Difference between revisions of "Recording FAQ"

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<center><font size="7" color="red">Don't use this guide.</font></center>
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0.8.1 - fixed huffyuv version<br />
0.8.1 - fixed huffyuv version<br />
0.8.0 - first released version
0.8.0 - first released version
Return to the [[Main Page|front page]].

Latest revision as of 15:46, 6 June 2007

Don't use this guide.


Be sure to check out the existing Speed Runs of the game you are trying to make sure you know what you are getting into (though you will probably only understand how much the run will demand of you when you actually start trying some of the tricks yourself).

You should decide on how you're going to record your progress before you start your run. We strongly recommend that you record your run using a DVD recorder. You will achieve far and away better quality with such a unit than you ever could using VHS, and you will not have to bother with editing and compressing the video yourself, because you can simply mail your DVD(s) to me for processing (just don't forget to Finalize them first!). To learn about how to use a DVD recorder to record and possibly process your run, please see the #DVD SECTION below.

The alternative to buying a DVD recorder is, of course, using bad old-fashioned VHS. Please see the #VHS SECTION for many important notes if you are planning on using VHS to record your run.

You can also use a capture card to capture your run directly (without recording it on VHS first). Keep in mind, though, that video capture is not an exact science by any means, and if you have never done it before, you are virtually guaranteed to throw away hours upon hours of your time and to wreck the quality of your run at least once before you learn some things the hard way. It is also extremely expensive to do properly, requiring a lot of disk space, CPU power and technical expertise to pull off. If you decide you do want to capture directly to the computer with a capture card, skip to the #CAPTURE SECTION below.

IMPORTANT: Regardless of which way you decide to capture your run, remember that if you are playing one of the Game Boy Advance games on the Game Boy Player, you will need to set the "Screen Size" to "Normal" (NOT "Full"). Also, you will need to set the Screen Filter to "Sharp" (NOT any of the other settings). Failing to do this will result in drastically lower quality video than you could achieve with the correct settings.


Begin by buying a DVD recorder that does not introduce lag. You will not be able to play very well at all if the image you see on your TV is lagging behind what is actually going on in the game. For a list of known lagless DVD recorders plus some additional tips, please see this thread on the SDA Forum.

Be sure to record on SP or better speed. See your DVD recorder's manual for more info about this. You will wreck the quality of your run if you record on a speed worse than SP.

If you decide to mail your DVD(s) to me for processing, proceed to the submission guidelines for information about how to contact Radix. Otherwise, if you want to try to encode your run yourself, keep reading.

You will need to install a large number of separate pieces of software to get your run off of the DVD and encode it to DivX. All of this software only runs on Microsoft Windows, so you will need to have access to a computer running Windows to proceed. Begin by acquiring all of the software as instructed in the #ACQUIRING CODECS section of the Capturing section of this FAQ.


Download and unzip dgmpgdec146.zip, the DGMPGDec utilities by Donald Graft. This will create the dmpgdec folder, which contains the DGIndex.exe application. Leave this folder alone for the moment.

With Avisynth installed, go to Start menu -> [All] Programs -> Avisynth -> Plugin Directory. This will open the directory where Avisynth stores its plugins. Copy the files from inside the avisynth plugins.zip zip file to the avisynth plugins directory window you just opened. You should now have five files total in the plugins folder. You can now close the folder.

Congratulations! Software installation is complete.


Begin by inserting the Finalized DVD into the DVD drive in your computer (if the DVD has not been Finalized in the DVD recorder, it probably won't work). Then open DGIndex.exe inside the dgmpgdec146 directory you unzipped during the software installation. Inside DGIndex.exe, go to File -> Open, or just hit F2. Navigate to your DVD drive and select all of the .VOB (or .M2V) files from the VIDEO_TS folder on the DVD you inserted. Hit OK twice to proceed to the main screen.

From here, simply go to File -> Save Project and save the file with a name you can remember. It shouldn't matter where you save it, but if you save it at the root level of your C: drive and name it vob, it will make later steps easier.

DGIndex will do the work of demuxing your run and, after a time, will finish and beep. From here, you will need to unzip and edit the vob.avs file. Open it in Notepad and change the C:\Program Files\AviSynth 2.5 ... lines to wherever you have your Avisynth plugins directory. If you installed Avisynth on your C: drive, these lines are probably already correct, and do not need to be changed.

