recordings into (I think) 3 minutes chunks of video due to the size of the avi files that it’s recording.  Don’t panic when you open up the file that you are recording to and see a number of FRAPS segments, that’s normal!  You just mush them all back together in the video editing process, and they will seamlessly play as one stream.

Editing Your FRAPS Captures and Adding Audio

This is where your video editing software comes into play!  You can do a lot of fun things with the videos, and I’m still learning new tricks every time I make a new video.  Sony Vegas is very simple to use, as long as you stick to the basics.  The fancier you want to be, the more complicated it can get.   In sticking to the basics, you can literally just drag and drop your video into the edit box and then go from there.  You can play around with title frames and fading by right clicking in the edit box and creating them.

I think the biggest piece of advice that I can give as far as learning to work with Vegas is to just play around with it!  You can do a lot of really cool and fun things if you have the patience to go through some trial and error.  Just save often and don’t be afraid to screw something up and have to revert to an earlier version!  (I am sure I don’t need to give instructions on screwing something up, right?! ;)  )

Once you are satisfied with the video, add in whatever Audio that you like.  If you want to add in music, my one warning is to make sure that you do not use anything owned or licensed by Warner Music Group, as it will cause your video to be blocked if you intend to upload it on YouTube.  It is worth your time to do a few minutes of research to find out if the songs you’ve picked are Warner affiliated.  I can tell you from experience that there is nothing more disheartening than spending a lot of time picking cool music, making it work, and then spending an hour rendering your video, another hour uploading it and THEN find out it’s been blocked because of WMG.

If you want to create a narration crack open Audacity.  Audacity itself has a very in depth tutorial to get you started, as well as some tips and frequently asked questions.  That being said, I pretty much got impatient going through all the material, said “eh, that’s got to be set up well enough” and mashed the big “record” button.  I really haven’t gotten into editing much in Audacity, and I think it has a lot of features that I don’t know about or use.  So, if you really want to do editing with Audacity I would recommend using their help sections!

The actual recording bit itself is up to you.  The first time I recorded a narration, I was incredibly nervous and self conscious.  I didn’t want Brade around, and in fact, made him leave the room.  I took something like…22 takes before I was happy with the end result.  However, the more that I’ve done it, the more comfortable and confident I’ve become with it.  Now it takes me two or three takes to get to a result I’m happy with, and Brade is no longer banished from the room when I record.  I was even bold enough once to work in an edit when I was happy with everything but the last two minutes of a long narration!

Ultimately, the biggest piece of advice I can give to you with regards to recording yourself is to try to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  If you need to, write out a script to read so that you aren’t “winging it”.  The more you do it, the easier it truly becomes.  I promise! 

Of course, a little bit of thick skin is required as well if you are going to put yourself out there.  I’ve had a couple of negative comments about my chipmunk voice on my you tube channel, one even going as far as to make a derogatory reference comparing it to Sara Palin.  I promptly delete them and don’t let them fester.  I can’t change my voice, and I am sort of of the opinion that if you don’t like it you aren’t being forced to listen.  I’ve also gotten a ton of such positive commentary (here on the blog, in private emails and in comments on YouTube)  that it’s very easy to just brush the rest off.  However, if your have insecurities about that sort of thing, just know that you are putting yourself out there, and sometimes people are assholes! :)

When it comes time to render your video I highly recommend following the steps listed here.  In fact, I still go back and review Xav’s post regularly to make sure I’ve not forgotten anything.  If nothing else, I’d recommend rendering it in mp4 format, so that it is compressed to a good size and won’t take forever to share.

Finale!

Once the video is done rendering, upload it to your site of preference!  Keep in mind that You Tube does give you the opportunity to make videos “private”, so if you’d like to only share it with a few people and not open it up to the internet as a whole, that is possible!

And since we are talking about videos, I thought I’d go ahead and share our latest kill video – Heroic Alysrazor. (I am hoping to have a guide up before I leave out of town for the weekend – but I made a few pretty big mistakes here on our kill, so I may try to get different video capture from this week’s kill).

Hopefully this was helpful, and what Windsoar had in mind when she presented me with the topic!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any comments or questions! I’d be more than happy to answer them as best I can (or at least try to direct you to an answer!).

Posted August 10, 2011 by Beruthiel in FRAPS, Video

5 responses to “Not Quite Stanley Kubrick

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  1. This is really awesome! I personally use xfire for my video recordings and live streaming. Its very nice to see somebody in the community do a show and tell ^_^

  2. This is great! I know loads of people who do it, but never really understood what was needed/how the process worked to get to a finished product. Thanks for taking the time to spell it all out :)

  3. OMG thank you! I’ve been thinking of getting into the video narration business, and this is great advice. I’ve been using Premiere for all my videos, but I should probably pick up Sony Vegas since it pretty cheap and looks easier. One question: what type of mic do you use to record? Is it just a normal headset (if so, what kind) or one of those stand alone mics?

  4. For your instructional videos I can see why you would want to turn sound or Vent off, but for me they are essential for capturing the mood of your group and the tension of the encounter. I have Fraps vids from back in BC and once in awhile I love to play them and hear voices from old guildies and it all comes flooding back. I guess I am a bit nostalgic like that. Anyway my point is: consider including Vent sound with the music track. One day you may be glad you kept it.

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