Sunday, October 28, 2012

And More: How To Stop Ghosting or Blurring in Sony Vegas Video Rendering (Tutorial with Example Video and Screenshots)

 [Update 1: Added still frame examples of the difference, to help those who perhaps could not easily see the difference in the video or in their own renders, from the recorded video/output, found at **]
[Update 2 (2016-12): Updated some Screenshots and added additional example Screenshots of what the various Menus and Properties windows look like (to Vegas Movie Studio 13, the version I currently own at the time of this Update)]

As part of the 'And More' of this blog, I would like to present a Tip that will help everyone asking about and experiencing the 'blurry/ghost-y' effect that appears when rendering a video that they have created in the Sony Vegas line of products. An example of this blurring or ghosting is shown in this short video:

Recorded with:  Bandicam @ 1080p, Quality 70%  
Recorded Game: Left 4 Dead 2 @ 1080p, Dark Carnival Level
Recording Output: Rendered with Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum Edition, Sony AVC codec @ 1080p, 15Mbps data rate for smaller upload size

The first 10 seconds is the 'Smart Resample' setting that is on By Default in Sony's Vegas product line (Movie Studio, Movie Studio Platinum, Vegas Pro). The second portion is the same recording but with the 'Disable Resample' setting. Even with some quality loss from YouTube, the difference between the first "blurry" output that many have experienced - and the second crisper, clearer version without it can hopefully be seen... So then, how to fix it?

The simplest way is to right click on the video event (video clip) and open the Properties of the event/video. The pop-up menu that should show up when right-clicking on an event/video is seen here (shown from Vegas Movie Studio 13):

Then in the 'Properties' window, simply click on the radio button choice that indicates "Disable resample", as seen here (example Event Properties window shown from Vegas Movie Studio 13):

That's it!

Now, with any further work you do with the video, you won't have to worry about the 'ghosting' effect happening to you in the end render output. I suggest doing this at the beginning of your project and as you add new video clips, that way it is done for the entire clip, even if you split it up into parts.

**Below are two examples, one showing the "ghosting" or "blurring" effect in more detail (for those that could not quite tell the difference in the video example), shown as frames extracted from the video itself:
Example frame from video showing the "ghosty" or "blurry" effect that can occur with Resampling Enabled in the Sony Vegas Video Rendering Options (Smart Resample ENABLED).

Example frame from video showing the absence of the effect/problem that can occur with Resampling here being Disabled in the Sony Vegas Video Rendering Options (Smart Resample DISABLED).

Behind-The-Scenes: Additional Info About The Above Thingamajig And Related Doohickeys

While the above steps solve the problem, I would like to go into more detail as to why this is occurring. I see this question a lot in forums, particularly ones about gaming and video editing, and would like to clear up more of what is going on.

Many people blame Vegas and say that the resampling (which is essentially a re-structuring/blending device to correct for framerate, interlacing, etc.) is not working properly. Although Sony's method could use a little work, the program portion of it 'detecting' and 'kicking in' is actually working as intended...

One of the reasons why this ghosting or blurring occurs, is that the project framerate (what Vegas 'assumes' you are going to be rendering to) differs from the recorded source (that source being your gaming video, recorded with Fraps, Dxtory, Bandicam, etc - whatever you prefer to record with).

One way to check what the output goal that Vegas has set in mind is: open up the Project Properties by going to the Project pull-down menu and select Properties. That pull-down menu looks like this (shown in Vegas Movie Studio 13):

You can also open up the Project Properties by clicking on the button/icon that looks like 'a grey box with an arrow in it', found in the top toolbar and also is found just above the main video preview window area. The button to click on looks like this (shown in Vegas Movie Studio 13):

In the Pro versions of Vegas, the pull-down menu will not be called PROJECT, it will be called FILE (but it will still be the first menu in the Toolbar). The small button that can also be clicked on, will still be located in the same place, just above the Preview Window area, as shown above.

Here is an example of what the Project Properties window will look like (shown from Vegas Movie Studio 13):

The main thing to check in the Project Properties, is the Frame rate (shown pulled-down and highlighted in the screenshot above).

Vegas' resampling capability will kick-in even if the frame rate is off by a small amount, such as if you are using a recording that is 30 frames-per-second, but being edited with a Vegas project setting/output format that is 29.97 fps (which is most standard DVD/BluRay/Render Presets that Vegas may pre-load).

