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What so you use for recording game sessions?


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#1 Lalkin

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 01:42 PM

So I've been listening to these podcasts here for a month or so now and I must say it has rekindled an old desire of mine to record my own game sessions. I currently have a wiki that is used to record notes and session summaries.

So what do you guys use to record these games?
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#2 Hal

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:12 PM

We have had a long line of tech pass through the doors as we have learned what works best and I have some other ideas waiting in the wings as well :)

We currently use Vecna (the recording head) which is equipped with a decent pair of binaural microphones. Depending on the recorder we are using (either the iRiver IFP-795 or the Marantz PMD 671) depends in which set on binaural mics we use (one has a standard mini jack plug and the other is XLR).

Generally that is enough for a table recording. If we are doing something more intimate then I would use proper mics (I have a few options on that front) and the Marantz.

I have a set of drawers fulled with mics and wires and other tech that is topped by the lovely Head of Vecna :)

Once the recording is made I generally do some clean up using Adobe Audition (which I find pretty nice to use) but you could use Audacity (which is free). I like the way the mouse wheel zooms in and out in Audition and it is also what I am most familiar with and it talks to the other stuff I have from Adobe (which is nice).

Do you have any specific questions about the audio tech or does that pretty much cover it?

Cheers
Hal :hal:
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#3 Lalkin

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:49 PM

I am right now looking at what hardware is needed to do a recording (wanting to not have a mike for each person) with the hope of ending with a recording that can be understood. :wink:

Do you find using a binaural setup aids in clarity or is it more for the positioning on the soundscape?

Also if you could list some specific products you find works well. Learning as I go so speicifc things to look up is helpful. 8)

Thanks for the help!
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#4 Hal

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:31 PM

The binaural was a development for when we moved over here and started playing at the game store with a lot of players (see the start of the Labour of Love recordings). we kind of carried it on as it does a rather nice job of setting up a good soundscape that makes each player more recognizable as they have a direction as well as a voice (so to speak). This of course assumes they stay in the same seats (which they generally do) :)

I have heard some very good things about the Samson H4 Zoom and I believe that it should be able to record a table no problem. I even think this might be what they are currently using the record the Accordlands games (but I would have to check that with Fin).

To be honest some of our early recordings just used the iRiver recorder suspended about the table using it's own internal mics and they turned out more than listenable.

I am sure some of the other folks that record games will pass through and drop in their specific set ups :) Its all good fun, the trick is to match he set up to your situation as best as possible :)

Cheers
Hal :hal:
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#5 Lalkin

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:52 PM

which binaural head do you use? The only one I saw in a quick google search went for $4000!

BTW the picture of your head is quite disturbing....

http://flickr.com/ph...N02/1330319668/
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#6 Hal

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:56 PM

You see the key to doing this is to do it on a budget that means we can keep the site online and healthy :)

The head we use is actually a custom job made from a Halloween model head and a decent set of binaural mics from Sound Professionals or Sweetwater of somewhere similar (I forget) - Sound Pros I think.

I emailed a loads of Halloween companies asking about the density of the heads as well as how realistic the ears were. Vecna was the result and he works pretty well :). Ideally I could use a real human head but that might be a bit too disturbing.

Actual binaural heads are just way to expensive to even consider - they are used mostly for acoustic testing and health and safety stuff :D

Hal :hal:
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#7 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 06:21 AM

I find binaural to be a very good way of recording roleplaying games. I first found out about it in the Summer of 2006 after our group had completed Masks of Nyarlathotep and were due to start Horror on the Orient Express. I was looking for something that could offer stereo separation to help circumvent potential issues of (natural) cross-talk between players.

Having looked into a variety of stereo techniques, I found the Binaural (Kunstkopf) method looked like the one that would fit our needs. It recorded in Surround Sound, it did not require each player to be mic'd up and having a disembodied head in the middle of the table kind of suited the Call of Cthulhu theme (for those who remember The Auction).