Next, change the C:\vob.d2v to wherever you saved the DGIndex project file. You should not need to change this, either, if you followed my instructions earlier and saved the project file at the root level of your C: drive and called it vob.

Finally, check to see whether you have a .mpa or .ac3 audio file in the same directory where you saved the vob.d2v file. If you have a .ac3 file, rename it vob.ac3, and then change the C:\vob.ac3 in vob.avs to wherever the file is located on your system.

If you have a .mpa file, uncomment (remove the #) before the fourth line in the file and change the c:\vob.mpa to wherever the file is located on your system. Don't forget to comment (add a # before) the fifth line in the file if you had a .mpa file instead of a .ac3 file.

Save and close the vob.avs file.

Now open VirtualDub.exe in the VirtualDub-1.6.11 folder. A message will appear. Click OK to begin working in VirtualDub. From here, the process is the same as if you were capturing the video yourself. See #GETTING STARTED (EDITING). (The .avs file referenced there will be the vob.avs file you just made; no further modifications to it should be necessary.)



To start out with, consider buying a new VCR. You won't need to pay more than $50 in the US at the time of this writing, and you will get a guaranteed standard of quality for the first couple of tapes you record. After that, the cheap VCR will start to degrade, giving you poorer and poorer picture quality, and it may start to eat tapes, etc.

If you already have a trusty old VCR (probably from the early 90s or older) that you know won't let you down, you should go ahead and buy a cleaning tape from your local drug store and use it several times. Old VCRs are usually more dependable than newer ones, but you should still make sure that grime hasn't built up on the VCR's heads over the years. Nothing can stop such buildup (except not using the VCR, obviously), so you should just accept that you will not achieve full quality without coughing up a few bucks to clean the VCR.


Once your VCR is trusted and ready to go, it's time to consider your options in buying tapes. Originally there were no such things as 'high quality' tapes - all VHS tapes were created equal. Unfortunately, people are greedy little piggies, and you now have to choose between crap and crappier crap.

Let me tell you what I mean. Over the years, in order to save money, the tape manufacturers started putting less and less metal into the tapes (the stuff that actually records the video signal on the tape). That means that the VHS medium has actually gone down in quality since its birth in the late 1970s, especially if you buy the lowest grade tapes (usually labeled 'high grade' to confuse you). The existing quality of tapes were relabeled as 'super high definition' or 'super high grade.' These tapes are sometimes hard to find, but in my opinion, the increase in quality you get from these tapes makes them worth their price (usually about three times the price of a low quality 'high grade' tape). This also means that usually, the more you pay for your tapes, the better. Sorry, folks, but please remain calm and don't shoot the messenger.


You should also be aware that the longer tapes (longer than the standard T-120 length, which records two hours on SP speed) have thinner tape inside them and are not well suited to recording anything you want other people to watch (such as your Speed Run). These thinner tapes are virtually standard in Europe, so you are probably out of luck if you live there.


And don't even think for a second that the fun stops when you bring your new tapes home. Those suckers can't be trusted yet. They may have been in the back of an unairconditioned truck in a hot part of the world, and the tape inside may be more or less stuck to itself. That means that if you try to record on the tape for the first time, the tape inside will be randomly catching and snapping off of itself, resulting in a badly distorted picture until the VCR's heads reestablish good positions on the tape. Speaking from personal experience, it always seems to happen (ruining the picture) in the most critical moments, such as when Ripley first encounters the Alien Queen in Aliens (1986) on my friend's taped-from-TV copy of the movie.

Don't let a sticky tape ruin your run. Simply insert the tape into your VCR and press Fast Forward to quickly move to the end of the tape, then press Rewind when you're there to come back to the beginning (if your VCR doesn't do it for you). This process effectively "takes the fall for you," or gets out all of the tape stickage before you actually record. Obviously you will need to repeat this if the tape gets hot for some reason. It shouldn't harm the tape and should prevent almost all picture breakup due to sticky tape.


