Console Recording

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Capturing a console run is basically like taping a normal television show. However, SDA has higher standards for run quality than some guy making sure he doesn't miss the latest episode of Survivor. In order to make sure your video quality is the best it can be, it's important to be careful.

Video Cables

The first step in a speed run's journey from your console to our servers is the AV out cable. There are generally two cables you plug into your console: the power cord and the AV out cable. There are five different kinds of AV out cables that consoles can use, and choosing the best one can have a dramatic effect on your video quality. Note, however, that while there are five different kinds of video out cables, three of them (composite, S-Video, and component) use the exact same audio. RF and SCART have their own audio.

Note that you really need two cables here (except for component, which often requires an unconventional setup): one from your console to your DVD recorder, and one from that to your TV (sometimes the signal is split after it comes out of the console, especially when using DVD recorders). It doesn't actually matter what the second plug is as far as your run quality goes, since that cable is only so that you can see what the heck you're doing on the TV screen. Obviously, it might be nice for you to have a good quality cable here too for your own sake, even when you're not speedrunning, but it's not nearly as crucial.

In order, from worst to best, they are:


An RF cable ends in a box with a cord sticking out. You plug the cord sticking out into the back of your TV, where you would normally plug in your cable TV hookup. It's basically the exact same as the cable a cable TV signal comes through. To continue watching cable TV, you would also plug the cable TV hookup into the box. Games are displayed in place of channel 3 or 4 whenever the console is turned on.

RF is an ancient, ancient technology. It is pretty much worthless, and will shoot your run quality to hell. Do not use it if at all possible. Very few systems offer only RF output. The ones known by the authors are:

  • NES II (A late-model redesign released in the final days of the NES and is easily identifiable by its top-loading cartridge slot and SNES-style controllers.)
  • Sega Master System II (A cheaper version of the Sega Master System which cut several features to lower the price such as the card slot, expansion port, composite output and the reset button.)
  • NEC TurboGrafx-16 (American version of Japanese PC Engine)

For the SMS II, there's still hope if you feel like cracking open your console: SMS II RGB Mod

For the TG-16, there are a few options. Purchasing a Turbo Booster or Turbo Booster Plus, or using the CD peripheral, will allow composite output. It is also possible to re-wire the system for RGB.

Adding better video output to an old console is acceptable to SDA: What Nate had to say


The "out" end of a composite cable (yellow cable).

A composite cable ends in three colored RCA plugs - a yellow one, a red one, and a white one. These are plugged into three color coded ports on the back of your DVD recorder. The yellow plug carries the video signal, while the white and red plugs carry the left and right audio channels, respectively.

While not nearly as horrible as RF, composite video is still fairly lame next to S-Video. However, since S-Video is a newer technology, not all earlier consoles support it. More details in the next section.


The S in the S-Video cable.

The S-Video cable looks very much like a composite cable. However, in addition to the three RCA plugs, there is also one much larger metal plug. This plug is the S-Video plug, which carries what was once the best video signal available. The audio is still transmitted via the white and red cables.

Note that BOTH the yellow plug and S-Video plug carry the video signal. Only the S-Video plug carries the superior quality signal; the yellow plug carries a composite signal so that the cable can work with older TVs. If both are plugged in, the S-Video signal will be shown. (It's quite instructive to plug all of them in, and then take out and put in the S-Video plug. It's a side by side comparison!) Note that, depending on how your cable is made, you might be able to plug the S-Video and composite cables into two different appliances and have both receive a signal. This is a cheap yet effective method of eliminating video lag.

Composite (top) versus S-Video (bottom)
The GameCube, PS2, XBOX, and Dreamcast all support S-Video, as will all consoles newer than those. In addition, thanks to the fact that Nintendo has used the same AV port for a decade, the SNES and Nintendo 64 can use S-Video cables designed for the GameCube. The Wii port has broken the trend; more on that later.

PS1 and PS2 S-Video cables are compatible with each other as well. Finally, the Sega Saturn also has support for S-Video. Other consoles do NOT have S-Video cables; therefore, composite cables offer the best quality available for these systems.

The Wii currently does not have an official S-Video cable in American stores. It has component cables and composite cables, but not S-Video. There are third party S-Video cables out there, and you might be able to import S-Video cables.

Component (also known as RGB, YPbPr or YCbCr)

Component cables (yes, you need to plug in all of them just for video)

Component is the newest and best kind of video cable on the market. Unlike S-Video, it can not be plugged into an older input jack, even at a loss of quality. Only some DVD recorders have component input jacks. Note that S-Video is recommended by SDA; component isn't much better. However, if you can record component, you should definitely do so.

Component cables are supported by all three of the so-called next gen consoles (the 360, PS3, and Wii).

SCART (also known as Péritel or Euroconnector)

SCART - possibly the ugliest, hardest to plug cable in existence, but it does the job soooo well...

SCART is a audio/video standard commonly used in Europe. It is capable of transmitting RGB, YPbPr or S-Video video signals - which is used depends on the cable and equipment. Thus SCART is a component cable - strictly speaking component refers to any video split into more than one part, so even S-Video is "component" - but the name Component is typically used for the red, green and blue set of plugs.

Most equipment, including recorders and consoles, in Europe can use SCART, so it should typically be considered ahead of other cable types for older consoles such as RF and Composite.

Recording Equipment

SDA previously accepted VHS recordings, but they are no longer allowed. A DVD Recorder is recommended.

Console-specific Information

Nintendo Gamecube

It is possible to use component cables with the GameCube, but there are two major problems. First of all, the official cables were discontinued, long before the Wii in fact. Second, the actual port on the GameCube to plug the component cables in is only present on early batches of GameCubes. Later models had the port removed in a cost-saving measure, since very few people used them anyway. If you have two video plugs on the back of your 'Cube, you have the early model. The second port will be labeled "Digital AV Out."

Sega Megadrive/Genesis

The video ports at the back of the Megadrive consoles output only monaural audio. To get stereo audio, with Composite video you can plug a "jack" cable (3.5mm to 2 x RCA) into the front audio port and use that for audio instead of the normal red and white RCA plugs. SCART requires a modified cable that includes an extra cable to plug into the front audio port.

Sega Game Gear

The Game Gear doesn't have video output by default. There are details on modifying the GG to support video-out but it's fairly complicated. If possible, find a Master System version of the game in question.

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