First of all, I do not play 10 or 20 minutes each day and then upload those videos immediately and that's it, that's all. It's just not that simple to create a quality walkthrough and, moreover, I think this would be an incredible waste of time and energy to play a little bit each day and then go to all the trouble to edit, process and upload that little bit.
Hence, a typical play session for one of my video game walkthroughs starts with deciding how long the recording is going to be. And I want it to be at least 45 minutes (4 videos) if not longer.
By the way of example:
- For my Far Cry 2 walkthrough, I typically recorded an entire mission in one play session which averaged about 45 minutes to an hour per recording.
- For my Dead Space walkthrough, I recorded one 'chapter' in the game per play session which averaged anywhere from 1-1½ hours per recording.
- For my Borderlands walkthrough, I've been doing 2 hour recordings for the simple reason that I can then chop up the recording in a video editor into 12 x 10 minute videos (10 minutes being the maximum length for a Youtube video) which then fits neatly with my upload schedule (12 videos per week).
Each recording of a play session is what I call a 'run'. The run is titled descriptively, e.g., Beginning to Nine-Toes (which means playing from the beginning of Borderlands up to the boss Nine-Toes) and the videos are numbered from 1 through 12.
But wait... It's still not that simple.
I also like to do...
I like to be able to actually instruct people in my video game walkthroughs (as well as make them entertaining). And to instruct credibly means knowing a game well. So, on top of having already completed a game at least once (usually twice or more) before even attempting a walkthrough, for each recording I plan to make I typically do one or two practice runs first (yep, the whole mission, chapter, two hour run, whatever).
The practice run also serves to getting to know that section of the game well enough that I can do the live commentary in the final recording without having to think about the gameplay anymore because it's like second nature to me by now. So now we're up to about 6 hours (assuming a couple of practice runs) just to get to the point where a particular walkthrough section or run is finally recorded.
That's the easy (and fun) part. Now comes the real work.
All About FRAPS
The software I use to record myself playing a video game is called FRAPS and this records my gameplay to humongous .avi files on my hard drive. A two hour recording of Borderlands averages about 100-120 GB (gigabytes) of .avi video files. Now, you just can't upload these straight to Youtube. Youtube has a video file size limit of 2 GB (and/or 10 minutes) per video. 10 minutes of raw .avi video files averages about 8 GB which is way over the limit.
Moreover, the way FRAPS works is it doesn't just record an entire 2 hour play session to one big .avi file. It splits it up on the fly into manageable 4 GB chunks as it's recording. Otherwise, once an .avi file got too big, it would take way too long for your computer to continue to record to that file on the fly.
So what I've got after recording a two hour run of Borderlands is somewhere around 25-30 .avi video files, each about 4-5 minutes long. These .avi files all have to be first assembled into one long seamless 2 hour run using my video editor (Sony Vegas Platinum). Then I have to use the video editor to split up the run into 10 minute segments. This requires that I actually playback the recording at selected intervals in order to split up the run into segments that make sense, e.g., I don't want to split it up right in the middle of a sentence or something. I also like to intelligently segment the gameplay, if possible, e.g., put an entire boss fight in one video. This process typically takes about an hour per 2 hour Borderlands run.
Still not done (far from it).