Forums  /  Streaming / Recording / Equipment  /  Welcome to Streaming! - An intro and FAQ guide.
  AMVXAMVX

Hi guys,

This is a basic guide to most the FAQs we seem to get here, and some basic tips for equipment and streaming in general for speedrunning, livestreaming and recording for submissions.

Before I get much into this, I will be making massive changes to this guide over the next couple of weeks adding more content into it. If you have anything you'd like to add, contribute or suggest goes in here, please let me know.

UPDATES:
V1.0 - Core guide made. Enjoy.
V2.0 - Changed some terms, fixed some spelling and grammar, expanded on stuff.
V3.0 - Changed formatting, clarified some terms and overall improved readbility of guide.
V3.1 - Changed some phrasing, spelling and grammar. Still need to add more to Part 5.
V3.2 - Added info about newer consoles.
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PART 1: BASICS

Q: Why do I need to capture my gameplay?

A: In order to verify that your time and run is legitimate, we need video evidence for most games. The ability and costs of capturing and even streaming video content has dropped significantly over the last decade and so it's almost a given that you can provide evidence of your claimed times.

Q: Can't I just upload my splits?

A: While splits can supplement a run, and while some games do not require video verification, most games will only allow splits to support the video evidence of a SR submission.

Q: But doesn't this cost extra?

A: Marginally. Hey, price of a hobby, right? You already have your game and console that you want to run, now we just need to capture it. Thankfully there are some very cheap, and even free, options to get your game recorded, uploaded and on the site.

Q: Do I need amazing Internet to be able to do this?

A: Absolutely not. You runs don't have to be streamed live, so you can upload your video in your own time to a web video services like Twitch or YouTube.

Q: So, how does capturing, streaming and recording work?

The most simple way to say it is:

Console -> Capture -> TV & PC -> Video (Broadast) Software -> Stream/Recording

For a game already on a PC, you're always halfway into the flow chart. Yay.

See the following parts, in the rough order of this flowchart to find out more to each section. You already know what console you have, so the next step is...

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PART 2: CAPTURE CARDS & DEVICES

Q: What capture card should I get?

A: Well, this depends on how old the system is you're playing on, it depends on how you want it to look, your budget...

Q: So...what should I get?

A: To put it simply - your budget is your determining factor. While I can give you solutions that cost the same amount as a new luxury car, you can also get a working solution for the cost of the tyre of that same car.

But before you consider capturing your game, think what OUTPUT you are going to take into the capture device, and then how you are also going to see an output to continue to play on.

- You can have a capture passthrough method, where the console outputs to a capture card which passes the signal through to your display, and then also diverts it to your PC for broadcasting.

- You can have an output from your display which then goes to a capture and then the broadcasting stage. Not as common, but if it's an option, it's a reasonable one.

- You can split the signal, send one side to your display and then the other to the capture card/PC/broadcast. This is the preferable option if you get delay off your capture card, but putting a split in can reduce signal quality (if it was weak enough to start off with) or some splitters will add some delay as well.

HDMI also can have HDCP (copy protection) on it for rights management purposes. Make sure to disable or remove this in order for most captures to work. This can be done in some system software (e.g. PS3 / PS4) or by getting a cheap HDMI splitter, since they don't usually obey the laws and protocols.

I would advise for X360, WiiU, PS3, Xbox One, Switch, PS4 and similar primary consoles to be captured via. HDMI. It's their primary output for TV's so it's easy to get a stable signal from.

Q: I've decided on my output, I'm going to use something that is not HDMI / SDI. How do we go about it?

Oh boy, a tough one. Because of all the different outputs, this is complicated. Long story short; manufacturers and developers back in the day didn't use consistant standards and never futureproofed their technology. Up until a certain point, that is.

For most people, they also want the prettiest picture. Plugging your old console into a new HDTV mean the cheap internal scaler built into the TV does the work, and they don't build them with speedrunning in mind. They cause delay and usually not the best picture either. For the average consumer, it works, which is good enough. But not for us. We're special snowflakes.

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COMPOSITE / S-VIDEO

If you are unable or don't want to use those outputs to a TV, then we have to look at specific options.

- The GV-USB2 is the current leader for cheap but effectively capture on composite and S-Video.
https:/​/​www.​amazon.​com/​DATA-connection-video-capture-GV-USB2/​dp/​B00428BF1Y

-The other older option is a Dazzle DVC100 if you can find them or a newer Dazzle
https:/​/​www.​pinnaclesys.​com/​en/​products/​dazzle/​dvd-recorder-hd/​
These are not as good as they were, and for a cheaper price you can get the GV-USB2 which puts out better quality anyway.

Consoles that would use this are from the early generations, for example NES, SNES, Famicon, Mega Drive, Dreamcast, PS1.

It can also be used it later generation analog signals, but at that stage the option is for better picture using other means like...