Our first head ('Howard') was simply a polystyrene dummy head off eBay and the binaural mics were Sound Professionals SP-TFB-2s. The recorder was an iRiver IFP 790. We first tried them out in Sept. 2006 with a WWII CoC game to great success, and you can hear its use in our Halloween 2006 game Dead Man Stomp.

That showed us it could work, so with some sponsorship we were able to upgrade our binaural prototype to a dedicated head ('Phillips') plugged into our Marantz PMD 670 (a 2nd hand, less featured version than Hal's).

We used the new setup for Orient Express and it seems to have worked OK. Below is a picture that shows both heads.

Posted Image

For general, non-binaural recordings I currently recommend the Zoom H2, which is now what's used for the Accordlands game.

Hope that's of help?

Paul
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#8 Lalkin

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:20 AM

Great information. Thanks!

Now to decide what I want to get. 8)
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#9 Balgin

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 02:53 PM

Yeah but Paul keeps putting stuff up in this weird format I've never heard of called mp4 (whatever that is) which, most importantly, won't play in windws media player (unlike mp3's, which do) so I can't listen to any of his stuff :(.
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#10 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:28 PM

MP4 is a video format. We use it for iPod-friendly videos.
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#11 Lalkin

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 03:47 PM

install this http://www.cccp-project.net/

It is the most up to date codec pack out there that won't accidently fry your system.

With it you will be able to play pretty much any video or audio file.
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#12 BigJackBrass

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 04:10 PM

MP4 doesn't bother me unduly, although I rarely have the chance to watch such videos; I generally listen to podcasts at work on my Nintendo DS and it only handles audio, although I wouldn't be able to work and watch even if it could show video as well. On the other hand I've been rather disappointed to find that Stephen Fry's excellent Podgrams series uses a different format again for audio, which I have to convert before I can listen to it. MP3 may not be the highest quality file format available, but if you want to share your recordings then it certainly seems to be the most widely usable. For game recording the quality is actually fine, I'd say.

On the Whartson Hall front we started recording with an Apple iBook, which didn't work terribly well: lacking an way to connect a microphone (we had no USB mic at the time) we were forced to rely on the internal microphone, surprisingly effective until the computer's internal fan kicked in and spoiled everything.

Next came an iRiver H10, picked up secondhand from eBay, which performed reasonably well on the internal mic but required a hard-to-find additional cradle (and a pre-amp) if an external mic was to be used.

Martin then pushed the boat out and these days we have two excellent recorders, a Marantz PMD660 and an Edirol R-09 (and hopefully Martin will correct any errors I may have made whilst trawling my memory and Google for the model numbers.) Generally we just put them in the middle of the table and switch them on, but they have also given splendid service out in the field, recording at conventions. The Marantz is the better choice as a complete field recorder due to its editing functions, but the handy Edirol earns a merit for compactness and looking too cool for words.

One thing to consider: Your recording location makes a huge difference to the sound quality. For example, Martin greatly improved things just by hanging a heavy towel over a door and making sure that the door was closed, reducing the echo produced by the room beyond it; and it's been very obvious that our gaming room at the moment lacks any soft furnishings to help take the bright edge off the sound.

Despite the wide range of equipment (some of it not at all cheap) mentioned in this thread it's worth considering that you don't actually need to spend a fortune in order to get an acceptable result. Not everyone needs (or desires) to get the best gear in pursuit of ever-better results, and if your goal is to simply record sessions for your own amusement or archives then something like an old iRiver is worth considering. You might want to listen to our first set of Traveller recordings, though, where I believe we switched from the iRiver to the Marantz in episode three, and listen to the change in quality.
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#13 MelkiorWhiteblade

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 04:28 PM

To chime in about USB microphones and computers, I've done most of my (non-game) recordings off of a mixing board right to an iBook using an iMic, which is a very affordable piece of technology from Griffin Technology.http://www.griffinte...m/products/imic And it's PC and Mac compatible.
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