Video Recording Guide Part 1 - Overview, PC Recording and Video Editing

Interested in recording walkthroughs or other gaming videos? Here's a comprehensive look at the options available.


A very common question when it comes to video walkthroughs is: How do I record my games?
There’s a lot of different hardware and software out there to help, so it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your situation.

Words of warning:

  • When it comes to walkthroughs, it can be a lot of work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people start a guide and never finish it. Start small, that way you won’t spend hundreds of dollars only to discover you might not like recording.
  • Recording is not cheap. Fraps, for PC capture, is $37, but you may require an expensive computer to run modern games on the highest settings with minimal lag. HD capture cards are usually $200, but they don’t generally require the same computer specs as recording high-end PC games.


  • If you don’t have a good computer, you may want to upgrade that first. Not only will it allow you to capture easily, but you’ll be able to render videos faster. It can take 1080p videos hours or minutes to render depending on your system.
  • Find out your upload speed. Mine is less than 100KB/s, which means it takes at least 3 hours to upload 1GB of video. This might limit the length of your videos (if uploading were to slow down everyone else in the house, for example), or may limit the resolution you can record in (if 1080p takes too long as compared to 720p). A great site for testing your internet speed is
  • Have lots of hard drive space. Any raw recording will take up gigabytes of space in a matter of minutes. External drives work best.
  • While most recording software and hardware is compatible with Mac, it’s definitely easiest to use a Windows system.
  • Do your own research. This is a guide, not an all-powerful source of knowledge.

PC Recording

For DirectX or OpenGL Games (if you need a CD or a large download to install your game, it’s probably one of those two):

Fraps - $37
Click here for a basic guide on Fraps

Bandicam - $39

For desktop capture:

Camtasia – $100
Camstudio – Free
Hypercam – Free, must register to get rid of watermark

More Information

  • AVI is the easiest format to record in as most editing software is compatible with it.
  • Do a lot of tests to find which settings work best for you.
  • If you need more help, there’s a plethora of tutorials available on Google.

Console Recording

HD Console Capture (using Component or HDMI cables):

Black Magic Intensity series - $200
Hauppauge HD-PVR - $200

Click here for a detailed explanation

SD Console Capture (Using S-Video cables or Composite cables):

Dazzle DVD Recorder - $50

Click here for a detailed explanation

More Information

  • All of the above capture cards but the Hauppauge record in AVI. The Hauppauge records in the H264 codec, with the .mp4 or .m2ts formats. Make sure your editor supports these formats.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy used capture cards. As long as they weren’t abused, if they work, they’ll work forever.
  • I recommend starting with the Dazzle to begin with. It’s easy to find used for cheap, and is a great starter capture card.

Retro & Handheld Recording

  • Emulators are the most commonly used method of recording retro consoles (Gamecube and older) and handhelds. There are many different emulators out there, so try the ones that work best for you. It is illegal to play a game on an emulator if you don’t own a physical or legal digital copy.
  • Currently, the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita have very unreliable and sometimes dangerous emulators. The only way to record these is with a camcorder and a tri-pod, or a very expensive hard-to-get dev-kit. To record sound, connect a standard 3.5mm audio cable to the device, and then to the microphone port on your computer, and record with Audacity (or another audio recording software).

Video Editing

100% Free Editing Software:

Windows Live Movie Maker
Virtual Dub

High-end Editing Software (be aware prices will change):

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 - $600
Sony Vegas Pro 11 - $500
Sony Vegas Movie Studio - $50
Final Cut - $250-$1000

More Information

  • You cannot skip editing. Its main purpose is to compress videos.
  • You can’t upload 50GB videos to YouTube, plus you may want to cut out load screens.
  • Windows Live Movie Maker and Virtual Dub are limited, but get the job done, and are free.
  • Experiment a LOT. Try different render formats, see what looks best.
  • Don’t spend $600 only to find you don’t like recording. Use the free software first, then upgrade.
  • For anything that records in AVI, all of the above software is fine.
  • For anything that records in H264, check to make sure your software supports the format

Audio Editing

Audacity – Free

More Information

  • Unless you’re becoming a professional audio editor, Audacity will be all you need.
  • There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet if you need help.

Microphones & Voice Overs

  • The use of a microphone is usually to add narration to your videos.
  • If you narrate: Speak loudly and clearly, try not to stray too off topic, add some humor, and do not talk directly into the microphone without a pop filter.

Free Microphone

Whatever you have lying around the house will work for starters.
If you want slightly higher quality, $20 microphones from Wal-mart work fine.

More expensive microphones:

Blue Snowball – Usually $60
Blue Yeti – Usually $100

  • Buy a pop filter. Their use is to block obnoxious pops when you pronounce "p" or "b" and keep your viewers' eardrums in one piece.
  • If you don’t want to spend the extra money, stretch a pantyhose or piece of nylon over a coat hanger and talk through that.

Minimum Computer Requirements

These are the minimum computer requirements you will need to record with capture cards. If using Fraps or Bandicam, it will depend completely on the game you’re recording, and may require a lot more power.

  • 2.6GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Any video card with 512MB of Video RAM
  • 4GB DDR2 RAM
  • 7200RPM High Capacity Hard Drive (externals work fine)
  • Windows XP or newer, MacOSX or newer (again, Windows is easiest)

Where to Buy

Directly from the manufacturer
Check other electronics stores for cheaper prices

TekkenDevilJin1's picture

i got sony vegas pro 11 for only $60 on (it was 50% off) and a Playstation Eye works as a great microphone

MarioDragon's picture

I think you're confusing Pro for Movie Studio. Sony Vegas HD Movie Studio 11 is $70 on Amazon, but Vegas Pro 11 is $560. If you did, you got a ridiculous deal, and it would have had a much larger discount.

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