Photos, video, audio, streaming and capture, an introduction.

Discussion in 'Computer Software and Operating Systems' started by FAST6191, Sep 9, 2014.

  1. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom

    Much of life is governed by what we sense things by, technology is often made to help or stimulate this. Many find it enjoyable to consume and produce content for one or more of said senses and that typically falls into

    Photos/still images

    The modern world has also seen video and audio streaming as well as video capture become a popular activity, it is certainly reflected in the questions we get asked around here and so it is going to be covered. Until you need to buy hardware (and that can both sneak up on you and be put off for a while) you can do most things for free, as with most pieces of free software it might be a bit more clunky or poorly supported but this is not a certainty (many free and open source things can do things better than the commercial world if you are willing to learn them).

    Video is something of an umbrella topic as it will draw from still images, audio and footage capture aspects. However video alone has its in depth topics and most will probably not find themselves contemplating the harder aspects of audio production when dealing with videos.

    3d modelling and text typesetting

    This topic will aim to cover the technical and the artistic basis for the video, audio, photos, streaming and capture. With that said though there are two other areas that warrant a passing mention. However this little intro is already in the thousands of words so anything in depth will be left for another thread.
    3d modelling then. It is both another area and an area used in still images and video (it is hard to get a world war 1 vintage tank to film and blow up, a 3d model of one is a far easier prospect)

    For that there are generally three main classes
    1) Artistic.
    2) Games. Games can not display as much detail as some of the artistic stuff, though for the most part they are combined together.
    3) Computer aided design (CAD), designed for engineers to use to build products. There are 3d oriented pieces of software to do this, however if you are used to them rather than the art focused ones then you can also do artwork with them.

    Blender ( ) is a nice free tool for artistic and games type use.
    terragen ( ) might be worth a look at as well. For CAD you have a few options, most paid but there also many free/low cost options. are autodesk (inventor fusion being one of the better free options they have), creo/PTC and SketchUp. and have more on CAD. 2d cad is still in heavy use but probably not what we want to cover here, though librecad and draftsight do well.

    As we are covering creative stuff then some might also like text layout//typesetting desktop publishing.
    For that we will only suggest tex, which in turn gives rise to latex ( ) and that gives rise to Lyx ( ). Tex is the standard by which everything else is measured and mostly comes up short.
    If you really really have not got the time to learn one of those, or just need a two page type document/menu/post, then Scribus, Adobe indesign and maybe Microsoft publisher will do in a pinch. Really though if you have the need for a professional document there is no excuse for not using something based on tex.

    Back on topic

    Photos and still images.
    Perhaps the oldest form of artistic expression, certainly the oldest one still with us, give or take sculpting which probably rose up around the same time.
    For most their introduction to image editing came with the bundled Windows program "paint". Like most bundled Windows programs paint is woefully inadequate compared to what those needing real capabilities need, it also does not feature several very key concepts in image editing.

    Said key concepts are probably considered
    Layer masks
    Selection editing

    The short version of each of those is
    Layers are much like the name implies and are things that stack up to form the full image. They can be both in the image, used to generate/direct the image and used in construction (think construction lines in technical drawing). They are immensely useful if your image is composed of elements that you might want to shuffle.
    Layer masks are ways to help dictate what parts of a layer show through, this is in addition to the layer opacity and blending methods that might be available.
    Selections are what they sound like. Here you select a part of the image you want to edit (or indeed make it so the unselected parts are safe from editing) and do what you need to do with the selection, up to and including moving (cut and paste) it to a new layer. There are many types of selection and means by which you can do it, including several automated ones.

    Everything else are basically just fancy brushes, tweak techniques and filters. Very useful tools and ones you can spend days learning in their own right but still fancy brushes, tweak techniques and filters.

    For some examples of the power of layers, selections and some aspects of layer masks then the following two videos do well is also worth looking at, as is
    Both come from which often has nice information on fonts, design concepts and more.

    Vector images.
    Paint, and most other options for image editing, typically work at the pixel level. This means that trying to increase image size, or scale oddly in some cases, is hard, not to mention editing placements of components of an item can be even harder. However if you define your image by numbers and equations you can scale it as much as you like, edit components in any number of ways and generally not have to worry about the quality implications of resizing.

