Windows PC options: Fraps or GameCam or something else, forgot what it’s called. Haven’t messed with this in years, ever since I went Mac to be able to record while playing the game normally with the UI showing – but the UI not getting recorded!
NOTE: The Mac OS X World of Warcraft client (client is the program you have installed on your computer that allows you to play WoW) incorporates video and audio recording as a built-in, officially supported feature. It works VERY well – better than Fraps ever could, since it allows recording everything on the screen as if the UI wasn’t there.
I bought this computer, a 1.5-y.o. 2.8gHz iMac specifically to record Wow movies on. Bought an extra 4GB Ram from some aftermarket computer parts company for about $100 that would’ve cost $1000+ if I’d gotten it straight from Apple – no joke. I do not have two HD’s, which is really the standard – you want to play off one HD and record to the other supposedly. I do have an aftermarket USB HD that I used for the massive amount of footage for the big “Every Boss In The Game” video, but it’s long since dormant.
So, RAM. Big deal. Get lots of it. You will be stressing the hell out of your graphics card to make the game look good and record at a high resolution at the same time. A good setup will cost you about $3-5,000. Why Mac? – Because the recording function is native to the Mac OS X Wow-client, for unknown reasons. But it’s there and it’ll let you record without recording the UI, while you play the game with the UI showing, meaning you can coordinate with actors, raid members, do your job normally as dps/heal/tank or do whatever – pvp – with the UI as normal, while making it look seamless and UI-less in the final movie product. Can’t beat that WITH A STICK.
Click the Wow Wiki link on the right for more Mac Movie Recording goodness.
I live in San Diego. The Ravenholdt server is supposedly located in Seattle, WA – according to wowwiki. My ping is generally in the low 40s to 50s through a cable internet service. I have my in-game fps capped at 40 through a /uiscript that you can find on the official Wow Mac Support forum and the wow wiki pages. It reduces resource drains a bit sometimes. I record at 1280×800 which is as close as Wow will let me get to the lowest lowest HD size that’s normally 1280×720, with movie fps capped at 20. You will rarely be able to tell the difference.
UI and non-UI addons eat up massive resources when you’re recording. Raid and pvp recording gets even worse. Therefore my UI selection is extremely sparse.
Feral-specific timer bar/spell recommendation addon
…are the cornerstones, a few others to build on that and I’m all set. Nothing crazy fancy. Simple. Easy. Effective. Nothing that I can’t fix in minutes on patch-day. Nothing more complicated than my technologically challenged *** can easily understand.
Codec: H.264 – can’t beat this codec right now. I’d give you details but I don’t know them, just trial and error and recording and editing and compressing the same stupid little clip to try to figure out what would work best for me and my system. I’m not kidding. I’ll record staring at a wall in game for ten seconds, then go through the entire post-production editing process with render and everything just to figure out settings and size and codecs and whatnot. Beware of what you’re getting into, there are NO easy shortcuts here, unless you just want to toss something up on Youtube and call it a day.
I have a hotkey set to toggle recording of the UI, and another to toggle compressing of the recorded audio and video (the Mac Wow client does it separately, and the uncompressed files are a bit large, depending on what you’re doing).
Quality – High
Record Cursor – HELL NO. It’s distracting and looks like ***.
Record Sound – Yes. Music is good but we need the sound to connect us to the game world.
Show Recording Icon (on minimap) – HELL YES. I once accidentally recorded ALL of a Sunken Temple Run – minus every single bossfight, since I thought I was toggling on movie recording before, and toggling off movie recording after – every bossfight. Turns out I was doing the exact opposite. For a few hours. Umm yeah. LFG ST full run again please. Btw finding groups depends on – day of the week, time of day, your communication skills, your /who skills, your spec/alt-tab quickarmory browsing skills, player reputation and such. After pugging and recording every single instance at an appropriate level while leveling on three different feral tanks – yes, I am the master at putting together PuGs.
Compress at login – no.
