How to Record HD Gameplay

Wondering how to record HD gameplay videos? Why not capture that epic match you just experienced in Modern Warfare 2?

Ever needed to prove your skill at Super Street Fighter IV to your friends in Uganda?

Well, with a small investment and some patience you can hook your PS3, Wii or Xbox 360 up to a PC and record HD gameplay for posterity. This how-to will detail one method of flooding YouTube with proof of your gaming greatness.

Difficulty: Intermediate

  • Personal Computer with powerful a CPU and lots of hard drive space
  • A HD Video Capture card
  • A sound card (for sound recording)
  • Video Game Console (PS3, 360 or Wii)
  • Video and audio cables

Time to Setup: 30 minutes

Table of Contents

Official Disclaimer:
Recording HD gameplay requires some investment in hardware and software. There are numerous ways to do it and lots of different hardware or software choices. This how to is not an endorsement of any one product or method. The PS3 uses High Definition Copy Protection (HDCP) on its HDMI signal to protect the content from recording. Not all HD capture devices can decode HDCP so it may be necessary to use analog (composite) inputs to bypass the protections and record your gameplay footage.

Step 1: Preparations
416mMe8T1zL._SL500_AA300_Before you can capture HD gameplay of your console game you need a PC equipped with a method of ingesting and encoding the raw audio and video signals. There are a lot of USB solutions for component and composite video that are pretty affordable. If you want to capture HDMI video however it gets expensive quickly and copy protection rears its head. This video capture card however seems to offer a reasonable solution to the HDMI or analog capture need.

Capturing HD gameplay (720p or 1080i) can be accomplished by analog or digital means, but digital signals offer the highest fidelity and require the most horsepower and storage space.

Aside from hardware you’ll want to be sure you have the right video codec installed (I prefer DivX or Xvid for space reasons but H.264 and MPeg2 work fine too) and a video editing suite to meet your needs. Luckily Microsoft includes Windows Movie Maker in recent versions of its operating system for free and many capture solutions include editing software. Mac users, well you have iMovie handy too.

Step 2: Connecting your Console
How you connect your console really depends on the way you choose to record HD gameplay. All three consoles offer the ability to output video using analog methods with the appropriate cables. Consult the instructions for your capture solution to ensure you have everything properly connected.

When using a HDMI solution you will simply connect the HDMI cable out from the console into the card. Whether you use analog or digital video you also need to connect the audio output from your console if you indend to save sound from your gaming session. Even though HDMI provides an audio feed most capture solutions do not record audio and video at the same time. You should connect your console sound up to the input on your computer’s sound card instead.

Step 3: Capturing Video & Audio
Once you have the necessary connections between the console and the PC you will need to open the capture software you intend to use and make sure that the input devices are properly selected.

Recording HD gameplay is more than simply pushing record in the software and playing a game. Properly configuring your software ensures you get the best HD gameplay video and that it stays in synch with the recorded audio. Most recording software will allow you to change the encoding type and if you do not plan on editing the video later you can choose a codec like Divx which is highly compressed and efficient.

If you intend to edit your HD gameplay, it is best to choose a lossless or uncompressed video type like AVI for the initial capture. AVI files are large but they maintain their quality well and are not subject to a lot of video artifacts like other compressed codecs. For audio I recommend using AC3 for a compressed capture or Wav for raw/to be edited sound.


Step 4: Editing Your Footage
Once you have your HD gameplay video captured you might want to edit or enhance it. Most video editing suites, even free ones like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker allow users to edit video on a timeline and insert titles and transitions. Be sure you cut out any preparatory footage and trim the HD gameplay video down to make it more effective. For help editing using Windows Movie Maker you can click here.

Step 5: Sharing The Results
You’ve finally finished your masterpiece.. now what?

Well there are a number of game-centric websites for you to share your completed movie on the Internet. The most popular of course is YouTube, but maybe we’re biased here at FileFront because we think this site might be the perfect place for you to host and share your video content.

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4 Comments on How to Record HD Gameplay

Will Finch

On August 16, 2010 at 7:12 pm

This may be a problem for laptop users, or for people with lower end PC’s, as the PCI input is only found on desktop PC. There is another HD capture card available, the Hauppauge HD PVR. This can be found at around $199 from the Hauppauge store.

It can be found here:

Hope this helped :)


On November 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm

AVI is not a codec, it’s a container for codecs! So what codec should I choose now?!


On November 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Divx, Xvid, OGG or MPeg4? Any of the AVI style Codecs.. or whatever you’d prefer and whatever your favorite player will handle. Youtube can handle most of them as well.


On November 26, 2010 at 5:28 am

awesome its f*****