    Photos and drawing
    Photos are typically taken with cameras, however in recent years video cameras have got such that you can pull good still images from them.
    Photography is more than point it in the right direction and press shoot (though modern cameras allow you to get very close to that), however it is arguably beyond the scope of this post. For that you could do worse than watch some of
    Pay particular attention to the concepts of RAW and camera techniques (use a tripod, know what focus is....).

    You can draw with a mouse, you can even draw with a keyboard. However most people learn to draw in real life with a pencil/pen/stylus and they tend to want real life style actions in a computer. This is why we have drawing tablets. At the most basic level you have your basic touchscreen; this is not considered all that useful for various reasons, the most prominent of which is that they typically lack pressure sensitivity. Other reasons include the lag between doing and seeing, though this is not always a fixed issue in the more expensive options. This typically does extend to using a android tablet or something as a poor man's drawing tablet but you are not without options here, equally some of the samsung tablets feature wacom's technology and wacom, as discussed in a moment, are the main brand in this arena.

    The wacom line of tablets is both the entry level (ish) and stretches into the higher end as well.

    Other tablet lines include monoprice tablets, lower prices in many cases and they work like it. However they are an acceptable entry into graphics tablet world.
    Vistablet, not held in the highest regard but if you found one on the street you could probably get something going on with it.

    Still image related software.
    The subject of many a holy war. For most people the gold standard in image editing is Adobe's photoshop program (Adobe will be coming up several times in this as they have some of the highest grade software in still, vector, photo, audio and video realms) and it is very good.

    Note that modern versions only come as part of "creative cloud" which is a subscription service. Older versions can be found that are standalone.

    Corel PaintShop Pro
    One of the biggest rivals to photoshop, it was once one of the biggest programs in this world but time has not been the kindest. It is still very good though.

    The following programs are open source or freeware.

    Arguably the open source/free software world's answer to photoshop and paint shop pro. Debate rages as to how good it is compared to those programs, the fact remains you can quite easily and quite happily do some very professional work in it. Indeed the videos you have seen thus far can just as easily be done in GIMP. Where it tends to fall down is in support for RAW formats in photos (though there are plugins) and where photoshop and co might have some plugins to do a given action. Equally the GUI is somewhat different so people coming from photoshop can struggle a bit, there was previously a project called gimpshop that aimed to replicate a bit of the photoshop UI but it is abandoned the and the URL has been taken over by malware pushers so best to avoid that.
    The GIMP documentation is well worth having a look through, even if you do not plan to use GIMP and just need to learn some basic image editing,
    Equally many people have made tutorials on video sites, not to mention the photoshop stuff can largely be replicated once you get the hang of the GIMP GUI.

    A kind of halfway house between GIMP and below. Some have taken to its GUI more readily as well.
    Somewhat more simplistic than the other tools here, however it does have layers, brushes and filters and a GUI that is pretty user friendly.

    Not an image editor like the others in this list, it is however a very powerful toolkit for image editing when you have to do lots of similar actions. Commonly used in web servers that might need to handle images.

    More specialist fields like sprite/2d animation have their own software that they might like to use. Others will still use the existing/conventional editors. and would be programs worth looking at for sprite work.

    Vector images.
    Adobe's Illustrator program is arguably the top of the line here

    Free software will tend to lean towards Inkscape. It is not necessarily designed as a replacement for/competitor to illustrator but will certainly handle most of your vector image needs.

    Corel have CorelDRAW as their vector image editor.

    If you just want to play back your videos we generally suggest or
    Both have issues and quirks but will generally play back everything.
    There is also a portable version of VLC ( ) if you want to have one around to play back on any given machine.
    If you fancy some more towards a media library/video management option then XBMC/Kodi is the main suggestion.

