If you want to publish (semi-) professional video from games, Capture Cards help. We tried the most important devices and show strengths, weaknesses and costs.
Today you do not play for yourself anymore. In times of social media, Twitch and Youtube, sharing their video game experiences with other people is easy. Classic video reviews or streaming are two of the most popular options. But even a video essay about a particular aspect of a game can start a dialogue. The net is full of analysis on game design or the dramaturgical content of interesting titles. In contrast to a classically filmed video contribution, there is a special technical requirement: The game scenes must be recorded.
Do you need a Capture Card? Not always. Who plays at a PC with Nvidia graphics card, is with the included recorder software Shadow Play already well served. The parallel to the graphics card driver offered and free software just runs in the background and takes the game in the foreground. Of course, this costs CPU and GPU resources.
Even Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch have rudimentary capture capabilities. The image quality is poor in the videos due to the low bit rate and prone to annoying artifacts. For occasional sharing on social media, where anyway only small videos or pictures are needed, but it is enough. So potentially every player can record. It's just a question of ambition or use case, if you actually need your own Game Capture Card.
With the article we start into a new theme world around streaming, Let's Plays and related topics. Fits to this post is already our guide: microphones for podcasts and Let's Plays appeared.
Video recording in the changing times
A long time ago, newsrooms from game magazines actually shot and printed photos of their office monitors. For videos, they were dependent for a while on the material provided by the manufacturer. At the turn of the millennium, magazine DVDs were an obligatory supplement and editors built their own video editorial. To record expensive hardware was needed, which usually found in a performance-hungry PC space.
But that has changed – also because of Youtube. Ever since the success of the Angry Video Game Nerd, it has become clear that the future of gaming coverage lies in video formats that anyone can record in their living room. Manufacturers have reacted accordingly and developed products that are also affordable for the hobby user. This is followed by a wide distribution and in tons of video recordings. Today, players often find out about moving pictures about games. A simple google search throws up results even in obscure insider tips – mostly Let's Plays or uncommented walkthroughs.
Of course, video capture devices are also used for sources other than game consoles. Basically, any video signal is recorded that is not copy protected. For example, you can digitize material from old videocassettes. For older devices that appeared about five to six years ago, there are also integrated analog inputs. They are adapted to the then current generation of consoles and provide connections for Component (for example Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii) and Composite (also Playstation 2 or older consoles). Sometimes there are also cable whips, where synonymous S-Video is here. However, analogue ports are no longer the norm for current capture devices – they only use HDMI, which means, for example, that the current retro consoles (top 10) also work.