Creating a Folder StructureEdit
Before starting on the movie project I create a folder structure for the different types of data I'm going to use:
|config||folder for Savage mods and game settings|
|demo||folder for all demos|
|img||folder for all image overlays (JPG, PNG)|
|map||folder for all edited map files|
|post||folder for after effects files and clan icons|
|v_high||folder for final edited high res 60 fps clips (MP4)|
|v_low||folder for final edited low res 30 fps clips (MP4)|
|v_pre||folder for low res 30 fps preview footage with HUD (AVI)|
|v_raw||folder for high res 60 fps raw footage (AVI)|
Gathering and Renaming DemosEdit
Then I gather all demos and name them after map and demotime: crossroads_1730.demo
You could also name it after content, like tempest_1730.demo. Important is that this name will stay during the whole workflow. I move all demos into the folder demo.
Capturing Preview FootageEdit
Afterwards I capture all demos with FRAPS at a low resolution and frame rate (1280 x 720 @ 30 fps). The game HUD is fully enabled. Then I name all captured gameplay after the demos: crossroads_1730.avi and move them into the folder v_pre.
Sorting GameplayEditI create a new document with 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps in Sony Vegas and load in all preview footage from the folder v_pre, create markers in the timeline by pressing M and name them from 1 to 10.
Then I watch all clips and rate them by moving them on the timeline to a number. Once done I write the rating as a text above each clip and group the text tracks to the game footage with G (ungroup is U). Now the text stays above the clips and gets cut and expanded with them. This serves as an orientation, so I won't accidentally chain all top clips together or add clips I didn't want in.
Music and Video ArrangementEdit
Music Copyright CheckEditI create a new document with 320 x 240 @ 25 fps Sony Vegas, load in all music that I would consider using. Then I double click above each clip to select them individually and press R to create a new region for each. Then I go to Tools > Scripting > Batch Render and select Sony AVC > Internet 320x240-25p. It now exports all music clips as separate videos. I upload all to youtube and check their copyright status in the video manager. Music that is banned in certain countries gets removed from my list (unless there are really no good alternatives).
Music Compatibility Check and MixEdit
I then copy the remaining music clips into the Vegas document with the clip overview. Now it is time to check:
1. what music fits to Savage gameplay in general 2. what music fits to different clips or type of gameplay 3. what music makes a good intro. To figure that out it can be helpful to do a rough cut: A, B, C, D, E, F. 4. what parts of each music clip do I want to use (I just cut off everything I don't need) 5. maybe I can cut a long progressive track into something more suitable (I did that a lot with music in the Legacy Project. Use G to group the cut music parts of a clip, so you don't mess things up when moving around tracks on the timeline) 6. what music can be chained 7. what music can be mixed. To figure out the mixability it is best to check the beats per minute (bpm) of different tracks with this tool. The music I used for the Legacy Project is very similar in BPM, giving great conditions for a compact cut and mix:
An important factor about the final choice of music besides copyright issues and compatibility was of course Legacy's taste of music. For instance the aggressive rap-rock of "Rage against the Machine" for the intro was an absolute no-go for him. And I didn't want to create a video that he doesn't like because of it.
Now it is time to do the final music & video arrangement with all the low res previews that have been sorted by rating earlier. I don't delete or copy anything, I just move it around. If I figure out that I don't need a clip I just move it back to its rating section on the timeline. Thanks to the text grouped to it I instantly know where I took it earlier. That way I don't delete anything accidentally that I could want to use again later on, I won't use the same clips twice either (which is a fairly unrealistic scenario, but could happen in a big movie) and I'm always aware of the remaining inventory of clips. The video cut is also pretty optimized at this stage. I know which clips and what specific part of each clip are needed for the final production and which are not going to be used.
Building a Savage XR ModEdit
First I'm going to duplicate or create a new Savage XR installation (I call it "Savage XR Legacy") to which I apply all modifications. Then I open the Savage XR Legacy/game/savage0.s2z file in WinRAR and disable voice chat, level up/respawn sounds and clan items by removing the following directories:
All other modifications of the game are part of a new savage1.s2z file that overwrites the content of the big savage0.s2z file when put into the same directory. Those changes include:
- all HUD elements removed
- high res blood
- snow grass optimized
- icons for lag, voice chat, revive, allies and waypoints removed
- sounds for chat, captured/stolen flags, votes, goodie bags and gold removed
- officer flag and beast armor reverted back to the original Savage look
- all weapon, unit and item research and state icons disabled
- level up effect removed
- changed sacrifice burn effect back to RC3 (more particles)
These mods and configuration files I store in the folder config. If there's a special mod for a specific map (like different grass), I create a new folder named after the demo crossroads_1730 and put all related files into it.
