Behind The Scenes of Pug Hoof Gaming – A Second Birthday Special!

Pug Hoof Gaming is celebrating it’s two year anniversary, so this week I’m going to give you a behind the scenes look on how I make videos for you guys, and hopefully inspire you to make your own!

When it dawned on me a month or two ago, that this channel would be turning two years, I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with a way to celebrate two years of making content for myself and of course – You guys.

This week’s video has two purposes – One: To give you guys a look into how much work goes into coming up with new videos every week, and Two: To show you my process in the hope of inspiring others to make their own videos. Hopefully, you’ll fit into one or even both of those audiences, so please enjoy!

Some YouTubers like to vlog, or just make spur of the moment videos, and I honestly envy those who can do that. Unfortunately for me, I’m the sort of person who likes to plan everything out. As a day job, I work as a Project Manager so it feels more natural for me to just have a solid process for everything I do.

And it all starts with an idea. Sometimes, I’ll be watching, playing or listening to something, and an idea will come up. At other times, I’ll randomly remember a game I’ve played or heard about and cover it. Recently, fans of this channel have been giving me ideas for a change. For a video I’ve recently been working on, it came from a suggestion on the Pug Hoof Gaming Patreon page. In the comments of the Stunt Race FX Review early video post, a Patron by the name of Tommywon brought up the game, Uniracers, suggesting that it would make an awesome video. I agreed, so I got to work on it.

Every video idea that comes my way is recorded, and the entire workflow of that idea is documented in a free application called Trello. With Trello, I can visualise all of the ideas I have, keep track of my progress with them, and come up with a complete plan of how I’m going to make that video and when it needs to be done by.

Once the idea is there any I’m ready to work on it, there’s a set process I use for pretty much every video:

Research the topic
I’ll search the web, watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts or read books to try and get as much information on a topic as possible. For reviews, there isn’t usually too much research required, other than a few bits of factual information to give a little context to the review. For me, it’s important to add some sort of historical context to my videos, so that even if you aren’t familiar with the game or topic in question, I can bring you up to speed without you needing to do the research yourself before you can watch my video.
Play!
I like to spend a little time playing with the things I’m doing a video on. For reviews, this step is an important one, but even when it isn’t a review video, it’s good for me to jog my memory on the topic and make notes on things I want to cover when writing the script. I’ll also capture some footage while I’m playing, as you can never have too much footage to use when making a video.
Start writing the script
Then it’s time to get writing. As mentioned, I have very little confidence when it comes to talking for any length of time – Writing a script serves a lot of purposes. It makes the process of filming on-camera and voiceover segments a much quicker and smoother process and helps to make me sound like I actually know what I’m doing. Which, I’m sure you appreciate. Also, as an added bonus, in scripting everything, I end up with a full transcription of my video that I can post on PugHoofGaming.com and also import into the YouTube video’s subtitles to ensure my videos are accessible for those with hard of hearing or speak a different language.
Play the game and record footage
Because this video is a review, I’ll be playing the game a whole lot before I even think of writing anything, apart from the odd note. But depending on the topic, I’ll likely be recording footage in bulk. For my monthly Retrogaming Chart Show, I’ll probably play and capture the first 10 minutes of every game in that month’s chart, but other videos might require a little more footage – Especially if the script is referring to a particular moment or feature. I’ll spend at least five hours every weekend just capturing footage, and you’d be surprised how much of it doesn’t get used.

Let’s talk about how I go about capturing footage, shall we? All of my modern consoles use HDMI leads into a 5 port switching unit. That switcher then leads to a 2 port HDMI splitter – One port leading straight to my AV unit, and the other goes into an Elgato Game Capture HD60 capture unit. I’ll plug that into my Macbook when I’m capturing footage.

Capturing modern consoles is incredibly easy, thanks to HDMI. Retro consoles are a lot more complex, and it requires a fair amount of extra equipment to get a good quality capture. In the early days of Pug Hoof Gaming, I ran all of my retro consoles via RGB SCART cables into a SCART to HDMI upscaler, which then ran into my HDMI switch. It gave me a 1080p image, but it wasn’t the best quality.