    Display enough still images at a quick enough pace and you can make an image that appears to move. Technology to do it became available only in the recent past, at least when compared to still images and audio, but computers have since rendered it well within the realms of hobbyist and amateur (including free) and enabled them to make spectacular works.
    As with most specialist fields there is a whole lexicon that comes with it.
    For now
    Container. You probably know it as the extension in which the video comes, AVI, MKV, MP4, MOV, RMVB, WMV, IFO/VOB (DVD), FLV... all well known containers. Some have standards and codecs associated with them but they are all still containers for multimedia. This also means "will this play MKV files?" is perhaps not the question you want to be asking as the MKV will probably not be the problem but what the MKV holds might be.
    Codecs and standards. MPEG are the biggest group here, you would probably have heard of MPEG1 (seen commonly in MPG files), MPEG2 (seen in DVDs), MPEG4 ASP (seen in things like Divx and xvid) and MPEG4 AVC (aka H264). Microsoft and Apple have their own options as well, though they are kind of interrelated with MPEG in a lot of cases. Standards then are the format of the encoding of the images that make up the video, codecs are things that decode or encode video into said standards. It gets a lot more messy as you can have levels with the standards but we will not go there just yet. In some parts of the world (most notably the US and Japan) software patents exist so just because things like xvid and X264 are free does not mean you are allowed to use the MPEG4ASP and H264 standards in a commercial use, you may possibly not also be allowed to download the compiled versions of the said software either.
    Resolution is how many pixels tall and wide it is, the ratio of this is known as aspect ratio.
    Framerate is how many frames per second the video is intended to play at.
    Bitrate is how much space a video encoder aims to use per second of footage.

    Video converting
    A popular activity is converting videos from one form to another, possibly for size or decode resources reasons, more commonly because a device might be limited in what it can decode/play back reasonably. Depending upon what you are converting from and converting to this can be a nightmare.
    You typically face two problems though
    1) Source type
    2) DRM/encryption.

    Though video is a relatively new medium it still has seen a lot of development in its history. One of the main things would probably be handling of frame rates and the use of interlacing. If your source (like a DVD) uses these then you will typically want to fix that in most videos played back on a computer/device of some form. For the most part trust your mechanic software to handle this, at least until it falls over and you have to sort it. When it does fall over though the following the following should be a basic grounding in them and a few related concepts.
    There is the related concept of aspect ratio (the ratio of width of the screen to height of the screen) and resolution (most videos are surprisingly low resolution when considered from the perspective of modern screens) but those are fairly easily dealt with, preferably by resizing (if the device will not do it for you) though in the case of the former you may also consider letterboxing.
    Frame rates, especially when concepts like pulldowns appear, are hard to deal with. For the most part you want all your footage to be the same framerate and changing it to something other than a multiple or division that leaves a whole number is hard. It is possible to change though, though it may come at the cost of quality of the motion in your video. Pulldowns are a legacy concept made primarily for NTSC video (the standard used in North America, Japan and several other places), the most common was the 3:2 pulldown. It was necessary because most video cameras that did film ran on 24 frames per second where NTSC outputs 30 frames a second (possibly due in part to the power grid running at 60Hz, 30x2 fields = 60, PAL's 25 then going with the 50Hz of AC electricity in a lot of PAL regions). Speeding it up, as was often done for PAL, is not an option as it is readily detectable so instead they replayed fields in a certain pattern (wouldn't you know it was 3:2) to bring it up to the required number of fields. It can appear juddery but most people that watch it regularly do not see it, the judder is then mainly seen by visitors from PAL countries. Sports broadcasts, some news broadcasts, some soaps and certain other things do actually record in 30 frames per second and avoid the need for a pulldown, however this can trouble other things if you have mixed frame rate footage. Even newer video cameras, and slow motion cameras, record at even higher framerates, what benefits these have is up for debate in most cases as far as the end user is the concerned.
    Those more used to computer games may be balking at the low frame rates mentioned here, there are various reasons why this works for normal video ( ) but the shorter version is proper motion blur, like what a camera captures and games do not presently feature, is good.

    Interlacing is a legacy concept that will just not go away. It holds no great place in the modern world but screen and standard makers still keep it around. In short it is a way by which video frames are split (into what are called fields) that are made up up alternating lines of the original frame. Originally it helped with older TVs but, as mentioned, it stuck around long after it ceased to be useful. To get rid of it (and make a "progressive" image, hence terms like 1080i(nterlaced) and 1080p(rogessive)) you have to deinterlace. If you do not then you usually get nice black lines, known as combs, all over the image. There are many methods of deinterlacing (reduceby2, discard, bob, weave and a whole lot of very complex ones ), for the most part though it is a tradeoff between quality of the results and speed at which it is done.