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RGB / SCART / Component

My advice would be to invest in an Open Source Scan Converter (see next section for links) in order to not only improve the picture quality of your console, but also to allow for easy output and capture via. HDMI.

The OSSC will not cause any delay to your game, and will mean you can run your game on most normal LCD panels without hassle - since the TV is reading a HD input, and not having to scale it, instead of using it's own cheap scaler which sucks. It means you can just capture via. HDMI as well, and split the audio if required.

Also consider looking into a XRGB FrameMeister from Japan if you can't get an OSSC. It will but about one frame of delay on your game, but it is tested and reliable. Though it is mostly Japanese, there are only a few menus and they are very self-explanatory when you look it in. Mostly just scaling/game options and they cycle through.

BE WARY: both of these units rely on certain processing chips from Japan. Manufacturing of these chips is declining. Some companies are looking to revamp the chip manufacturing process so that retro games can scale to 4K, but that is speculation at this point, since no-one has a product on the market yet.

Consoles for this would be GameCube, Wii, PS2, Xbox...though again, most of these will also output in composite if that is easier for you. In some cases it will actually be better.

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RF

For really old consoles, they went in like an old TV signal. You'd have to either find an old CRT that will take in readable RF and is capable of TV outputs (super rare) or more likely, find an older DVD player that can take RF and then take a split off the composite output for the TV for your capture.

Consoles like this would be Commdore 64, Amiga and Ataris.

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VGA/DVI/DisplayPort/USB/CAT/Other

Use a converter for whatever type to take the signal to HDMI. Save yourself the hassle. Just be aware that some of these signal types do not embed audio, so if that is the case then you'd have to find an alternative for that as well.

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PSP

You can get breakout cables for the PSP to go to your TV. Then it's the same as capturing a console with component cables.

VITA

You can try to capture via. Playstation TV, otherwise a custom install board from somewhere like http:/​/​www.​3dsvideocapture.​com/​product-list/​6 will do the trick. They disabled the HDMI output of the units after the arrival of their PSTV system.

GB/GBC/GBA

These can be captured with the GameBoy Player attachment for the Gamecube. It is worth noting the speed and resolution differences between them and the actual handhelds themselves. See https:/​/​kb.​speeddemosarchive.​com/​Game_Boy_Capture for more information on them, as well as the capture cartridge for NES and the SNES.

If you do get these adaptors, minusing the differences, your capture is the same as capturing the base console at that point.

DS/3DS

I can only vouch for http:/​/​www.​3dscapture.​com/​ and many others can as well, best capture boards around. While not cheap, and there is a wait time, it is a safe option.

The second site, http:/​/​www.​3dsvideocapture.​com/​ has been selling quite well, but I personally have never used them so not sure about the turn around times or support. Europe/Australians customers note the link there to a second landing site for your ordering page.

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Q: What was that about scalers you mentioned before?

A: So a lot of runners use a pre-scaler converter before they go into the TV so they don't use the internal TV systems - it just sees a HD signal. Of course, this only applies for a retro console on a HD display. A retro on a CRT would never really benefit from this process.

The most popular scalers for older 'analog' consoles (Gen 3 AKA NES era to Gen 6 PS2/GC era) are these two:

OSSC
https:/​/​www.​videogameperfection.​com/​products/​open-source-converter/​

Framemeister
https:/​/​solarisjapan.​com/​products/​xrgb-mini-framemeister-compact-up-scaler-unit

The two latest generations of consoles all have the ability to put video out via. HDMI in a 'digital' format and thus don't require the same scaling, sync and processing and are okay for a standard consumer HDTV. Note, I will only say okay and not great - more on that in the advanced section.

BE WARY: both of these units rely on certain processing chips from Japan. Manufacturing of these chips is declining. Some companies are looking to revamp the chip manufacturing process so that retro games can scale to 4K, but that is speculation at this point, since no-one has a product on the market yet.

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PART 3: CRTs, OLEDs & DISPLAYS

I'll save you the nitty-gritty hard details about differences in types of TVs and give you the overview.

If you do want to know more, go for an afternoon on reading about the major differences between them all.

- CRTs
Older games will work easier with the TVs they were made for, and no locked resolution. Harder to come by now, but Goodwill/Swap Meets/Craigslist/Ebay - you can find them around now for cheap. Replacement parts usually not available. Trash for new consoles and likely won't run HD signals.

- PVM / BVM
Same buying locations, cost a lot more. Ex-broadcast grade CRTs, usually from Sony. Very good if you can get them, because they are more colour accurate and adjustable than a standard CRT.

- LCD / LED
Basic cost effective consumer grade TVs you will buy in store now. Good picture, trash response time, won't burn image in, easy to move and quite durable. Not really repairable. This is what the strong majority of people on this site will be using, and advisable for retro games to be pre-scaled before hitting the display on this TV and a low latency model if possible.

- MONITORS vs. TVs
There is a bigger range of monitors made for gaming specific, with low latency options. Make for good speedrunning options, however you won't get these in your living room TV size since they are made for a PC set up. Definitely an option to consider, but depends on your scenario.

