Making a Machinima Part 1: How to record a PC game

A machinima is a type of film that uses a computer to record video game footage. The term itself if a combination of “machine” (aka your computer) and “cinema. It sounds daunting, but in a few easy steps, you can become a master in video-game movie making. (You might even consider finally making those PvP videos you’ve been talking about for years … if you’re good enough this season.)

This guide is directed toward the absolute beginner. To learn more advanced techniques, I recommend Oxhorn’s tutorials — but if you want to learn the basics in less time, keep reading.

First of all, you’ll need to make sure you have the materials you need. If you’re making a machinima, you’re probably a gamer, so you should be good to go as far as equipment.

System requirements include:

An Internet connection (3G/4G, DSL, Cable, T1 or better)

A recent operating system

A decent graphics card

A microphone

About 5 gigs of hard drive space at any given time (video is very taxing on your system)

Again, if you play PC games, you probably have these tools. But to compensate for any of these requirements, try to record at a smaller screen size and minimize the motion you record. This will lower the strain on your machine.

Now, in order to actually record your footage, you’ll need screen capture software. Macs come installed with this, but PC users will need to download a new program.

For basic machinima making, I suggest FRAPS — it’s easy to use and free. Though it’s somewhat limited — a watermark will appear on your videos and you can only record 30-second clips at a time — any beginner will have a great experience with it.

Once you’ve downloaded FRAPS, open it and click the Movies tab. Here, you can select which folder your clips will be saved to. Here are my settings:


Choose a key binding that isn’t bound to anything in game (mine is F12). And I chose 30 FPS (frames per second) because I didn’t want my footage to be laggy. If your computer can handle it, bump this number up for higher quality.

With FRAPS open, you can log in to your game. You’ll see yellow numbers that indicate FPS flashing on the corner of your screen. When you press your hotkey, the numbers will turn red to show you that you are recording. When you’re done recording, press your hotkey again to stop. Note that the free version of FRAPS will stop each clip at 30 seconds.

Press record and run around a bit to get a feel for your optimal FPS. Your footage should have a smooth quality.

Note that you must have FRAPS open in order to record. Other than your game, make sure no other programs are running to improve performance.

Now that you know how to record, it’s time for the fun part: getting your footage. Tune in to Part 2!

For the Noobs,

Mollie Durkin

~ by molliedurkin on November 6, 2012.

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