    DRM/encryption then. Those that made DVDs, blu ray discs and stream online video do not typically want you to be able to take and manipulate the video as you like. Fortunately various things have conspired to mean that you can do this; it is probably even just a minor hurdle. is probably the easiest (and free) entry level method for DVDs and blu ray. Older methods for DVDs like DVD decrypter, dvd43 (though this is a real time/disc level one) and ripit4me are still useful but dvdfab works so go with that.
    Dealing with streaming services is not going to be covered, mainly as it is an ever evolving battle. However those just wanting to download the average youtube video (or some similar video site) are encouraged to look at and greasemonkey scripts like ( might be a better bet for a lot of people)

    The other issue here is subtitles and what might be able to be played back. For the most part the answer is convert them to a format that will be played back, and if there are none of those then you need to burn them into the video (aka hardsub) them. This falls under more general encoding/video editing.

    The biggest issue for most is that DVD subtitles are actually an image based format rather than most other subtitles which are a text based format. For this you will need to convert them into a text format (usually by optical character recognition aka OCR with a program like subrip -- )

    The following tools are a good selection of subtitle related tools

    Programs for video conversion.
    There are any number of these, there is a video editing/encoding project called ffmpeg that is available for all platforms, related projects include and libav. They are typically the basis for most of the fly by night paid software as well so when looking at those do stop to consider if you are just paying a lot for a basic ffmpeg or something frontend. Surprisingly some of the full on paid video editing programs will not have the best source input or format output support, maybe even requiring you to encode it again.

    Handbrake is the current reigning champ of the freeware video conversion tools

    Others include
    Mainly suggested for use with the avisynth video editor, for DVD sources you may need a copy of

    Simple and with basic editing capabilities. However it takes most inputs and sorts most outputs.

    Video editing proper
    Conversion is easy, taking raw footage, adding effects, slicing it around and generally making it presentable is harder.
    We do have an existing thread that covers a few basic concepts using avisynth

    We will probably not be covering cameras in this initial foray. There are many at all sorts of budgets, you can do very well for not a lot of money these days. A solid bit of advice is shoot on what you have and work around that, try to minimise the issues that may be inherent to the device you have (if a lack of light bothers your equipment then try to avoid dark/night scenes). Another solid bit of advice is good audio makes up for a lot in the video department.

    Greenscreen/bluescreen/chroma keying. Very possible these days when on a budget. Unless you are willing to pay the silly money though you need good lighting, proper shooting and to do things like crop to the area that your action is taking place in -- no need to tax the program by removing stuff that has no relevance and may not even be lit properly.

    Video editing programs
    Originally there were two main classes of video editor
    1) Linear
    2) non linear (NLE).

    They work much like they say and linear will tend to work along a single length of video. Non linear chops things up and does not have to work across one set piece. Some of the lower end or more encoding focused tools will not have true NLE workflows, however basically everything that actually calls itself a video editor will be a NLE.

    Most professional grade editors will take the "timeline" approach to editing. The big exception is the main suggested open source video editor "avisynth". It is scripting based so it is actually more of a clip based editor (think scene by scene/shot by shot), it has advantages and disadvantages over timeline based editing.

    Adobe premiere
    For many it is a two way fight between this and final cut pro for best of the prosumer world. It is very powerful and can make exceptionally professional looking videos.

    final cut pro
    Apple only this is also a very powerful and widely used piece of software.

    Sony Vegas
    Sony are probably number three on this list, however they do have a solid video editing program that many get along famously with.

    Corel VideoStudio
    You may have seen it as Ulead in years past, possibly even had it bundled in with your computer. Corel purchased the company and this is now their video editor. It is perhaps not as high end as the above three, this being reflected in the price, but it works well.

    avid media composer
    If the others are just prosumer level then this is master level, it is not actually that much more expensive than some of the others (and there is a subscription option) but definitely into professional software prices. Probably not worth it for most people but mentioned anyway.

    Mainly used for video capture (and it is very good there) it can still trim scenes, append videos, run various filters (many of which are very high end) and do a fair bit more.