You next need to make a choice about tape speed/quality. VHS has the ability to be recorded and played back at three different speeds. The faster the tape goes by the write heads, the better quality you get. The VHS speeds are (on a T-120 tape):

SP (Short Play): 2 Hours (Acceptable Quality) LP (Long Play) : 4 Hours (Poor Quality) EP (Extra Play): 6 Hours (This Is Supposed To Be My Run? Quality)

Sony sometimes calls EP "SLP (Super Long Play)" due to their different history with VCRs. I sometimes call SLP "Super Lousy Play." You should ALWAYS use SP to record your run. If you want to record a run that's longer than two hours, just pause the game and swap tapes whenever is convenient. Try to leave at least 20 seconds of pause before and after the swap, it won't count for the time.

Set the tape speed by pressing the appropriate button on your VCR's remote (or, if you're lucky, on the VCR itself). Be sure that the tape speed is set correctly every time you sit down to work on your run, since some VCRs may not remember how you set the speed, or someone else may have been using the VCR. You do not want to change speeds in the middle of a run. Just trust me on this.


When you start recording your run, you should press Play on your VCR and wait for about thirty seconds, then press Stop. Putting a thirty second leader at the start of your tape will ensure that the VCR is not having trouble turning a really light reel of tape against a really heavy reel of tape. Picture distortion can result from the VCR not being able to turn the reels evenly. (You also might see this at the end of your tapes if you record on the very end of them.) Doing this can also be of help if you want to use the tape for something else later, since you won't have anything you can't tape over at the beginning of the tape. You don't need to do this at the start of every segment if you're recording a multisegment run -- only at the beginning of the tape.

You should also become familiar with how long it takes your VCR to start recording after you press the Record button. Older VCRs can take quite a long time to actually start recording to the tape after you press record, often ten seconds or more. You can test this by pressing Record, then immediately starting to play a game. After about half a minute, stop the tape, rewind, and take a look at how much of what you were doing didn't make it onto the tape. If a lot seems to be missing, you know you will need to give the VCR a long time after you've pressed Record to start playing.

Also, beware of ejecting the tape. Older VCRs especially tend to aggressively back up when a tape is inserted. If you're right at the end of a segment and you eject the tape and later put it back in, you could erase the end of your previous segment the next time you record. Make sure to always position the tape after the end of each segment every time you insert it. Due to the way 4-head VCRs work, you might erase part of your run even if you're right at the end of your previous segment. For this and other reasons, try to give each segment at least a five second leader of tape.

Think that's all?


Think again. VHS is an ancient, analog technology, and as such, your tapes were in their best condition before they came out of their boxes. Each and every time you play a tape, it degrades, meaning that you should avoid playing the same section of tape over and over. This is a real, tangible problem even with the most recent VCRs.

Luckily, though, the solution to this is easy: simply never rewind the tape. If you make a mistake and need to abort your run, reset your game system and keep playing; don't touch the VCR. You should only rewind the tape if you want to try again later. That way, the number of times the tape is played will be limited to the number of sessions you devote to that particular part of the game. Feel free to make sure your run is in good condition by watching the tape before you send it to me to be captured, but do not play the tape more than once after you're finished. Fast forwarding and rewinding the tape while it is playing (so that you see black and white horizontal bars over the picture of you playing) is especially damaging to the tape. You can instantly destroy ten seconds of video or more by pressing the Rewind button while the tape is playing, especially with old VCRs, so do yourself a favor and only fast forward or rewind the tape when it's not playing (first press Stop, then Fast Forward or Rewind).

Note that you can and should make a backup copy of your run before you send it to me to be captured. However, you should send the original tape(s) to me, not the backup. The original recordings will provide far better quality than the backups, and because thousands of people will be watching what I capture, you want to put your best foot forward and send me the best quality version of your run.


When you're 100% sure you're done recording onto the tape, remove the small plastic tab found to the left of the side label area (see the below section for more on that). You should be able to reach into the tab with a fingernail and pry it out, then break it completely off. With this tab removed you will not be able to accidentally record over your run (don't laugh - it's happened many times, and it could easily happen to you). This is especially important with VHS, since accidentally pressing Record for one second will probably result in ten or more seconds of ruined video.


When it comes time to label the tape, there are some considerations to be made. The proper way to label a tape is usually obvious because of the indentations in the plastic of the tape's case, but I will explain in more detail, since there is a danger of touching the tape and damaging it if you try to label it incorrectly.

If you hold the tape up so that the long side of the tape with the mechanical door and the tape inside of it is facing up, you will want to label the bottom side (not the side with the tape) with one of the long labels found in the box. You can optionally also label the top of the tape (between the two reels on the side with the appropriate indentation).

