Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quality Test - Diablo III and Bandicam's "For Edit" Preset / YouTube Upload Test

With the Bandicam "For Edit" Preset, every frame is an independent Keyframe or I-Frame (Information Frame), which is a type of frame that can be 'cut' or started from in video editing programs (technically, every frame is a JPG picture). Also, the audio is Uncompressed, which means that any video editor should be able to recognize the sound data. Errors in programs like Virtualdub saying "Error initializing audio stream decompression" or Sony's Vegas showing "Stream attributes could not be determined" will not occur and these will open the audio just fine with this setting.

Testing out Bandicam as a game recorder and playing during the launch of Diablo 3 (woot!), I've put together some settings/specifications, uploaded it to YouTube, and collected some results for you all:

The video is short, but I was mainly testing a few things:
1) D3's performance, with all options maxed out
2) Capture quality of Bandicam's 'For Edit Premiere/Sony Vegas' Preset and performance/lag of using it
3) The Logo/Watermark capability of Bandicam
4) YouTube's quality maintainability

Recorded with: Bandicam
- v.179204 (Latest at time of this post)
- 'For Edit (Premiere, Sony Vegas)' Preset
- MJPEG, "Full Size", 80%quality (Preset), 30fps, Uncompressed PCM Audio at 48kHz
- Logo option (our GTAM watermark), lower right, 10% opacity

Game: Diablo III (Retail Release) Launch Day
- Witch Doctor, Cathedral Level 3
- Texture Quality: High
- Shadow Quality: High
- Physics: High
- Clutter Density: High
- "Anti-Aliasing" checkbox ticked ON

Resolution: 1680x1050 (1.6AR) recorded at 1680x1050 ("Full Size")**
Filtering: 4xMSAA, 4xAF, set in Control Panel of Videocard
Framerate while not recording: 80-100fps
Framerate while recording: 80-100fps

For people trying out Bandicam and finding your recordings are choppy/laggy on playback (when looking at the original generated/recorded file), you should find that compressing it to a file with a smaller bitrate/size in a format you will keep it permanently in, it will play back that file just fine.

I chose this D3 clip for a Quality Test because it was a good example of both fast movements/action on the screen, as well as slow/non-moving parts, including text. It has dark and light areas, high contrast edges, and tests wide area panning as well.

Bandicam's "For Edit" Preset worked great, with clear text and action in the original recording, while flatter, darker parts were not overly compressed which would create excessive macroblocks or be too smoothed out. There were some Gibbs Effects/Mosquito Noise around text and on some of the button logos in the original recording, but you had to look closely to see it, which is pretty good for not being a 100% Quality setting.

The very small amount of color banding present in the original recording was somewhat generated by the Game Engine (seen in the lower-right quadrant of this video, and in the Diablo3 login screen around the moon, etc.), and there shouldn't be much, due to using MJPEG as a recording codec.

If you are having problems with Color Banding that is not in the game itself, try MJPEG as your recording codec

Average bitrate of the original was about 40Mbps, which meant a writing stream to the disk of about 5MB/s, which any hard drive can handle (recorded onto a drive capable of 150MB/s).
Framerate during recording was maintained at 80-100fps (same framerate as not recording).
The original 1 minute generated file is about 300MB in size with these settings. The recompressed MPEG-4, resized to 1080p file, has an average bitrate of 20Mbps and is about 140MB in size.

While this Preset in Bandicam is designed for compatibility with editing programs, the original recording was uploaded directly from the Bandicam-generated file anyway, to test the effects of uploading to YouTube from an original recording.

** The video at the top was Lanzcos3 resized from the original 1680x1050 capture to a 1728x1080 (1.6 AR) [MPEG-4 H.264 AVC/AAC file with a bitrate of 20000kbps (audio at 384kbps) using a Deblocking Filter setting of +0+0] because the original upload was down-sized to 1280x720 by YouTube and looked much worse, see here below:

The Result:
Recorded at 1680x1050, YouTube had downsized that one to 720 vertical lines. The Gibbs Effects were no longer present because of this, but excessive smoothing and other compression artifacts were introduced. Text was far less readable and nothing on the screen was as crisp as the original 1050p recording. Aliasing was also introduced. This was unfortunate but understandable however, as YouTube can no doubt not keep 'everything' at 'very high bitrates' on their servers, and since it was not 1080p, it simply scaled it down.

A single frame taken from each video for comparison (Frame 813, zoomed section) from the original Bandicam recording, YouTube's version of the 1080p upload and YouTube's 720p version of the 1680x1050 upload. Click to see Full Size.

The resized-from-1050p-to-1080p version maintained much of its detail after uploading to YouTube. The text is closer to the crispness of the original recording, and there is only some smoothing and deblocking being done. There are some macroblock artifacts and color banding accentuation in the darker areas however (for instance, the lower-right quadrant much of the time) but other than that, it is a decent quality version of the 1080p upload.

For those recording at 1680x1050, I recommend upsizing it to 1728x1080 so that YouTube keeps most of the detail of your recordings

  Well done, Bandicam (and YouTube).

Hopefully this information will help out any gamers that are looking to start recording their experiences, or even the already numerous people who are recording and sharing their great videos. Thank you all for sharing and your efforts.

Please note dear reader, that I am not saying "This codec is the best one to record with" or "use this one only". I am merely showing that it is possible or how to tweak it for quality or file size, as to your own personal tastes. There are many codecs out there to choose from when game recording and although some are more apt for certain types of games than others, overall it is your own choice to do with as you will.

See you in the games!

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