How to Record and Capture Video Gameplay

In today’s  gaming world, there are many gamer’s found on the most popular video social media site YouTube (unless most are still mad and boycotting the Adsense problems) to live streaming sites like Twitch and Beam that record their video game walk-through and “Let’s play” sessions. For many, who want to start their own video game walk-through channel (whatever sub-niche or area of video games you play in) there is always the slight trouble of finding the best recording device and software that records with the best quality and less lag.

In this article, I’m going to tell you what you need to have setup to record your video game-play. These devices come in terms of hardware or software and/or internal or external video capture.

Choose Your Weapon…Choose Your Capture Card

There are two different routes to choose from as far as a video game capture card goes, these include an internal or external capture card…what’s the difference.

In general, an internal capture card would almost always be a PCI-interface type of capture that would connect on your computer’s motherboard on the PCIe expansion slot and an external capture card used today would always be a USB-interface that is now USB 3.0.

To discuss other major differences, internal capture cards in essence would use less CPU bandwidth and RAM storage than an external capture card. In addition, an internal capture card would always have a faster transfer speed than an external capture card. Internal capture cards would work great if you’re playing on one main gaming desktop.

On the contrary, an external capture card is a “mobile” choice if you plan on playing on multiple gaming computers or laptops while traveling or wherever you are; but, keep in mind that the transfer speeds are somewhat slower and takes somewhat longer to process.

Elgato HD60 Pro Internal Capture Card

elgato hd60 pro internal capture card

One of the newest additions of internal video capture hardware that has been out for the past couple of years now available for Windows PC’s in the Elgato HD60 Pro Internal Capture Card is one of the most popular capture hardware choices for capturing and streaming gameplay with and is one of the most reliable capture cards as far as lag reduction and latency goes (until 4k capture card hardware comes out)

elgato hd60 pro internal capture card installed

A Look at the Elgato HD60 Pro Internal Capture connected to a PCIe slot in a desktop computer

The Elgato HD60 Pro capture card provides an 18-pin PCIe connection to record at 1080p with a consistent 60 frames per second (FPS). This internal capture card provides an H.264 encoder that is built-in to provide the live streaming feature to record straight to Twitch and YouTube from your PC and captures input from Xbox One and PS4 consoles.

In terms of requirements, the Elgato HD60 Pro can only be used in 64-bit Windows 10 OS platforms and the processor

must be a 4th generation Intel i5 (i5-4430 or above…otherwise it will start lagging off the bat when you hit record) and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 600 series GPU at minimum to work properly.

The best parts of using this internal capture card is that it will allow you to go back to the past 5 or so minutes of game-play if you forget to hit the record to go on-the-air at the point you wanted to and there is built-in live commentary that can be added in your recording (this can’t be edited once put in your recording or stream).

Elgato HD60 External Capture Card

elgato hd60 external capture card

Capturing externally is another option as far as recording game-play goes and is considered the “middleman” way of capturing between two different consoles whether it is from Xbox One to PC, PS4 to PC, or PC to PC (laptop to desktop).

elagato hd60 capture card

A look at the connections for the Elgato HD60 External Capture Card

Similar to the HD60 Pro internal card mentioned previously, the Elgato HD60 External Capture Card also provides a maximum throughput of about 60FPS at 1080p resolution and H.264 encoding to record gaming footage or do live-stream with.

The differences between these two devices is obviously the interfacing of each device with the HD60 external card using a USB 2.0 interface and the HD60 Pro internal card using a PCIe interface. Also, the HD60 external card provides the ultimate benefit the HD60 Pro doesn’t have in placing the recorded game-play and audio in separate files to get an opportunity to add clips and after-the-fact commentary in your own editing software instead of in one whole file together.

Besides working with Windows, the Elgato HD60 capture card will also work with the new Mac Sierra OS platform as long as there is a minimum i5-4200 processor (above 2.0 Ghz) and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 600 GPU.

No Capture Card…Use Capture Software

Another way to capturing your video game walk-throughs and moments could be by using a low-cost alternative in usage of a capture software program that would work with your graphics card to capture and save your video files internally to share to YouTube. Of course, there are some capture software programs that have their own editing software and a way to live stream.

The only requirements and rules to using capture software applies the same to the capture cards listed earlier in this article as far as processing power and GPU goes. I’m going to show below some stand-alone capture software (not built-in or come with capture hardware) we use and what we recommend to other “budget gamers” out there that want to capture gaming footage without a capture card.

Bandicam

bandicam game capture software

Bandicam is one of the earliest game capture programs and applications  that is still used today (other than Fraps that was released back in 1999…Bandicam was first released in 2009) as well as one of the cheapest found to capturing game footage.

Bandicam provides two modes of recording that you can use while recording from your PC…these include the game recording and screen recording modes. The game recording mode has the best quality feature of the two which records high definition quality video games with higher frame rates (Up to 144FPS if playing in 4K/UHD) while screen recording mode can only be used for low quality and low frame rate applications (flash/browser gaming and presenting powerpoint presentations). For the paid version of this software, you can record up to about 24 hours of game footage.

