NVIDIA ShadowPlay for recording SL machinima

I’ve seen a lot of questions and some misinformation about whether NVIDIA’s ShadowPlay machinima recording tool can be used in Second Life.  The answer is that it does work in SL, but not in all versions of Windows

The problem is that under Windows, ShadowPlay only works with Aero mode enabled, but Aero only exists in Windows 7 and earlier. Microsoft removed it from Windows 8 and 10.  There are workarounds that I’ve seen posted on the Web, but I have not tested any of them.

The first thing you’ll notice when you run ShadowPlay is that Second Life and OpenSimulator are not in the list of games it supports.  This is because ShadowPlay only supports DirectX 9, 10, and 11, but SL and OpenSim are OpenGL.  You can still use it to record machinima in SL and OpenSim, but you’ll have to set ShadowPlay to “Allow desktop capture”, as shown in the following screenshot.

ShadowPlay Configuration
ShadowPlay Configuration – Enable desktop capture

With one exception, the other ShadowPlay options shown do not work in SL and OpenSim.  For me, this is the biggest reason why I don’t use ShadowPlay.  There’s no way to know whether recording has actually started or stopped when I expected.  Most of my shooting is at festivals where I’m constantly starting and stopping recording.  It would be all too easy with ShadowPlay to start recording but inadvertently to stop recording instead because there’s no way to know that the previous recording had not stopped.

The exception is a big one: if you enable the Camera Overlay, you webcam will turn on automatically every time you turn on ShadowPlay even though the overlay itself is not being displayed.   There’s a potential for invasion of privacy whenever your webcam is on and you’re not using it.

The other problem I had with ShadowPlay is that my pans and zooms weren’t as smooth as with the other two video capture tools I use, Dxtory and Blackmagic Intensity Pro.  It might not affect other people.  I shoot at the highest graphics quality I can get at 1080p resolution.  If you shoot at lesser quality levels or don’t need silky smooth zooms and pans, ShadowPlay may work well for you.  It should be good also for basic desktop video capture.

If you have Win 7, here’s how you can enable Aero:

  1. 1. Right click on your desktop
  2. 2. Select Personalize in the popup menu
  3. 3. Select one of the Aero themes

You may need to click Window Color and  hen Enable Transparency.

If you don’t see Aero Themes it’s possible that your video card doesn’t support it.  For troubleshooting, click the Start button and type “aero” in the box.  It will start a troubleshooter.

You can get more information about configuring ShadowPlay at www.howtogeek.com/259573/how-to-record-your-pc-gameplay-with-nvidia-shadowplay.

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