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Thread: Cider's Guide to Video & Audio Software & Hardware

  1. #1
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    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
    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
    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!

  2. #2
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    The day after I started to write this info I feel into a "flue coma" for a weeks time. I just realized I never did post anything here on the forum - will do as soon as possible.

    Regards
    Thugs
    Last edited by Roarc; 03-09-2009 at 08:50 AM.

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    Please feel free to, Thugs. I don't know much about MacOSX.

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    Roger, I'll edit my post then. WoW is quite unique in that Blizzard has added their own recording features in-game (for better and worse :-)).

    Regards
    Thugs

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    Cider, will there be some info on codecs, settings and video quality improvement? I'm pretty interested in these subjects.

    thanks

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    I export in WMV exclusively. I used to do DivX, but the filesize difference didn't warrant a codec less compatible w/ what most people can use. Xav uses a different codec which I believe has been covered on these forums already.

    I'll post more on the details, but export settings are more in-depth because they're not easy to set up in either Vegas or Premiere, and I'd like to get something better than text to do it with.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
    Cider, will there be some info on codecs, settings and video quality improvement? I'm pretty interested in these subjects.

    thanks
    That's a little in-depth (and off-topic) for a tankspot post. There's plenty of great free tutorials out there to help you with this.

    As far as the Premiere vs Vegas debate, if you've used photoshop, premiere feels at least moderately similar (ie. a learning curve the size of mt. washington, but industry quality performance). However, the most recent versions of Vegas have won me over. The green-screen stuff is super-intuitive, the time-line is robust... Vegas just really helps you create what you're trying to, without getting in the way. I would hand down recommend Vegas 7 over any version of premiere.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
    Cider, will there be some info on codecs, settings and video quality improvement? I'm pretty interested in these subjects.

    thanks
    I'll edit my post and give this a touch yes, but this will only focus on "frapings" on MacOSX. The workflow is different there compared to on Windows (formats, codecs and software that is).

    Regards
    Thugs

  9. #9
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    a great resource i use a lot when doing movies --> AfterDawn.com: Guides and articles

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    Codecs and compression settings are also extremely popular subjects.

    There are many various ways to encode/compress. Some people like multipassing, personally I didn't like the extra time it took to do, and further I didn't notice much quality difference at all, when specifically comparing many different compression settings/styles over the exact same clip.

    DivX and Xvid (xvid is basically just a free/alternate version of DivX) are both fairly popular. But, I had repeated crashes when trying to render Fraps footage using either of them; some googling revealed that it's a known problem with Fraps footage and those two codecs. It was almost impossible to render any decent length footage because of the crashes. I lost interest in a few projects back in the day because I couldn't figure out what kept crashing me over and over.

    I looked around and heard about x/h264 (it seems to be labeled differently in some places, I don't know why). There's a GUI (Graphical user interface) version somewhere that will plug right in to video programs (assuming you reboot first, of course). It's very easy to use, and produces high quality footage that is compressed very well, comparing to some of my older videos I find it's much smaller in filesize and equal or better quality. (Premo's Kil'jaeden video was DivX, everything since then has been x264).
    Xav
    Formerly Xavastrasz
    Quote Originally Posted by Rak View Post
    control+c control+v amirite?
    Quote Originally Posted by Magnuss View Post
    Hell no, its Xav, he is gonna type that bitch till his fingers fall off.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Xav View Post
    ............................

    DivX and Xvid (xvid is basically just a free/alternate version of DivX) are both fairly popular. But, I had repeated crashes when trying to render Fraps footage using either of them; some googling revealed that it's a known problem with Fraps footage and those two codecs. It was almost impossible to render any decent length footage because of the crashes......................

    I got round this problem by using VDUB on the fraps files first to 'compress' to Uncompressed RGB/YCbCr (results in very large files) after that I could do what I liked with them no problem including using windows movie maker on them (which wouldnt touch raw fraps files)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philistine View Post
    I got round this problem by using VDUB on the fraps files first to 'compress' to Uncompressed RGB/YCbCr (results in very large files) after that I could do what I liked with them no problem including using windows movie maker on them (which wouldnt touch raw fraps files)
    I ended up doing the same type of thing, but for a different reason. I had some very complex fading and speed changes in some raw video a few months ago, and trying to render it all in one pass wasn't working out. I got around it by rendering everything first in the lossless format, then doing the final edits. I ended up not releasing that video for other reasons though.
    Xav
    Formerly Xavastrasz
    Quote Originally Posted by Rak View Post
    control+c control+v amirite?
    Quote Originally Posted by Magnuss View Post
    Hell no, its Xav, he is gonna type that bitch till his fingers fall off.

  13. #13
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    For what it's worth, here's my feedback on movie making with OSX.

    As thugs pointed out... Blizzard has fully integrated video capturing in the Mac WoW Client.

    For first time filmmakers with Macs here's a short guide for getting everything recorded.