When you insert the tape into the box, be sure to insert it with the label side facing out. This guarantees that people trying to get the tape out of the box won't accidentally touch the tape and damage it. It also makes it so you can read the label (if the tape has been correctly labeled, anyway).

When you're done with your run, contact Radix for information about what to do and about where to send your run. If you live in the US, be sure to ask for "Media Mail" from the US Postal Service, because it will save you a ton of money on shipping.

I strongly recommend that you send your run to me if you recorded it using VHS, because I have invested heavily in professional grade VHS equipment and capture technology to make sure runs submitted on VHS look as good as they possibly can. Trying to capture your run yourself will almost certainly be a waste of time (yours and ours) and money. However, if you wish to capture the run yourself (or if you're curious how I will capture it), I've supplied the following section.


I will outline how I believe your Speed Run should be captured digitally based on my personal experience. This entire document represents only my opinions, obviously, yet I would guess that I am much more experienced than most with this kind of thing.


First of all, if you don't have access to a computer running Windows, and are instead using a Mac, check out the #MAC CAPTURE SECTION below.

Otherwise, I recommend the ATI All-In-Wonder 9600. If you decide to record your run on VHS and let me capture, that is the card I will use. The American version supports every video standard I've ever heard of and captures in brilliant color, with full brightness transfer and virtually no dropped frames. It also captures full framerate ready video. Coming from inferior capture devices, I literally can not say enough good things about this card, so you will have to trust me that it is the best on the market.

Be sure to download and install the most recent drivers for the card (once you have it installed) from the ATI site, since you never know what might happen to your video (in terms of quality) if you use old drivers.


The software I recommend for capture and editing is called VirtualDub. It is freeware, which means you are not expected to pay for it. If you like VirtualDub, though, you should donate a few bucks to the man who wrote it, like I did.

VirtualDub comes as a .zip file. This means you will need a program to unzip it into its own directory. I recommend WinRAR, because it allows you to simply right click on the VirtualDub .zip file and select "Extract to VirtualDub-(version number)". This is the most efficient way I've seen to unzip things in Windows, because you don't have to open a program or make your own directory for VirtualDub. No further installation is required.

In addition, in order for you to capture full framerate video you will need to download two additional pieces of software. The first, avisynth, will allow you to split the fields of the captured video so that the full framerate is restored in progressive scan (since you will be capturing interlaced video). You will probably want to associate .avs files with Notepad (as you're asked to during the installation of avisynth) to make things easier on yourself later.

The second, the Smart Bob filter for VirtualDub, will restore the full height of your video after you use avisynth (since doubling the framerate to its full value will also squish the video vertically by a factor of two). How it does this is quite ingenious, in my opinion, since it's actually giving you twice the video information seemingly out of nothing. You may not actually use this exact filter to do the job - but since you probably don't know right now whether or not your run will "bob" when captured, you should go ahead and install the Smart Bob filter just to be sure you are prepared in the event that it does "bob."


Once you have VirtualDub and the associated software ready to go, go ahead and download the codecs you will need. You will be using Huffyuv (pronounced "Huff Why You Vee," in case you're interested) as your codec when you capture. Huffyuv is also freeware. I also mirror version 2.1.1 of Huffyuv here at SDA..

Huffyuv also comes as a .zip. Do the same thing you did for VirtualDub, only this time you will need to open the Huffyuv folder, right click on the huffyuv.inf file and click "Install" in the menu that appears. This will install Huffyuv for you.

Your output codec will be the latest version of DivX, available from http://www.divx.com/divx/download/. Open the .exe file you download from there and follow the instructions to install DivX. You will probably have to reboot your computer to install it. It doesn't cost anything to install, either, though.

You don't need an input audio codec; you will just capture raw audio data without compression.

For an output audio codec, I use version 0.8.0 of the LAME ACM. This codec is a freeware MP3 encoder, maybe the best in the world. Be sure to only use the version I host here (0.8.0) - other versions have been proven to cause serious sound desyncing issues. Once you've downloaded and unzipped the file, right click on the LameACM.inf file and click "Install" to install the codec, similarly to how you installed Huffyuv. You can visit LAME's homepage to learn more about the codec, but the LAME ACM is not available there. I've decided to host it myself because it's a bit hard to find on the Internet, and because you could easily get an older version of the codec on accident.

