Cat (sonkitty) wrote,

Tutorial: Using VirtualDubMod for Taking Screenshots

A few words

This tutorial went into more detail than I intended, but I think it has a lot of good, helpful, useful information nonetheless. I take a lot of screenshots, for various reasons, and some people have wondered how I take them. I use a program called VirtualDubMod, as it provides a lot of control for picking out my just right shot and allowing me to make certain desired adjustments.

About Using VirtualDubMod

If you are unfamiliar with VirtualDub and/or VirtualDubMod, let me start by saying that it is an incredibly wonderful, good, useful program to have. It is primarily used to help with video editing, however, I have found it quite useful for taking screenshots as well. And so now I give you tips, tidbits, and tricks on taking screenshots using it despite that being far from its primary function. If you are familiar with the program and video editing in general, just want to know about screenshot-taking, skip down to "Alright...onto the screenshot-taking!" If it's a whole new thing to you, read on from here.

You can find the standard version of VirtualDub at (don't know if it has all the screenshot-taking options, I would guess so) and VirtualDubMod at I downloaded my version from the AMVApp on

I'm no expert, so all these notes are just from my own personal experience. To forewarn you, it can't open every video file. It can open your standard good ol' DivX avi files, mpegs, VOB files (ripped DVD footage) and, most importantly, AVS files. What's an AVS file? AVS files are Avi-synth files, which you can read all about here. To me, AVS files are like suped up Notepad files that can do awesome video manipulation. Like VirtualDubMod, I got Avi-synth from the AMVApp. Mad props to those AMVOrg guys for providing such wonderful resources.

So, if VirtualDubMod can open all that stuff, what's the problem? It won't open WMV files or DV-AVI files. I'm actually not sure how to explain what DV-AVI files are, but that seems to be the encoding my capture card uses, hence, I had a problem where I thought I couldn't open them in VirtualDubMod.

But AVS files came to the rescue and I discovered a work-around.

In short, if you have a video file (either WMV or DV-AVI for example) that you CAN'T open in VirtualDubMod, give this a try. Get Avi-synth through the AMVApp (or somewhere else if you know some other means to get it). Once you've got all that stuff set up, open Notepad in the following, replacing D:\videos\Tekken\Tekken 5\Video 3.avi with the appropriate filepath and file name you want to use.

Save the file as whatever you want to call it, such as "temp.avs". Very important that you save it as an AVS file. Then you should be able to open that file with VirtualDubMod and see the video that might not have worked before. Mwahahahaha! We're so sneaky! >=D

The meat of the matter...TAKING SCREENSHOTS!

Alright...onto the screenshot-taking!

Open the appropriate file in VirtualDubMod.

On the left is our "source" and on the right is our "output." Along the bottom is a bunch of stuff, notably the "slider," that's what I feel like calling it. Run the slider along to find the general area of the clip you want. Then use the right or left arrow keys on your keyboard to go frame by frame to find the exact shot you want (if you didn't already find it using the slider). This is not the shot we'll be taking, it's just the one I chose for this first overview pic.

Once you have your shot picked out (you'll see the one I chose shortly), go to Video, and find this set of options (heh, the background of this pic is not the first shot we will actually be using either):

The first option, "Copy source frame to clipboard" will do as it says, copy the frame we see on the left (our source) to the clipboard, meaning we can then go to Photoshop (or any graphics editing program), open a new image, and paste.

Do what you want with it (sometimes I play with the Levels to make it look better), if anything, and save the pic in whatever format you deem best; I usually go with JPG myself. Now you have a screenshot. Hurrah!

An extra tidbit: When I know I'm going to be picking out a series of shots from a particular clip or file, I will save each shot on a new layer in Photoshop, placing it all in the same file. Then after I've picked all my shots, I will set all of the top layers to hidden, start from the bottom, save the visible layer as its own file, then make the next layer up visible, save it, and so on.

The second option, "Snapshot source frame" allows you to just outright save the frame as an image file in any of the following formats, Targa, Bitmap, or PNG. Personally, I prefer to use the "copy" option since I would end up converting the file format to JPG anyway.

The third option, "Copy output frame to clipboard" will copy the frame we see on the right (our output) to the clipboard and behave the same way as if we copied the source frame.

We would choose that if we made any changes to the output. Like what? Well, since I often capture video game footage directly, it often comes out interlaced, like so:

Let's get rid of that.

If you go to Filters... and then click on "Add," you can find a "de-interlace" filter. Pick that and choose "Blend fields together."

We can compare our source and output to see the difference:

Much better.

Another nifty filter to know about is "resize." Nearly all the footage I get comes out 720 x 480. My Advent Children DVD rips come out looking squished in this form:

I don't like that. No siree. So I use Filters... "Add" "resize" and then enter 720 for width and 405 for height.

The difference:

Our final shot after using "Copy output source frame to clipboard":

Again, much better. ^_^

Sidenote: You can also click on the checkbox "Expand frame and letterbox image," and enter 720 x 480 to get a shot with the black bars going across the top and bottom. I've only used it for encoding footage for other purposes, not for screenshot-taking, but it's nice to know nonetheless.

That's the method I usually use, but, believe it or not, there is yet another method.

Alternate method: Saving an image sequence

I don't use it often anymore, but it IS there, so...let's say you have a sequence of screenshots you want. Use VirtualDubMod to pick out the sequence (chop off what you don't want at the beginning and at the end, hopefully you can figure that out on your own, if not ask, and I'll explain). Have your sequence? Alright, go to File --> Save image sequence...

Stuff to fill out first:

Filename prefix - this is the prefix that will be given to all the files in this sequence
Filename suffix - including extension - this is the suffix that will be givent o all the files in this sequence (I change this to ".bmp")
Minimum number of digits in name - each image in the sequence will have a number attached to it, starting from 0, you can choose just how many digits are used for these numbers. I go with 7, simply because that's my favorite number.
Directory to hold images - where are we saving this sequence?
Output format - I always pick "Windows BMP"

Hit "OK," and all the frames within that given sequence will save in order. From there, what you do with these shots is up to you. I use yet another program called FastStone Image Viewer to do a batch conversion and change them all to JPG files instead of BMP files, as the BMP files are usually 1 MB each in size.

So, there you have it. That's how I take my screenshots and a few other extra things I've picked up along the way with my experience in video editing and using VirtualDubMod.

Hopefully you learned something useful.

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