    1. In-game, press Escape to bring up the Options menu. Click on "Mac Options".
    2.a Customise your settings as you like. In my opinion, the H.264 codec is far and away the best compression setting.
    2.b Adjust the recorded resolution as you like, and mess around with the quality slider. I record footage at 1024x640 with the quality slider right in the middle. Footage can end up being pretty large at these resolutions (especially before compression) so make sure you have plenty of hard drive space (or an external) otherwise you won't be able to record longer fights in a single take.
    3. Go to your keybinding menu, and bind keys for "Start/Stop Recording", "Cancel Recording/Compression", "Compress Movies", and "Show/Hide User Interface". These keys should be near the bottom of the list (for me its below iTunes Remote and above Omen).
    4. The way things work on the mac, you record footage (as many clips as you like until you run out of hard drive space). These clips will be labeled according to the zone you're in, and will be stored in your WOW folder -> Movies. They will remain uncompressed (therefore, very very big files) until you press the compress button (unless you have automatically begin compressing footage set to yes). Personally -- I find compressing takes too much CPU resources and causes my game to stutter so I record my clips during the fight, and then compress them in-game after the raid is over (or between pulls if there's downtime).
    5. After you have your footage saved to your computer, edit with iMovie or whatever video editing software you prefer. I use Final Cut Pro. Export your film, and upload it to a site like youtube.com or vimeo.com.

    Through some trial and error, I finally figured out how to upload HD video to youtube, so I'd recommend their site since its free and easily accessed. Recently they've included a lot of great tools for filmmakers (Annotations, insight etc) and their maximum file size is now 1 GB (holy crap!).

    Anyway -- I've been thinking about this a lot recently because I've been working on a fun WotLK video for my guild (in all its HD glory). I wasn't going to show it off until it was done, but since this thread popped up today I figured I'd share so that you people will see I sort of know what I'm talking about and not completely pulling these things out of my ass.

    The guild video I'm working on.


    I found any video resolutions lower than 1024x640 don't get turned into HD by youtube, but rather just the "High Quality" setting that you see on some videos.

  14. #14
    Got a little question about the output format fraps uses i bought Sony Vegas 8.0c and when i insert a fraps file the audio track is always empty ?

    But when i play the raw format there is audio ( PCM Uncompressed ) strangely enough Sony Vegas doesn't recognize this did you defined something special in Sony vegas to get the Audio right ?

  15. #15
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    help =(

    Once again, amazing job on all of the project and especially Glory of the Radier. I am persuing a similar project using Adobe Premiere Elements 7.0, my problem so far is the exporting the final video, trying to keep the quality up and the size down. Pre export the quality of the video is realtime, it looks as if im playing the game. I was wondering if you could mention what you export your movies as and what you use to compress them. Ive tried many including mpeg4, quicktime h264 which both are still relativly large and the quality gets nerfed from Adobe to desktop persay, then to you tube is even a bit more nerfing =\. Id aprechiate any info at all, thanks!

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    Hey Ciderhelm, I have just made a rather novice video of my guild's Maly kill. Though I added some simple effects such as fade in and fade out, with overlapping fadding music. My question to you is.. When rendering the file, what is the best quality render, which can be used as HD for YouTube, that I can use? Thanks. I enjoy all of your videos.

    P.S. I am using Vegas Studio 9! Forgot to add that >.>
    Last edited by Ronaldinho; 03-22-2009 at 01:57 PM.

  17. #17
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    Hey cider, there is a 1280x720 (Wide) option but no 1280x720 normal

    What happens is is the bottom and sides of my screen go beyond my monitor. I tried to screenshot it but the screenshot comes up normal.

    Is this what you meant by not looking spectacular or is it because i only have one monitor? or should there be a 1280x720 non wide option and my game hates me?



  18. #18
    Hello Cider! : )
    Thanks for this guide first off.
    Second, I have a problem. When I look at the raw .avi game capture the quality is very high. Once I run it through a editing process and a encoding process the quality goes very much down. I play at maxed resolution (1440x900 on my screen), and does this affect when I run a decode (affect the quality) in either 1024p or 720p HD in Adobe Premiere? (I use the CS4 version)

    I think about redesigning my UI for playing on 1280x720 if it affects the quality of the videos. Just need some advice you know : )

    Might be a good idea to post a vid I edited, so here it is.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-jBvDNPUUo"]YouTube - The Fighting Dutchmen VS. Patchwerk[/ame]

    Note that this is not HD, and it is a .avi file, not .wmv. I think the quality fell when I changed to .wmv.

    By the way, I play on a laptop, may this be the reason for poor quality? It is a around 2000 $ laptop. As a laptop will never have the same resources as a desktop computer.

    Thanks

    Edit1: I use fraps, half-size on these vids, full-size from now, might also be a reason. 30 fps I run on, but sometimes fall below.

    And Edit2: This is the type I export media in.
    Last edited by johnandre93; 04-20-2009 at 02:42 PM. Reason: Added info

  19. #19
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    uhm.. hello, well, i bought Fraps and i noticed when i press F9 to record, the framerates drop a bit and it makes huge files on disc..
    my current hardware is a amd athlon x2 6000+ with 2 gb ram , a radeon 4850 and a 250 gb sata seagate disc (~60 mb/sec).
    i understand a seagate of 500gb provides 80-100 mb/sec write speed, would that make this second drive good to purchase?
    thanks!
    im curious , how much space makes a Ciderhelm's boss movie on disc before any editing, just out of fraps..

  20. #20
    I'd say you should check what fps you have fraps set to record at.

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