    Perhaps a bit less simple than virtualdub it can never the less crop, trim and do many editing tasks to video.

    A scripting based video editor and devastatingly powerful as a result. Much like GIMP could probably pull off things that paid editors like photoshop can do then this can pull of things that the paid editors like premiere can do, at least until you start getting into plugins and some of the more complex masking tools.
    Combine it with megui ( for a good encoding frontend.
    We do have a thread covering some tricks that can be done with it

    Kdenlive (aimed at Linux and related systems)
    Timeline based and more than capable of going toe to toe with Corel VideoStudio.

    Others include
    Both of those are aimed at Linux more than windows also has a Linux version but unlike the three above it also has a very nice Windows version.

    Subtitles were mostly covered already. They come in many formats but you should probably only be using four of them (in reality three).
    Those formats are

    DVD vob style (see also vobsub). This is a graphical format seen in DVDs, subtitles tend to be in the several megabytes range for the average film

    SRT (subrip text). An older text based format that rose to popularity with the advent of DVD ripping. Basic but still widely supported.

    SSA/ASS (substation alpha and advanced substation alpha). Popular in anime circles but useful everywhere. The actual format is a nightmarish XML based format but high level editors exist. It allows easy placement, karaoke style subtitles, multiple colours, minor animations, fonts and lots more besides.

    MP4TT (mp4 timed text). Mentioned because we have to, if ASS and SSA were nightmares then this is apocalyptic. Technically it is the only way MP4 supports subtitles (though most playback programs will auto select subs and/or allow you to select them) and is really a horrific concept. It is technically not even a subtitle format as much as a whole media display format (if you are even thinking it could be useful just learn HTML 5 instead). MP4Box can handle some of this.

    Subtitle Programs.
    Subtitle workshop.
    Arguably the best current subtitle adding and editing program, special attention was given in it to ASS/SSA.
    Aimed more at DVDs but still good is

    DVD editing and creation.
    Not such a popular task as it once was you can never the less edit existing (decrypted) DVDs and create your own by various means, the options for blu ray are a tiny bit more limited (you can very much create professional grade DVD menus with free and cheap tools but you will not get much beyond basic menus and chapters for blu ray).

    DVD editing
    Three main tasks were usually done here
    1) Menu stripping/main film ripping.
    2) Menu editing.
    3) Track blanking/editing.

    1) Fairly pointless covering this in depth in the modern world as the suggested DVD ripping tools will do just this, be careful when doing this though as sometimes the programs mistake extras/bonus content that find themselves longer than the main film itself.

    2) The DVD menu is based around a concept called a program chain (PGC). There is an exceptionally powerful, and consequently quite difficult to use, program called PGCedit that can edit these. Short of remaking the whole menu system it is what you want to be looking at.

    3) was more to get sizes down (typically by removing unneeded audio and extras) to fit on single layer DVDs but otherwise leave menus intact, or have less/no extra compression when combined with a program like DVDshrink.
    PGCedit from above is a bit overkill for this but can also do things here, including edit it so that the blanked content effectively never existed.

    DVD creation
    You need something to convert it to MPEG2 (and AC3 audio). The main two MPEG2 encoders that were freeware were Hcenc and QuEnc. You will tend to have options to use one or both in most freeware programs.
    Basic (as in put in, press play, watch whole film) DVDs can be authored by many things, including quenc and a couple of the editing programs mentioned above.

    More menu driven stuff can also be done.






    More for menus alone but Muxman

    There are commercial tools but until you need those it is best to stick with the stuff mentioned there. In the lower end world there are some tools that Nero (they of Nero Burning ROM) made/purchased. has more on some of the other alternatives.

    Video as an artist or how not to clog up youtube with junk.
    The above dealt with the technical aspects of videos and this will be a short piece on the artistic/production side of things.
    For the most part this should probably read watch or something like it, they cover basically every aspect of film making.
    Some observations on many videos would be
    Do decent lighting, especially if you have not got the best camera. "Daylight bulbs" are cheap and work quite well for this.
    Use a tripod where you can. Shakeycam barely works in films and it does not work at all well when just shooting you talking.
    Edit your video. For the love of whatever deity or concept that you want to believe in then please edit your video. Dead space is only good for building tension and redundancy has basically no uses. If you can cut it then probably best to cut it. Many older video makers would go to basically any length to avoid putting out garbage and so should you. Multiple takes are also good.