Whatever frame rate you are recording at (30fps, 60fps, etc.), double-check the Project settings to see if it is the same as your recording. If it isn't, Vegas will try to restructure the video and blend the differences, resulting in that 'blurry', 'ghosty' output that many are familiar with.

[To be fair, Vegas is attempting to help/compensate for the framerate differences of possible recording devices (cameras,etc), and in live-action[real-life] recordings, it does help in a way; but in videogame recordings that are already crisp and clear, this process is not needed and results in this ghosty/blurry 'problem' for gameplay recorders/editors]

There are actually three places in Sony Vegas that keep track of the frame rate:

1) In the Project Properties (eg. pulldown the PROJECT menu in the toolbar and choose PROPERTIES (FILE menu in Pro versions of Vegas))

2) Shown In Each Event/VideoClip (eg. Right-Click each of your clips on the Timeline and click PROPERTIES)

3) In The Render Options (eg. RenderAs and see it in the CUSTOMIZE TEMPLATE settings (CUSTOM button in Pro versions of Vegas))

If just Disabling Resampling [via the event on the timeline] is not working, try to see if all of these three locations match the framerate of your recorded video clips.

Alternatively, you could try to change only the framerate in the final Output Format rendering settings to match your source recording(s) framerate (location is shown highlighted below in an example Settings window from Vegas Movie Studio 13):

Looking at the Frame Rate (shown highlighted, near center of window) in a Template of High Quality Render Settings (shown from Vegas Movie Studio 13). Feel free to use these Settings in your Projects!

By doing this one adjustment at the very end of your editing process (just as you finish up and start the Render) - as long as you are sure that all of your source clips involved have the same framerate and you are going to do your final render out to that very same framerate - then you can try to change this one setting at the end and see if it works as well (you may still have go back and change all three locations if it does not).

Note that although the Setting for "Frame Rate" may only allow you to go up to "59.94fps" (even if you type it in); don't worry, that framerate is still seen by YouTube [if you are using YouTube to share your videos] as "60fps". I did a short Vegas render and Upload to YouTube to test it out [kept Private, done just for this test] and below is what it looks like at YouTube after Uploading:
As you can see, even though Vegas had "59.94 fps" in the Frame Rate box/area, it is a Standard Framerate and accepted as "1080p60HD" at YouTube.

Whichever way you go about it, hopefully checking these few things will help you create clearer, crisper game recording videos.

Have fun with it and See You In The Game!

Monday, October 22, 2012

APB Reloaded - Some Criminal Tips For Faster Money (Video)

I haven't played APB in over a year and decided to try boot'er up once again. It's now on Steam and works great. It automagically logs you in and informs you that if you don't have a Gamersfirst Account (the publisher for APB Reloaded) you can create one at their website for free. If you are a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series of games, this Free To Play (F2P) Player-Versus-Player action-oriented "MMORPG" is definitely one you should try. I did a 'First Impressions' article last year when I tried out the Reloaded Beta. That article is here:

Since then, I have been having the passionate love-hate relationship with this game again; but having a blast overall. I see there are still a good influx of new players and people asking questions in the game and on forums and so I thought I would put together a few quick tips helping fellow Criminals with some concepts that will assist in speeding up making some cash (don't worry - Enforcer tips to come in the future).

You don't have to go all the way to a Joker Ammunition Vending Machine (if the closest is far away, especially when on a mission). You can Resupply at the nearest Mailbox and Vehicle Vendor/Spawn by hitting 'I' to open your inventory, then 'T' to resupply.

The game doesn't do a lot of hand-holding for an MMO, but there is a fair amount of text in the game and chat windows that inform you of things you can do as a Criminal. You can simply mug people walking down the street (in my opinion a slower way to make money). You can steal vehicles and sell them to Chop Shops for profit (the shops can be shown on the map). You can also ram-raid stores and grab all the loot that drops out. These are life lessons, people.

