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The Trials of Gameplay Recording

For the longest time, I have wished to record my gameplay, but it always seemed like too complex a process, and years passed without any progress being made in the matter.  No, I thought, I shan’t ever get to record my gaming prowess because I’m just not fancy enough to set up all that technical mumbo jumbo.  Nevertheless, there were times I would defeat a boss with 1 unit of health left or complete a challenge with less than a second to spare, and I would think to myself, I really need to record this kind of stuff and share it with the world.  So many missed moments, where I basked in the glory of a seemingly impossible victory.  With no one to share it with.

And then, not too long ago, Hatm0nster told me about a simple device one could use to record gameplay.  It’s the Avermedia Live Gamer Portable, and after doing quite a bit of research into the thing, I decided to give it a go.  It was about $150 on Amazon, and while I worried I wouldn’t be able to figure it out, I decided now wasn’t the time to chicken out when I had come so close to fulfilling a longtime dream.  Fast forward a few weeks, and I finally understand how this device works, and I want to explain the details for anyone else wishing to try their hand at gameplay recording.

First off, the LGP can record newer consoles, not older ones.  Think the Wii generation and up, on the most part.  It isn’t super difficult to set up, but it does require that you connect it directly to the TV.  For me, that was a problem, because the Wii is connected through composite cables that I was very lucky to figure out (new TVs are far more complicated than older ones), and if I disconnect it in order to plug in the LGP, I might just never get the Wii working again.  Ever.  For eternity.  So I decided my solution to this problem was to record the Wii U, which is connected through the much simpler HDMI.  I’ll try recording other consoles once I feel brave enough.

But, I get ahead of myself.  When you first get the device, it comes with a lot of cords, but don’t be alarmed.  It’s easier than it looks.  First, simply connect it to your PC via the provided USB and download the drivers and the essential RECentral.  Once that is done, it is time to connect the device to a console.  What you do is, you connect the device to your TV via composite or HDMI, whatever your console is using.  Connect the TV to the Out side, then, connect your console to the LGP on the In side.  (I always get those mixed up.)  For PC-free mode, you can record videos onto an SD card, but you will need to connect the USB cord to your console for power.  If you aren’t doing PC-free mode, the videos will be recorded on your computer, and you must connect the USB cord to your computer.  Of course, silly person, you.

This is where RECentral comes in handy.  It seems confusing at first, but, after a lot of testing, I eventually learned what works best, which makes things far easier for you, my dear readers, so you are very welcome.  Simply open RECentral and click on Capture and then Wizard for a more customized approach.  Under Audio Source, if you are recording commentary, you will need to select that you are using a Microphone.  I recommend checking the box for saving your commentary to a separate MP3 file.  That way, you can adjust the volume of the commentary and video separately later.  Under Video Settings, my options were some TS format I had never heard of and MP4.  Use MP4.  TS uses about the same or more space on your hard drive (a five minute video was about half a GB either way, but TS was sometimes 20 MB more for the same length), but when I tested my practice videos, the TS video would become blocky when I skipped ahead in the video.  MP4 played smoothly the entire time, even when I skipped to random spots.

Anyway, after the settings are to your liking, though most need not be messed with, click Ready.  This might be rather confusing because Ready does not mean you are recording.  I thought it did my first time testing the device out and succeeded in playing ten minutes with nothing recorded.  So, there are three buttons on the bottom.  Click the one on the left to prevent the computer from repeating all the sound from your TV.  It doesn’t affect your recording; I just found it annoying to hear the music and sound effects echoed the entire time I played.  Then, click the middle red button.  When a timer starts, you know you are recording.  Click the button again to stop.

As for commentary, the cords for the LGP are short, meaning your computer will likely need to be right next to the TV.  This is why you need either a wireless microphone or a microphone with a long cord in order for it to reach you from the computer.  I know people like those wireless headsets, but I thought such a thing would bother me, so I looked into wireless lapel mics.  While these can be found cheap, what they fail to mention is the fact that they require an expensive wireless system to be, well, wireless.  So I managed to find a long extension cord instead for my microphone (I have one of those thin microphones with a stand).  It allows me to extend the reach of my microphone far beyond the computer, so I can record commentary from the comfort of my couch with ease.  Yes, it’s a rather silly method, but if you are interested, I bought the Monoprice 3.5 mm stereo male to female premium extension cable.  It is a thick, heavy duty cable, but I hear thinner cables can have interference.  Thus far, I have heard no static when using this cable.  Hooray!

Last of all is uploading your video to Youtube.  If you have commentary in a separate MP3 file, you will need to combine the video and the commentary before you upload it.  I tried this with EZVid, the program I used to use for recording PC gameplay, only to find my video had no sound.  I then found that Windows Live Movie Maker is a good program to use.  Trusting the advice of the Youtube support page from whence this little tidbit originated, I downloaded it, and I found it is very simple.  Simply add your video by going to “Add videos and photos” under the Home tab.  Directly next to that, click “Add music” and pick your commentary file.  Under Video Tools>Edit, you can adjust the volume of the video, and under Music Tools>Options, you can adjust the volume of your commentary, in case it’s too loud or too quiet.  I spoke too quietly in my practice video, so I increased the volume of my commentary and decreased that of my video.  This resulted in a video where my commentary could be heard, while the gameplay was still at a reasonable volume, as well.