    Most people can hear things and computers are quite capable of recording, playing back and editing sound. This post will not teach you how to play an instrument or anything in the way of music theory though.
    There are arguably two classes of audio that people around here will deal with

    1) Wave formats
    2) Sequenced/tracker audio.

    Wave formats are the stuff you will capture from an amp/mixing desk, record with a microphone or otherwise take from the real world. Sequenced audio was commonly seen in earlier computer games but has stuck around ever since, not to mention a lot of music (like sheet music) is basically the same thing.
    As with most things there are ways to blur the lines; you can capture a keyboard session as a midi file and use samples captured in the real world in various types of sequenced audio (see the concept of soundfonts).

    Audio editing software
    Avid Pro tools
    Very high end and with a price tag to match.

    Adobe's audition
    A high end capture and editing program for audio.

    Audacity is free and quite capable of doing a lot of things here. There are certain workflows that something like audition above might handle better but you should be able to get it done here.

    Apple's Garageband Apple only and very popular among certain groups

    Audio Sequencer/tracker music software has a lot of nice stuff, a small sample of them

    Open source tracker program.

    Paid software but well regarded in the field.

    Awave studio
    Paid but often seen in game hacking circles.

    Technically paid but actually open source if you want it to be. Recent versions have also gained sequenced audio support.

    Anvil Studio
    Freeware/crippleware/shareware but popular in various circles, especially some game hacking ones.

    Video and audio capture and streaming
    It is all well and good being able to edit video and audio but if you can not get any in the first place you are going to have troubles doing much.
    Video capture
    This will fall into two broad categories for most around here

    1) Capturing the PC doing things
    2) Capturing their console/old video camera/VCR doing things.

    PC capture is relatively easy. For years the default program for games/openGL/directX type software was Fraps, today there are several more options as well. For general 2d stuff there are many more options ( has a free option) but Open Broadcaster software should handle those needs as well.

    Fraps An older program but still a decent one, most would say it is coasting on its good rep.

    Open Broadcaster software.
    Other than the graphics card stuff below probably the best freeware option.

    On Linux you might try
    Simple Screen Recorder

    More interestingly there are also options from video card makers, if you are doing any kind of gaming (or at least 3d gaming) you will probably using Nvidia or AMD-ATI for your graphics processing.
    Both of those also allow for streaming to various services.
    Intel do have capture options, however its usefulness for games is probably along similar lines to its usefulness for 3d games. Still
    MSI (a graphics card maker, though one that just uses chips from Nvida and AMD-ATI) have some options as well.

    As you are encoding video though it takes some resources, to that end and for others various reasons people might use other capture methods to get video.

    External capture.
    There are three, maybe four main options here

    1) Dedicated capture device.

    2) Repurpose a digital video recorder, 2a (and the potential 4th type) would be some other kind of device like this, including a video camera or a camera monitor ( ) .

    3) Get a PC capture card.

    If it exists as a video output then there is a means to capture it, however if you go beyond composite cables (the yellow cable on old consoles), component cables (though this is not necessarily the easiest to find) and HDMI you will probably have to pay good money for it. This does include VGA if you planned to capture from an old machine or something -- VGA capture is typically quite expensive compared to similar things and for what it is.

    Much like DVDs before them the people charged with protecting video realised that streaming stuff around posed an issue, the so called analogue hole/loop of DRM. To this end they can have included a means by which to prevent capture.
    In older analogue video the technique used was known as Macrovision (it technically stuck around on DVD but that was more of a licensing and simple flag for the player to use it). In games you will probably not encounter this; it was mainly for troubling capturing from (satellite/cable) TV stations, VCRs, DVDs and the like.
    In devices that use HDMI then you have HDCP. HDCP has now been defeated and removal devices are available on the market, though only the grey or black market. Game consoles and similar devices do use HDCP, including using it for normal gameplay in some cases (for most they will encounter it primarily on the PS3 where it is enabled all the time and the PS4 as something of an option you can disable). HDCP strippers is one term, however certain HDMI splitters will also remove HDCP and is a far better starting point for a product search. You will have to search if you find you need one but China and Hong Kong are where such devices typically originate, most of you are probably familiar with a lot of the sites they ship from if you are used to ordering flash carts and modding devices. Many will not be sold directly as featuring HDCP removal (it being a "happy accident") but if you read on and read up on the model numbers you can usually find out.

