We want you to make mission trailers. Plain and simple. We want you to make them and post them on this site. Trailers are cool and fun to watch, but “I don’t know how to use demorecord” is a consistent complaint that we hear. Then we say “There are tutorials you can watch”, but people are still intimidated by it. “There is sooo much to it. Where do I possibly begin?”

I’m here to tell you that it’s so easy, even an old coot like me can figure it out. Most of the features that scare the crap out of you, don’t even NEED to be used. I’m just going to tell you what I do.

A quick explanation of demorecord:

Ok, to begin, let me just point out that the demorecord function of Star Trek Online is not working quite as it was intended to work. Since it was developed it has suffered with subsequent upgrades to the game. It will no longer display custom NPCs. Any NPC one has made in the Foundry costume editor will not be visible upon playback. Nobody at Cryptic will repair it because they claim it was never meant to be used by the general public and the guy who programmed it is no longer an employee. That being said, I will attempt to get you started on the simplest way to use this mechanic.

Demorecord is not nearly as scary a utility to use, as people seem to believe. It is more than just a screen capture tool, as it will allow the user to edit a “demo” file, by customizing camera angles, etc.

I do not wish to confuse you, but I need to make a distinction up front. There is Demorecord, which is the game utility itself. Then there is Demorecord Launcher, which is a free program developed by Rachel Garrett, a long time STO player and Foundry author, that enables you to edit a demo file.

Making a demo file is easy peasy. When you are in game (demorecord will not work in the Foundry editor) and you want to record your gameplay, just click inside the chat, as if you were going to say “Hi” to a buddy. Instead, you will type: /demorecord  filename. Obviously, filename is whatever you wish to call the file that will be produced. As soon as you hit the “enter” key, the map that you are playing begins to record. You may stop the recording by typing: /demorecordstop  or the recording will cease and save when you come to a map transition. So, if, for example, you are recording an entire mission, you will have to begin recording a new demo file every time you enter a new map.

Alrighty then. You have a whole bunch of demo files recorded because you played your whole mission and recorded every map. Why don’t you go and make one in sector space or something right now? Just to test it. You’ll need it as we progress. So, you just used demorecord. Now wasn’t that simple?

Now you want to see what you’ve recorded. You want cool close ups of the battles. You want to make your trailer to show off how hard you worked on your mission, but how? Calm down, I’m going to tell you right now. Basically, go here and download this http://sourceforge.net/projects/stodemolauncher/.

Now, open this program. I mean it. Open it while you read this. The first thing you will see is a window that contains all the demo files that you’ve recorded. Just a note, your files are kept in a Demo folder inside the program files of the game, but Demorecord Launcher automatically accesses that folder for you. STOP: Make a backup copy of your demo file now, before you start messing with it. If you make a mistake, there is no undo in this tool. Choose the demo you’d like to work on, click on the file menu, and choose Backup Demo.

Now that you are ready to edit, the first thing you are going to want to do is to change the camera angles of the demo, as it will be just like a screen cap of your mission and you really don’t want to follow behind your ship and see what you’ve done, exactly the way you played it. You could use a program like Fraps if you wanted that. You will need a program like Fraps to make a trailer, but not yet.

You will now choose the demo you want to edit, so just double click it. An STO loading screen will start and your demo will be loaded inside the editor’s User Interface. The next thing you should do is to go up to the top left of the UI and pause the playback. You want to look at the UI for the editor. After all, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing yet.

I will tell you that the thing you want to do now is to choose a “path”. Just go to the Add Path menu and there are a bunch of different path types. Don’t worry. There’s only one you need to choose or understand right now. Just choose “Easy Path”. Sounds harmless enough, doesn’t it? It is not imposing in the least. It’s easy. Ok that choice has been made and is out of the way. Now you want to have the ability to look around your demo from different angles and set the ones you want for your trailer.

If you depress the F2 key, it will free up the “camera” so you may move it around, either by using the WAS&D keys or the mouse. It’s just like moving your toon around in STO, almost. If F2 doesn’t release the camera, try it again. Sometimes it takes a couple of presses to work. It’s an accepted glitch, but it will work. To use your mouse, press and hold the right mouse button. Pressing the left button will move the camera forward at a very fast pace. Play with these controls for awhile and get used to the way they move. Don’t worry, if you fly past the point you were aiming at, you can always turn around and move back. As long as you don’t hit save, you can start over again, as well.

Once you have familiarized yourself with the way the camera moves, you are ready to set points. These are your camera positions. You will notice that as soon as you have chosen Easy Path, the points list windows appear. Each point you set will appear in a list within these windows, along with the time in the demo that you set that angle and the length of time you want the camera to remain at that point.

My suggestion now, is to run the demo and become familiar enough with it to select what you want the camera to focus on, and when. Those controls are in the upper left of the UI, and they act like any media player controls. This may seem like it could be time consuming and difficult. Honestly? It’s time consuming. Is it difficult? Not really. It is just a matter of a little practice. Make a demo of something you really don’t care about to get the feel of it all. Remember that it all runs in chronological order, according to the time in the upper left. There also is some math involved, sorry to say. The counter is in minutes and seconds, up to hundredths of seconds. When you set points, it counts seconds only, so you have to do a bit of conversion. It will become second nature. I hate math, but I got used to it. You can, too.

My personal method is to set points as I go through the demo. Like playing a video, I set a point, advance the demo the approximate time I’d like the camera to stay at that specific point, pause it, then enter the hold value into the appropriate box beneath the position and rotation (colored) fields. Steer clear of the Path Time and Path Move Time fields. If you inadvertently change them, it is a pain to fix. Best just to avoid them until you really know what you’re doing. I still don’t go near them.

I continue throughout the desired length of the demo until I’m satisfied with the points I’ve set. If you make a mistake with a point, just highlight that point in the window and delete it. You can set it again. During the entire process, I hit the Save button as I go. Saving is key. An asterisk next to Save(Save*) means that changes have been made and not yet saved.

Ok. Now you have a demo file, complete with a camera that flies around through space and looks at your ship as it swooshes by, then someone else’s and you are completely satisfied with what you have done. You are saying to yourself. “How does this get me a mission trailer?” It doesn’t. I’ve explained to you how to get raw footage from your mission.

You now have demos of your mission that you would like to make into a trailer. Demos are cool, but they aren’t video per se. You need them to be. There are various methods to do this conversion. I use Fraps. Fraps is a screen recording software. It can be freely obtained, but has limits on the free version. There are others out there as well. I just play back my demos with the UI shut off and record them to a video folder on my HDD. You end up with a bar across the top of the video, but you can crop that out later. You will also need some video editing software, like Adobe Premiere to do the actual editing. Windows Movie Maker can do it in a pinch.

Now it all depends on your personal creativity. You can add titles and music to make your trailer both appealing and exciting. Everyone will want to play your mission, now that you’ve shown them just how Star Trekking awesome it is.

I hope this little explanation helps you guys. It was not intended to be an in depth tutorial for the demo tools. I just wanted to impart the idea that there is no need to fear it. I promise it will not hurt you. The methods I’ve explained will get you going. There are some very good tutorials out there if you’d like to master demorecord. If you just want mission footage. This little wall of text should do the trick.

Have fun. That’s what it’s all about. 🙂