Here is a short video showing some tips for new players and concepts for criminals on how to make money a little bit faster (Locations shown are in the Financial District but concepts apply to any District, some footage was shot on a server that did not give full bonus/money for turn-ins):

I cover mostly Ram Raids and Chop Shops, but with some little tips and tricks thrown in. I created this video because I saw a few things in-game that I thought I'd help with. One was a new player attempting to ram a store front that wasn't 'raidable'. Another is players parking waaay-far-away from their fences/contacts and walking forever to turn in their goods. Like this poor guy below (don't worry, I blurred your name):
Maybe he didn't know you can drive into here and park closer. Even with that, Veronika Lee is in a very busy area. Enforcers traffic is high with their Contact and Impound Lot nearby and Criminals go to the Money Laundry not far from here. One will get you caught and the other will get your loot-laden ride stolen. I suggest the Fence location mentioned in the video for fast, more-out-of-the-way-and-therefore-away-from-people turn-ins. I like hyphens. I go over the differences in vehicles and how much each can carry and I also show some Chop Shops that are close to GA5 repair centers, so that it's a short/fast trip to drop vehicles off for faster cash.

Some things I didn't cover in the video but wanted to add are:

  • When ram-raiding, it is slower to stop the vehicle and back in, or smash straight in and then move the vehicle out of the way. If you want to be faster and lower your chances of getting Witnessed, learn to do a 'drive-by' ramming by coming in at a sharper angle and 'bouncing' off the store window, smashing it and collecting the loot after you stop just on the other side of it.
  • Loot-laden Vans and Trucks will drive slower. You will have to figure out your own balance of danger vs profit. If you are above $1500 in 'dirty money' and can be witnessed all the time by passing  cops, don't use a slow vehicle if possible. But, if you want to get tons of cash at once and the District isn't very busy, using a full van again and again to go well over $1500 is possible if you stick to back roads and take an outside route around to the Money Laundry. It's all up to you. If you keep ram-raiding, just don't forget to repair your vehicle at a GA5 station, ram-raiding causes it damage too!
  • Chop Shops will not take multiple vehicles fast one after another. Mix it up a bit by doing some ram-raids on the way to the next Chop Shop area (repairing before you hand it in of course) or grab the most expensive vehicle you see and drive it straight to the next closest one. The choice is up to you.

If you've been playing constantly since Beta and are Rank FiveBillion and know all the little tricks in the game, you might not learn a lot from the video; but if you are a new player or are looking for help making faster money as a Crim, the simple concepts presented in the video will make your cash flow just a little bit more... flow-y.

See you in the games!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Game Tip - Minecraft: Seed with Village at Spawn

Just a quick tip for Minecraft I've found: a seed that generated a helpful Village near the Spawn Point! I don't remember exactly what I typed in [something that I was testing for Tutorials, etc] so here is the numerical Seed that you can use to play this same world: -1516956404 and it is in the screenshot below. Also, for those that don't know yet, you can't quickly see the Seed for games by just hitting F3 in 1.3.2+, you need to hit / and type seed, to make it say /seed and hit Enter
Have fun and See you in the games!

You spawn on a hill like the one in the corner, but right next to the hill is this Village. Enjoy! Click to see Full Size

Thursday, October 11, 2012

TestRun, Video Edition: FRAPS vs DXTORY vs BANDICAM vs PLAYCLAW (Game Recording Comparison I)

Greetings, in this edition of the TestRun series here at The Game Tips And More Blog, we are going to be looking at comparisons between game recording applications and their output. There are many programs out there and everyone has their favorites for differing reasons; but for this article we are going to focus on four of the more popular game recording programs (there are many more, to test in the future..).

The Experiment

For many people, Quality and Filesize are the two Rock'em Sock'em robots in the ring at all times. Whether you edit videos, archive, convert, or just record vacations or games, these are the two concepts you probably fight with constantly. What is the best quality I can get, you might ask? What is the smallest file size I can produce, while the quality is at least something I can tolerate, or share with others? These questions are going to be answered visually in this TestRun, where we are going to be looking at the most common Presets, Defaults and Specific Settings of four game recording applications: Fraps, Dxtory, Bandicam and Playclaw** - and see how each one looks compared side by side - and how big the recordings are for each.
 [**Playclaw was Trial Limited in Quality at the time of this test]

The Test

For this TestRun, the game used is Minecraft. Yes, MC isn't exactly 'high-end-tessa-shadow-bump-mipped', but that's the point. Without taxing the CPU/GPU extensively, more of the power can go towards recording and getting the most 'bang-for-the-buck' from the game recording apps. Also, the sharp edges and movement of groups of pixels, along with solid colors and dark areas, are a good test of compression and will bring out any artifacts that the contending codecs might sweat out.