Software installation for capturing is now complete. If you are recording your run to DVD, return to the #DVD SOFTWARE INSTALLATION section now.


Once all three codecs are installed, it's time to open VirtualDub for the first time. Double-click on the VirtualDub.exe application to open it. You are presented with VirtualDub's Dub Mode, where you apply filters to video and audio and export data to a new file. You're not ready to use this mode yet, since you still need to capture your run.


Start by hooking your VCR up to your capture card. You will probably need to use the red or black (right channel) and white (left channel) audio cables, as well as the yellow (composite video) cable. If your VCR has an S-Video output, by all means hook up your VCR using S-Video (instead of by the yellow Composite cable), though inexpensive VCRs seldom have such outputs. Press Play on the VCR or on the VCR's remote to start playing your run. You will want to have some video playing to make adjustments to the capture software before you rewind the tape and start to capture it for real.

Select "Capture AVI..." from the File menu. If all goes well, you should be blasted with a large amount of audio static and a window full of snow. If you see your run already, fine; you can skip the next step.


If you see snow, you need to tell your capture card to select the Composite or S-Video source, whichever you hooked your VCR up with. Select Source from the Video menu, select Video Composite or S-Video from the "Select a Video Source:" dropdown menu, and then hit OK. If you have a card other than the ATI All-In-Wonder 9600, this process may be different for you. Consult your card's documentation.

Once you see your run playing on your computer, it's time to set up your capture settings. Start with the three buttons in the lower righthand corner of the VirtualDub Capture Mode window. You need to click on the first button (starting at the left) and set it to 22.05 KHz, 16-bit stereo. (If you only plugged in a white cable since your VCR doesn't have stereo sound, select "mono" instead of "stereo".)

For the second button, choose 29.97 fps (if you're capturing NTSC video) or 25.00 fps (if you're capturing a PAL or SECAM video). If you are in the US or in Japan, you are most likely using NTSC. If you are in Europe, Australia or elsewhere, you are most likely using either PAL or SECAM (remember to select 30.00 fps instead of 25.00 fps if you used 60 Hz equipment to play and record your run; just don't worry about this if you don't know what that means). The third button is a display of how much bandwidth you need to write the data to the drive. There's no need to do anything with it.

Next, choose Format from the Video menu. This shows the resolution you will be capturing at. If you are capturing NTSC, select 640 x 480. If you are capturing PAL or SECAM, select 704 x 576. This resolution will help you keep the image dimensions correct on the computer, so that the game isn't distorted (compared to watching it on a TV screen). Your capture will also be ready to be transformed into a full framerate video. Hit OK to close out of the Format window.

After setting your resolution, select Compression from the Video menu. You should see the Huffyuv codec in the left part of the window. Select it and hit OK. Huffyuv will compress the video you are capturing by a factor of 2 or more without changing what you see at all. It is said to be the only non-lossy video compression codec in the world because of this. There's no need to set the audio compression now; you will do that later, after you've captured.

Finally, set where you will capture by going to the File menu and selecting "Set capture file...". You should use your largest available hard drive, or else just save as "capture.avi" or something on your Desktop for easy access. This is where VirtualDub will capture regardless of what is already on your disk in capture.avi, so make sure that the file doesn't already exist (or it will be deleted when you start to capture).

Now go to the Capture menu and select "Preferences...". Select all of the boxes before the word "Save"; there should be four of them. Then hit OK. This will save all of your settings (EXCEPT for the very first setting, the source setting on your capture card) so that you don't have to reset them the next time you capture something.


With all of your settings set, you're ready to capture. Press F6 to start VirtualDub capturing, then press Play on your VCR (assuming you're already in the right place on the tape). You should see your run start on the monitor. Keep an eye on the "Frames dropped" indicator on the right side of the VirtualDub Capture Mode window. You should stop dropping frames almost entirely once the picture clears up (after a couple seconds). If not, then there may be a problem with your CPU speed, with your hard drive speed, with your capture settings, or with your capture card. Try to use the other readouts on the right side of the window to diagnose the problem.

