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How to Record Audio for Video Game Commentaries on a PC

Updated on May 05, 2016
Minecraft is a popular Let's Play! Series
Minecraft is a popular Let's Play! Series | Source

Let's Play! Series are very popular on streaming websites like YouTube. They are videos which have commentary recorded at the same time as the game is played. This allows for a better feeling of immersion as you embark on a journey with the commentator.

Equipment Needed for Sound Recording

In order to start recording, you will first need to gather the equipment needed to record sound, a program to record the sound with, and an editing program to merge the audio and video together if you recorded the audio and game audio separately.

What You Need to Get Started

  1. Headphones
  2. Microphone
  3. A sound recording program. This could be the program you record your video with, or a separate audio program. (not needed if using a portable sound recorder)
  4. An editing program to merge audio & footage (optional, depending on how you recorded your audio)

* you can also use a gaming headset instead of headphones and a microphone.

Headphones

While sound cancelling headphones are not essential, a good pair of headphones must be used. If you are not using headphones, the audio you will record will become muddy recording both the game audio feedback, as well as capturing the commentary.

A gaming headset can also be used in place of a microphone and headphones.

PC Compatible Gaming Headset

A headset can be used to replace the need for a separate microphone. This will eliminate the need to set up a microphone and ensure that your voice is always near the microphone if you move around a lot during gameplay. However, the headset may be prone to "popping" from your voice (on constants like "p" and "b") if your microphone is too close to your mouth or does not have a windscreen attached. Be sure to invest in a quality headset.

Gaming headsets are designed to keep the microphone close to your mouth.
Gaming headsets are designed to keep the microphone close to your mouth. | Source

Setting up is as easy as plugging your headset into your computer (be sure you bought a PC compatible headset), and selecting the microphone in a sound recording software.

This Setup:

  1. PC Gaming Headset
  2. Recording Software

Pros:

don't have to transfer from SD Card

microphone will always be close to mouth

Cons:

mic is always close to mouth, could lead to popping or unclear audio

USB microphone, with pop filter, shockmount and microphone stand.
USB microphone, with pop filter, shockmount and microphone stand. | Source

USB Microphone Setup

This setup is ideal for recording your commentary and game-play audio without the hassle of having to transfer over the audio files from an SD card.

Setting up only requires you to plug in the USB cable and select the microphone in the audio recording software of your choice.

This Setup:

  1. Samson C01U Studio Condenser Mic
  2. Shockmount - helps reduce noise from bumping the stand
  3. Pop Filter - reduced popping from voice
  4. Microphone Stand - hold microphone in place
  5. Recording software

*substitute the microphone stand with a podcast stand to fit easily onto your desk

Pros:

  • don't have to transfer from SD card to computer
  • ability to easily position microphone with stand

Cons:

  • slightly less audio quality
  • easy to bump stand if used in a tight space

Zoom H4n with windscreen on tripod.
Zoom H4n with windscreen on tripod. | Source

Portable Sound Recorder Setup

By using a portable sound recorder, you eliminate the need for a recording software as the sound is capture on a separate device.

Set up is easy, all you have to do is push the record button to start recording.

To easily sync up audio with video footage, record the audio first, then when you record the game-play footage be sure to say "we are recording right....now". This audio slate will give you the marker needed to place the audio track up correctly with video.

This Setup:

  1. Zoom H4n (substitute for Zoom H1n for less money)
  2. Windmuff - to reduce popping from voice
  3. Tripod (or any sort of stand)

* you can also use an external microphone with the Zoom h4n to increase audio quality and move the microphone away from the keyboard/mouse to eliminate those noises

Pros:

  • no cables to get tangled or drape across desk or floor
  • better audio quality
  • no audio recording software required

Cons

  • must transfer from SD card to computer

Which Program Do You Prefer to Capture Audio?

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How to Capture Sound for Your Commentary

If you used a portable sound recorder to capture your audio, you don't need to worry about a recording software. If you are using a headset or a USB microphone, you'll need to pick a program to capture your audio.

Depending on how you captured your video, you may be able to use that program to record your audio at the same time. However, I strongly recommended recording your audio separately so that you can adjust audio levels easily.

If you want to skip editing together your video footage and audio commentary and upload directly to YouTube, recording your commentary and game-play audio in Fraps or another program is ideal.

