As you may know, for the past few months I’ve been recording Let’s Play videos under the name LawfulGeek Plays. I’ve had a few fun runs and will hopefully have a lot more in the future, as I really enjoy it and I’m learning a lot, not just on hosting videos but the editing of them as well.
If you’re thinking of doing this yourself, there’s a good chance you won’t know where to start, or you might doubt your skills. The only way to truly know if you’re suited for this—and I still don’t know, by the way, maybe I really suck at it—is to give it a go and see what happens, but on the software side, editing and recording, maybe my good buddy Timlah (from GeekOut South-West) and I can give you a hand.
These are the tools we use to record our videos and edit them if we need to.
To record my videos I use the same software as when I stream on the LawfulGeek Twitch channel: XSplit or OBS. I have hotkeys mapped to start and stop local recordings easily, even while playing, and a large external drive to hold the videos.
For these I merely set up the scenes, put in my sources and just hit record and stop as I go along. I have a fair amount scenes set up, some for streaming and others for recording. I also always have my mobile phone on hand as a stopwatch, to make sure I end the episodes at the 15-minute mark.
In terms of audio while recording, both XSplit and OBS record the audio along with the video but I use Auto-Ducking in Real Time to lower the in-game volume while I talk, as I want the audience to enjoy the in-game audio while I’m not talking. It’s not a perfect system, of course, and I make plenty of mistakes, but it works for me so far. At least I haven’t received any negative feedback on the use of audio ducking.
For video recording software, I use something called SimpleScreenRecorder (Yes, in one word). This piece of software has a few special features that make it really useful to me. One of the features is the ability to pick the window that you want to record, rather than recording the whole window. This means that I don’t have to fiddle around with resolutions or anything during the editing stage. Another useful feature is the ability to set profiles, so I have one for my recordings and one for streaming. Finally, I also use SimpleScreenRecorder to capture in-game audio.
For voice recording, I simply use Audacity to capture my vocals separately. I can then edit my vocals, remove any stupid noises (which I’ve found that I make a lot of those) and also make any necessary edits. If I want to stretch a word out for emphasis on a video, I can do so through Audacity. It’s also nice keeping this separate to the video, as if you lose one, you don’t lose both of them!
My editing experience is fairly limited, and only recently did I start working on videos after they’re done. For the most part I don’t edit videos very often, as I keep a tight-ish leash on what I do while recording and leave it as is. Since I record audio and video together, there’s no need to sync them up afterwards.
But if I have to edit, at the moment I’m using Lightworks—free edition. I’m still learning to use it and it’s not the most intuitive of tools. But it is very precise and I can edit down to the smallest of frames. My latest edits have all been cuts, removing unnecessary parts of videos, such as ten minutes of back-to-back deaths in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and some in an upcoming Darksiders episode where the game crashed. I managed to join the second before the crash and the moment I returned to that spot almost seamlessly, and on the first go. I’m quite proud of that to be honest.
As I work on more videos I think of more ways to edit, particularly since Timlah does such an amazing job with his videos, it pushed me to do better!
In the coming months, I’ll probably switch to Adobe Premiere, which I’ve used in the past and liked a lot.
Kdenlive is my editor of choice, which I’m slowly learning more about as I go along. When I started, I didn’t know what a title screen was, thinking it was literally just for a title, rather than to add words to my videos. I’ve learned about transitions and overlays, as well as how to make images and words spin around. I’ve learned how to make things wobble and how to make images bounce across the screen.
Kdenlive allows me to go right down to an individual frame and work off that. I am very particular about this, as during my videos, I like to add a “hit”, “miss” and “block” onto the screen whenever these actions occur. By going down to the very frame, I can make these words appear exactly when the action happens.
So those are our tools of choice. If I were to mention something else, it would be: get a good microphone, as audio quality is paramount. It’s not software but it will have an impact on everything you do.
If you use different tools, let us know in the comments, we’re always keen to learn new things!