Options within the game are going to be maxed out (Far Distance, Advanced OpenGL, etc.) and video card settings for Antialiasing and Filtering are going to be either 'Off' or 'Let The Application Decide' (Minecraft doesn't seem to have AA within the game at this time). With these settings, I chose one spot in The Nether that shows both light and dark regions on the screen, high detail distant blocks and lots of smoke/movement within view.

The system running the test is a Desktop system with a six-core AMD CPU and AMD/ATi Radeon 6870 GPU. The system was slightly tweaked to give Minecraft more performance, as 8GB of RAM was on the system at the time and Minecraft was set to utilize 3GB of it with a 64-bit Java startup script and the game itself was running off of a 1GB RAMdrive.

The Data

Here is the resultant video comparing each program and the output that was recorded at each setting mentioned within. The same areas are compared and show the quality and compression between each recorded segment. The size of file produced for each recording is also noted within the Batch portions of the video, on the right hand side:

Recorded with Fraps, Dxtory, Bandicam, Playclaw
Resolution:  Slightly higher than HD @ 1920x1096, (Maximized Window @ 1920x1200 Desktop with doubled taskbar), resized to fit into 1920x1080 (1080p HD) video rendered as final video output for upload
Recording Time 10 seconds or 300 frames, attempt made to record from same location for each segment
Recording Size:  Varies, sizes are included in the video for each recording segment
Codecs utilized:  MPEG, MJPEG, UTyuv422, FRAPS1, various quality settings for all

In general, the recorded segments in the video comparison are shown in order of largest disk space usage per second to the smallest.

The absolute largest file produced when recording the ten second test was Dxtory's High Quality setting, even with Compression turned on. At a whopping 873MB for the 10-second video, data was being streamed into it at over 700Mbps. The recording however, has amazing detail with crisp edges and clear colours. The apparent negative effect on the system was just as large however, taking a 60-100fps game view, without movement, down to about 25-30fps while recording.

Dxtory's Low Quality Preset (with Compression option on) in The Nether, Minecraft. Nice and clear, the Dxtory Codec Medium Quality and High Quality settings all look just as good. Click to see Full Size.

At almost the same weigh-ins; the UT video (YUV422) codec, Dxtory's Medium Quality setting, Playclaw's No Compression setting, and Fraps' Full Size default setting all produced a hefty recorded file size hovering around 500MB. The result for all of them though was a nice, clean video - except for Playclaw, which apparently was restricted to a 1024x576 resolution, that of course resulted in a blurred recording when compared to the other full-size recordings. This is no doubt merely a restriction in the Demo version however and the full/purchased version of Playclaw should be quite capable of the bitrate (and therefore quality [and disk space usage]) of the other applications for game recording.

Fraps screenshot of Minecraft (The Nether) at Full Size. Crisp and clean. Click to see Full Size.

The smallest file sizes produced were all from Bandicam. At various settings and Bandicam's suggested Presets, it produced small file sizes from 100MB down to 10MB, with data streams running at 80Mbps down to 8Mbps. The smallest file produced during these tests was the YouTube480p/Quality80 setting. Unfortunately, although 80% Quality is nothing to sneeze at, when the resolution recorded is only 854x480, 20% detail loss is quite a bit of pixel casualties and the darker areas were noticeably blurry and flat, at least for a game that has large areas of solid colours/pixels, as those areas were compressed more by the codec and they lost finer detail/edges. The 100MB file was from the 'editing-friendly' Vegas/Premiere/Pinnacle setting, which looked pretty clean despite the small file footprint.
[Recording at a higher resolution helps, as compression artifacts will 'seem smaller' as they 'take up less space' on the screen.. See below for some explanation on compression artifacts]

Bandicam's 'Vegas/Premiere/Pinnacle' (editing-friendly) Preset. Screenshot in The Nether (Minecraft). At 80% Quality, some common JPEG issues are lightly seen if looked for: slight chromatic aberration (color leaking at some edges) and some flattening/smoothing of distant, dark areas; but overall still a good quality screenshot/video, especially when it is considered that the file size of the recording was 1/4 the size of most other recordings and 1/8 the size of the largest.

