Saturday, September 20, 2014

Video Capture Software - a review of sorts

As you may recall, I have been trying to do some video capture of my gaming sessions on After meeting with mixed success I wanted to share with you all what I have learned so far.

I have found three candidates for FREE video capture, they are OBS, Camstudio and Virtual Dub. I have used mostly Camstudio and OBS, I have only just installed Virtual Dub and briefly played with it.

OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) seems to be primarily geared towards live streaming video game play, but it can also be used to record to your hard drive. Straight off I'll just say I liked this one the best. It has a lot of flexibility and makes clear MP4 encoded video. It doesn't seem to be a resource hog, and I could be capturing video, recording audio, and have the internet browser running with the chat and sometimes even skype all at once. That's not to say that there haven't been some issues. First off, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to get back to default settings. If you change something that's what it is now. So unless you have a good memory you may want to write the default settings down. I also was initially confused by the 32 bit and 64 bit versions. I believe that the shortcut made by the installer was for the 32 bit version. After I figured it out I put a shortcut to the 64 bit version in the task bar. The last issue I was having, and one which almost made me give up on OBS, was only recording a partial screen area. I'm not sure when, or how it happened, but at some point I was only recording a corner of my screen area. Nobody on the forums seemed to be having this problem, and I was at a loss. I fixed it by just setting a sub region to record that was the size of my monitor (1920 x 1080). Et Viola! It seems to have fixed the problem. I have not used Game Capture mode, but have used Window Capture and Monitor Capture. Both work fine with a caveat. In window capture you need to be sure that the window is active when you start recording, otherwise you get a black screen. I ran into a couple of issues when trying to record gaming sessions that would not start because I had minimized the browser to fuss with Audio and recording settings. What I have always wanted to do, and just figured out the other day, is Monitor capture. When you preview or record you will see an infinite screen effect. You a picture of the screen in screen ad infinitum. (Why does blogger say I spelled that wrong?) If you minimize OBS it will disappear from the screen as well. For some reason I got it stuck in my head that it was buggy and just didn't work. The reality is user error.  It records what's on your screen, just like I wanted.

Camstudio is another free one that works pretty well and I had used it in the past. It seems pretty intuitive, especially compared to OBS, but does have some limitations. It records to AVI and uses quite a bit of resources. I was still able to have everything running but it did seem to struggle at times. There is also a max file size, which going above will crash the program. I was fortunately able to save the audio, because I thought I could strip it from the video later, but the video was lost.

Virtual Dub I essentially have zero experience with this program. It is a little more complex than Camstudio, but I was able to set it up and record video pretty quickly. What I could not figure out was the audio settings and it sounded like I was at a Kraftwerk concert. Ok, maybe an exaggeration, but it sounded weird. It also records AVI and I have no idea if it would slow your computer down or have a maximum video size it could record.

A big thing to keep in mind is that I am using a Windows Surface 2 tablet and so don't have a lot of things to worry about as far as video cards or hard drive access times.

Hope you found this helpful if you are looking to record things off your computer.

I'd also like to take this time to welcome Rab of Rab's Geekly Digest to the blog. He's an Oldhammerer who is working on a most impressive Giant at the moment.

The follower counter also jumped from 161 to 163, but I can't for the life of me figure out who the other person is. So if you followed me in the last few weeks and have a blog let me know. I always try to link back to followers.

Have a great weekend!


  1. OBS is really cool. Use it for streaming to Twitch and in contrast to other programs it has the smallest memory fingerprint so far. Nice is that you can stream (e.g. to Hangout which is sadly not available here) and record to your HD simultaneously.

    But the best way imo is still recording the stuff on the corresponding camera and use a video editing software. That is if you are not just recording with your web/integrated device cam...

    1. Thanks Paradox0n. I've seen some games that were uploaded to Youtube that must have been a simultaneous Hangout and recording to hard drive. I intend to edit my stuff using Roxio, just what I'm familiar with. I had intended to look at opensource video editing again. Last time I looked it was pretty grim on that front. I do plan on doing videos through screen capture and using my D5100.

    2. The only good free tool for editing I found was for Mac. I tested Sony Vegas but had a nice offer for Photoshop Premiere Elements. Maybe you can share your experiences with the software? And I am very curious about your videos!

      The games where most likely streamed to Twitch ☺ Did that also a few times, Twitch has an automatic upload for YouTube. Makes it pretty easy to share the stuff.

    3. Hi Paradox0n. yeah not much in the way of free editing for Windows. Twitch sounds interesting but I may be too much of a control freak to let someone post my live stuff to youtube. We also had a few times where the session had a lot of dead air due to real life. So that sort of thing needs to be edited out.

  2. A mate of mine has Cerebral Palsy and can't read, so a couple of years back when we were learning CAD together, he had the tutor set up to make video-tutorials with sound, that was all free/shareware, I'll drop him a line and see what programme/s were used?

    1. Thanks Hugh, it would be good to know what others have used successfully.



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