And let’s not forget a few more editing options.  If you need to cut the beginning and/or ending of the video, use Trim to choose the segment of the video you want to play.  For example, if you want to cut the first four seconds off the video, start it at four seconds.  Just make sure you cut the commentary at the exact same points, or else it will end up out of sync.  If you need to cut a piece of the movie out (for example, I got a phone call during one of my recordings), use Split to put a line at each end of the segment you want to cut.  Be sure to place these Split lines at the exact spots in your commentary, as well.  Then, right-click the segment and select Remove.  (Don’t delete the video segment without first isolating a segment of the commentary, or else you won’t know where in the commentary to cut.)

After that, on the right side of the Home tab, click “Save movie” and then “For computer” to create an MP4 file with both your gameplay video and audio, which was vastly smaller in size than the original gameplay video.  100 MB as opposed to 500?  Most curious, I say.  Last of all, upload to Youtube!  And now you are officially amazing!

See, recording gameplay with commentary is really not that hard.  When you have a very kind duck who spent the last several hours figuring it out in order to write an instructive post about the topic.  Now get out there and show the world your gaming skills!

An Educational Duck

10 thoughts on “The Trials of Gameplay Recording”

  1. I love my Elgato, it’s the simplest one I’ve ever had, but I’ve only used it for xbox 360 and xbox one.
    The great thing is, you can record commentary and it automatically puts it into the raw video at the right spot, it does the time sync for you. The other great thing is, you can livestream to twitch right from the software, with commentary attached again. Same sort of process with YouTube, upload it from the software instead of having to mess around changing video formats and so forth, unless you’re doing a video with fancy graphics.
    My favourite feature… It has flashback recording, so I leave my elgato plugged in, and don’t have to press record and film entire lengths of 1080p gameplay just in case something cool happens (It takes up way too much space when you do that and it’s too hard to sift through hours and hours of gameplay), I can record the last however many minutes I’ve set, even if I wasn’t capturing. Great for when you forget to press record too!
    I’ve had all the game captures out there, elgato is definitely my favourite one for xbox 360 and xbox one.

    1. That device sounds pretty cool. I heard the Elgato can record older consoles as well as new ones, which the Live Gamer Portable can’t do. It can only do new consoles, I believe. I think someday I might get an Elgato capture card so that I can record my older games someday.

      What kind of games do you usually record?

      1. I bought it to record my Minecraft Rollercoaster, but I also record Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Battlefield all sorts! Mostly just for me, oh and definitely for screenshots. It’s great to record footage and then get a screenshot from the footage, a lot more precise than asking Xbox One to do it!
        I’m also glad it records Xbox in 1080p without any problems, a couple of the game captures I had would crash if I tried to do that and/or the video would look like I was suffering from frame rate drops.

        I can’t recommend it enough, the only problem for me is all the wires! There are only 3 and two of them are HDMI cables to get it running, but I wish more technology was wireless! My house is basically a mess of wires!

      2. There are definitely a lot of wires with game capture devices. And the wires that came with mine are so short, my computer has to be way over by the TV, and the computer’s power cord barely reaches that far. It definitely requires extra set up to play games this way, but recording gameplay is pretty cool, so it’s worth it. I love to record moments where I did pretty good in a game, then show off my skills on Youtube.

  2. I have a Roxxio which I like, but needs to be connected to a PC in order to record, and now I also have a Hauppauge HD Rocket which records directly to a flash drive. Both are super easy to record newer consoles with. My problem is that I mostly record retro gameplay footage, which is a bit of a pain since they don’t have HDMI output. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to go about recording on older consoles.

    1. The Live Gamer Portable is supposed to be able to record without a PC by recording videos to an SD card, but it seemed more complicated. So I just settled with recording to the PC, which seems more reliable because it’s easier to know for certain that it’s really recording. I’d hate to play for an hour and find that nothing actually recorded.

      And I, too, would like to record older games, but I don’t think the LGP can. I heard that the Elgato can record older consoles, so it might be something to check out. I’d love to record some of my favorite games on the SNES and N64 someday.

      1. That sounds really cool. That would certainly be way cheaper than buying another capture card. It would also save me the trouble of having to learn how to use a new one, as well. Thank you for the idea. I’ll look into that.

  3. Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    A few weeks ago, United We Game’s YouTube channel entered into the realm of the watch-able and the subscribe-able, thanks in large part to The Duck of Indeed. Yes, this intrepid UWGer has been filling up the channel with all sorts of gaming goodness, from the strangeness of Fragile Dreams to the wackiness of Rayman Origins. (Check out it when you can, subscribe and all that pleaseandthankyou!) But, as many of us know, the road to creating gameplay content for the Internet isn’t exactly paved with gold and useful instructions. In response, The Duck offered up this wonderful, plain English post about game capturing and using the Live Gamer Portable. If you’re thinking about getting an LGP, want to start your own gameplay videos, or are just curious about gameplay recording in general, I highly recommend that you click on!

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