Beware of digital autotracking indicators. On many newer VCRs, annoying displays of the autotracking (or the time position) may cover your run. If this happens, press Rewind without stopping the tape (even though I say not to in the VHS section) and back up to just before your segment starts. If you press Play at the right time, the tape will start without trying to set the tracking again and the audio read head will sync before your segment starts. If head resyncing happens too late and the video is distorted or audio is cut out, try pressing Rewind again to move further back. If you can't avoid losing some of your run due to VHS, try to remember to start recording longer before you start playing next time. Also keep in mind that every time you press Rewind or Fast Forward while your tape is playing, you risk damage to the tape.


When you are done capturing, press Escape to tell VirtualDub to stop. Then select "Exit capture mode" from the File menu. You are now ready to start editing your newly captured run!


Create your .avs file as instructed on the Smart Bob page. Make sure that the .avs file references the video you just captured exactly, or VirtualDub won't be able to open it (and will tell you so).

Go to "Open video file..." in the File menu and open the .avs file you just made, or else find it using Windows Explorer and drag it into the VirtualDub window. avisynth processes the video you captured as the .avs file instructs it to and shows it to you in the VirtualDub displays.

The left display shows the original file, while the right display shows what you will be exporting. You will probably notice that the video is "squished" or half as tall as it should be. This is normal; you will restore the full vertical resolution in the next step.


Avisynth has helped you restore the full range of motion to your video (capturing at 320 x 240 without Avisynth, as most people do, would cause you to lose half of your motion information). Now you will need to use one of two VirtualDub filters to resize the field-split video so that it appears at a proper size. To determine which filter to use, perform the following test.

Start by dragging the slider at the bottom of the VirtualDub window until you can see yourself playing. Now, carefully move one frame at a time through your run (using the left and right arrow keys). You are looking for a change in the vertical hold of the picture every other frame, i.e. the picture will appear to "jiggle" about a half pixel up and down every frame. It helps to look at a supposedly static object (like your energy meter) to see the "jiggle" or "bob." Keep in mind that you may need to reverse the polarity of the fields (i.e. add "ComplementParity" to your .avs file) to eliminate this as explained at the Smart Bob page. Reversing the field polarity may not help; if this is the case, leave the field polarity the way it looks the best (with the least amount of "jittering").

If you see this "jittering" or "bobbing" effect regardless of whether the fields are reversed or not, then you know you need to apply the Smart Bob filter. Usually only the most recent game systems (such as the GameCube) have this problem, though, so if your video seems to stay in place pretty well, then you should skip the next step. Actually, if you apply the Smart Bob filter to a video that is not "bobbing," then you will end up with very bad quality video. Videos taken of NES and SNES games are known not to bob, while video taken of GameCube games do bob. (Note that the Game Boy Player is an important exception to this rule: no Game Boy games of any type ever bob. See below for more information about how to correct Game Boy Advance video played through a Game Boy Player.)

To apply the Smart Bob filter, select Filters from the Video menu. Then click the "Add..." button and select Smart Bob. Change the Threshold to 18, then click "OK". Click "OK" again to leave the Video Filters window. You should see your output display double its vertical resolution and return to a proper aspect ratio. You're now done restoring full motion to your video; you can safely skip the next two paragraphs.

If you have elected not to use the Smart Bob filter (because your video is not "bobbing"), you will need to apply a filter that comes with VirtualDub instead to restore the video to a proper aspect ratio. But first, if you've captured Game Boy Advance video via a Game Boy Player, you will need to do something special to correct this video before you resize it. Select Filters from the Video menu, then click the "Add..." button and select Field Bob. You want to select "Quarter scanline up" for the Even fields and "Quarter scanline down" for the Odd fields. Then hit OK, then OK again to exit the Filters window. This will correct the "pseudobobbing" introduced by Nintendo in the Game Boy Player to make Game Boy Advance video look better on interlaced TV screens. This step is not needed for any type of video other than Game Boy Advance video.

Now, regardless of whether you've captured Game Boy Advance video, select Filters from the Video menu, then click the "Add..." button and select Resize, then click "OK." The default values will probably be okay if you've captured NTSC video (for PAL and SECAM video, use 352 for the width and 288 for the height). Click "OK," then "OK" again to leave the Video Filters window. You should see the output (on the right side of the VirtualDub window) return to a normal size.

With the video restored to a good size at full framerate, use the slider at the bottom of the VirtualDub window to scroll through your video and check out what the output looks like now. If you want, you can even play the output (assuming your computer is fast enough) by clicking on the Play Output button (the button with an O next to the Play symbol).