There is a third mode of recording that can be used if you don’t want to capture and record internally…this mode is the device recording mode which can capture and record externally from your Xbox One, PS4, or other device like IPTV top boxes that has an HDMI interface. This mode does require an external or internal capture card to use this mode; but, it’s there if you don’t want to go off your GPU and CPU alone…

XSplit Gamecaster

xsplit gamecaster recording software

One of the most used gaming capture software programs to be used in this generation of gaming today is XSplit Gamecaster, which provides not only a recording platform; but, also a streaming platform to easily setup and authenticate right from a simple UI overlay on your screen without going through a capture card (XSplit does also capture from a console through the “Open Console Viewer” in the software; but, it requires a capture card and purchase of a full XSplit software license). XSplit supports streaming to YouTube and Twitch as well as streaming to other platforms like to Facebook Live, UStream (now IBM Cloud Video), and Daily-Motion.

In terms of what is not in Bandicam that is in XSplit Gamecaster, XSplit provides a “chroma key” capability which gives the option of making your webcam overlay background transparent or invisible if you choose to show your face in the game HUD (many people like to see your reaction while playing).

Another special feature to XSplit Gamecaster is the BRB (Be-Right-Back) Mode that will give you the opportunity to

xsplit gamecaster settings screen

A look at some of the settings in the XSplit Gamecaster software

upload a custom BRB screen (this helps so anyone watching your stream doesn’t have to look at a solid color desktop background or to see your 500 program icons on the desktop) if you need to step away for a moment without ending the stream to take a 5 minute break or to pause to adjust any settings outside the video game program.

One other thing that XSplit offers in their recording and streaming software is an annotations feature to be used for say…showing your play-by-play moves in-game or demonstrating and explaining your plan or strategy of getting by a certain area (always helps to lay it out in black-and-white for others who are stuck on a certain level or map).

Mirillis Action!

Mirillis Action! Recording Settings in the User Interface

Another gaming capture software and considered our most favorite out of the three capture software programs we’ve listed is Mirillis Action! which is very similar in a way to XSplit Gamecaster; but, is considered more simpilistic and has less features than XSplit.

Mirilis Action! allows you to record gameplay up to 4k resolution from 15 frames all the way up to the maximum of 120

Mirillis Action! allows 4k Livestream and a way to livestream platform manually through the custom option

A look at the custom RTMP option of the livestream section of Mirillis Action! This is an example of what to put in the fields when setting up Restream.io

frames per second as well as supports live-streaming to different platforms such as Youtube, Twitch, Livestream, UStream, and other platforms automatically. There is also a way that a user can configure a stream platform manually through the “custom” option in the drop down list where you can list the stream server and key in this section…It’s useful if you want to stream to multiple platforms through a third-party stream app like Restream where you would have to use the custom option.

There is also a benchmarking feature in the Mirillis Action! capture software that allows you load test your GPU and CPU to figure out the average of FPS being used while recording to learn more about the performance of each while running a program that can be used to optimize for recording and live-streaming without the performance lagging in game or on-screen.

Like XSplit, Mirillis Action also provides a chroma key feature which can be used to make a transparent background against a colored screen (will work nicely with a green screen…and this is by default when the program is installed first hand). The only difference between the two capture programs here is that XSplit will allow a background removal program like Tri-Def to be used if you don’t have a green screen whereas Mirillis Action! does not allow this to be used in their software (just use a green screen, it’s not worth working without one if you are wanting to become a professional streamer).

The other main difference seen with Mirillis Action! is with it’s webcam overlay feature which can only be adjusted from the UI via the horizontal and vertical position sliders in the interface instead of a game application or presentation screen that is seen with XSplit…this is considered the only minor drawback seen with this program; but, is easy to adapt to this setting as you know how it works.

Besides all of these key features, it is same as the other capture software programs as far as adjust audio and video bitrates with the usual settings(recommended to keep these at default), setting up the hotkeys, and configuring your hardware acceleration setting (also set by default based on GPU…just make sure it is set to AMD App or NVIDIA NVENC and don’t disable it or set it to x.264 that runs on the CPU (this should only be used for hyper-threaded CPU’s that demand this)

 

Other Equipment Required

Besides getting a compatible capture card and/or capture software to work with your operating system, the other must-have and recommended equipment that is needed would be to have a media editing software like Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Premier Pro. Of course, you can always use the editing software that comes with your capture card…it all depends on your preference.

For capturing your audio and commentary (unless you want to be completely mute with no commentary), it would be another recommendation of picking up a headset (check out our 2017 and 2016 Headset Recommendation links below for headset recommendations) with a microphone especially one that would work good in canceling out background noises or a stand-alone recording microphone like the Blue Yeti USB Microphone that provides high quality sound and has reduced latency (pick up a pop filter if you decide to go with a standalone mic).

If you decide to use an external capture card, then it would be a wise idea to have some longer HDMI cable on hand if you don’t want to move your console and monitor around since the HDMI cable that does come with the capture card can be shorter than expected.

Click Here for 2016 Gaming Headset Recommendation List

Click Here for 2017 Gaming Headset Recommendation List

Andrew Simmons

Chief, Author/Writer for Hammered Gaming Blog. 15+ year gaming experience. Always a big fan of most first-person and third-person, action/adventure, and racing games from Forza Motorsports to Rainbow Six.

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