How to Make a Let’s Play: Pre-Flight Checklist!

Thanks for the feedback, ZeMind fans!

Some of you have inquired as to the more granular details on how we make our videos, so here’s a quick checklist of all the things we do before a video gets set up.

In the order of we do them, here’s the pre-flight checklist, step by step:

1. Install your game
Or, if you have already installed it, make sure you’ve got the most recent version! This is especially important if you’ve got a guest coming for your video. No one likes waiting for a progress bar.

2. Controller/Headset Check
Is your volume up? Do your controllers work? Are they mapped to the right keys? Now that you’ve installed your game, go over the control settings and button maps in the game’s layout. Do it now, or prepare to regret your poorly formulated strategy as you mis-click all over your screen in a futile attempt to ‘Git Gud’. Don’t know how to ‘Git Gud’? Your YouTube comments will surely remind you.

Seriously though, plug those headsets in and adjust the volume- Nothing’s worse than background noise cluttering up your vocal track. Often times your microphone will pick up the game audio coming through your computer’s speakers, creating a sound loop wherein your voice audio contains game audio. This is a HUGE pain to remove.

3. Intro/Outro writing and relevant information gathering
Get yo’ shout-outs writ! This is an often overlooked chunk of planning. Do you have anyone you want to thank? Sponsors that need mentioning? People you’d like to collaborate with? Write them down, have them in front of you. If you don’t, prepare to enter the land of misfit takes, where all but your worst attempts at shout-outs will be kept.

We’re also big fans of Philip Defranco.

4. Test record your audio
10 seconds, each microphone. Play it back, and make sure you don’t sound like Bane. Try and sit your levels at a somewhat consistent place, somewhere between -6 and -12 DBs, as this requires the least amount of work to edit. As an aside, you want your microphones in an out-of-the-way place where the distance between them microphones and your mouth(s) doesn’t really change. This stops you from having massive, blown out sound during the more exciting parts of your video. It’s alright to get a little loud and excited, but being loud and excited next to a microphone means your sound will be a complete and utter mess.

5. Test record your video
10 seconds, all sources (gameplay and face cam). Play it all back, and make sure you don’t look like Bane. Make sure your seating arrangements aren’t too far from the camera or sound equipment, as this will result in you having to modify the audio in the editing process, and raising the volume/gain of an audio track is a surefire way to get hisses and random background noise stuck in your video.

And finally, go out there and play your game. So far in this series we’ve covered the hardware and software, and now we’re covering the procedures themselves. If you want more from us, check out our other social media accounts and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more from ZeMind Games!

-Charlie Ze Intern



How to Make a Let’s Play: Quick ‘N Dirty

This is more of a review meant to sum up a few details from the first 3 parts, starting from the set up. If you’re looking for an in-depth article, check those posts out!

Hello, Internet!
It is I, Charlie, here to review a few of the finer notes of our set up before anything actually gets recorded.

As we noted earlier, we’ve got a 2 laptop set-up. The first laptop is a 2017 Macbook. This runs both our audio recording software and our facecam software. For audio, since I’ve yet to find a reliable program that records 2 input sources well,
(programs I have found so far have had issues with 2 microphones with either lag or dropped sound) the Macbook runs both Audacity into microphone A (a snowball mic for those paying attention at home) and the Quicktime Player audio recording software runs for microphone B (another snowball).

For our Facecam, it’s Photobooth (The built in webcam software on a Mac). It’s very important that you do a test recording on all three pieces of software and play it back to make sure things function without issue. Can’t count the number of times we’ve false started due to my lack inability to remember to test.

For our gaming laptop, we try and record in 1920X1080 at 60 FPS. How we usually start every video is with a strong, strong cup of coffee. After that however, we’re off to the races. After we start the screen recording software and do a quick sync (wherein a countdown of 3-2-1 is cycled in time with a scroll through the main menu and a loud countdown into all microphones), we usually just jump in. Part of what makes the Indiecent Exposure series so genuine is the fact that I have no clue what the games are like, if they’ll even work, or what the controls are. It’s as much of a mystery to me as it is to everyone else!

After about 30-40 minutes of playing (that or finishing a level or first boss) we once again perform another sync at the end of the video. Afterwards, all recording stops.

Any videos are then run through HANDBRAKE, a program used to keep video frames and quality consistent. Our settings in handbrake are a constant FPS rate of 59.94, or as close to the source material file as possible. From Handbrake, the videos are saved to an SSD here at the studio. The audio files are also moved to this SSD. In fact, EVERYTHING is moved to a central SSD, which makes finding and importing things into Adobe Premiere so much easier.

Open and import your raw footage into Premiere Pro. Lay everything out on your timeline, and try to line up the syncs on all of your audio/video footage so that the start of your timeline is the countdown of 3-2-1 on all tracks. Once you’ve done this, RENDER YOUR FOOTAGE.

During the rendering, I usually head off, grab lunch, another coffee, play a few rounds of our upcoming MMA card game. But in all honesty you should take this opportunity to create your graphics. End cards, name tags, anything funny or special graphics wise you’d like to import later on should be created in the downtime.

Once your footage has been rendered, and your graphics created, begin editing your footage. Shrink the face cam footage to a corner (any corner is good!) to a point where it’s not distracting but still noticeable. Don’t forget to bring the game audio down to an acceptable level (usually around -20 DB) and try to get your own (microphone) audio up to an appropriate level where both partners are clearly audible (easier said than done!). Now take the cut tool and use it to select pieces of your footage you like, and remove clips you don’t like.

Lay in your graphics and add the appropriate transitions (fades and dissolves!) to spice up your editing.

Now export your footage and grab yourself a drink!

We’ll be going into the details of ‘Performance’ in our videos next time so don’t forget to follow us on social media for more updates!