Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recording With an Elgato Video Capture and Your NES

From the research I've done regarding using an analog capture device for my Mac, the Elgato Video Capture device seemed to garner generally positive reviews. It also is not overly expensive (anywhere from about $59 up to $99). I decided to buy one from the Apple flagship store on 5th Avenue here in Manhattan, with the intent of uploading some videos to this blog.

(The Elgato Video Capture!)

When I first got the Elgato Video Capture device for my Mac, I was hard-pressed to find any info on the initial problem I was having of trying to see what I was recording while playing my NES. All of the posts on forums were from years ago, and none of them helped me out at all.

Hopefully I can help out someone who has the same problem, and maybe make their life a little easier while trying to capture their NES footage.

The device and software of the Elgato Video Capture are simple enough. There's no question about that.
 (It's a simple USB device...)

 (with composite AV and S-video inputs)

The problem is that when the NES outputs its AV signal, sometimes it is not picked up through chained devices, such as this video capture device. I have heard of people having problems of a VCR sometimes not displaying an NES AV signal as well.

Yes, before devices such as this, people used to record a play through with a VCR.

When you start the Elgato Video Capture software, it will look like this:

 (You can name your movie file on this screen, and select how long it records the footage.)

- Now connect the AV cable to your NES.

- Then connect that cable to the yellow (video) and red (audio) inputs on the Elgato device.

- Now hit the "Continue" button from the Elgato start screen to get to the "Connect Video" screen.

(Make sure you have the Composite input selected, and have the Aspect Ratio at 4:3)

- If you have the NES already on, you will be getting that blue box with the "No Signal" displayed. Normally you would be able to see in real-time what you are about to capture, but you will only be able to hear the audio. Every once in awhile, the video might come on the screen, but it's only for a second before it reverts back to "No Signal."

And this next step is where you will be able to see what you are recording!

- Connect the NES RF switch into the back of your NES, and plug the other end into the "ANT IN" part of your television.

- Now that you have the RF switch plugged into your television, and the AV cable plugged into the Elgato device, you will be able to record the highest quality NES footage (because the AV cables are better overall quality than the RF switch), and see what you are actually playing!

- Hit the "Continue" button again to get to the "Connect Audio" screen.

 (There is only one line for audio, so you would only get the top audio level moving on this screen)

- Hit the "Continue" button once more to go to the "Record" screen.

 (Click the big red button to start recording, and click it again to stop.)

Don't worry that the "No Signal" is still being displayed on this record screen, because after you stop recording, you will be taken to the "Trim" screen. On the "Trim" screen, your video will be there afterall!

- Click the "Continue" button to be taken to the "Finish Up" screen. It will also automatically save your movie file under your "Movies" folder on your Mac.

- Now that you're on this screen, you can: play the movie with QuickTime, add it into your iTunes, edit it with your iMovie (where you can record a voice-over if you'd like), or upload the raw footage straight to your YouTube account.

I hope this tutorial has helped anyone that has struggled recording NES footage with their newly acquired Elgato Video Capture device!


avidgamer said...

This is beautiful! This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I was about to jump out the window! Thank you so much!

Eric said...

I felt the same way, and that's why I made the tutorial. I'm glad I could help! :)

Tore said...

I think I have the same problem, but with my Super Famicom. "No signal", but when I go back from the "Record" window to "connect audio" it shows the video for a few seconds and then it goes to "no signal" again. I only have a RGB and S-video cable for the SFC :(

Eric said...

The same problem can occur with the SNES/Super Famicom, so you can use this same method to help you see what you are recording.

nick maynard said...

oh my good god, i bought an el gato to use with my NES too and i kept getting this "NO SIGNAL" message as well. i google for help and your site came up and i didn't even realize you were going to discuss the NES but oh wow, this is perfect. exactly the help i needed. thanks!

Eric said...

When I first bought it, I could not find anything on Google that was helpful in regards to recording NES footage. I know how frustrating it is, so that's why I wrote up this tutorial. I'm glad that I could help you out!

Anonymous said...



I cannot thank you enough.

Eric said...

You're very welcome, Damir!

Mipsie said...

I am having the same problem with 2 VCRs - neither shows a signal although I successfully transferred a video to DVD a couple of weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Do you recommend getting this device to stream gaming on a Super Famicom live? I have an S-Video cable and want to get the best device possible, but I haven't heard of any good devices that will do the job via USB. I only have a laptop, so I can't get a capture card. Thank you for any help.

Eric said...

I haven't personally streamed from my SNES via YouTube or anything of the sort, but I want to say that you can't stream from the Elgato Video Capture device -- only record through it.

From my experience, however, you simply cannot beat the simplicity of this device. It does record in a MPEG-4/H.264 format, which is a fairly compressed type of file though.

Princess Zelda said...

It comes up on my laptop, it keeps jumping around? Why is that and any idea how it can be fixed?

Anonymous said...

Yeh I had the same problem at first recording Snes and Nes. Ironically with the wii you don't have the same issue. I get the impression that this has something to do with the scaling which occurs when playing a game, perhaps the resolution of your computer is the issue rather than the elgato itself. I haven't tried this but could someone clarify, if you lower the Hz of your VGA display, does it work. The only reason I'm asking is because I found that (while recording from the wii to my samsung dvd player) games which were 50Hz were coming up perfectly, but 60Hz games just came up as a mess of artifacts and buzzing. Plugged it into my computer then (with the VGA resolution at 800 x 600, 60Hz) and it came up perfectly. Just interested to see if the issue is something as simple as resolution, because that can be resolved easily.

Anonymous said...

sorry just realised I'm a muppet, it's not your VGA resolution you need to change, try the actual screen resolution...god it's been a long day.

flashlight365 . said...


Eric said...

No problem! ;)

Peter said...

I'm using a Dazzle, which is pretty much compatible with the Elgato software that I downloaded from their site, to record game footage from my Nintendo Wii. I choose 16:9 as an aspect ratio on the software because that's what my Wii is set up to, however it keeps outputting as 4:3. Any idea why that happens?