DCS World Video Recording Technical Guide

Introduction to DCS World Video Recording

DCS world presents the unique opportunity for capturing high-definition footage in the fantastically realistic world created by Eagle Dynamics! I’ve created this cheat sheet to serve as an evolving guide to getting you started capturing and creating top notch video footage for your enjoyment.  Remember to pick-up a copy of Handbrake, and I’ll show you how to process your footage into reasonable file sizes, while keep everything web-standards compliant, and resulting in your friends losing-it over your amazing flight simulator footage.  They won’t believe you’re not a real pilot with a cockpit mounted GoPro camera!

Disclaimer: The real joy of DCS World remains simply flying. While it’s tempting to want to create a gorgeous video to show off to your friends and loved ones, it still takes four-times as long as you think it will, even when you’re familiar with the full-process. Make sure you distinguish between test-captures and production-length attempts. You don’t want to end up in a weekend project during the middle of a hectic workday!

Outline of Sections

To help navigate the document quickly, please find a basic outline of the sections below:

  1. Maxing Out Your Game’s Settings for Smoother Video Performance – FOD.fx adjustment
  2. Adjusting In Game Pan/Zoom Speed – View.lua Settings
  3. Capturing Game Footage
    • Choosing Capture and Final Resolution
    • Camera Jiggle, Jitter, and Steady – LShift + J
    • Zooming and Changing the Field of View for Perfect Flybys
    • Basic Camera Viewing Commands
    • Changing the Keyboard and Mouse Rate In-Flight
  4. Processing Video to Your Final Resolution – Handbrake
  5. Planning Your Video Production
  6. Additional Links for Further Learning

Maxing Out Your Games Setting’s for Smoother Performance

Adjusting your settings to achieve maximum performance never ends with DCS.  That because there are so many software settings you can adjust in multiple areas.  You can also add an SSD Solid State Drive to your system, but in fact users with two SSDs report even less stutter.  I have medium system specs, so I try to get the best performance and then edit the footage to patch over troublesome spots.  Here are a few things I do to squeeze out some more system performance:

Disconnect auxiliary monitors and put all your GPU power into your main display at 1080p. I love triple monitor game-play but it’s a serious fps reduction at high game settings, for DCS world video recording you only need one, so disconnect extra monitors by right-clicking your desktop and selecting screen resolution.  That should open a dialogue where you can disconnect the extra monitors, without having to pull the plugs physically.

You’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best fps at HD standard 1080p. As a general rule for GPU settings, you want to switch them all to ‘application controlled’, or ‘OFF.’

[This does not work in the latest update – 11/19/2015] Additionally, I discovered an easily overlooked, quick edit, that drastically improves the performance of the Depth of Field setting in the game options menu. For my system this step delivered crucial performance gains.  Just find \Bazar\shaders\PostEffects\DOF.fx in your DCS World program folder and look for line 54:

#define NUMBER 150.0

Credit to Mustang on posting this tip on the ED forum, he recommends 50, and I’ve got mine set to 10.

#define NUMBER 50.0 --Mustang's recommendation

or try…

#define NUMBER 10.0 --My current setting

Adjusting In Game Pan/Zoom Speed – View.lua Settings

Here, we assume you have a screen capture software of choice already working and you feel basically happy with the quality. If you want to use the in-game camera controls to create pans and zooms, then you need to adjust the view.lua settings because the stock settings move a bit fast. Take a look at the highlighted values below as a starting place for editing the pan and zoom speed in DCS World Video Recording.  I don’t know what all of these things do yet!  If I get some time, or communication from folks, we might sort it out, for now check my comments as we discover the function of each setting:

ExternalMouse = true
ExternalMouseSpeedSlow = 1.0 -- Try 0.2
ExternalMouseSpeedNormal = 5.0 -- Try 2.0
ExternalMouseSpeedFast = 20.0 
ExternalViewAngleMin = 3.0
ExternalViewAngleMax = 170.0
ExternalViewAngleDefault = 60.0 --default view angle when you jump to F2 View
ExternalKeyboardZoomAcceleration = 30.0 --Turn this down to 1.0 or less for really slow zooming 
ExternalKeyboardZoomAccelerateTimeMax = 1.0 --I think this is how long it accelerates before constant velocity of zooming.
ExplosionExpoTime = 4.0
ExternalKeyboardAccelerationSlow = 1.0 -- Try 0.2
ExternalKeyboardAccelerationNormal = 10.0 -- Try 5.0
ExternalKeyboardAccelerationFast = 30.0 --Try 15.0
ExternalHAngleAccelerateTimeMax = 3.0
ExternalVAngleAccelerateTimeMax = 3.0
ExternalDistAccelerateTimeMax = 3.0
ExternalHAngleLocalAccelerateTimeMax = 3.0
ExternalVAngleLocalAccelerateTimeMax = 3.0
ExternalAngleNormalDiscreteStep = 15.0/ExternalKeyboardAccelerationNormal -- When 'S' is pressed only
ChaseCameraNyMove = true
FreeCameraAngleIncrement = 3.0
FreeCameraDistanceIncrement = 200.0
FreeCameraLeftRightIncrement = 2.0
FreeCameraAltitudeIncrement = 2.0
FreeCameraScalarSpeedAcceleration = 0.1 

