Using Video Game Footage - Part 2c
Bink and Smacker
I really don’t play computer games all that much, but normally watch the cut scenes of my friends games as they play. The games I have extracted video from are: Diablo 2, Wing Commander 3, Star Craft and Wing Commander Privateer 2. A lot of full motion previews that are distributed on the Internet also use Smacker or Bink.
Computer games have been around since the computer, or at least a short amount of time after it. The original games were text based, with creative writing providing the imagery. Static images came next, followed by not so static. Most modern computer games have as much money invested in the cut scenes as in the game engine itself, as this has become expected. Some games render their cut scenes in real time, but most use canned full motion video. The clips used in games are beginning to rival movie studios in budget, and animation studios in quality.
A lot of games use Bink and Smacker as their video CODEC, though most on windows use AVI. If a game uses AVI, then you are set. Extract the AVI files, and make sure you have the CODEC to read them. On the other hand if there are a series of .SMK or .BNK files, they more than likely use Bink or Smacker. Some games might use some other format, which is up to you to research and convert. There can be as many game formats as there are games.
The location of the video files might also be a bit of a challenge to find. Blizzard (the makers of Diablo 2) uses a proprietary storage solution called MPQ. I had to first find an MPQ viewer and extraction utility to extract the Bink files from the game. Each game will more than likely require a level of effort to find them, again, this can be half the fun.
Don’t be afraid to explore, and sometimes a HEX editor can be your best friend. For one of the Diablo 2 previews, I had to take a HEX editor and search for the SMK header with in the file, and extract from it. In the end, it is not how you get the files, it is that you get them, and that is what counts.
Once you have the files, use the Rad Game Tools application to convert them to AVI files.
Do not mess with any of the settings, accepting all of the defaults until it asks you for a CODEC. Once you
get to that point choose Huffyuv. Something you might want to consider is distributing your videos in the
Bink or Smacker format, but you then lose the cross platform aspects. The compression on Bink is amazing, it uses wavelet
modified MPEG-2 based compression.
Once you have converted the cut scenes to AVI files, you are complete. These will act as the “original” files for the next step.