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elgato game capture software and mac osx 10.9

22 Oct 2013

2013-10-22 01:47:37 -0500

To cut to the chase, I'm not sure if 10.9 and the Elgato Game Capture software are playing nicely together.

So far:

Frankly, if I hadn't been basically forced into upgrading to 10.9 (read on for the story), I would be happily downgrading to 10.8.4, since 10.8.5 is broken for me. But lucky me, I can't find a copy of 10.8.4 anywhere.

the long story

After a murderous past week with a lot of ill-timed events, one of the things that I didn't get around to was doing a good amount of testing of the elgato game capture software with 10.9. That's not actually true. I did manage to make a few; the first of which was semi-corrupted. So I was already nervous.

And to reiterate, I got royally screwed over by the 10.8.5 upgrade. I was having issues with audio inputs getting jacked up where random pop/clicks would get inserted as I was recording. Not only that, but I'm often recording with multiple pieces of software simultaneously (Screenflow and Reason or Elgato Game Capture and Reason), and I'd often get the clicks on one "track" but not the other. If it were the hardware producing the problem, it should show up on both.

So I tried doing a fresh install of 10.8.4. And that's when I discovered that, it doesn't matter what version your recovery partition is, it's going to give you whatever the latest OS is. So I ended up with a completely clean install of 10.8.5.

It still had problems.

After trying unsuccessfully to obtain an "alternative" copy of 10.8.4 (since apparently 10.8.3 and lower aren't compatible with the Haswell chipset), I realized that the only step left was to just try 10.9.

So the audio problem is gone as far as I know. That's the good news.

And now for the bad news.

one semi-corrupted video

As mentioned, the very first test recording I did in Elgato got semi-corrupted. I have no idea what happened but here's how it presents itself when you play it back:

What I haven't tried is seeing if I can export only the good part from the Elgato software itself, to see if that appears to produce a problem-free file.

So that was the very first thing I recorded with Mavericks (10.9). So I was paranoid out of the gate.

I did however wonder if it was maybe the fact that it was the very first thing so maybe it hiccup'd when it went to create the necessary directories (this was on a totally fresh install). I also thought that maybe it was because I had disabled flashback recording in that session (I've been leaving it disabled, but since this was a fresh install, it defaulted to being enabled).

But as far as I know, that was the only time that a video has been semi-corrupted.

fan running

Today, I finally had enough time for a single match of Uncharted multiplayer as a test playthrough.

After a single 30 minute session, I noticed the fan was running. Now, I should also mention that I'm running Reason at the same time as well, so this could also be a problem with Reason and 10.9. But using my Elgato/Reason combo in the past has never turned on the fan as far as I know.

Also confusing things, is that it was potentially hotter in the room today as I was recording. Though I feel like it had been that hot in the room before.

The bit that concerns me is that this could indicate that the Elgato software and/or Reason do not run as well in 10.9.

out of sync microphone audio

To be honest, I had just been trusting that the audio was in sync all of this time. I'm not sure I had ever done any manual testing of my own to know one way or the other.

To clarify, I'm talking about when you enable the mic inside of the elgato software itself. This is where it imprints your mic audio onto the video track permanently.

The only reason I discovered it was out of sync is that I was singing along with some menu music.

So I just did a couple of short test recordings and one was okay and the other was off.

Here's the huge problem. I've been using the built-in mic recording as my syncing reference.

Here's what I do:

Because even on the same machine, apparently elgato records a little too slow or a little too fast and/or Reason is doing the same. I know this because things that sounded perfectly synced at the beginning of a session, will have drifted somewhat noticeably at the end of a 15-25 minute session of recording.

So here's the problem: if elgato is not even recording the mic audio in the appropriate place, then I'm syncing to it in post-production for no reason at all. And given that it's the only way that I was actually attempting to do any sort of syncing, I feel basically screwed.

out of sync TV

Here's another problem I just discovered in testing: the TV was lagging. So here's another problem. And maybe that actually explains the lagged audio recording.

Let me explain the theory.

See, I have headphones basically directly connected the digital optical audio out on the PS3. So I'm hearing things with no lag. So I was singing along to something with no lag. The Elgato however connects to the composite out. So if the Elgato was lagged, then I wouldn't have known about it at all.

And to clarify, the Elgato software itself is seriously lagged when you're talking about viewing things in realtime. There's just no way.

But the videos that it creates are supposed to be fine. One hopes that they've built-in the necessary intelligence so that the mic is recorded on an appropriate delay as well. And up to this point, I always assumed it was.

So maybe, just maybe, for that recording session where my mic appeared to be a couple seconds behind, if I had turned up the TV, maybe I would've heard the lag there too.

Where this theory somewhat falls apart is that the audio on my TV is just out of sync sometimes. I know this from things like Rockband or from where in a game, I'll shoot a gun, and it takes a moment to hear the shot. "Rebooting" the TV (turning it off and on) seems to always fix it.

I don't know really.

The whole thing just really makes my head spin.

And the truth of the matter is that maybe these problems were present in 10.8.4 too.

exiting from the software seems to consistently eff up the audio

So maybe it's just tonight, or maybe it's 10.9. I have encoutered this problem before, but maybe in 10-25% of all cases. But right now it's doing it 100% of the time.

Here's the scenario:

It's happened a decent amount of times before, but right now, it's doing it on every single exit. And I've tried a reboot and also detaching and reattaching the elgato device.

in conclusion

In conclusion, I have no idea.

My brain is scrambled.

There is one syncing thing that I think I'll end up resorting to now that the elgato's mic sync has proven unreliable: the TV audio sync.

I had brainstormed it as a potential way to sync audio in post, but I haven't actually tried it yet. Here's how it would work:

This is quite similar to the method I've used previously, with the caveat that I didn't realize that the elgato might be recording my mic audio out of sync to begin with.

But here's how it works. For your 10 seconds or so of TV bleed, you have reference audio that can be used to line up the mic's audio track with the audio from the elgato video.

You can do this by hand, but I've actually (so far) had it work just fine having Final Cut Pro doing the syncing automagically.

To be honest, I haven't been putting my videos together officially yet. I did enough testing to feel confident that my workflow just worked and then focused on the raw recordings. I figured it would be easier to edit things as a batch and I wanted to get an entire game done before settling into a long stretch of video editing.

But as it turns out, maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I would've discovered problems earlier.

Though frankly, I haven't been singing along to anything in Tomb Raider. If there were sync problems. I wouldn't know. I might suspect, but I would have no hard evidence.

And maybe things have been fine. Upgrading to 10.8.5 just seems to be when all hell broke loose.

And 10.8.5 may have been fine for the elgato software, but it definitely wasn't for Reason or any software I tested that was capable of capturing my mic.

I hate computers.