Someone recently commented on a Gaming Facebook group on how to record Xbox gameplay for YouTube. So in my effort to assist him, I decided to write an article that would help not only him, but many others facing the same scenario.
If you’re an avid gamer and want to share your gameplay with the world, get feedback on your skills, and trade video game stories with others, the easiest way to do this is to record yourself playing and then upload the video to YouTube. This type of video has its own category, called Let’s Play or LP.
While the Xbox One has recording and sharing features built-in, they can’t really replace high-quality, well-edited videos. If anything, they have just flooded social networks with a load of terrible footage that no one actually wants to watch. If you’re interested in producing high quality game-related content to share on YouTube, though, viewers are always interested in seeing it.
Producing high-quality videos isn’t actually all that difficult, so long as you have the right software and hardware ready to go. You need the correct hardware to record the gameplay and the right software to edit the video before you share it.
So in this guide, I will show you what you need to record quality Let’s Play game videos, and provide some guidance on recording and editing them.
Choose your game
Your first step in making a Let’s Play video is an obvious one: picking the right game to record. If you’re making your game video for fun and to share with a few others, you’re probably going to choose your favourite games. However, if you plan to grow your audience and become the next YouTube star, you will want to think about which games will attract attention and draw a large audience.
The games you record yourself playing should be visually interesting in some way—even if it’s for how terrible the graphics are, for example. You’ll want to avoid games that are very repetitive, because these can bore your viewers.
Extremely popular games will have a lot of videos dedicated to them on YouTube, to the point that YouTube is saturated with them. New gameplay videos of Fortnite, for example, are going to have a very difficult time getting noticed for two reasons;
- First, your Fortnite video will face competition from thousands, if not tens of thousand (or even more) of other Fortnite videos out there. It will be very difficult to get noticed in this mass of content.
- Second, with all that saturation there will become audience boredom. Fresh takes on a game like this can be hard to find, and people will eventually tire of them.
The right Capture Device
Right, so now you have chosen your game or games of choice. Next comes one of the main pieces of hardware you need, especially if you’re recording from a console such as the Xbox One. A video capture device. This allows you to record the video output of the game and store it as a video file on your computer, be it desktop or laptop.
There are two main types of capture cards: internal and external. A capture card is installed one of two ways. Internally, by installing it in a free expansion slot (For desktops only). Or, externally, connected via a USB or thunderbolt connection to a computer (Both desktops and laptops). Depending on the device and what you are capturing, you will be using HDMI cables, component cables, or DVI cables.
There is a ton of options out their for capture cards, my personal recommendations would be the following;
- Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
- AVerMedia AVerCapture HD
- AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable
- Hauppauge HDPVR Rocket
- Hauppauge HDPVR 2 Gaming Edition
- Roxio Game Capture HD Pro
Important Capture Device Terms:
- Capture: The process of capturing live video and audio in analog composite video, RF modulated video, S-video, or digital video such as SDI (Serial Digital Interface) or HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface).
- Record: The process of recording video and/or audio into digital data (in the form of a media file) that is compatible with your computer.
- Stream: The process of transmitting or receiving data over a network as a constant, continuous flow allowing playback to proceed while subsequent data is being received.
- Encode: The process of converting raw sequences of characters into a coded form. CPU encoding to H.264 is one of the most commonly used formats of video content.
- Broadcast: The process of distributing and sharing video and/or audio content with an audience via any electronic mass communication medium. Along with broadcasts types such as podcasting for example, video game streaming is one of the latest types of modern broadcasting. It has recently been made possible by faster internet connections and better hardware.
Communicate with your Audience
Some video capture devices support a microphone for live commentary. Adding your own commentary to your video requires a microphone. You can use an internal microphone on your laptop, or the mic on a gaming headset; however, if you want a better, more professional sounding audio, you’ll want to get a dedicated USB microphone.
A popular choice among podcasters and many video producers on YouTube is Blue’s Snowball mic. You can also step up in quality and go for the Yeti Studio, also from Blue. However, if you are on a budget you can try the AFX USB Microphone or the ADX Firecast.
A pop filter (also called a pop guard, pop shield, and pop screen) is a simple filter that attaches to your mic to prevent the popping sounds that can be caused when fast-moving air hits the mic when you’re speaking into it. They diffuse and deflect the rushing air caused by pronouncing sounds like “p.” Pop filters can also keep spit from getting on your mic. If however, you are again on a budget, you can always grab a pair of tights and fashion your own makeshift filter (Top-tip)!
Can you handle the heat?
Trying to edit a video on a computer that’s not up to the video editing task can be frustrating, resulting in slow-loading menus and sluggish video playback, even choppy output. The right hardware is crucial for high-quality and efficient video editing. If you’re patient, you might be able to get by with cheap hardware, but that isn’t always true. Here is a couple of key considerations:
- RAM: You don’t need a high-end gaming computer to do some video touch ups, but it isn’t uncommon to need upward of 4 to 8GB of RAM for some video processing. (The more RAM, the better, as timeline-scrubbing will chew through your reserves).
- Hard drive space: If your game is hours long or high resolution (especially 4K quality), or both, it can take up an enormous amount of storage space. Direct recorded footage can easily eat up GB’s of storage before it’s edited, rendered, and compressed. Consider getting another hard drive, such as an external hard drive, if your main drive has only a small amount of free space.
Time to get your hands dirty…
Your video capture hardware may come with software for recording your game, but it might not have all the features you’re looking for if you want to produce a truly professional-looking video. A free option for recording video is Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). This is a popular open source application that is designed for game capturing, in fact, many top YouTube Content Creators & Twitch Streamers will use this software. You can choose from a huge offering of both free and commercial video editing software.
My personal recommendation for anyone starting out would be to use Wondershare Filmora. It’s a fantastic piece of software that is easy to use, comes with some powerful features out-of-the-box, and doesn’t cost the earth. The best part is you can start using this for free direct from their website here.
When your ready to step-up your game even more, then you’ll need some professional software. These can be very expensive, so unless you have cash to burn, or have monetised your content already, then probably should be avoided initially. They also come with a far greater learning curve. The two options I would recommend here would be Vegas Pro and Adobe Premiere/Adobe AfterEffects. I personally use these, more so with the latter offerings from Adobe.
Set it all up
So your all geared up with hardware, you have your software at the ready, so what’s next? Your video capture device works by interposing itself in the video signal from your gaming system to your TV or monitor. The device then allows you to connect a computer, with a USB cable for example, and feed the video simultaneously to your computer where the video capture software records it—all without interfering with your gaming.
As an example, here is how you would connect the capture device to a games console to record video.
When you have your gameplay video and your commentary audio ready, your next step is to combine them into a single video file that you will upload to your YouTube channel. You can do this in the video editing software you’ve chosen, such as Filmora, Adobe Premiere, or other software. Apply your editing prowess and start drawing in that audience!
Hopefully this guide will become useful to many. I may follow up with a more in-depth look into the software, and editing for beginners if there is enough interest. Leave some feedback or comments, and enjoy your gaming!