Saturday, 21 December 2013

Maybe I should make an LP?

If you're like me and you enjoy video game playthroughs, you know that this is a nervous time for the Let's Play community. YouTube has never been very friendly when it comes to any potential copyright infringement. If there are any doubts about the legitimacy of a video, YouTube will play it safe and just shut the video right down. Three strikes, and the account is banned. The problem is that many videos fall under the protection of Fair Use, an exception to copyright law that allows the use of copyrighted media without the permission of the copyright holder, so long as the media in question is used for a purpose such as criticism, comment, reporting, teaching, and so on. It's more complicated than that, but that's my best attempt to translate the Wikipedia entry.

It's a complicated issue. Copyright holders have every right to defend their intellectual property, and if they don't protect their work, they can lose control of it. As for YouTube, it would be nigh-impossible to have a human manually reviewing every single uploaded video for offensive material. An automatic flagging system is the only efficient way to keep things safe. The issue here is in the dispute process, which seems to be overly strict. When in doubt, deny deny deny. This has actually driven some users to switch to alternative video hosting sites like Blip and Dailymotion, with less restrictive policies.

There is one other obstacle to making an LP... I have no idea how to actually do it. I attempted it once with a friend of mine, and it only took us about an hour to put a video together. Though I'm not super proud of the result, we didn't suck too hard. Judge for yourself.

If I want to do better, I'll have to put in some actual effort, time, and resources. After some brief research, here's what I figure I need to get started:

1) Video Capture Software/Hardware

I'm not going to get far if I can't actually record the game I'm playing. In the video above, we just pointed a camera at the screen. This resulted in bad lighting as the camera had to adjust every time the screen transitioned, along with resolution problems and an unfortunate reflection issue where you can totally see us every time the screen goes black. Yeah, I chose to wear shorts. I apologize.
I'll need a way to plug my game console into my computer to record the audio/video feed directly. This can be achieved through the use of an external device like a PVR, which isn't cheap if you want to record in HD.

2) Audio Recorder

I'll need to record my own commentary for the video, either during gameplay or after. A high quality microphone will reduce background noise and ensure I'm heard clearly. The snowball mic is used by a lot of the better LPers.

3) Video Editing Software

The video above was edited using iMovie. It was stunningly easy to use. I haven't found another program that works as well for me. Unfortunately, it's not available on PC and I don't have a Mac. So if I'm married to the idea of using iMovie, I'd have to get one. Otherwise I'd have to spend some time getting used to a new program.

4) Interesting Things To Say

Oh so many LPs on YouTube suffer from the issue of being inane, boring, offensive, etc. The highest quality recordings in the world won't be worth much if your audience can't stand you. I'd like to think I'm witty and insightful enough to carry a video, but there's really only one way to find out. Some tips from the better performers out there include rehearsing by playing the game once to get familiar with it and think of things to say, rather than attempt to improv your way through. It's also good to have a commentary partner along for the ride, because it's easier to generate dialogue with a buddy than carry it alone.

If I can do it for cheap enough, I'd like to give it a shot. There are a lot of games in my library I'd like to share with an audience, and I think I could be entertaining while I do it. Of course, I'd have to get over the hatred I have for my own voice. I sound like I have a stuffed nose and a lisp. Who wants to listen to that for ten minutes?