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How To Make PS3 HD Youtube Videos – A Journey

November 4, 2012

I have been posting Youtube videos for about 6 months.  They have been strictly for Dark Souls, an action RPG critically acclaimed for its difficulty, art direction, boss designs and online component.  What started out as a recompensation to the Dark Souls community, for all the information that helped me finish the game, has become a bit of a hobby.

As I posted more videos and gained subscribers, I became intimately familiar with the  pluses and minuses of Youtube.  Thankfully, encouraging remarks and critical feedback have so far outnumbered trolling comments.  I did have to take down a video that became the personal battleground of 2 viewers.  Unfortunately, the battle quickly descended into a series of profane and hate-filled retorts that spread to each other’s mother’s and  extended family.

Overall, it has been a satisfactory experience.  Watching viewer and subscriber rates click upwards is addicting and leaves one with the desire to provide a better product for the all important audience: viewers and subscribers.  I am not a professional by any means but I have tried to improve my videos with interactive notes, links, transitions and even post and live commentary.

I have received the feedback that my videos are good but the video quality detracts from the overall experience.  My first videos used a point-and-shoot camera and tripod to capture HD video, which was then directly uploaded.  The next step was to use an HD Video Recorder.  The quality improved but periodic nudges or inadvertent sounds always seemed to creep in at the worst of times, like in the middle of a particularly long boss fight or difficult platforming area.

After much viewer complaining, I finally broke down and purchased a third party recording solution.  Hauppage makes an external video recorder that can be plugged between the PS3 and a PC.  The device records and transcodes on the fly, outputting movie files in high definition.  It is compatible with both PS3 and Xbox 360 and comes with all the needed media cables, something other devices seem to forget.

The digital era has made video much more accessible and mobile, but surprisingly more difficult to capture.  Thanks to the big Hollywood studios and their fear of movie piracy, digital rights management (DRM) software has crept its ugly head into our home.  For the layperson, DRM attempts to prevent consumers from making exact digital copies.  For game players like me, this means that it is impossible to capture full definition PS3 game play.  The PS3 does not output 1080P via HDMI to recording devices, only to TV’s.  The Hauppage comes with a special connector for the PS3’s SCART output that converts to component  video plus analog audio.

So, I was stuck with 1080i recording (since 1080P is only available through HDMI) but nonetheless that would be a massive improvement over my low tech methods.  My subscribers were sure to be pleased.

After reading the instructions, hooking up the cables, and installing the software and drivers, my heart sank when I was greeted with a blank screen on both the recording software and my TV!

What to do, what to do…  Luckily, I realized that my previous PS3 connection had been over HDMI. The PS3 was configured for 1080P digital output.  But now I had hooked up to the SCART and the Hauppage was expecting a component signal with analog audio.  Even worse, the manual had a cryptic reference to video passthrough disabled as a default.  So, even if I could get the PS3 to output the right signal, I would not be able to watch it on the TV until I had configured the software on the PC.

The solution, obvious to me now, was to unplug everything, and hook up the PS3 with both an HDMI and component cables.  The trick was to configure the PS3 video options with the HDMI input on the TV, then switch the output to component while quickly changing the TV input accordingly.  The PS3 gives you 30 seconds to confirm a video output change.  My couch potatoes skills with the remote were up to the task.  I now had a PS3 outputting in component video at 1080i with 2 channel analog audio.

Back to the Hauppage.  I replugged everything based on the recommended schematics for the PS3 and after a few nervous moments, the picture on the TV was faithfully reproduced on my laptop.  Success!!!

Well not quite.  Recording digital video is only half the battle.  I narrated some commentary and spliced the audio with the Hauppage’s movie making software.  I then waited patiently for the new HD movie file to be created.  Now I was ready for the internet.  Youtube’s evil genius forces you to upload movies in a specific format.  The submitted video is re-encoded to decrease the file size and uploaded to some server field in Uzbekhistan or Siberia, I imagine.  The process is long and depends on the upload speed of your internet connection (don’t get me started on upload versus download speed!).  Eventually, my first HD video appeared in Youtube.  But with contraction artifacts and at lower resolution, even with the HD setting on high.

I was still proud of my accomplishment and could not wait for the kudos which were sure to come from my faithful viewers.  The first posted comment said it all: “Love the new video quality.  Now time to get a good microphone”.

If you are curious, here is my first Youtube HD video.

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