DISCLAIMER: This post contains links to old archived videos of my channel. They may contain outdated information, and some older videos may also contain content that is considered offensive. Most of these videos were made when I was of a young age, and do not reflect the current quality of my videos or any of my views and opinions today.
Everyone probably has that one system that shaped their childhood or teenage years. My childhood systems are the Wii and DS, but the 3DS is probably the most important and influential system I've ever had so far, both to my teenage years and for my YouTube hobby.
Since I got my very first 3DS on July 11th, 2011 (I THINK that was the date), I've been being to make videos with it on my then barebones YouTube channel.
I've captured game footage before this though, and it was...bad. Holding a camera up to a TV looks and sounds substantially worse than sticking it in front of a 3DS screen and speakers.
My first 3DS related video was released on July 14th, 2011 and was just the QR Code of my Mii and my friend code. My Mii has barely changed since then (and tbh probably isn't the most accurate representation of me but I've gotten too used to it).
Also I'm pretty sure my 3DS friend list is already full so you probably don't need to try entering it, sorry
My first video that actually used footage from a 3DS is a gameplay video of Super Mario Bros. back when the 3DS Ambassador Program dropped:
I just balanced a small digital camera we had on a pencil sharpener as a support. I think I still have that camera, but it's probably buried in a closet somewhere with a dead battery I can't find the right charger for. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
At that point, I don't think I've even heard of the concept of capture cards yet. In 2011 they were still in the prototyping phase, and a few well-known YouTubers at that time (cobanermani456 comes to my mind just now) simply stuck HD cameras in front of 3DS screens to capture footage.
So with my dingy little digital camera, I couldn't really do much with the setup. Of course, at that time I was just holding my 3DS in front of the camera resulting in some shaky screen images (often also angled so I could see the screen clearly and my reflection wouldn't show) This lasted ALL THE WAY until September 2012. Oof.
Around the end of 2011 I switched to a different camera which apparently made things worse because now my videos ended up in 240p. I have no idea what is up with that. That's also when Super Mario 3D Land came out which I played the hell out of and made some tips & tricks videos about (that was probably the niche of the early years of my channel if I had to describe that period.)
Check out this video for some sweet 240p-upscaled-to-480p goodness and the first semblance of game footage coupled with actual video editing.
Also at one point I tried capturing direct audio by using an aux cord but the headphone jack of the main computer I use for editing at the time was broken, so it didn't really end up well.
By August 2012 I figured out a way to stabilize my 3DS footage: stacking 3DS game boxes and putting my 3DS on top. Over the years I've used different other items to hold my 3DS up like smartphone boxes and stuff, but 3DS cases are pretty reliable. I think at that point I've also internalized how many 3DS game boxes to stack up in my mind like they're a unit of measurement. You can see this in action in one of my first videos on Pushmo:
By now you've probably noticed the wacky wave effect you get when you put an LCD in front of a low res camera. That'll stick around for a long time.
Anyway, this stuck around for a while as I pumped out some random NSMB2 videos and posted my first ever Let's Play of Super Mario 3D Land. In terms of video editing, 99% of the time I just uploaded the raw footage because the videos were fine without editing at the time.
I got a 3DS XL on around September 2012, but was still stacking it on top of game boxes and other stuff. It resulted in the screen placement never being consistent, but I was content with it at the time. Sometimes I also managed to capture both screens at once.
Then came everyone's favorite game, Paper Mario: Sticker Star. I keep saying the game's an integral part of some of my channel's very early growth, because I churned out quite a few GameXplain-like tip videos about it, such as how to get the Barrel sticker (you have to get it exclusively from Broozer enemies that show up in some airship enemy encounters). Arguably my biggest 'hit' at that point came when I beat Bowser without using Kersti:
This video is super grainy looking because I was recording my 3DS XL screen with my 3DS cameras. I have no idea if my regular camera was out of commission or something but it happened. A bunch of people liked it.
At this point I'm just super used to this method of recording 3DS footage now. It was certainly a lot easier to set up, record and post videos more regularly, but looking back, it didn't really make my channel stand out too much. There isn't really any incentive to watch a guy stick a small camera in front of a 3DS for video guides over a professional Let's Player using capture cards.
On March 28th 2013 I posted this video of some Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon footage in 1080p! I believe this footage was recorded with a smartphone that belonged to my parents at that time. The high quality was able to get rid of the wavy patterns on-screen but I never adopted it, either because it was too much a hassle to set up or I wouldn't always get access to it that easily.
I went back to my tried-and-true regular method and a bunch of people were asking me what I used to record footage. So I recorded this video with my 3DS:
Yeah I set my camera (a PowerShot S95) on an iPhone box and my 3DS XL on a dictionary. Those were the items that just happened to have the perfect height. Sometimes in life you gotta improvise.
In May 2013 I uploaded some stereoscopic 3D videos of 3DS games. This required...yes, putting the 3DS XL in front of a 3DS with the 3D effect on. (It wasn't the other way around because the 3DS screen was smaller and more suitable for recording purposes). It sorta worked, but y'know, low quality and everything. It was a neat idea though seeing as not a lot of stereoscopic 3D videos of 3DS games existed at that time.
I also tried direct audio recording again with another video!