Here is the 4x4 (16-Video) comparison key (it is in order of largest file size produced to the smallest):

A - Dxtory High Quality w. Compression
B - UT video codec YUV 422
C - Dxtory Medium Quality w. Compression
D - Playclaw NoCompression [Trial Version Limited Quality]
E - Fraps FullSize
F - Dxtory Low Quality w. Compression
G - Bandicam MJPEG Quality100
H - Playclaw LowCompression [Trial Version Limited Quality]
I - Fraps HalfSize
J - Bandicam MJPEG Quality80 'Vegas/Premiere/Pinnacle' setting
K - Bandicam MJPEG Quality60
L - Playclaw MJPEGcompression (6 threads) [Trial Version Quality]
M - Bandicam MJPEG Quality40
N - Bandicam MPEG-1 Quality80 'Default' setting
O - Bandicam MPEG-1 Quality80 'YouTube720p' setting
P - Bandicam MPEG-1 Quality80 'HalfSize' setting

When looking at the 16-video comparison, where one section of wall is zoomed in on, the upper tiers are the high-bitrate, large-filesize recordings. The bottom rows are the lower-bitrate (but in most cases Full Resolution) samples. Of the lower sections, segment N seems slightly more 'crisp' among the lower bitrate/compressed crowd. This is Bandicam's Default Preset. While great at saving disk space, it should be noted that if instead of simply recording-and-uploading somewhere, if you plan on doing editing of the video in most editing programs, MPEG-1 isn't the easiest editing codec to work with. This is why most programs offer the ability to choose other codecs, such as MJPEG and YUV subtypes. With these codecs, all frames are recorded independently of each other (so seeking/editing is easier/faster) and they are compressed on a frame-by-frame basis (they are literally a series of JPG pictures, in the case of MJPEG).

The way most MPEG codecs work by default (whether it is a DVD, XviD or h.264/AVC), only the differences between frames are kept, to save space. This means that when seeking within the video for editing, the program must calculate the frame desired by using data from nearby frames, increasing overall editing/seeking time. It is possible to do, only editing these codecs may be slower than using other codecs (such as MJPEG and YUV codecs, for example) which are more 'editing-friendly' by having frames that do not rely on other frames ahead/behind.

As expected, the 'lossy' codecs produced compression artifacts and showed detail loss for areas with low movement and colour. This is to be expected and is one aspect of digital compression, which allows file space usage to be saved when working with video (and the same concept applies to audio); for lossy codecs, areas that have less movement or are black/dark will be compressed more, so that more data per frame can be used in areas that are more complex, such as high-movement areas, edges and keeping fine detail (if told to do so in the codec settings). The higher bitrate codecs, taking up lots of disk space (utilzing lots of data per second/per frame) kept much of the data and video quality from the video input. It can be seen however, that modern lossy codecs (coupled with the processing power of modern computers) have made great strides in apparent detail vs. file size, as even the smaller-sized recordings such as Bandicam's output appear quite viewable in terms of detail, despite the compression involved and small file size of the recording. This is great of course, for gamers and video editors/archivers.

Here is an example of codec compression at work:

Codec Compression Example Still Frames. [Blogspot has resized it down, but details/example is still evident.]
Click to see Full size.

All three samples are 1000x640 screen areas starting in the upper-left quadrant.

Fraps, a high-bitrate codec, is on the left. Even with so many solid edges to attempt represent, and with the moving 'smoke' from the game (pixellated grey shapes in foreground), the high data-per-second allocated to the frame keeps almost all of the detail and crispness of the hard-edged rendering of this game frame. The resultant video, a 10-second recording, is 470MB.

The middle portion is the same view, but taken from a recorded video that utilized the MJPEG codec, with it's Quality setting at 40%. Obviously, a lot of data is going to be lost at this setting, and the detail is going to suffer, but this is done on purpose to show an example of how a 'lossy' codec [COmpressor-DECompressor utility] works and looks. The codec has calculated to smooth out much of the middle area that is darker, as less data is needed to represent it and the result is large, flat, brown/grey areas. In an attempt to represent the hard edges of the 'smoke' from the game, the codec's mathematical calculations has output visual compression artifacts [due to the limitation of the data throughput i.e. the bitrate or data per second] known as "Gibbs Effects" or "Ringing" or "Mosquito Noise", the lines seen around the grey edges of the smoke. All of these compression artifacts are commonly seen in both MPEG video and JPEG picture compression (the effect is exaggerated here for educational purposes). The resultant 10-second recording at this setting is 45MB.