    Speaking of splitters then be aware that capture can introduce lag/latency. This is not really a problem for most things but with games occasionally being known to have sequences where fast reactions are useful then it can be here. For these situations, assuming you can not sort the latency issue or the device does not have a passthrough to allow you to record and still play, then you may want a splitter to send the normal signal to your monitor/TV and another identical signal to the capture device.
    Not all splitters will work with all devices (there are occasionally issues with HDCP handshakes) and resolutions/framerates/video modes but you can usually get things done.

    Getting back to the devices.

    1) Dedicated capture devices.
    Game streaming/capture is a popular activity and as such several companies have made devices to cater to the games market. These will typically capture to SD cards or USB and allow you to import them later (possibly also live stream depending upon the device).
    Popular device makers include
    Blackmagic design (things like their intensity range)

    Do note that if you are familiar with video editing, capture and similar that the options the "gaming grade" class of devices provide might not be all that good for what you expect/are used to, to the point where it is actually a bit limiting. Video is hard and thus these companies tend to want to make it easier for their customers.

    2) Digital video recorders
    Originally designed for those wanting to record TV shows they may well have inputs for composite, component and HDMI. An input is an input (give or take DRM) and thus you can capture footage with one of these. They tend not to have many live streaming options but for capture they work well and can often be found quite cheaply.

    3) PC capture.
    Falls broadly into two classes
    i) internal capture
    ii) external capture

    Internal is probably the best. Here you buy a PCIe card that takes video input, install it into your PC and capture footage like you would (typically with a program like virtualdub). The least lag, best quality and all around goodness is probably found in these.
    For some reason this is not as popular among gamers as it might be, ease of use is suspected as the reason here but learn to set it up once and you are probably good to go from then on. might be worth looking at as an entry level here.
    If you have a tiny bit more money (£136 in mid 2015) then does 4K HDMI capture, you can probably find an older 1080p capable one (which is what most game consoles top out at) for even less.

    ii) external...
    These vary wildly in quality. The basic $20 "ezcap"/"easycap" type things will do fine for getting old VCRs to record, less fine for games footage. Lag if you are playing back on the screen, quality and more will suffer with these.
    More upmarket stuff like Hauppauge's efforts do better here, the main problem is USB2.0 is quite slow and that limits quality, framerate and more that can be captured in real time. Newer USB 3.0 and thunderbolt connectors can do things that would rival old internal cards here.

    It can go a bit more in depth and the cards may capture and encode things internally (older TV cards did things like MPEG2 which was fun).

    Capturing a webcam or something with your TV card.
    Get yourself a copy of , press file -> capture and go from there, it tends to want old style VFW codecs so grab or the VFW versions of FFDshow and go to town. and might also be of some use.
    We suggest capturing to lossless and editing from there but sometimes that is not possible, especially if you are capturing hours of footage.

    Simultaneous capture/streaming of video cameras and game footage
    Easier said than done if doing it live, pretty trivial if you are doing it so you can edit it in later.
    Many people opt for hardware based "vision mixers", they can get quite pricey though ( is an example of one and is more of a switch so you can have multiple sources). Your game focused capture device may have a cheaper option, though it will likely be very basic compared to the devices just linked.

    Handheld video capture
    Four main options
    1) The handheld has a video out. Capture this. A lot of linux/open source handhelds have this option, the PSP (later models at least) has this option and several other things do too.
    2) There is a device that does have normal video out but plays the handheld games. Capture this. The GB player, the SNES "Super Game Boy" and various third party devices have this option.
    3) Capture an emulator session, bonus is these will tend to do it in program so you can actually spare yourself some of the hassle of capturing, not to mention they might even avoid lag that you might be playing with. Plus they have savestates, cheats, controllers, filters, easy options for hacks......
    4) Third party mod of a device. The DS, and more recently the 3ds, have various mods that output the screen contents as a normal video device to a PC, this is then captured however the mod device is set up to do it. Most are not ideal but can get things done.