A side note to those capturing runs done with a Game Boy Player: you may wish to crop the large border off of the video before you export. To do this, select Filters from the Video menu, then click the "Add..." button and select Null Transform. This is a filter that does essentially nothing; it is used only to crop the video that passes through it. To set the cropping, click the "Cropping" button and play with the four values shown in the window that appears. You will probably want to advance the video to an area that is particularly bright, so that you can clearly see where you should set the cropping boundary. For Game Boy Advance video, a good amount is usually around 40 pixels off of each side (assuming you resized the video as instructed above).

The height of the resulting video will almost invariably be 160 pixels (the vertical resolution of the Game Boy Advance), while the width is not so certain. It will probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 pixels, but you won't know the exact number until you carefully set the cropping boundary and check the resulting dimensions in the Filters window. Unfortunately, due to the nature of an analog television signal, there will be distortion (blurring) on the left and right edges of the Game Boy Advance image.

Complicating things even further, you will need to make sure before you finish setting the cropping boundary that the resulting dimensions (the width and the height) of the video are both divisible by 4. If they are not, you might have trouble exporting your run to DivX, which requires that both the width and the height of input video be divisible by 4. To check the dimensions of your video, hit OK in the Cropping window and check the bottommost filter's final dimensions (the set of two numbers on the right). If those two numbers aren't divisible by 4, you will need to change the cropping boundary so that they are.


You will need to decide which part of the video you want to export. To make a selection, press the Home key on the keyboard to select the first frame of your video to export and press the End key to select the first frame to be cut off of the end (the frame you can see when you press End will not be included in the export). You can easily cut off leading and trailing video you do not care about in this way.


Before you save the output, you should set the output video and audio compression. Select Compression from the Video menu, then select DivX from the list that appears. Click the "Configure" button that appears at the right to configure your DivX settings.

First of all, you will want to turn off the pesky "Profiles" turned on by default in DivX 6.x. To do this, select "none" from the Certification Profile menu near the top of the main DivX configuration window. This will allow you to export full framerate video or video with irregular dimensions.

Next, you'll want to set the bitrate, further down in the same window, to the left of "kbit/s". I typically use the maximum 4000 Kbps when I export "Insane Quality" video (full framerate video), or 2048 Kbps for its "High Quality" little brother. For "Medium" or "Normal Quality" (e.g. not full framerate video) I use 512 Kbps. For "Low Quality" you only need 128 Kbps.

If you want to use multipass encoding for superior quality, choose "Multipass, 1st pass" from the Encode Mode dropdown menu to the left of the bitrate box. Otherwise, for encoding with only a single pass, leave it at "1-pass".

Click "OK" twice to close out of the two windows and return to the main VirtualDub window.

Next, you should set the audio compression. Select Full Processing Mode from the Audio menu. Then, select Compression from the Audio menu. You should be able to select "LAME MP3" from the list that appears. Again, you will need to select a bitrate next. I use the maximum 160 Kbps for the 22.05 KHz 16-bit Stereo audio I instructed you to capture for high quality exports. For medium quality the setting is usually 64 Kbps (for stereo) or 32 Kbps (for mono). For low quality this setting is the same (because it can't go any lower). Click OK to close out of the Audio Compression window.


When you are ready to export your compressed video, press F7 and give the new file a name. Depending on the speed of your hard drive(s) and processor(s), the final export could take a long time. If you want to delay the operation until later, click the "Don't run this job now; add it to job control so I can run it in batch mode" option. Later, when you have queued all of your export jobs, you can press F4 to open the Jobs list and then press the Start button there to process all of the jobs automatically.

Note that if you selected DivX's multipass encoding under the earlier COMPRESSING step, you must click the "add it to job control" option and use the Jobs list to export your first and additional passes (or else immediately run your additional passes after you run your first pass). You must do each pass immediately after the previous one because DivX does not remember for which videos you've done which passes. To export your second or later passes, go back into the DivX settings as explained under COMPRESSION and change the option in the Encode Mode dropdown from "Multipass, 1st pass" to "Multipass, Nth pass". Then you can add the second pass of the encoding to the Jobs list (or else run it immediately if you've just run the first pass). It's thought that two passes produces the best ratio of video quality to processing time.

By the way, with multipass encoding, two passes is the minimum number you can do. The first pass produces only a blank AVI file; the second pass or higher makes your video.

