A hardware solution for recording PC output MUST exist somewhere in the world.
November 27, 2009 2:50 AM   Subscribe

How can I record the output of one PC, up to resolutions of 1900x1200, via another PC or another piece of hardware?

I am trying to find a way that I can record the output of one PC with another PC, in HD/at resolutions up to 1900x1200 (or more), and none of the solutions I have tried so far work. Software screencasting solutions won't help me as I am trying to record things such as operating system installations for tutorials; no software can be running. Basically I want to use the second of my two video card outputs for the recording device. I don't necessarily need to record audio output as well, though that would be a big bonus.

I would like to be able to capture the output from several different computers, which currently all use DVI. I've tried a combination of the Hauppauge HD PVR and various cables/converters to try and convert my DVI output to component video so that the Hauppauge can record, but nothing I've tried so far has worked to convert the signal.

I am not tied to this solution, if there is some sort of capture card available that will allow me to quickly and painlessly capture the signal, I'll happily put aside/return the Hauppauge.

Is there some simple solution out there that I have overlooked? This situation is beginning to be frustrating, so I hope that someone out there can help.

Thank you very much!
posted by khelvan to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry, but I must humbly mention FRAPS here. I know you said you couldn't use screencasting, but it's different enough to be explicitly mentioned. And then explicitly shot down if you like. As I remember FRAPS, it wouldn't interfere with the task you have as I understand it.

FRAPS is used to stay out of the way while capture video games playing at high resolutions and high framerates.
posted by krilli at 2:54 AM on November 27, 2009

Hi krilli - I own FRAPS but cannot use it for this application. FRAPS cannot record the boot process of my PC, nor the installation of an operating system. In addition it is Windows only, and I need an OS-neutral solution. Hence, hardware.

However, thank you for the suggestion!
posted by khelvan at 3:05 AM on November 27, 2009

Two suggesgions:

a) if the PC in question has component output, you can record in 1080i with a Hauppage HD-PVR - this is 1920x1080, which isn't 1920x1200, but might be close enough for your purposes

b) vmware has a screen recording mode, and you can do full OS installed on that.
posted by jaymzjulian at 3:14 AM on November 27, 2009

You could use something like Sun's Virtualbox (I think Microsoft offers one too) that allows you to boot a virtual computer and install an OS on it. I forget to what extent it emulates the BIOS, but from 'Press any key to boot from the CD...' onward it should work.
posted by alexei at 3:20 AM on November 27, 2009

Hi, the PCs in question only have DVI output (one has HDMI as well). I need to be able to convert from digital to analog to be able to go that route, and record on the Hauppauge. I haven't found a way that works to do that, yet.

Perhaps I should rephrase - I know there are software options that can handle many of the things I have mentioned above, but not everything I want to do can be handled through software. For instance, I want to be able to record fiddling with BIOS options. I want to be able to record the PC boot process. I am thankful for all software suggestions, but the primary goal here is to discover what, if any, hardware solutions exist for this.

Thank you again!
posted by khelvan at 3:24 AM on November 27, 2009

OK I understand the problem better. It's hard to explain in one go - I hope we can find a solution.

Now, just to chew a little on things: The Hauppage takes component video in, yeah? I'm not sure, but I have the impression that DVI -> VGA is a dead-simple conversion, simpler than going to component video. Is there a recorder box designed to take VGA in?
posted by krilli at 3:29 AM on November 27, 2009

Seconding the virtual machine route. Any screen-capturing software that can record the contents of one window without borders or other decoration will be able to capture an entire VM session from boot to shutdown.
posted by flabdablet at 3:55 AM on November 27, 2009

Yeah, I would just go with a VM.

But have you thought about just using a video camera aimed at an LCD? It actually works pretty well.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 AM on November 27, 2009

I'll have to second delmoi on this one, a video camera pointed at an LCD. Its probably the best and least expensive choice for what you are trying to accomplish.
posted by jmsta at 4:44 AM on November 27, 2009

I've tried the camera pointed at the LCD route - the quality is nowhere near what I want it to be...I consider it a fall-back if I can't find some other solution. Such as a capture card that will work for this...none of them will do what I need? :(
posted by khelvan at 5:50 AM on November 27, 2009

I assume you've tried contacting Hauppage ... ?
posted by krilli at 5:52 AM on November 27, 2009

There are devices that can record DVI and VGA signals, but they are not cheap. Epiphan does some, starting at $2k. You'll pay $8k for the one that can do 1900 by 1200 at 30fps.

There are also devices that can record a HDMI signal, and you might be able to get away with a DVI>HDMI converter and something like the Black Magic Intensity Pro, which costs $199. I've not tried that particular card myself, so I can't comment on if it would work for what you want.

Personally, I'd go with the previous advice and use a virtual machine. Much cheaper and more controllable. If that doesn't do what you want, then go up to the more expensive solutions.
posted by baggers at 5:52 AM on November 27, 2009

The BIOS and the initial booting process is the only thing FRAPS and VMWare won't capture, right?

If the BIOS and first few seconds must be in HD, it's probably just easier to recreate the darn stuff in Premiere Photoshop or Flash or DOSbox or Motion or almost anything.

It shouldn't even take too long; The VGA DOS font is available, and with a little forethought you're done. It's probably just a couple of low-res Photoshop files with a certain grid, locked font spacing, and then hide/show some elements. Probably less than $8K anyway.

Extra points if you create a lifelike BIOS simulacrum in QBasic in DOSbox.

And yes, obviously this is a pretty wild idea I'm presenting.
posted by krilli at 6:05 AM on November 27, 2009

If the computer has video output you might connect that to the inputs of another recording device (like a VCR or its digital equivalent) and get the quality you're looking for instead of using another computer to do the recording.
posted by whatisish at 8:16 AM on November 27, 2009

I can attest that the Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro will allow you to capture DVI using a DVI-HDMI adapter from most PC/Mac/Linux systems. You can't capture at 1920x1200, but you can at 1920x1080 (1080i60 would be the optimum format).

PM me if you want to know anything more.
posted by iamcrispy at 10:10 AM on November 27, 2009

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