The Beginners Guide to Game Capture

So, you’ve decided you want to start your own video game based YouTube channel, excellent! With the right equipment, a positive attitude, and a little bit of reading, anyone can start sharing their gameplay on YouTube. Before we jump in, there are a few things you will need to do.

The first thing that you’ll want to do, is pick out a name for your channel. This can be your name, a nickname, or anything you want it to be. Try to think of something unique, something that really speaks to you and stands out. Once you’ve chosen your name, you’ll want to make a channel on YouTube to be the home for your future content!

If you already have a Google account, you can choose to either create your new channel under your current account by viewing “all my channels” from your YouTube landing page, and choosing to “create new channel”. This will allow you to manage multiple channels using the same email address. However, if you don’t have a Google account, or if you want to create a new account entirely, to manage your new channel, you can choose to do that instead by choosing the “sign up” option from the YouTube home page. Now we need to take a look at the three major components that will go into your content: video, audio, and branding.

Now that you have your new channel, and a name that speaks to you. You’re well on your way to being YouTube famous, but we’re not done yet; now you’ll need some equipment! If you plan to record gameplay from a PC, you’re going to need screen capture software. Nobody wants to watch a video of your computer screen taken by a video camera. When it comes to screen capture software you can choose to use a free service, such as Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), or buy software like Fraps. Whichever route you choose, be sure to learn to use the program in depth for the best results.

Alternatively, if you want to record gameplay from a home console, you will need not only a PC to record to, but will also need a capture card. Capture cards are wonderful devices that connect between your game console and television with a feed to software running on your computer. I personally use the Elgato Game Capture HD card, but there are many other options available, and you’ll want to do some research to figure out which one best suits your needs. A capture card will come with software to install on your PC that will allow it to stream the gameplay to your computer for recording. Many capture cards include built-in editing software alongside their capture software, and you’ll want to learn the details about how the editing software you choose works, in order to use it to its fullest capacity. A quick YouTube or Google search for a “how to” on your particular capture card and software should point you in the right direction. Once you’re all set up to capture video, we need to take a look at the second half of your production: commentary.

Now that you’ve got your video capture set up, it’s time to think about audio, specifically, your commentary. Although a basic laptop computer microphone or a headset mic can work to get you started, you’ll want to look into a better quality microphone as you get more involved in your productions. After all, you want to make sure that your audience can hear and understand you clearly. A basic cardioid microphone – such as the Blue Snowball – is able to pick up a greater range in vocal tones than a laptop mic, and will work well on a budget. Pencil condenser microphones also work really well. They are much better for isolating your voice from the background noise, but can tend to be a bit more expensive. You should avoid using shotgun and lavalier microphones for recording your commentary! Although they both work great for on-camera productions involving an interview or reporting style of work, they are not ideal for our recording needs. Shotgun microphones are designed to pick up sounds at a greater distance where we will be working much closer to our mic. Lavalier microphones – those that run along under clothing and usually attach to a collar or fold in a person’s shirt – can have a bad habit of picking up unwanted sounds of your movement.

Just like with the capture card, you’ll want to learn your chosen microphone’s settings and functions fully in order to use it most effectively. There are often lists of optimal settings for specific microphones that can be found with a simple Google search for “optimal settings” and the make and model of your mic. Sometimes, the software included with your capture card that allows you to record gameplay, also has built-in settings to capture audio commentary, either live, or in post-production. All it takes is a little poking around to direct your software to the microphone you want it to record from and you’re good to go! Alternatively, you can install separate audio capture and editing software – such as Audacity – and overlay your audio during editing. Now that we’ve covered the two biggest parts of your production, there’s one last detail that we need to touch on: your brand!

Your channel is an extension of you, and you want to make sure that people can see that. To do that, you’re going to want to work on creating your own personal “brand”. Your brand will consist of two or three major components: your avatar, your channel banner (this is the image that appears at the top of your channel page), and – if you so choose – a logo that will be placed in a lower corner of all of your uploaded videos. This lets the world know this content is yours! Although you could use just about any image for an avatar and any large picture for a banner, it would be in your best interest to create something original. If you or one of your friends is an artist, you could have something original drawn up just for your channel! Avoid using anything that might fall under copyright protection, and never claim works as your own if they aren’t! If you choose to also create a small logo to overlay the bottom corner of your videos (like the CBS or NBC logos on television), you can upload it directly in your YouTube video upload settings.

Now you’re ready to start creating your own, original content, and sharing it with your friends on YouTube and other social media! There are other, more in-depth guides to help you get going beyond this basic tutorial, but these are the basic things you’ll need to know in order to get started! Good luck, new creator!