The far right example is again the same view, taken from a recorded video that used the MJPEG codec, but with it's Quality setting at 100%. At this setting, the codec will attempt to keep as much data as possible with no regard to the file output size. As can be seen, the frame is almost identical to the [first] high-bitrate frame, with only slight Chromatic Aberration (colour 'leaking' at the edges/fringes of areas) seen in the 'smoke', for example. The resultant 10-second recording at this setting was 396MB. [At about four times the size of MJPEG at 80% Quality, this setting was utilized merely for example purposes]

The Conclusion

As you can see, there are visible differences between the various programs and the codecs they employ. For the most part it was very simple and expected: the higher settings (higher bitrate, higher resolution) produced superior results over the lower settings/options - albeit at a cost - the space taken up by the recorded files.

This TestRun is a basic example of the weighing that must be done with video recording and editing; questions like "How much quality do I want to keep" vs. "How much space do I want to use up for the recordings". With disk space becoming increasingly larger, this decision is not so important as in the past, but it is a good idea to consider it when looking at how your game recordings are going to turn out.

In general, the formula-that-has-always-been is the same: if you want higher quality, you must use higher-bitrate recordings (more data-per-second) and you will have to work with larger output file sizes. If you want to save disk space, or have a system that cannot handle high-bitrate recording and video, then you must use lower settings and will be able to work with smaller file sizes overall. The balance between these two is the main consideration.

What's the answer? What's the Best Settings? The 'real' answer is that it is different for everyone. For those still reading, what I mean is, is that what one person likes in regards to detail, another person will say it looks bad. Like food, it comes down to personal preference, capacity of the organs involved, and the tools that will be used. Let me explain.

If you are rendering your video out to someone with a PSP or 14-inch CRT TV to watch on, the lower-bitrate/lower-resolution recordings will be fine, as the presentation tools do not have the capacity for showing very fine detail. If you are going to be inviting friends over and watching your gaming experiences on a 50-inch flat screen, capable of high definition and crisp picture, using a low-bitrate/low-quality/low-resolution recording will show up as 'blurry', with less detail, (and may even be less enjoyable to some people).

The next consideration for game recording is the system involved. Perhaps you are using a laptop. Even if it is a desktop system, can it handle recording the screen and pushing all that raw data to a video file without slowing down and becoming too 'laggy'? If not, then try to lower some settings within whatever program you are using, try to lower settings within the game itself (resolution, shadows, special effects, antialiasing, filtering, etc). These things will help a system with less power and capability (especially on newer games). There can be other issues/considerations as well, take a look at our Tips For Game Recording article here:

Since all of the programs tested were quite capable of recording detail, as well as having settings to save space (or utilize various codecs to do so); the end answer is really for you, yourself, to watch the videos, record your own, do some tests with different settings and see what you think 'looks good enough' for you to watch, while keeping down the file size and processing power usage. Once you find what you are willing/like to record at, then that's one less thing to worry about, and you can start recording and enjoying playing the game - and isn't that the main thing?

Have fun testing and making your own personal decision!

Personal Short Version/Opinion:

As stated in a previous article, an issue for me is hard drive space. I have Terabytes of space, but it is usually filled up with games, screenshots (literally tens of thousands), video recordings and editing projects. When it comes to game recording, I personally balance out recording time/space usage while trying to keep decent quality (I notice, but do not need 'perfect quality').

Here's how I break it down (no pun intended):

If I want 'awesome' quality for a project or for someone else, I would use any one of these programs and put it on the highest setting my system can handle without getting too laggy. Myself, I would use Fraps*, or to save space and record longer, Bandicam at a 90%+ quality setting.
*At the time of this post, Fraps has an issue with video and audio being out of sync for long recordings for many people

If I want 'good' quality, I would personally use Bandicam with a 80%-90% Quality setting, Full Size (recording the full resolution the game is being played at), MJPEG codec (for easy editing) and uncompressed PCM audio (for easy editing). The 'editing' preset ("Vegas/Premiere/Pinnacle") is easy to just click on and I find that the video always looks fine, and from sharing gaming experiences with others, they think it looks fine too.

If I want 'ok/good enough' quality, I will record at lower resolutions (as opposed to lowering the quality of the recording), such as recording at 720p, 900p or even half-size, while playing at a larger resolution like 1920x1080 (if I want the in-game experience to look better to play in). 
I would probably not lower the actual recording Quality much more than 60% no matter what codec I was using and would rather lower the recording resolution to save disk space while still having the recording be 'decent quality'.

