Cider's Guide to Video & Audio Software & Hardware
Hey! This is a stub for a future article because there is so much demand on this subject. Once I get more time to put this all together (w/ movies as well!) I will move it directly to the Project Marmot forums.
For now, though, here's a few quick pointers for making your own movies:
What music do you use in Project Marmot movies?
This is one of the more common questions I'm asked. I purchase my music from Royalty Free Music, Stock Music, Production Music Library, which sells royalty-free music tracks designed specifically for larger productions. The song you've heard in almost all of the movies is "Savannah," which cost about $30 on neosounds. The next song you'll be hearing is "Tide." I'd recommend using a royalty-free collection for movies wherever possible, as it's a near-guarantee that your movies can't be petitioned off of YouTube, etc.
World of Warcraft optimization
When you are recording a movie in World of Warcraft, there are a few tricks that will greatly increase your framerates:
- Record at the resolution you want to make your movie. In my case, I aim for 720p movies, which means I record while playing Warcraft at 1280 x 720. Does it look spectacular on my 24" monitor? Nope. But 720p is unusually high for a game-based digital movie, so most people assume I'm playing w/ maxed out settings since the video itself comes out as high quality.
- If you're not recording sound -- which you probably shouldn't be unless you have a particular reason -- go ahead and turn your sound off. This is not completely essential but it sure doesn't hurt, either.
- Not getting the framerates you want? Turn off Shadows. If that doesn't cut it, slowly cut down settings from your system until you get what you're looking for (ideally around 30fps).
Should I use Fraps or Gamecam?
Fraps. Hands down, this is the best software on the market. The only competitor to this is Gamecam, which is a resource hog (which is problematic, b/c video recording pushes your system resources to their limits).
As with all of the following recommendations, it is best to purchase a paid version because most of this software is updated on a regular basis and the upgrades are substantial.
The three best things you can do in Fraps:
- Turn off sound recording!
- Set recording for 30 frames per second. This is the best balance for file sizes.
- Don't record to the same hard drive! (Read next tip)
Hardware -- The best upgrade is a Hard Drive
The single most important upgrade you can make to your computer is a secondary hard drive to store files on. In most cases, larger is better. In the case of PVP movies where you want to maintain stellar framerates in-game, higher RPMs is important as well. You'll want to record Fraps footage to whichever drive you're not playing Warcraft on.
Movie files are also large. Uncompressed, depending on your resolution, you can quickly burn out 200gb of space. I personally have ~2tb of hard drive space on my computer, which allows me to record a full week of raids and pick out the parts I want.
Please note: Solid State Drives are not designed for constant writing the way hard disks are. You do not want to use a SSD for video recording as it can actually lead to damage on the drive.
Video editing software -- What do I need? What do I want?
Both Windows and Apple computers come with basic video production software. These will do fine in a pinch. However, there's a step up in software for people who want to do a lot of editing:
Sony Vegas is quick, easy to learn, and comes loaded with effects. This is a very solid piece of software that is used to create the majority of World of Warcraft films. Vegas is also superior in dealing with sound files and narration editing.
Vista 64-bit users: I have significantly fewer hiccups with Sony Vegas on Vista 64 than I do with Adobe Premiere. Adobe does not optimize their products for Vista 64.
Adobe Premiere is more suited to technically minded editors. Adobe is superior to Vegas in nearly every way on a technical level; however, the interface is not designed nearly as well as Sony Vegas, and you'll spend a lot of time learning it. While I prefer Premiere, there are times I jump back to Sony Vegas because I just want to get something made without a lot of interface hassle.
Please note: Adobe Premiere Elements 7, which costs about $600 less than the professional version, has everything a game movie developer needs. You can find this bundled with Photoshop Elements 7 at Best Buy for $150 or individually on Adobe's site for $99.
Audio editing software -- What's the best out there?
Audacity. This is what Lore and I use for our podcasts. It is totally free and is highly customizable to your project. For voice recording between multiple people, setting up a Skype account is best -- but we've done plenty of recordings on Ventrilo as well. (Right click in ventrilo and check the menus until you find playback/recording)
Feel free to ask questions!