Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

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Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:06 pm

Hey guys, I was looking for software with which I could record my gaming sessions which could take advantage of the hardware H264 encoder in my AMD HD7950 (Video Codec Engine or VCE). So far I've tried Bandicam (free trial, $39 to buy) and A's Video Converter with Bluesky Video Capture (free trial, ~$6 to buy). Both are able to capture the screen of a game, audio and a microphone and use the H264 hardware encoder to compress it to a reasonable size, without slowing the game down appreciably. I don't have the exact numbers, but with both programs, the performance impact seems to be in the low single digit percentages, I have not been able to tell the difference while playing Planetside 2 (which is notoriously CPU heavy).

Bandicam seems to be a solid little program, but I haven't seen an option to target a specific bitrate for the encoder. There's an option for "quality" for the VBR which is set as a percentage. The trial of the program has a 10 minute limit and puts a banner in the video. Bandicam supports a hotkey to start/stop recording, so you can just run it in the background and hit the hotkey for when you want to start recording. With the encoder set to AMD VCE, I did not see any significant drop in framerate while recording. It does not record in the background like Shadowplay does though, so you pretty much want to start recording right away when you start your game.

A's Video Converter is actually a free program to transcode videos, or to encode a stream from a Directshow filter. Bluesky Video Capture is the accompanying Directshow filter (free trial, $6 for the full version) that can capture your desktop or game, audio and microphone, the trial blacks out the video for a second every minute. The program is of a Japanese author and the English translation is a bit clunky, but easy enough to understand. I haven't been able to use the DirectX capture (program crashes or captures only part of the screen), but I had no problems or slowdowns using the standard screen capture, as long as I set Planetside 2 to windowed fullscreen mode. It is a bit clunky to setup to start recording and it does not have a hotkey to stop/start recording, so you have to alt-tab to start the recording. I managed to record a 30 minute long session to a ~3GB file, with perfect 1080p quality at 30fps. Target bitrate was 15mbps.

Neither of these two programs actually manage to do what Shadowplay does (stay in the background and always record your game), but it they do manage to record my dreadfully boring gaming sessions with little loss in performance, directly to an AVI or MP4 file. Neither program has (Twitch.tv) streaming support.

What alternatives to Shadowplay for AMD GPUs do you know of (free or paid)? Have you tried any of these programs? How did you like them?
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Re: Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:56 pm

Addendum: You can use any Directshow filter for A's Video Converter, so I tried the free (for personal use) UScreenCapture filter ( http://www.umediaserver.net/umediaserver/download.html ). I just tested it, and as far as I can tell it works identically to the Bluesky Video Capture, all whilst being free! It doesn't do DirectX capture, instead relying on standard screen capture, but I couldn't get the DirectX capture of Bluesky to work anyway.

edit: Maybe it's just me, but the Bluesky Video Capture filter feels smoother than the UScreenCapture filter. Neither seem to impact the frame rate very much, but with UScreenCapture I feel a kind of microstutter occurring. I couldn't really tell for sure with a session of Planetside 2 though, as that game isn't the smoothest anyway..
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Re: Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:26 am

DXTory with x264vfw is the best solution I had before Shadowplay came along.

Tutorial source here, copy pasted below:: http://www.thecgl.com/forums/showthread.php?tid=178

In an effort to assist the CGL community in becoming better and more complete recorders, I decided to make this tutorial.

This tutorial assumes that you already have Dxtory installed on your system. If you don't, send me a PM or message me on Battlelog and I'll point you in the right direction.

1) Download the VFW (Video for Windows) x264 codec. New builds are created regularly and can be downloaded from here: http://komisar.gin.by/
Look for the VFW versions. Download kMod.x86 and also kMod.x86_64 if you use a 64bit video editing program such as Sony Vegas 64Bit.
Below are links to the latest builds as of May 3rd, 2012.
32bit x264: http://komisar.gin.by/old/2197/x264vfw.2197kMod.x86.exe
64bit x264: http://komisar.gin.by/old/2197/x264vfw.2...x86_64.exe

2) Close Dxtory and proceed to install the x264 codec(s) you downloaded in step 1.

