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access_time May 7, 2015 at 4:57 PM in Features by Tyler Colp

Do your GTA V videos suck? Here’s 3 ways to make them better.

Grand Theft Auto 5 PC’s Editor is a pretty powerful tool if you have the patience to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Just check out the batch of top-rated films on Rockstar’s site and you’ll see there’s room for a variety of different films.

I’ve spent several hours with it and have learned a few things that could help you improve your work.

1. Know the difference between the Action Replay and Manual Recording features

GTA 5 has two ways to record your gameplay: Action Replay or Manual Recording.

Action Replay will capture a chunk of time up to the point you choose to save it. So if you accidentally drive off a cliff and want to capture that, you can, as long as Action Replay is turned on and choose to save it once you’ve landed.

Manual Recording is pretty self-explanatory. The game won’t record anything until you tell it to. So if you want to purposely drive off a cliff, you need to hit record before you begin and save it when you’re done. Otherwise, none of it will be saved.

The key difference between the two methods is Action Replay is unplanned and Manual Recording is planned. I found it’s good to have Action Replay on when I’m messing around just in case something awesome happens. And I used Manual Recording when there was specific actions I wanted to capture, like my character breaking into a car for a particular shot in my film. I could have broken into the car with Action Replay on and edited out all the other stuff it captured later, but since there wasn’t any variables that could go wrong, I chose to manually record it. It’s really up to how choreographed you want your shots to be.

2. Understand what to focus on

When you’re playing GTA 5 normally, the world feels alive. But when you record footage of it, it’s easier to see all the details up close, and those details aren’t necessarily flattering. The people, including your character, in GTA 5 are not actors. They don’t express themselves very well outside of the pre-determined dialogue you can choose and don’t have the ability to telegraph nuanced emotion through posture and body movement.

This means that you should be careful when you focus on people in the game because they’re not going to convey very much outside of performing or receiving violent acts. And by careful I mean, you should understand what you need for your film. The straight faces of your character are great for cold-blooded acts with no expression or comedies where it’s funnier if the person has no reaction.

Other times, it might be better to focus on the action or the settings. GTA 5 has its limits and emotional, character-based stories is definitely one of them.

3. Don’t be afraid to make longer videos

I realize this tip isn’t very specific, but I think it’s what led me to learn exactly what GTA 5 is capable of and what kind of videos I wanted to make with it. If you create a few long videos with several clips, you’ll understand how  to create a story with separate gameplay segments and how best to cut them for effect.

I made a longer funny video where a character jumps into people and hilariously falls over often inexplicably kills them. It’s kind of dark, but if you do quick cuts and specific camera angles it becomes really funny. As a viewer, you start to pay more attention to the different ways the character jumps on people rather than dwelling on the fact that she’s running around killing everyone. Yes, good editing has the power to mask a murderer.

Another video I did was about a creepy stalker assassin set in a sort of noir tone. It was really tense and disturbing because I made all the shots really long and uncut and focused a lot on the dead eyes of my main character.

You’ll notice that both examples are about action and not a properly written character, like I mentioned earlier. That’s something I learned when I tried to make longer videos. Just by having a lot of footage to work with you’ll start to see the many possibilities and limitations of what you can convey.

Hopefully with those tips you can start making some sweet videos. If you liked these or have a tip of your own, leave a comment below.


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