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One of the main problems that you may run into when recording gameplay videos is that the quality doesn’t live up to your expectations. In some cases it may not even look as good as it appeared while you were recording it from your screen – which can be confusing to say the least.
The fact of the matter is that there are numerous factors that affect the quality of gameplay videos. While it may seem daunting, there are several steps you can take to make sure the quality of your videos is good.
Record at Higher Resolutions
Most displays nowadays range from 1080p Full HD to 4k – so it is important that you are recording videos at high resolutions as well. The higher the resolution the better, but at a minimum it should be 1080p Full HD.
Increasing the resolution of your video recording will make it look clearer and more defined. However you should never try to record at a resolution that is higher than the base resolution (i.e. the input resolution of your display). If you do all you’ll end up doing is upscaling the resolution, which won’t improve its quality and will inflate its file size.
Increase the Frame Rate
Another recording parameter that you will want to increase is the frame rate – which is the number of frames in each second of the video. Although a frame rate of 30 or higher is acceptable, most high quality gameplay videos generally are recorded at 60 frames per second.
It should be noted that recording at higher frame rates will take up more processing power and increase the file size of the video. While that may not seem like an issue just yet, you should keep it in mind as you’ll see how important it is later.
Optimize the Encoding Settings
After you’ve recorded a gameplay video you’ll need to encode it – and the settings that you use when you encode the video matter a lot. In particular you’ll want to pay attention to the following areas:
- Video format (i.e. container and codec) should be selected based on the platform you want to upload the video to, such as MP4 with H.264 for YouTube. If it isn’t the video will likely be transcoded into that format by the platform in question, and that could affect its quality.
- Resolution and frame rate should be the same as the resolution and frame rate the video was recorded in. Downscaling the resolution is possible but will affect its quality, and adjusting the frame rate in any way could have lots of unintended (and unwanted) consequences.
- Video bitrate should be based on the resolution, frame rate, and format – and should be high enough that compression artifacts don’t appear. For example a 1080p video at 60 frames per second that is encoded in MP4 with H.264 should use a 12 Mbps bitrate at a minimum.
Close Any Other Programs and Background Processes
As you probably know running games is often processor intensive and can take up a lot of system resources. On top of that recording can do the same – meaning that if you’re trying to do both at the same time your system may find it taxing.
To help alleviate the pressure at least a little bit you should make sure any other programs and background processes that aren’t required are closed. That should help free up RAM and reduce the processing power that is required to run them.
Balance the Graphics Settings
Despite the fact that you may want to record your game while running it with the graphics settings maxed out, your system simply may not be able to handle it. If it cannot the frame rate of the game will start to drop and it may stutter or ‘lag’ – which will all be recorded and affect the quality of your gameplay video as well.
If your game performance is starting to suffer, you should reduce the graphics settings and try to balance it based on your system’s processing power. That will require some trial and error, but reducing areas that are particularly processor-intensive can help such as PhysX, supersampling, post processing, and the draw distance.
On top of that if the game resolution is higher than the recording resolution, you can lower it as well as the effect it will have on the quality is minimal.
Pay Attention to the Audio Quality
Often when you record gameplay videos you will want to also record audio commentary via your microphone. The audio quality of that recording is part and parcel of your video too – and you need to take steps to ensure that it sounds good.
The best place to start is by investing in a good microphone that is able to record high quality audio. Aside from that you should also try to reduce any background noise that may be present, prevent feedback, and adjust the audio levels (either beforehand or in post-processing).
Other Factors of Note
Aside from the factors dealt with above, there are several others that you may want to consider:
In most cases this isn’t an issue as you’re likely recording in 16:9, but if for some reason you’re recording at a different aspect ratio then you need to be careful. When you view a video in a different aspect ratio it will appear with black bars around it, which isn’t ideal in terms of quality.
Videos can look very different on certain displays due to the display settings. In particular the brightness and color saturation can affect it. If you want to share your video on YouTube, Steam or other platforms you should try seeing how it looks on different displays beforehand.
If you find that your system has difficulty recording while running a game and you can’t seem to find an acceptable balance for its graphics settings – you may need to upgrade your hardware. Some upgrades can help more than others, and switching to an SSD as well as upgrading the RAM and graphics card are a good place to start.
It should be noted that upgrading your hardware should be a last resort, and the cost of doing so can be prohibitive. Another option that you could pursue is using an external video capture card to record gameplay videos, as that will reduce the load that is placed on your PC.
As you can see there’s quite a lot involved in recording high quality gameplay videos, and the first place to start is with by setting up your gameplay recorder as described. That shouldn’t be too difficult, and for example you could use Gecata by Movavi.
By the time you’re done you should be able to record high quality gameplay videos that rival anything you’ve seen on YouTube or social media. If you want you could even start your very own YouTube channel and produce amazing walkthroughs, “Let’s Play” videos, speedruns, and other types of content.
By ensuring the quality of your gameplay videos is top notch, viewers will find your videos much more appealing and are far more likely to be drawn to them.