3) Open Dxtory and configure your settings to match those in this screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/dAQIN.png
The screenshot also has some explanations of what certain settings do so be sure to read them.





Also, I read that a 3rd party app, RadeonPro, will be including a comparable feature to shadowplay in the future:

http://www.radeonpro.info/2013/08/get-r ... -infinity/

Coming soon:
Movie recording with real time AVC/H.264 encoding by GPU using AMD’s VCE (up to 1080p) – I already got the encoding working on GPU and it’s fast, but need to change the container format to MKV as AVI doesn’t play well with AVC/H.264 and that should take some extra time. About VCE, the only downside is the encoding size which will be limited to 1920×1080 and that’s a bit sad… - See more at: http://www.radeonpro.info/2013/08/get-r ... MdzTU.dpuf
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Re: Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:58 am

Try OBS. It records, streams and is open source.
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Re: Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:59 pm

puppetworx wrote:Try OBS. It records, streams and is open source.


This is what I use in conjunction with Twitch.tv to stream my games to the gf. It's customizeable and fairly simple to use, though it can take some trial and error getting the scene right.
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Re: Shadowplay alternatives for AMD GPUs

Postposted on Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:27 pm

Prestige Worldwide wrote:DXTory with x264vfw is the best solution I had before Shadowplay came along.


Yep, but what kind of impact does it have on game performance? I haven't tried DXTory myself (only tried OBS), but as far as I know it does not support the AMD APP/VCE hardware H264 encoder or the Nvidia equivalent. That means that 1080p recording to a compressed format would be out of the question. I see that DXTory lends itself as a Directshow screen capture filter as well, which could come in handy with A's Video Converter


Prestige Worldwide wrote:Also, I read that a 3rd party app, RadeonPro, will be including a comparable feature to shadowplay in the future:

http://www.radeonpro.info/2013/08/get-r ... -infinity/

Coming soon:
Movie recording with real time AVC/H.264 encoding by GPU using AMD’s VCE (up to 1080p) – I already got the encoding working on GPU and it’s fast, but need to change the container format to MKV as AVI doesn’t play well with AVC/H.264 and that should take some extra time. About VCE, the only downside is the encoding size which will be limited to 1920×1080 and that’s a bit sad… - See more at: http://www.radeonpro.info/2013/08/get-r ... MdzTU.dpuf


I heard about that, I hope John Mautari can get it out there. Seems like the dude is working very, very hard for little compensation though, AMD should go and hire him already :D



puppetworx wrote:Try OBS. It records, streams and is open source.


OBS is kind of the reason I went looking for this at all! OBS is a great project and it worked more or less out of the box for me for streaming to Twitch.tv. But since I have only very limited upload bandwidth, I can only really stream potato quality, which OBS does wonderfully even when I try to crank the quality up as much as possible with the limited bandwidth. However, if I try to use OBS to record at a higher bitrate and quality, the impact on game performance is very noticeable and not acceptable for me, even at 720p.


Anyway, I've done some more testing with A's Video Capture, with both the UScreenCapture and Bluesky Video Capture filters, and the good news is that A's Video Capture does in fact support recording with a hotkey! In fact, that seems to be the most reliable way of recording, as I even managed to get the Direct3D capture to work. I tested this out in Planetside 2 in an area where my framerate was CPU limited, recording at 1080p and 30fps at ~12mbps; the "screen" capture option with the game in windowed fullscreen incurs a framerate drop of about 5 to 10%, the Direct3D option was much worse with as much as 20% lower FPS. The UScreenCapture filter was definitely slower than the Bluesky screen capture, but faster than the Direct3D capture, with a performance drop of about 10%.

So, the free option of using A's Video Capture with UScreenCapture definitely works well enough, seeing as how I can record 1080p at 30fps with only a moderate drop in framerate, all while producing relatively compact files. I'm pretty sure that using DXtory as a Directshow input would probably work better, but DXTory is not free or cheap. The Bluesky Video Capture filter works very well for me, with the game in fullscreen windowed mode, and I think I'll buy the full version as it's pretty cheap.
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