Compress After Recording – NO. I need control.
Framerate – 20. They won’t notice.
Medium View Distance
Low Terrain Blend
Medium Particle Density
Low Shadow Quality
High Environ Detail
Medium Ground Clutter
Medium Ground Clutter Radius
Low Texture Resolution
Low Texture Filtering
Medium Weather Intensity
Low Player Textures
Specular Lighting – ON
Full-Screen Glow Effect – ON
Death Effect – ON
Projected Textures – OFF
…Adjusted to suit, or not if I forget. Either case I mess with them constantly depending on what’s happening.
Once done recording I try to compress while alt-tabbed. Another /console command sets my in-game fps at 02 when I’m alt-tabbed, so compressing goes super-quick if I just log out to the character selection screen and go browse the internet or whatever. Now I’m in a .mov format that unfortunately can’t be read by Final Cut Express… dammit. Hate this part. Don’t know why. Something is wrong in the codec or whatever.
/console maxfps X (a value of zero will remove the cap)
/console maxfpsbk X (determines framerate when WoW is in the background)
So now I have to open the .mov into Quicktime Player Pro (the latest version of Quicktime won’t let me do this) and export it into an .mp4 format – usually at 20+fps and 10000kbps – kiloBITSpersecond – not kiloBYTES. This can then be imported into Final Cut Express which is Apple’s intermediary video editing program, between the bundled iMovie and the professional-grade Final Cut Pro. I have a hard enough time figuring out FCE, so this is as complicated as I’m willing to go.
Titles I sometimes mess with in LiveType, and I also have VLC Player and MPEG Streamclip and DivX player installed for those videos that just won’t play on QTP.
Export and render final movie into a sort of H.264 MP-4 basic codec. Again, trial and error. DivX didn’t work out for everyone who wanted to watch my movies. MOV is fail. AVI I couldn’t produce reliably. Google video formats and your head will spin unless you’re smarter than I am. I wish I was smart but I’m just a guy who gets things done, an operator, a doer of deeds – not the guy who knows stuff and why and how. I mess with the KBPS number a bit, somewhere between 2500 and 5000 usually gives good results. Final quality is what matters. I’ve literally tried out exporting under damn near every single option in FCE just to see what would work. God what a pain.
Oh yeah. One last thing. It took me over a year to figure out why my FCE-exported movies were at such poor resolution. Turns out the user preferences and something called “Sequence Settings” were at default values cutting my movie visual quality and sharpness IN BLOODY HALF. Yep, one or two entire movies destroyed. I had a lowbie 13 rogue/26 feral druid pvp video that was actually kinda funny, but you’ll never see it and I don’t even want to watch it because it’s so damn granular and pixelated to be UGLY. And now I can’t fix it because I destroyed the source footage in despair. I thought there was nothing I could do, and discovered too late that it was just some user-preference settings in FCE that was killing final quality. See – the people who write these programs are good with audio and video and computers, and are blinded by their own aptitude for this kind of stuff – so they – through no fault of their own – just kind of assume that it’s easy for everyone. WHEN IT’S NOT. This stuff makes my brain hurt. Lack of tooltips and easy help menus makes me suffer. I just don’t understand, and two years later I still don’t. Oh well. Happy go lucky.
This is what a movie really looks like while it’s being made:
At one point or another I knew the exact location and purpose of every single one of those clips and sound effects or voiceovers. Ain’t that a *****.
I worked my butt off trying to figure out how better to import stuff into FCE. Turns out I can use QTPP (old version) to export into 1280*720 at 25fps using Apple Intermediate Codec and .MOV file format and save myself a ton of trouble. Superfast – and less rendering in FCE. Win. P.i.t.a. to figure it all out though.
First movie I ever made, NSFW, contains part of a now banned Pennywise video that was filmed inside a bar they turned into a stripclub and apparently didn’t check – or didn’t check rigorously enough – the “open audition” girls who showed up to be in a punk rock video: