As it is an experimental and incomplete alpha version, you won't find it on the downloads page and there is currently no description of the video rendering in the manual; see below for download links and how to use it.
Due to a bug the previous FS2004 version did not work correctly for most users (it only worked with the 9.0 version of FS2004, not with the 9.1 update), the modification of simulation rate did not work so that the resulting video had a wrong speed. An updated version 2.16 alpha is now available, which should fix this problem (thanks to Isra and Flusirainer for testing).
What is it and how does it work? - READ THIS!!!
The experimental video rendering feature can be used to create Windows Media Video (WMV) files from recorded flights. Note that this feature does not create videos by capturing the screen in real time like e.g. Fraps, GameCam, etc. Instead it manipulates FS so that it no longer runs as a real time simulation, but more like a video rendering application.
I'll try to explain that in more detail:
Normally FS measures the elapsed time between two frames and calculates aircraft movements etc. based on that time interval, so the simulation is running in real time regardless of the frame rate.
During video rendering FS Recorder overwrites this time interval measured by FS with a fixed value, corresponding to the desired video frame rate. This means that the simulation is now no longer running in real time, but slower or sometimes even faster (depending on system speed, graphics settings, video output settings, ...).
For every frame FS Recorder captures the FS main window and encodes it as Windows Media Video.
Using this approach the real frame rate at which FS is running does not matter for the resulting video (as FS "thinks" it is running at the video frame rate, while it actually isn't); e.g if your system is only fast enough to run FS at 10fps, you can still render a 50fps video - it just takes 5 times longer to render the video.
This means you can render perfectly smooth videos with higher resolutions, frame rates and graphics settings than you could do with real time capturing.
However, of course this approach also has it's downsides:
- It is not suitable for making videos of live flights, as the simulation is not running in real time during rendering. Instead this feature is meant to be used during playback of a recorded flight with FS Recorder.
- Capturing sound together with the rendered video is not (and never will be) possible; due to the simulation not running in real time the recorded sound's length/speed would not match the video. The only way to add the original sound to your video is to play the recorded flight again in real time after video rendering is finished, record it with a sound recorder, then manually cut and add it to the video with some video editor (I did that already, it means some extra work, but it works).
To render a video first start playback of the recorded flight (if you want to render it from the very beginning, pause FS and jump back). Then select Render Video from the FS Recorder menu and a dialog with video options opens:
Enter the output resolution for the video or select the FS Window Size option to render it with the current resolution of your FS window. If you enable the Resize FS Window to Video Size option, your FS window will be resized to the output resolution (if FS is in full-screen mode it will be switched to windowed mode); if you do not enable this option, frames are rescaled to the output resolution (results in lower quality).
Also enter the frame rate for the video.
Now you have to select a video codec. The list shows the Windows Media codecs installed on your system. I recommend to use Windows Media Video 9 or Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile (on my system they were already installed, if you don't have them, try to update Windows Media Player or download the latest Windows Media encoder from the Microsoft website); do not use any of the Screen or Image codecs.
If you enable Constant Quality Variable Bitrate, you have to specify a quality setting (higher settings result in larger video files); otherwise you have to specify the video bitrate (in kilobits per second).
The Complexity setting determines encoder complexity. Higher values result in better quality, but also longer rendering times. I recommend to use the preselected setting.
Enabling Show Info after Rendering will show some information about the captured video after you stop rendering (e.g. length of captured scenes, can be useful for cutting).
The Hide Playback Display option allows to hide the playback text in the lower right corner (if enabled in the settings) during rendering.
After selecting OK you have to enter a file name for the video, then rendering starts.
Do not change the size of the FS main window during rendering or the rendering will be aborted!
While FS is paused no video is captured.
You can interrupt and continue rendering by selecting Pause/Continue Rendering from the FS Recorder menu.
To stop rendering press ESC, or select Stop Rendering from the FS Recorder menu. You can then watch the video with Windows Media Player or any other media player that can play WMV files.
Edit: Currently on some systems the frame time manipulation seems not to work correctly. There is an easy way to check if it does on your system: Turn on the frame rate display during rendering (2x Shift-Z), if it shows exactly and without variations the selected video frame rate, everything is fine; otherwise rendering doesn't work correctly, please report here with some information about your system.
Below you can download v2.16 alpha, which is based on v2.1 beta, but additionally includes the video rendering feature and also some fixes and improvements which will be in v2.1 beta 2.
I'm very interested in your feedback on how the video rendering works on your systems.
Changes in v2.16:
- fixed FS2004 version
- full-screen rendering is no longer supported as it does not work reliably; FS Recorder automatically switches to windowed mode and hides the title bar if necessary
- added key shortcuts for rendering
- added option to hide red FS text displays (brakes, frame rate, position, view mode, ...) and FSX menu bar during rendering (experimental, please check if it works)
Download FSX version
Download FS2004 version