Capturing Audio with Fraps

Capturing audio in Fraps is as easy as checking one box. This will capture the game audio as well as the commentary from your external microphone in the same waveform. You will not be able to adjust the volume of your commentary or game audio. You can only adjust the microphone recording level in your system sound properties.

How to Record Commentary in Fraps

Plug in your USB microphone. Your computer will recognize the device,

  1. Open Frap and under the movie section you'll see a check box that says "Record External Input".
  2. Check the box and make sure the microphone you've connected shows below. (if it doesn't automatically recognize it, try installing the microphone driver or checking your system audio settings.
  3. Open your video game and activate Fraps. Your commentary will now be recording with your video.

You can get Fraps here: http://www.fraps.com/

In the movies section, select your microphone to record your commentary.
In the movies section, select your microphone to record your commentary. | Source

Capturing Audio with Audacity

Recording with Audacity requires the extra step of syncing your audio with your video file. It's worth it in the end to be able to adjust the audio levels if certain parts are louder or quieter. This will improve the audio of your commentary.

To easily sync up audio with video footage, record the audio first, then when you record the game-play footage be sure to say "we are recording right....now". This audio slate will give you the marker needed to place the audio track up correctly with video.

How to Record Commentary in Audacity

  1. Plug in your microphone.
  2. Open Audacity. Your microphone should automatically be recognized, if it's not go to Edit > Preferences > Devices and select your microphone under the Recording Device option.
  3. Hit the record button, start your video game capturing software and start commentating.
  4. Once finished recording, save the audio from Audacity by going to File > Export.
  5. Open your editing program to synchronize your video.

You can download the freeware Audacity here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

Selecting the microphone in Audacity.
Selecting the microphone in Audacity. | Source

What Video Editing Program Do You Use?

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Synchronizing Audio with Game-play Footage

Syncing the audio to your video is a very simple process if you give yourself an audio slate of where to match the two tracks together.

Be sure when recording your audio to say you are starting to record your video to give yourself a marker. You'll cut out that slate later and it makes synchronizing a breeze.

Within your editing program, whether you're using Sony Vegas, Premiere or Final Cut Pro, you need to import your video and audio and match them together. Afterward they are synced and you cut the beginning out, you can then adjust the audio levels of your game-play audio and commentary.

I'll be using Sony Vegas to demonstrate, but all editing programs have similar methods that will be easy to adapt between programs.

Syncing audio and video in Sony Vegas Pro 12
Syncing audio and video in Sony Vegas Pro 12 | Source

Synchronizing Audio and Game-play Footage in Sony Vegas Pro 12

  1. If you recorded an audio cue, to when you started recording your video, line up your audio to the start of your video.
  2. Trim off the beginning, with the audio cue to where your video starts.
  3. Lower the volume of your game-play footage track until you can hear the commentary very clearly. This can be done by reducing the gain in your program, or pulling down the audio level. In Sony Vegas, press ctrl+ v to bring the audio levels onto your tracks.
  4. Look at the waveform and see if any of the audio is louder than the rest. Add keyframes to lower the audio in selected parts. In Vegas, left click on the blue audio level. Place three keyframes, one at the start of the loud part, one at the end of the loud part and one in the middle. You can then pull down the middle keyframe to lower that section without lowering the entire audio track.
  5. Once you are done adjusting the commentary audio track, edit your video and export it to upload!

Adjusting audio levels in Sony Vegas by adding keyframes to the audio level.
Adjusting audio levels in Sony Vegas by adding keyframes to the audio level. | Source

Other Helpful Guides for Video Game Commentaries

How to Edit a Video Game Commentary - Tips and tricks on what and how to edit your commentary after it's recorded. Including audio editing and what to cut.

Recording Better Sound for YouTube - A guide detailing how to capture better quality audio for your YouTube videos.

Create Your Own Video Game Commentary - A in depth look at how to set up your own Let's Play channel, including channel design, intro and outros and thoughts on commentating.

How to Record PC Gameplay Footage with Fraps - A guide with instructions on how to use Fraps to record your gameplay footage.

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    • kansasyarn profile image

      Teresa Sanderson 3 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Wow! What a great hub! This is a subject I knew nothing about. Very informative!

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