These days, I use something called a Framemeister. This Japanese device takes the low-resolution display from RGB SCART, composite or component devices and upscales it to a 720p or 1080p resolution. But it does it better than practically any other device out there, especially in terms of picture clarity – It’s the best way to get retro consoles working on an HDTV without relying on emulators, and it gives me a lot of options for tweaking the display to my liking. I’ve always preferred to use original hardware to make my videos because a) It’s more fun to use real hardware, b) I want to preserve the experience of playing these games, and while emulation is great in some circumstances, for Pug Hoof Gaming I want to show you authentic footage.

Once I’ve got enough scripts for around a month’s worth of videos, I’ll set up my equipment and start recording in bulk. One evening, for an hour or so, I’ll film the on-camera segments.

Equipment-wise, my camera is simply my phone. I’ve been using iPhones for the past few years, and while I’d love a proper DSLR camera, Apple’s mobile devices have served me very well, especially the iPhone 7 Plus. The only problem is, the default microphone isn’t particularly great, and lets in a lot of room noise – Especially as this little guy likes to say hello when I’m filming.

So for that reason, I use other microphones. I used to use a Rode Videomic Go shotgun mic, which plugged straight into my iPhone and works very well – I tend to only use it for when I’m covering events now, but it’s a great bit of kit. Since the end of last year, I started using lavalier or lapel mics, such as the Rode Smartlav+. You can clip it to a shirt, but I actually tape it to my chest, under my T-shirt so you can’t see. Instead of plugging it into my iPhone and running a long cable, I actually run it into a Zoom H1 Digital Recorder which I put in my pocket, so it’s like a little mic pack.

I keep shots well-lit with three LED lighting fixtures, each one containing around 160 LED bulbs and run off of 6 x AA batteries each, and they’re surprisingly bright. As you probably know, I have a green screen, and it’s just a collapsible screen from Amazon – You just have to be careful how you put it back in the bag!

Recording voiceovers and narration is much easier. Back in my days of singing in bands, I bought this Rode M3 condenser mic, and for the last decade, I’m still using it to record podcasts and dialogue. Because it has an XLR socket I have to run it through this Behringer 302 USB mixer to get it into my Macbook.

It’s at this point, I have everything I need to actually put the video together. Finally. Like everything else, I do it all in bulk and I’ll try and edit a month’s worth of videos in about a week – Although it may take longer if I find I need some more footage for whatever reason.

All of my editing is done on a Macbook Pro, in Final Cut Pro X. A lot of other people in games media tend to use Adobe Premiere, mainly because it’s supported by Windows, but I love how easy Final Cut Pro is to use. I find Premiere a little too intimidating in terms of its user interface, but I have dabbled with it in the past. Once the video’s edited, I render it and start uploading it to YouTube!

But that is not where this video finishes. Because there’s still a whole lot of work to do before a video is done. Even when it’s uploaded to YouTube, I need to come up with a suitable and eye-catching thumbnail, which I do in Photoshop – Making good thumbnails is certainly something I’m still learning to do well, but I think I’m almost getting there.

There’s also the matter of writing a title and description for the video, and a whole lot of thought goes into that at times. Then you have the matter of tags to worry about – Thankfully, I use a tool called Tubebuddy, which helps me research suitable tags to see if they’re searched regularly and compares it to if there are other videos that are competing for the same tags. I’ve been using it for a while, and it contains a load of really useful tools and add-ons that make my life so much easier on YouTube. If you want to check it out, I’ll put my affiliate link in the description.

I’ll also upload my script to be used as a subtitle, setup my cards and end cards, then schedule the video for release.

All of my Patrons get my videos early, so I’ll then draft and schedule a special message for them with a link to the new video, up to a whole week before it’s released to the public. I’ll then draft and schedule a blog post on PugHoofGaming.com, then do the same for other sites such as Skirmishfrogs.com and RetrowareTV.com.

Then, I wait for release day, post links on social media and immediately start the whole production process, all over again!

As you can see, a relatively short video of around five minutes or so can take at least ten hours of preparation and production. It’s incredibly hard work, but I’ve loved every minute of it and hopefully, you do as well.

For the past two years, I’ve been making videos as Pug Hoof Gaming, and I have no intention of stopping – That’s all thanks to people like you, who have watched this video and continue to do so, every week. I really appreciate that, and I cannot thank you enough for making these last two years so enjoyable.