How To Capture Video Content In FSX: Steam Edition

You sit back in your flight chair, stretch your hands free from the controls and marvel that you managed to complete a challenging landing… even with the weather gusting like mad and brake failure! If only you could have shared it with the world. Well Captain, now you can! The power of DVR software on your PC and the inherent accessibility and freedom of YouTube make this an exciting time to be a content developer in the world of flight simulation.

This article gives a little insight into the world of video content creation and will help you get started. This is a guide not a definitive must-do (let’s be really clear about that) and I will endeavour to introduce you to some of the tools that can set you on your production path. Who said flight simmers can’t multitask?

The first place to start is with your sim. In a few of my articles and on my channel, I talk about balance with your sim. Yes, you want everything to look fantastic, but stuttering at 6 FPS is not going to look good no matter how detailed the textures are. Make sure to consider thiswhen you are setting up your sim. Balance your desire for 4096 textures on runway markings (when you will see them for all of a few seconds at a distance) against a smooth and stable flight. You want to be sure (and this applies equally to normal simulation flying and not just filming) that you maintain a balance of quality and performance.

After you have stabilized your simulator, you will need to tweak your configuration file. While we are used to seeing notifications pop up such as Parking Brakes, Brakes, Overspeed etc, they can make filming a little tricky, especially when they pop up just when the shot is perfect and you know you will never pull off that landing again in the same way.

CFG location

Go into your FSX.cfg file and look for the [Display] section. Edit the following lines replacing True with False:

InfoBrakesEnable=True

InfoParkingBrakesEnable=True

InfoPauseEnable=True

InfoSlewEnable=True

InfoStallEnable=True

InfoOverspeedEnable=True

InfoBrakesEnable=False

InfoParkingBrakesEnable=False

InfoPauseEnable=False

InfoSlewEnable=False

InfoStallEnable=False

InfoOverspeedEnable=False

By setting these to FALSE we make it so the normally useful blocks of red and white text do not appear anymore. Personally, I prefer it out of my sim anyway, but to each their own. The other part to change is:

ChangeTime=4.000000

TransitionTime=4.000000

ChangeTime=0.000000

TransitionTime=0.000000

This removes the text that appears in the top right politely informing us about which view we are currently in. Again, useful, but it gets in the way of filming.

Now on to the actual recording process. As I alluded to at the beginning of this article, the tools available to you now are wide and varied, however there are three main weapons of choice for your recording: ShadowPlay, XboxDVR and OBS.

ShadowPlay: This software comes bundles with the NVIDIA GeForce Experience software for all NVIDIA card users (NVIDIA is the go-to graphics card for FSX). Once you have set up shortcut keys and your recording preferences you are good to go.

  • Pros

    • Minimal frame rate impact as uses GPU resources not CPU
    • Easy to setup and use
    • 1080p recording by default
    • Standardized high quality output MP4 format
    • Customizable Shortcut keys to start/stop recording
  • Cons
    • Limited to one monitor / source recording
    • Streaming options limited to Twitch

This has been my staple recording software for a number of years and has proven to be a reliable and solid platform.

sp 01

XboxDVR: The “new kid on the block” along with the release of Windows 10. It was incredibly buggy when it launched, but a few updates later, this is definitely something worthy of consideration. This is set up via the Xbox App on Windows 10 (Normally preinstalled, but you may have to get it via the Microsoft Store)

  • Pros
    • Standardized high quality output MP4 format
    • Customizable Shortcut keys to start/stop recording
    • Always on in the background ready to go
    • 1080p recording
    • Minimal framerate impact
    • Easy to use once set up
  • Cons
    • Challenging to set up
    • User interface is poorly designed
    • No streaming options
    • Limited to one monitor / source recording

Overall a nice new entry to the team, and once set up right runs very well, plus anyone who uses Windows 10 gets this for free.

OBS: Well this is the multi-tool of software. It has been around a while and is always being updated. It does a lot of things, but none of them amazingly well. OBS gives you more options but because of its Open source nature means that there are a few cons to using it.

  • Pros
    • Multi-screen / multi-source recording
    • Minimal frame rate impact
    • Multiple streaming options as well as recording options
  • Cons
    • Recording quality is not as good as other software
    • Output is an FLV format which is great for streaming, not so great for recording
    • Additional software required to convert the output into something useable for editing
    • Challenging user interface

This is great for streaming to YouTube, however that tends to be where its usefulness stops. The quality of recording pales in comparison to that you get from other software.

Finally, there is one other tool which I personally find invaluable, Flight1’s  EZdok. This fantastic piece of software allows you to roam freely inside and outside of your aircraft and set up to 255 custom viewpoints. The sheer number of things you can do with EZdok are too much to cover here, but suffice it to say that all of those smooth view pans over and through an aircraft come from using this software. This software is great even if you don’t make videos, its effects and ease of traversing around the cockpit alone are worth considering this software. It is a little old, but the developers update it semi-regularly and it is compatible with FSX:SE (version 1.18 and above). Head over to the EZdok forums to read more about this nifty add-on!

ezdok 01

In closing, we have covered off some of the tools of the trade and some of the tips to get you started. Before you start filming though, take a moment to consider what you are trying to achieve. Are you recreating an event? Making a guide on how to perform a task or complete a mission? Or are you simply capturing the joy of simulated flight? Your goals will control what sort of shots you will be looking at making, how long you will be in the cockpit versus outside the aircraft, and a variety of flight positions and attitudes. These are decisions that you get to make as the creative. Being a cinematographer is about tapping into your creativity and knowing that it may take a long time to get it right, trust me!

Until next time pilots!

Safe Skies

Tristan

Tristan

Tristan (aka Novawing24) is a self-professed flight simulation addict and YouTuber. His YouTube channel and live streams are popular among the flight simulation community. His favorite add-ons are the J-160 Jabiru and Active Sky Next.

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