    Audio capture.
    At the basic level this is somewhat simpler. For modern stuff it will tend to break down into two broad classes.
    1) PC analogue capture
    2) PC or external digital capture.

    PC analogue capture.
    In back of your PC or laptop are probably various audio jacks. Two of those will be a microphone and a line in port (on laptops they may be combined). You can stick a microphone (assuming it is the right sort) or audio source into one of those and capture that. Most sound cards are not considered great at this but they are adequate for a lot of purposes. You can also buy sound cards that go in over USB or fireware, many of which are even better than the things that come with most motherboards, as well as sound cards that go in over expansion buses inside the PC. With there external or expansion cards you can often also get multiple channels of input if you need that. Alternatively you can buy a mixer to combine multiple sources of audio.

    Digital capture will tend to take an input or three and encode it in its own hardware to digital formats, or output them in a digital format a PC might be able to read (something like SPDIF/toslink -- the little red lights or orange ports you might see around your soundcard, though these are typically outputs for that standard on most PCs).

    Microphones are all kinds of complex ( ) and have various inputs/connectors, including 3.5mm, trs, XLR, USB, BNC and the list goes on, you then have differences in things like shotgun mics, cardioid, hypercardioid, supercardioid, omnidirectional...... Probably your main concern, beyond being able to use a microphone* and getting good quality out of it, both of which you can generally learn to do, is whether the microphone is supposed to be powered from the port or is powered externally; most sound cards in PCs will not provide much power for microphones which works fine for cheap and cheerful things for people to use when chatting to people on something like Skype but less fine if you want to make a nice sounding spoken track, capture some singing, record a podcast or dub something. In those cases you might also need a preamp and some other hardware in line before it gets to your PC.

    *you may have to be at the right angle and distance for your mic to work properly, many people do not do this and are troubled accordingly.

    There are many good brands of microphone maker. In no particular order here is a selection of some of the bigger ones
    Blue Microphones
    Røde Microphones

    Some may have cheap and cheerful options so be aware of this.

    Audio capture software

    Adobe's audition is considered the main tool for the job here.

    Audacity is free and quite capable of doing a lot of things here.

    Avid Pro tools
    For the most part we have avoided the highest of high end professional tools here, this would be one of the exceptions.

    Apple's Garageband

    Sites like youtube and twitch allow people to stream footage of themselves playing games (or other things) in basically real time. Being at least somewhat consumer/non video pro focused they tend to have easier means by which to broadcast video. What site is better is very much up for debate, generally youtube is considered better for those that know video (though it is by no means good) and twitch would probably have the "streaming community" vote. You are left to your own devices to pick where you want to go here. Editing is hard when done live, even merging several streams (like a webcam or some overlay text/imagery) can tax computers so be aware of what you are doing.

    General streaming is done in a variety of manners. Most sites will have a means by which to connect so you will have to look into that on a site by site basis (though will probably use/support some form of RMTP). A full video streaming setup is actually a considerably hard task (going right into fairly complex networking) and is considered beyond the scope of this article.

    These days the basic entry level software is probably considered

    Mixing inputs of audio and video (like the game and your webcam or PC) will probably vary with the sites you are using. If you are willing to spend though you can a lot in hardware and do things like switch between inputs, cameras and premade footage as time allows as well as overlay other footage.
    On the subject of extra hardware then for audio many would suggest you have also have a standalone capture device. This is nice as they are cheap and finding you have recorded a whole segment without actually recording anything is beyond frustrating. Having an external standalone capture device can allow you to pull things back in those cases, even if you ultimately have to do a bit more post production work.
    raystriker and Hiccup like this.
  2. Gooplusplus

    Gooplusplus Member

    Sep 24, 2014
    United States
    For video conversion, I find (Windows/Linux) WinFF to be easier and faster than Handbrake.

    I also created a custom WinFF conversion preset designed for better Chromecast playback --WinFF Chromecast presets
    Skyshadow101 likes this.
  3. AsPika2219

    AsPika2219 Pikachu going beach!

    Jun 17, 2010
    Cats City
    You forget Ulead PhotoImpact for Image Editing! :P
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