I have no idea how I managed to get this to work, seeing as I record footage in my own room then edit the footage on the home computer in my living room outside, but I guess the method was to record the direct audio through a notebook computer situated next to me, then taking that audio and combining it through the camera footage on my home computer. It was probably too much work for me at that time.
Alright, it's fast-forward time, you've seen me do this recording setup for far too long now. 3 years to be exact.
In 2014, after watching Chuggaaconroy's Let's Play of Kid Icarus: Uprising, I picked up the game and it included a 3DS stand! I then tried to incorporate it into my recording setup so I would no longer have to memorize what specific combination of everyday household items I can use to prop my 3DS up. Here's the first video using it:
And then that's just what I basically used for the next 3 years as well. If it ain't broke (?), don't fix it.
Small interlude: We got a new camera during 2014, which is actually the one camera I still use today in core videos! In October, during a small event I did called Sakurai Month, I gave it a whirl in recording 3DS footage with a Kid Icarus: Uprising video.
And it looked REALLY good! The downside is I had to use a tripod to stand the camera up, which took away a lot of space for me to sit and see the screen properly, plus I wasn't able to record the bottom screen due to size constraints, and (I'm not 100% sure if this was done for the KIU video, but) the audio recording on that camera is a bit crappy, so I had to use my regular digital camera alongside it just so I can get the best audio. Even now in my core videos, the voices for the off-screen footage is recorded with my smartphone voice recorder.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. (Should I like invest in a lavalier mic lol)
But other than that, I've just used the ol' trusty PowerShot S95 for the rest of my 3DS videos. Occasionally I do some editing to get both screens at a decent size such as for my Smash 3DS videos, but that's about it.
And yeah, I used this method all the way up to early 2017. By that time, I was finishing up my high school finals, and did some reorganization in the apartment. I've also started covering topics other than 3DS games, such as other Nintendo hardware like the Game Boy systems (and the Switch was on the horizon as well!) so I felt that the quality of those videos clashed a bit with videos where I stick a camera in front of a 3DS screen.
Still, I had a running LP series at the time (Rhythm Heaven Megamix), and I tried using the new camera I got to record some footage as well, but it just wasn't cutting it for me. I felt that using these high quality cameras to do more comprehensive videos like filming hardware shots and the like was a better idea than using it to just do what I did for the past 6 years.
And thus the idea of the core videos were born!
I also got a used Elgato Capture Card on October 2017, allowing me to grab footage from the Switch and even some older systems. But to think I was done covering the 3DS would be dead wrong, as there was still a lot of potential topics I wanted to cover for the 3DS, just in a more sophisticated manner instead of just pointing a camera at a screen.
This gave birth to ideas for videos such as 'How Super Mario 3D Land Saved The 3DS', but to make those videos a reality, I would either have to nab footage by other people from the Internet (which I generally try to avoid unless absolutely necessary), or use a homebrew-enabled New 3DS which had a method of recording gameplay footage to a PC application over Wi-Fi.
While that sounded reasonable, it wasn't the best solution, as the video was often very choppy and had a few visual artifacts depending on your connection speed. The best videos I could get out of it were around the 20-30fps range. You can see a sample of homebrew 3DS capturing in this tweet:
But still, it was better than off-screen footage in my opinion, so I did my footage recording with homebrew and went on my merry way...
Then I learned that Katsukity, the sole provider of 3DS capture cards at that time (since Loopy had stopped orders) had a price drop.
I took the hit and grabbed a 2DS from their store with a capture card pre-installed for 300 USD. Compared to using homebrew, using capture cards allowed for me to capture both a higher resolution and framerate, as well as allowing for capturing DS games (which isn't possible with homebrew). To sort of alleviate the cost, I sold the 2DS I had at the time to a real life friend who coincidentally didn't have a 3DS and wanted to get into its game library.
And since then, I think it's served me really well! Of course, as of this post there's really only like two core videos that are DS/3DS-focused, but there are still plenty of topics I want to talk about. The recent Photo Dojo video is also possibly the first ever non-Nintendo YouTube video about Photo Dojo in which footage was recorded with a capture card!
It has its downsides, such as the direct audio capturing being a little wonky unless you use an audio cable (which would be a bit of a hassle with my current setup), but I feel like it will still be serving me for quite a few years to come.
Since then, Katsukity has gone bankrupt (sadly unsurprising given the REALLY niche market of their products), and there isn't really a new source of 3DS capture cards at this time. Hopefully the resale values for them won't skyrocket like crazy, but if you're dead set on getting one no matter the cost, aside from second-hand listings, Merki (the European distributor for 3DS capture cards) still have old 3DS XL capture cards in stock, but you'll have to ship your system to them, so the shipping costs might add up.
But for creators who are starting out, if you want to make content using the 3DS, you can either go the homebrew capture route (if your 3DS is of the "New" variety) or just use a smartphone camera, since most can do at least 1080p nowadays. I mean, I got by with using a crappy camera for 6 years. :]
But anyway, hope this gave you a fun little insight into my history of struggling with capturing handheld footage! I think it's a nice example of equipment quality not being the most important thing for creators, even with simple tools and software, you can still make content that's pretty dang good. Even now, my setup is still evolving, and your support means I will be able to improve it through things such as better tripods and microphones, as well as more things of interest to cover, so I must thank you all once again!
If you have any further questions about footage capturing, don't hesitate to ask me. :)