Digital Capture

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Capturing a PC game is both easier and harder than capturing a console game. Unlike consoles, a PC game is already transmitting its video information in digital format; the only thing that is needed is for this signal to end up in a file as well. However, doing so will require running a recording program alongside your game, which may or may not cause problems.


Note: OS X users can refer to the Mac Recording and Streaming page.


FRAPS

Introduction

FRAPS is by far the most commonly used method to record speedrun videos on the PC. For a long period of time FRAPS wasn't a very good program to use for this since it made games behave in weird ways and caused severe input delay, among other things. It has slowly been improved bit by bit and now it's actually a program you can recommend without being the slightest sarcastic. The program is running in the background and records the game you're playing, a process that's quite heavy on the hardware in most cases. Spite the hardware requirements FRAPS does have a few advantages over other recording methods such as DVD recorders.

1. Record in any resolution you want.

2. Extremely high quality recordings.

3. Easier encoding. No need to transfer your video from a DVD to your computer since it's already on your hard drive, ready for encoding.

4. No need to buy media such as discs.

5. Cheaper than a good DVD recorder.

The trial version of the program is not sufficient for recording runs for SpeedDemosArchive since it has a limit of 30 seconds per video and it also puts a watermark in them, and we do not like watermarks. The software can be bought for $37 which is much cheaper than buying a good DVD recorder, for example. Any updates after the initial purchase are free of charge. Other methods of acquiring the full version are not supported nor encouraged by SpeedDemosArchive.

Recommended Hardware

The hardware listed here is not critical to be able to record with FRAPS, this is recommended hardware for getting the best possible performance out of FRAPS.

Dual-core (or better) CPU: This will allow you to run the game and FRAPS on different CPU cores, significantly improving the recording performance.

2GB (or more) of RAM: Even though FRAPS isn't the most memory hungry application you want to make sure there's plenty of RAM to minimize the risk of sudden disk swapping that can ruin your recording.

2 hard drives: Same reason we want at least a dual-core CPU. Running the game on one drive while having FRAPS record to another will greatly improve recording performance. Note that drive partitions do not fall under this category, it has to be 2 physical drives.

Graphics card: Anything that has an AMD/ATI or nVidia stamp on it. You want something that can at least keep a solid 30 frames per second when running the game with the resolution you're recording in.

If you have a version of FRAPS below 3.x or are running on Windows XP, you will also need a soundcard that can record using either Stereo Mix or ”What U Hear”. When software capture is not available, this will let you record sound. Just about all soundcards will have Stereo Mix, somewhat modern Creative Soundblaster cards will have ”What U Hear” which is the exact same thing but with a ridiculous name.

Single Disk Recording

Important: Single disk recording isn't recommended since there's a much greater chance of getting your recordings ruined if Windows decides to access other files on the disk while you're recording. This section exists so that those who are forced to use a single disk can minimize the risk of getting their recordings ruined.

What is safe to record?: Unfortunately there is no way to be completely safe when using a single disk for FRAPS. Games that work the best though are older games, and games that don't demand much of the computer to run smoothly.

Minimizing The Risks

ReadyBoost: Read this article.

FRAPS Application Settings

Note: This part of the guide is written for FRAPS version 3.x. If you're using an earlier version some settings will not be available.

The General Tab

Monitor Aero desktop (DWM): Enabling this feature can in some cases allow you to record games you normally wouldn't be able to record due to lack of hardware accelerated graphics. This option only works under Vista (support added in version 2.9.0) and Windows 7 (support added in version 3.0.0) when Aero is enabled. This feature will not work on XP.

FRAPS 3.x on the left, FRAPS 2.x on the right.

Fraps general tab.png Old fraps general.gif

The FPS Tab

Overlay Corner: Depending on if there are important HUD elements in your game you might want to change the position of the Overlay Corner (highlighted with red in the picture) so it doesn't obscure important information. Just click the corner where you want FRAPS to display the frame counter.

FRAPS 3.x on the left, FRAPS 2.x on the right.

Fraps fps tab.png Old fraps fps.gif

Hide overlay: Enabling this option is not recommended since the frame counter also indicates if FRAPS is recording or not and it will also tell you (depending on recording settings) if you are dropping an excessive amount of frames while recording. In some games the frame counter will show up in the video (this is not supposed to happen) and in such cases it's best to disable the frame counter.

In the left picture the counter is yellow. That means FRAPS is running in the background but isn't recording. In the right picture the counter is red. That means FRAPS is running and recording.

Fraps not recording.png Fraps recording.png

Benchmarking Hotkey: FRAPS uses hotkeys for its functions, but they might be the same as the hotkeys used by the game to be recorded. You will not be using the Benchmarking hotkey so you may disable it to prevent future problems.

Overlay Hotkey: Pushing this button will make the frame counter change position on the screen.

  • Position 1: upper left corner
  • Position 2: upper right corner
  • Position 3: lower left corner
  • Position 4: lower right corner
  • Position 5: overlay is turned off

The Movies Tab

Folder to save movies in: Make sure this folder is located on a drive where you are not running any heavy applications such as the game you're recording. Also try to avoid recording to the drive where Windows is installed.

Video Capture Hotkey: Ideally you don't want this button anywhere near the buttons you're using in the game you're recording, you don't want to push this button by accident in the middle of a run. To change key simply click the field and then push the button you want to use.

