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WoW Rookie: How to record game footage on a Mac


New around here? WoW Rookie has your back! Get all our collected tips, tricks and tactics for new players in the WoW Rookie Guide. WoW Rookie is about more than just being new to the game; it's about checking out new classes, new playstyles, and new zones.

World of Warcraft has a particularly cool feature on Macs that doesn't exist on its Windows PC counterparts. If you play WoW on a Mac, you can record video in the game itself without the help of any third-party program. This isn't a fancy, complicated video, but it's a great first step toward making your own machinima, instructional videos, or fun films to share with friends.

Recording game footage through your Mac isn't difficult. When you're getting ready to create video, make sure you have your game set up the way you'd like it. Are the graphics right? Are all of your addons in order? Trust me: People care about your UI setup when they see game footage, and it will matter to them. Once you have those things in order, it's time to get started.

Find and set your video recording options

You can find your video recording settings under Mac Options in the game menu. Hit Escape to get to the game menu. These options allow you to customize the video you'll be recording.

  • Resolution determines the size of your video output. The higher the resolution, the larger your video file will be. You can record a longer video using smaller resolutions. Of course, higher resolution videos tend to be better quality. It's a trade-off.
  • Framerate decides how many frames per second will be used in your video. This is important because you need a consistent framerate while recording your video. Setting your FPS to something smaller will cap the game's framerate itself, allowing you to produce a more consistent video overall.
  • Compression is a technical setting that probably won't affect your first videos, but you can change the compression method once you get a little more experience. Which compression method you prefer will depend on what post-production activity you're doing. For now, just leave it set to default.
  • Quality allows you to determine how much space your video will use versus how refined it will look.
  • You can also determine whether your player interface will show up in the video, whether you'll see a recording icon, when the video gets compressed and ready for export, and a few other things.
You'll get the hang of your recording preferences after creating a few videos. For now, just leave all of the settings to default.

Pressing record

By default, the recording controls are:
  • Start or stop recording Ctrl+[
  • Cancel recording and compression Shift+]
  • Compress movies Ctrl+]
  • Show/Hide User Interface Ctrl+'
Simple, right? The above video was recorded in the worgen starting area by my character Wolfbert. It took very little time -- only a few moments more than the length of the video you see.

I logged into the game and pressed Ctrl+[. I greeted the world and then pressed Ctril+[ again to stop. if you're using all the default settings, WoW will automatically compress the video for you. I have it set to wait for me to manually press Compress, since I don't want the video compression to slow me down during raiding, so I pressed Ctrl+] to compress right away.

Find the video you recorded

Now that you've made your first video, go to your Finder. By default in Mac OS X Lion, the video is in your Applications folder in the World of Warcraft subfolder. When you first record the video, it will be named after the location you recorded it in and the time.

Preview the video immediately to make sure you record what you wanted. Assuming you like the way it turned out, you can upload it directly to YouTube through the sharing button in QuickTime Player.

Dress it up

Of course, you can also dress the movie up using tools like iMovie. At that point, you can let your imagination roll. Here are some helpful tips to get started with these home WoW recordings:
  • Start small. You don't need to go crazy with your first videos. While you're learning how it all works, don't record videos longer than a few seconds. While Macs are powerful computers, manipulating a longer video will take up time. You need to be able to see the effects of your work right away, not wait hours for videos to render and compress.
  • Don't get frustrated. Do you know Wowcrendor? Check out his first video we featured on the site. Over the years, Wowcrendor's skills have blossomed. Don't worry if your first efforts aren't gorgeous masterpieces. That comes with time.
  • Focus on content. Don't worry about the visuals in your videos until you have solid content ideas. Again, take a lesson from Wowcrendor. His videos weren't machinimated for a long time; they were essentially narrations over in-game footage. But everyone loves Wowcrendor because he's focused on fun stories, not animated effects.
That's all there is to recording video on a Mac. Make sure you know the controls to start and stop recording, and pull the video out of the Applications folder. Recording video is a nice perk to those of us rocking Apple computers, so use it for all it's worth.

Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from how to control your character and camera angles when you're just starting out, to learning how to tank, getting up to speed for heroics and even how to win Tol Barad.

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