While VirtualDub is exporting your video, you can optionally press F9 to display the input video as VirtualDub sees it and F10 to display the output video (uncompressed) as VirtualDub sees it. You can also select Show Status Window from the Display menu if you want to see a progress bar associated with your dub operation. (These things will already be done for you if you're not using Job Control.) Otherwise, simply minimizing VirtualDub will allow you to see a percent complete indicator in VirtualDub's icon on the Windows Taskbar.

When the dub operation completes, go find your exported video and watch it. If you see that you need to make changes (to the area selected to export, or to the video or audio compression, or to something else entirely), you can always make them in VirtualDub and export your run again.


Once you have your settings the way you want them, you can optionally save them to a special .vcf file, which you can use to restore them during future uses of VirtualDub. To do this, select Save Processing Settings from the File menu (or just press Ctrl+S). If you want to restore those settings later, select Load Processing Settings from the File menu (or press Ctrl+L) and select the .vcf file you saved earlier.


Capturing on a Mac usually involves acquiring a device that will take analog video (yellow, red and white RCA cables) and convert it into DV (a type of compressed digial video used by digital video cameras). You can also use your digital video camera as such a device (just plug your game system or VCR into the camera, then plug the FireWire cable from the camera into the computer).

On the software side you will need only iMovie (free if you know how to get it, i.e. with a new Mac).

Once you've hooked up the capture device, start your source playing and open one of Apple's capturing programs, such as iMovie. If you don't immediately see your source playing on the computer when you open iMovie, try switching into capture mode by using the capture/edit mode toggle switch. You may also need to press the Play button on the on-screen display/on your capture device to see your source playing on the screen. From here it's pretty easy - just import whatever you want, then edit your clips (by scrolling to a specific point in the clip, then pressing Command-T) so they start and end when you want them to.

Once you have your clips ready to go, export them one at a time. If you want to, you can end your capturing adventures here by exporting to MPEG-4, the highest quality Internet-friendly format offered with QuickTime (choose "Expert Settings" when you go to Share your movie). I'd use 512 Kbps for the video track and 64 Kbps for the audio track. All of the encoders should be set on "Better" quality. Also make sure that "Hinting" is turned off. This will create a file that takes up about 4.3 MB for every minute of video it contains. Feel free to play around with the two bitrates to find a level of quality you feel is satisfactory.

If you want to create a 60 FPS file (double the framerate you will create by using MPEG-4), you will need to export your clips as full quality AVI files, using the either NTSC or PAL DV codec (not DVCPRO). By installing the MainConcept DV codec on an available Windows PC, you can use VirtualDub (which, for some reason, only runs under Windows at this time) to make full framerate videos out of your clips, even though you didn't capture them using VirtualDub. For more about this, please see the EDITING VIDEO section under the #CAPTURE SECTION above.


1.6.0 - now part of the new sda knowledge base (wiki)
1.5.0 - reformatted for html and updated for the dawn of the dvd era.
1.1.1 - clarified some framerate stuff and deleted references to putting all runs submitted on vhs on dvd.
1.1.0 - added multipass encoding, how to handle the divx 6.x profiles and fixed some user interface nomenclature.
1.0.2 - added stop/swap tapes for long SS runs (Radix)
1.0.1 - removed the metroid focus.
1.0.0 - added our newfound knowledge of game boy player "pseudobobbing" to the capturing section as well as metroid prime 2: echoes's info to the "picking a game" section. also made minor corrections to the entire faq.
0.9.9 - added info about cropping runs done with the game boy player.
0.9.8 - finally added the recommended settings for medium and low quality exporting. - fixed a small typo (59.97 fps -> 59.94 fps).
0.9.7 - removed references to quicktime pro in the mac capturing section because, as USBCD36 pointed out, it's not necessary to have quicktime pro to export to mp4.
0.9.6 - made some more corrections and added a helpful link to the metroid speed runs (listed by date added, descending) at archive.org.
0.9.5 - significantly altered the faq to acknowledge the realization that not all full framerate video bobs, added info about what game boy player settings to use and also corrected a lot of unclear areas.
0.9.1 - added a new copyright notice
0.9.0 - laid out the rest of the info about 60 hz software/capturing
0.8.5 - added some more of the info about how to use virtualdub
0.8.1 - fixed huffyuv version
0.8.0 - first released version

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