- PLASMA
Not manufactured anymore, OLED has replaced this expensive tech. They offer some benefits, but just as many drawbacks. Low latency, but they have the risk of burning images into the screen (think a HUD of a game that is constanly static over the hours you will spend practising), and they also are more likely to be damaged when moved. Also very hard to find in smaller sizes, were usually reserved for a large family TV due to production costs.

- OLED
Great for almost everything, bar cost. Low TV shelf life at this stage, at about 5-8 years before the panel will go. This is rapidly improving however. Best colour you can get, also available in low latency options. Drawback is in consumer TVs only made by LG and Samsung, and in large sizes due to cost of manufacture. Sony do make smaller sizes for professional use only, so they are AMAZING but also hideously expensive. If you got the cash, go for it, but definitely not for 99.9% of people here.

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PART 4: STREAMING & SETTINGS

Q: What capture software should I use?

A: Depending on your capture device, some may require you to use their software. The majority though just treat the capture like a camera being plugged into your PC. Some of the proprietary software can local record and stream themselves.

For example, Elgato and AverMedia software can stream to TV while locally recording, without the need to open any other software at all. This could be the best option for your scenario, however most people want more control over their stream, layouts and scenes, so they use an actual broadcasting software.

Q: What broadcasting software should I use then?

A: Well, the most popular options for streaming people are below;

OBS Studio - https:/​/​obsproject.​com/​download
Easily the most popular on Twitch. It's free, though we encourage supporting the project. It has a lot of plug-ins and updates for it. It doesn't use much CPU. You really cannot go wrong with this software.

XSplit - https:/​/​www.​xsplit.​com/​
Second most common option, uses a lot more CPU than OBS does. Windows only. Overall a very solid piece of kit, though you do have to pay for a license on it. Because it's a proper company, you get professional support for the software, and it's worth the money. Though, why pay for something when you have a free option that is just as good, right?

Livestream - https:/​/​livestream.​com/​
A paid license will allow this software to broadcast outside of Livestream's own site, and onto Twitch, YT or other sites. It's actually a really nicely designed program, but designed around their physical boxes - so multiple captures for cameras and GFX layers. A bit overkill, but really good.

Wirecast - https:/​/​www.​telestream.​net/​wirecast/​overview.​htm
Mostly used on the professional scale, a little cumbersome to use until your wrap your head around it. Very versatile, and very capable. Capabale of everything you would need, layers, sidescreen, built-in scoreboards and sets. Not for the average streamer though.

vMix - https:/​/​www.​vmix.​com/​
So, uh...how much money did you say you had? By the time you have hit Wirecast/vMix you are in the big-boys league. Honestly, the only time you would be looking at this is if you were a professional organisation, and wanting to use all the extra features.

Q: What about AmarRec, FRAPS, or Afterburner?

A: What about them? AmarRec does have it's place sometimes, if you know what it does and use it properly. The other two aren't worth it when there are other, better programs around.

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PART 5: ADVANCED

Q: You mentioned before about okay for HDTVs. What gives?

Manufactors of TVs make for the general consumer, not specific outliers, like in our scenarios. When considering a HDTV for speedrunning you want to check both the RESPONSE TIME and the REFRESH RATE (also called the display time). These are major factors for gaming in general, let alone if your game has specific frame-dependant tricks.

Another basic summary of this is on - https:/​/​www.​tomsguide.​com/​us/​refresh-rates-vs-response-times,news-24345.​html

See if your model is here - https:/​/​displaylag.​com/​display-database/​ - it might save you some time.

The GOD tier site: http:/​/​retrogaming.​hazard-city.​de/​

- VGA vs. SCART vs. RGB vs. Component vs. S-Video
https:/​/​www.​youtube.​com/​user/​mylifeingaming/​playlists

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PART 6: OTHER FAQs

Q: This guide is really crappy at the moment. What gives?

I'm updating it as we go. It's a very in-depth topic to shorten up properly.

Q: I have other questions! Who, what, when, where, how?

Research. So many questions on this topic have already been answered so check around. Otherwise, ask in this forum, and if you still cannot find a response, let me know and I might be able to at least point you in the right direction of a response.

Q: Why should I be trusting the advice from this guide and site?"

Uh, have you seen what site you are on? I mean, this advice is free anyway, your choice to listen to it, and there are plenty of links here to other sources. Otherwise, the users on this site are a wealth of knowledge of all this. Ask your gaming community for the game you are interested in, and many will happily tell you their setups.

This guide is happily brought to you by the people who have helped make GDQ, Dreamhack, ESA, ASM and PAX panels and shows, so we kind of know what we are doing. Thanks for reading and for your time! Now stop reading and go make that awesome content!

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These are just a short snippet of questions that you may have. If you have any more, ask away! The site is constantly improving, and we want everyone to love their time here and with the community.

Thanks guys, see you around!

- AMVX

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