Capturing Footage from DCS World

Choosing Capture and Final Resolution

Each of you will have a different hardware setup, so I’m trusting you know the key command to start, stop, and/or save footage to your hard disk. My current best video workflow goes as follows. I capture my game footage at full resolution 1920×1080 60fps. Then I use handbrake to process the video to my editing resolution, and since I’m just getting started with editing and video production for now my final resolution is 1280×720 60fps. The main time sink in video editing is reviewing footage IMO, and there are ways to reduce that time in any project. The best thing you can do is plan your video in advanced. Any work you complete towards story-boarding your concept ensures you won’t spend hours capturing scenes that aren’t in your final video. Avoid the temptation to play music in your game-play captures, so that you can add your soundtrack to the edited footage later. It’s okay to try and get a couple of scenes in a single capture, and DCS certainly makes that enjoyable, but keep your clips between 30 to 60 seconds in length. As soon as I know I have a good capture of a scene I need, I convert it using Handbrake to my final resolution. When reviewing your capture for possible good takes, keep a scratch pad handy, and note down the timecode in seconds. We can use Handbrake to convert a mere portion of the total footage, which means time you don’t spend waiting on processing to complete.

Camera Jiggle, Jitter, and Steady – LShift + J

First, just the best stuff at the top, Camera Jiggle. LShift + J, will cycle through three available jiggle settings for your external aircraft view.  The default jiggle is set to loosely follow your aircraft.  The second setting adds Jitter to your view, which is great for close up shots where you need to build tension.  The third setting, locks your aircraft dead center of the view and looks a little stiff.  It’s similar to the default setting, but it starts to look more like a computer rendering because the aircraft remains constantly at the center, instead of moving around loosely (like setting one).

Zooming and Changing the Field of View for Perfect Flybys

Okay, you probably know about the awesome flyby view if you tap F3, but there’s more.  If you adjust your external ‘field of view’ in closer first, the airplane will expand to fill the frame more during the F3 flyby view, woosh!  First Num/ to zoom out a bit, then Rctrl – Num* to narrow the FOV more, and now tap F3 for a flyby that will knock your socks off!  Try cycling through the Jitter views with LShift + J during F3 Flybys for even more options (though a bit wonky).

 “RCtrl – Num*” Zoom external in View
 “RCtrl – NumEnter” Zoom external normal View
 “RCtrl – Num/” Zoom external out View
 “RShift – Num*” Zoom in View Cockpit
 “Num*” Zoom in slow View
 “NumEnter” Zoom normal View
 “RShift – Num/” Zoom out View Cockpit
 “Num/” Zoom out slow View

Basic Camera Viewing Commands

Let’s take a look at some of the most basic camera options you’re probably already familiar with, I’ve highlighted 5 of the options I use most frequently in my game-play, and I’ll talk about them briefly below:

 “F1” F1 Cockpit view View
 “LAlt – F1” F1 HUD only view switch View
 “LWin – F1” F1 Head shift movement on / off View
 “LCtrl – F1” F1 Natural head movement view View
 “LCtrl – F10” F10 Jump to theater map view over current point View
 “F10” F10 Theater map view View
 “F11” F11 Airport free camera View
 “LCtrl – F11” F11 Jump to free camera View
 “LAlt – Num/” F11 camera moving backward View
 “LAlt – Num*” F11 camera moving forward View
 “LCtrl – F12” F12 Civil traffic view View
 “F12” F12 Static object view View
 “LShift – F12” F12 Trains/cars toggle View
 “F2” F2 Aircraft view View
 “RAlt – F2” F2 Toggle camera position View
 “LAlt – F2” F2 Toggle local camera control View
 “LCtrl – F2” F2 View own aircraft View
 “LCtrl – F3” F3 Fly-By jump view View
 “F3” F3 Fly-By view View
 “F4” F4 Arcade View View
 “LCtrl – F4” F4 Chase view View
 “LShift – F4” F4 Look back view View
 “LCtrl – F5” F5 Ground hostile view View
 “F5” F5 nearest AC view View
 “F6” F6 Released weapon view View
 “LCtrl – F6” F6 Weapon to target view View
 “LCtrl – F7” F7 Ground JFO/JTAC view View
 “F7” F7 Ground unit view View
 “LAlt – F9” F9 Landing signal officer view View
 “F9” F9 Ship view View

Changing the Keyboard and Mouse Rate

If you haven’t already, you may want to customize the slow, normal, and fast settings in your view.lua file. Even if you don’t change your view.lua settings, you will still notice a difference between the three speed settings for your keyboard panning and mouse panning controls.  Please find the following table of keybindings for these useful panning and zoom rate controls.