Editing Game FontEditUnfortunately the research icons and countdowns on the right side of the screen are hardcoded, that means they can't get removed by editing the HUD files or with /hideall. While the savage1.s2z provided above can disable the icons by overwriting them with transparent images, for the font we need a different solution:
I open the Savage XR Legacy/game/standard.ttf font file in Fontlab Studio and simply remove all chars that get used by the research panel. What I keep is the "s" since that char is used a lot in player names. The "s" will be removed later during the post-production of the movie. Alright, I export the font again in TrueType (TTF) format.
For the Legacy Project I used "Helvetica Neue" instead of the standard game font and also scaled it a bit down in Fontlab Studio. That's a matter of a few clicks. I just had to make sure to rename the font again to standard.ttf in order to make it work.
Now I define the config changes that stay through the whole movie and put them into Savage XR Legacy/game/custom.cfg.
- cl_playerdamageoverlay 0 //removes damage color flashes
- cl_playerhealoverlay 0 //removes heal color flashes
- cl_nameiconsize 12 //adjusts the icon size to fit my "Helvetica Neue" game font (you probably won't need this)
Most graphical changes are already done by the mod, so my Savage XR game settings stay pretty standard. I set the Savage XR graphics to high. However, I disable glow filter, because that one will be added later in the post-production.
Graphic Card SettingsEdit
Then I right click on the desktop background and open my NVIDIA Control Panel. The most important thing - especially when recording 60 fps gameplay - is disabling vertical sync. When starting recording gameplay with FRAPS the frame rate always drops a bit. If the frame rate however is limited with vertical sync to 60 fps, usually the framerate will drop to 30 fps when recording. With uncapped FPS the 60 fps recording works just fine.
Then I set Antialiasing Setting to at least 2x, optimally 4x or more. I also have to set Antialiasing Mode to Override any application settings otherwise nothing will happen. If the performance is no problem I also enable Antialiasing Transparency, but that can increase the required performance exponentially when there's much grass or trees. So be careful with that. When recording a video at only 30 fps these settings can be put much higher. Texture filtering defines how well textures look far away. Setting this to Performance or Quality is good enough, unless you want to create screenshots. For a movie it eats unnecessary bitrate.
When recording at 60 fps I make sure to have Savage XR and the destination folder for captured video not located on the same harddisk in order to prevent frame drops and that the Video Capture Settings are set to 30 or 60 fps, Full-size and with Windows Sound enabled. Furthermore the Video Capture Hotkey should not already be used by Savage XR to take Screenshots for instance. That will definitely cause frame drops.
Map adjustmentsEditWhen checking through the demo I sometimes notice that the camera goes through tree leafs, that the map is way too dark/bright or has ugly objects or terrain close to the fights. These things can be easily fixed with the Savage XR map editor.
I do the map editing usually on a different Savage install where nothing can get broken by running the autoupdater.
So I open /Savage XR/editor.bat, open the console and load a map with world mapname, make changes and save it again with writeworld mapname. Map files can be opened with WinRAR as well as mods. If I want a different TOD (Time of Day) for a map, I just copy it from a different map I like. Anything can be changed in a map and will be displayed correctly in the demo, with exception of reference objects such as mines, strongholds and flags and NPCs.
For each edited map I create a new folder in map named after the clip crossroads_1730, create subfolders with version numbers and document the changes briefly in a text file.
Before capturing a clip I check what camera smoothing settings look best. My usual values are:
- Human Gameplay: cl_cameraanglelerp 10-17
- Beast Gameplay: cl_cameraanglelerp 14-20
And I decide whether to use third-person only and whether to show the officer flag. I personally like the old officer flag that's why I kept it most of the time. The Beast officer flag however should be disabled when using mist since it doesn't get hidden with the unit. For some maps it looks better when the grass is disabled or has reduced foliage alpha.
Since the video arrangement is done and I know what parts of each demo I will need and what not I don't have to capture the whole clip again like back when I recorded the preview. After capturing the gameplay with FRAPS I rename the video after the demo crossroads_1730.avi and move it into v_raw.