Using Video Game Footage - Part 1




This article is going to discuss various concepts and ideas that have come up when using full motion video scenes from video games in music videos and other video projects. Many games are including visually stunning and elaborate cut scenes, and sometimes games based on an anime license will include scenes and videos not originally in the anime.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive study of all of the options, just a walk through of the tools and tricks that I have learned. This is also not going to be a discussion of music video concepts in general, as it will focus on maintaining video quality, and not deal with artistic quality. What makes a good video is discussed elsewhere.

A lot of the concepts and tricks that will be gone over can apply to other sources of footage (like DivX ;-) and low bit rate MJPEG), and other concepts of video work, as the main goal of this is to teach you how to extract the maximum quality out of low quality files. As long as you understand the ideas that were used to work with video game footage, you can apply it to almost anything where you are trying to recover quality.

Quality is my highest priority, second being speed, and last being file size. The entire process will eat up a lot of hard drive space, easily measuring files in the gigabyte range. When ever possible, I use the Huffyuv CODEC.

The process can be divided into four distinct parts.

  • Ripping/Converting/Capturing the Videos
    This step gets the game video files to editable files on to your hard drive. As little processing of the video files are done at this point, as its only point is to make “original” files. If you have DivX ;-) or source footage that has some bad artifacts they can be your “originals”. This is the most flexible and the most complex part of the entire process, since we are dealing with various sources of footage. I will provide a couple examples, but will not go into every possible solution.

  • Video Cleanup
    This step takes all of the “original” files, and does the video cleanup on them; providing the “baseline” files that you will use to make your video. This is the main focus of the article. A lot of what we will be doing here is simply subjective, and the amount of processing required will depend on your personal tastes and the quality of the original files.

  • Editing
    This step is the editing of the music video from the “baseline” files. The blood, the sweat, and the lost sanity all culminate here. I am going to only give a couple of tricks to work with here, and try to keep it generic, so that it can work with any editing program.

  • Compiling the Final Video
    This step is taking the final video that was made, and creating distribution copies of them and outputting them to tape. This is open to a bunch of interpretation, so I will simply give mine. I will give what worked for me, and discuss a couple other options and why I did not choose them.

I will use a couple of my projects as examples, since all of this was learned through trial and error. I will include one example each of a Sega Saturn game and Sony PlayStation game. Your results may vary, but the concepts should be the same. A lot of screen shots will be used as examples. All of this is done on a Windows system.

Part 1 continued :  Tools