 “LShift – ]” Camera view keyboard rate fast View
 “LAlt – ]” Camera view keyboard rate normal View
 “LCtrl – ]” Camera view keyboard rate slow View
 “LShift – [“ Camera view mouse rate fast View
 “LAlt – [“ Camera view mouse rate normal View
 “LCtrl – [“ Camera view mouse rate slow View

Warping Game Time

Adding a little slow motion into your videos can really increase dramatic effect! Think about using this technique sparingly or you risk beating it to death. A few seconds of slow motion before a climactic event builds tension, keeping your audience on the edge of their seats.

For instructional recordings, speeding up the game time can fast-forward long stretches of uneventful flight. Want to show off you mission skills in single player? You won’t have the typical hee-hawing from your flight buddies to glue the viewer’s attention with long-tail obscenities. Tap LCtrl – Z, and make that lonely stetch of empty skyway speed on through to the action!

 “LShift – Z” Reset game time to normal rate. Game Time
 “LAlt – Z” Slow down game time  Game Time
 “LCtrl – Z” Speed up game time  Game Time

Processing Video to Your Final Resolution – Handbrake

Here’s the quick and dirty, I’ll be back at some point to update with images.  There are a bazillion settings in Handbrake, so use this method as the fastest way to arrive at ready-to-edit footage.  Handbrake dramatically reduces a video’s file-size, and if you plan on having a hard drive left, small file-size helps.  Plus, you need many clips imported to your video editing software for a full-length video, and streamlining workflow seems crucial to editing.  Avoid bloated files to enhance performance, and reduce working time.

  • Drag the video clip into Handbrake or open with Handbrake
  • Rename the destination video clip and verify the destination directory
  • Container MP4 and check the ‘web optimized’ checkbox
  • Under tab for Picture > Size set anamorphic to ‘none’ and key in your final resolution
  • Under tab for Video set frame rate from variable to constant

Make sure you select the web optimized video with an MP4 container, here’s why: Selecting the ‘web optimized’ check box in Handbrake creates a short index section in the beginning of you video which allows you to place the timeline slider anywhere during playback, without loading the whole video. Even if your just processing working clips, it’s good practice to use this feature because it doesn’t add any significant file size, while reducing bandwidth.

Planning Your Video Production

Setting Weather and Time of Day

The following chart will help you determine, sunrise and sunset based off the day of your mission settings.

Tips for the Mission Editor

Drafting the Pros

Looking at existing videos can reveal some awesome capture and editing methods, but it could kill some of your inspiration.  A recommendation: Use some pen and paper to write down what you like.  You’ll enjoy videos, naturally, resist the urge to overwatch!  Instead stay on target.  Mission Accomplished means writing a list of capture and editing techniques, without killing your inspiration for the hardwork portion of the exercise.  With that in mind, our DCS world video recording gallery will appear here soon…

A Quick Test Clip

All dressed up with nowhere to go, now that we have a clear process we can follow to create optimized scenes. We’re going to tackle some killer shots, but first, we’ve gotta figure out which shot to start with! For now, Why not get an awesome shot of the P-51D unloading some magazines!  We’re going to capture those incredibly detailed shells as they rain out of the mustang’s 6 barrels of destruction!

We’ll need to create and refine mission settings, learn camera commands, and all while learning to fly one of the most realistic simulations available on the market, DCS World.  Take a look at my capture and my production notes below!

The original capture was 140MB, that reduced to just 37MB, with the RF set to 15.0 for a slight boost to video quality.  Also, I stepped down the resolution from 1080p to 720p.  In this take my view.lua settings are stock, so that’s why the panning and zoom seem so rapid.  You can see there are plenty of jerky rendering issues, even with a mostly clean take.  Next we’ll load this into a video editor so we can slice and dice out the crap, and we’ll add in some dissolve transitions to clean it up.  Adding some heavy metal guitar riffs is sure to accentuate the gun fire.

Additional Links for Further Learning

Special thanks to all the volunteers and artists who made this article possible.

Wishlist for this Article

Maybe add a GPU settings area for all of the different GPU control panel types Nvidia, ATI, etc…

Need to add final section for uploading and publishing in web content.