The reason for not lowering the % of the quality too much is that the compression artifacts/loss of detail is quite a bit when lowering the quality past say 60%, and when compressing the recorded file to another format/output to share with others or upload to video sharing sites, the artifacts and 'blotchyness' from setting too low a quality is actually kept within the final end video. Even if you use some filtering, some of those 'icky-goopy-looking parts' will be present in the end result! 

What then, is my suggestion for an older system?

If the computer can handle it, I suggest not going below 60% quality, no matter what recording application you choose, as I feel the quality of the recording becomes far too low beyond that. I would then suggest lowering settings on the video card (like filtering and antialiasing) or settings within the game itself. Playing at a lower resolution like 1280x720 instead of 1920x1080, or turning down effects like shadows and particles will all help the game to run smoother on a less-capable system and the recording will run smoother then, too. See our article in the link at the bottom of this post for Tips on Game Recording.

As with all advice I give, do your own tests to make your own decision on what balance/trade-off you want to go with, but I hope this information has helped you. Have fun with it!

For an in-depth look at [only] Fraps vs Dxtory vs Bandicam, the codecs they use, options the programs offer, apparent 'lag' effect on the system when recording and more, visit the TestRun, Quick Edition (text-only) on them here: 

For tips on game recording and how to improve performance:

See you in the games!

» Look for an upcoming TestRun, Video Edition which will have a 'Redo' of PlayClaw (with their updated demo that allows higher quality) and include some newer Game Recording Apps, 
such as Mirillis' Action, OBS, SmartPixel and more!

[N.B.: I am not a developer for, nor affiliated in any way with any of these programs or companies]

Friday, October 05, 2012

Minecraft - How To Get Rid Of Those Lines Between Blocks (Tutorial with Screenshots)

Update 1: Added additional screenshot of newer AMD Control Centre 3D Settings
Update 2016-01: Added screenshot of AMD Control Centre version 15 (Crimson) 3D Settings

Just a quick Tip about Minecraft and those lines between and around blocks that some of you may have - and how to get rid of them!

Here is an example:

'Those Lines' around a torch and water blocks. Click to see Full Size.

Many of you have already figured this out, but for those who haven't, or aren't sure where to look and what to do, here is a Tip of how to change some settings for your videocard to get rid of them.

Changing settings within the game won't affect them for the most part, the changes have to be made in your videocard's Control Panel.

To access this, right-click on your background and then select the control panel for your video card (there are multiple ways to open it however, this is just one).

Here is what most NVIDIA ("GeForce") and AMD/ATi ("Radeon") videocard owners will see. I have put arrows at the options we will be changing. Don't worry, steps on what to do follow the image:

Click to see Full Size

NVIDIA owners can open their NVIDIA Control Panel.
From here, under the 3D Settings category on the left, select Manage 3D Settings. On the right, change Antialiasing Mode to Off. This will disable Anti-Aliasing for all games (another article on how to set AA for specific games in the future).

AMD owners can open their AMD Vision Engine Control Center.
From here, under the Gaming category on the left, select 3D Application Settings. On the right, simply put a checkmark in the Use Application Settings box in the Anti-Aliasing Area. This will let you set AA within games now (such as in the Options sections within games) but since Minecraft doesn't have the option for that, it effectively disables it for that game and allows other games to use it if desired.

Here is what those same video card control screens will look like after the changes:

(Left) The AMD Control Centre 3D Settings to help remove the lines between blocks
(Right) The NVIDIA Control Panel 3D Settings to help remove the lines between blocks
Click to see Full Size

If you are still having 'pink lines' or 'lines between blocks' at distance/angled viewing [they may be fine up close but start to have lines at a bit of a distance], then: 
NVIDIA » Turn Off  Anisotropic Filtering (no arrow but highlighted above, found on the same screen), too
AMD » set "Use Application Settings" for Anisotropic Filtering (no arrow shown above, green arrow indicates below, found on the same screen), too

Screenshot of newer AMD Control Centre 3D Settings to help remove the lines between blocks
Green Arrow indicates possible additional setting required for 'pink lines' that begin at a distance
Click to see Full Size

Screenshot of AMD Control Centre v.15 (Crimson) 3D Settings to help remove lines between blocks. Green Arrow indicates possible additional setting required for 'pink or white lines' that begin at a short distance away.
Click to see Full Size

With these changes, here is what Minecraft should look like now:

'Those Lines' should now be gone (for example, from around torches and water blocks). Yay!
Click to see Full Size.

Enjoy your line-free worlds of blocks and See You In The Games!