Video Capture Settings (fps): Here you have to do a little trial and error to see what your computer is actually capable of recording at. If you are trying 60 and the fps isn't steady at 60 you have to lower the recording frame rate or else you will get a choppy video. 30 fps shouldn't be a problem for most systems, but this can vary greatly depending on the game you're recording.

Video Capture Settings (image size): This should in almost all cases be set to full-size. If you are recording a game where the graphics scale very badly, i.e getting really ugly as you lower the resolution, it can be better to run the game at a higher resolution and have FRAPS lower the video resolution through half-size recording. Full-size requires more of the hard drive while half-size requires more CPU power due to the extra processing of resizing the image.

Lock framerate while recording: A very useful option that needs to be used with caution. Before this option was added FRAPS would always lock your framerate to whatever the program was set to record at but now you have the option to not have FRAPS limit your framerate. Being forced to play a game at 30 fps because your computer is not quite fast enough to record at 60 fps can be quite annoying and in such cases you want to leave the option unchecked. If your computer is fast enough to record at 60 fps you actually want to leave this option checked. The reason for this is that the frame counter (when framerate is locked) will let you know if you are dropping frames by fluctuating to values below the framerate you're recording at, when the lock is disabled this fluctuation is not present because it displays the framerate the game is actually being rendered at which is not necessarily the same framerate FRAPS is currently capable of recording at.

Split movie every 4 Gigabytes: As long as the drive you're recording to is formatted with NTFS (which is almost always the case today) there is no reason to have this turned on. When enabled FRAPS will split your recording up in 3.9 GiB segments. This is a remnant from back when the FAT32 file system was still commonly used in Windows installations. FAT32 is incapable of handling files larger than 4 GiB and therefore older versions of FRAPS forced a split when a recording reached 3.9 GiB. The option to turn this off/on became available in version 3.5.0.

Sound Capture Settings (main): Record Vista/Win7 sound is a feature only present in FRAPS 3.x. In Vista and Windows 7, FRAPS can record the output audio stream directly from software, without relying on hardware or drivers. If you have this option available, use it and record in Stereo. If you don't have this available, pick "Use Windows input" and follow the instructions in the Windows Settings section.

Sound Capture Settings (external input): Always disabled when recording content intended for SpeedDemosArchive. This option was added in version 3.0.0 and will therefore not exist if you're using an earlier version. It also won't work if you're using XP.

FRAPS 3.x on the left, FRAPS 2.x on the right.

Fraps movies tab 3.5.99.png Old fraps movies.gif

Misc. Recording Settings Located In Movies Tab

Hide mouse cursor in video: Disabled.

Force lossless RGB capture: Having this option disabled is the recommended setting, but feel free to try with it enabled if you want to. Important about this option is that it will not improve the quality of the final encoding due to the video codecs used on SpeedDemosArchive. This option was added in version 3.0.0 and will not exist if you're using an earlier version.

Screenshot Tab

No settings here are important for your recordings.


Windows Settings

If you were able to pick "Record Vista sound" or "Record Win7 sound" on Fraps 3.x, skip this section! You can record sound directly from Windows without relying on your sound hardware or drivers. Otherwise, follow these directions in order to set up recording from a hardware dependent stream.

Drivers

Make sure you have the latest official drivers for everything. Do not use third-party drivers when recording with FRAPS.

Driver Download

This is a list of the most commonly used official drivers/driver packages. These links will point you to the manufacturer's driver download section, not directly to driver installation files.

AMD/ATI chipset, integrated motherboard features and graphics.

Creative sound.

Intel chipset and integrated motherboard features.

Nvidia chipset, integrated motherboard features and graphics.

Sound Recording

To get to the recording options click the Start Menu icon, settings, Control Panel, Sound, Recording.

It should look something like this.

Recording control.png

Make sure that Stereo Mix or What U Hear is selected as the default recording device. Sound recording with FRAPS should now work without problems.


Game Settings

These settings will vary greatly depending on the game you're recording, but there are a few rules of thumb that goes for most games. In most cases you want to go with image quality settings that are referred to as ”normal” or ”medium”.

Anisotropic Filtering: Turn this off.

Anti-Aliasing: Turn this off.

Nvidia PhysX: Turn this off.

Not only do these settings raise the bitrate requirement for the video, they also put a lot more stress on your graphics card(s) which in turn might prevent you from running the game at a solid recording framerate. Solid recording framerate is more important than in-game graphics.

Vsync/vertical retrace: If you're experiencing input delay in your game turn this off. Do not be alarmed if you see tearing, it will not show up in your video since the video frames are captured before they're sent off to the monitor.

Can I Record All Games With FRAPS?

Unfortunately not. FRAPS works great for games that are using DirectX, OpenGL or DirectDraw, although versions prior to 2.9.9 might have some issues with DirectDraw. Games using different rendering methods will in many cases not be possible to record, this method might solve some problems.


To Think About Before Recording

Programs to shut down before recording: Anti-virus, p2p programs such as BitTorrent, instant-messaging services and VoIP/voice chat. These types of programs can interfere with FRAPS or the game you're running. For example, it's not acceptable to have AIM/Skype/Yahoo event sounds in your videos.

Check your hard drive: Make sure that the hard drive you're recording to has plenty of free space and is defragmented. Avoid defragmentation if you have a Solid-State Drive as defragmenting an SSD can lower the performance of the drive and will also shorten its lifetime.

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