There's nothing quite like the rush of running, falling, jumping and crawling your way toward the release switch whilst under fire from rockets, railguns and lasers... then jabbing that switch and releasing all your team mates! Then finally watching as they all come running out of the open doors and beat the other team to death with Laser Cleavers! There's never a dull moment in JB, you're either fighting to stay alive, fighting to release your team mates, or fighting to escape from jail!

Post tutorial Report article RSS Feed Demo Smoother Tutorial for Sexy Trailers!

An extensive tutorial from the Jailbreak team detailing how to use the Demo Smoother to make great videos like the Jailbreak and Black Mesa trailers.

Posted by Wills on Feb 13th, 2009
Advanced Other.

Y ou know those sexy trailers for mods like Black Mesa: Source, Zombie Panic: Source, Neo-Tokyo... oh and Jailbreak!? They're sexy right? Want to make one? It's not as hard as it looks, and you already have the majority of the tools you need installed on your PC! Check out one of the trailers I made below if you want an example of the kind of thing you can create!

Recording Demo Scenes:
First up, fire up your mod! Now grab a bunch of your friends and get them all to join a decent server, with as little lag as possible (if anyone is lag teleporting kick them out!). Make sure YOU join spectator mode, if you join the game as a player, then whenever you crouch or fire your weapon it will appear in your Smoothed demo later on and you don't want that! Open up the console and type the following:

record modname_mapname_scenename1

It's helpful to record short scenes of up to around a minute to two minutes long in order to keep things simple later on, and make sure to name them appropriately too, numbered is good for now.

Get a good game going with your beta testers or friends, with plenty of action and lots of explosions. Maybe even get everyone onto Ventrilo and direct a few short scenes. Try to follow the players around as much as possible in spectator, but... be very careful not to go through walls or outside of the map and into the void, otherwise the players will suddenly disappear at a later stage.

Note from Varsity: To prevent yourself going through walls in spectator mode, type sv_specnoclip into the console.

After you've recorded all your scenes, quit the mod and go to the root directory of your mod in SourceMods. Inside you'll find your .dem files, all named as you specified in the console. I find it helpful at this stage to rename them as best you can, giving each one a short description of a cool moment you witnessed, such as "jb_madesco_railgunshot".

Loading the Demo:
Start your mod again, and when you get to the Main Menu press SHIFT + F2 and a little Demo Playback window will appear. Click on Load and choose the first demo you wish to smooth from the list. Once it's loaded it will start to play straight away, so click Pause for now.

demo smoother

On the left handside of the Demo Playback window you will see Tick: 317 / 1195 (the numbers will be different for yours), the first number is the current tick (think of them like frames), and the second number is the total number of Ticks (frames) in the whole demo. Click the Resume button to continue and watch your demo until you come to a cool moment that you'd like to record, and take note of the approximate tick number at the start of the moment and at the end of the moment... e.g. 450 to 650.

Now type the first tick number (in this case 450) into the Goto box, and then click Goto. Your demo will reload and start (hopefully) at tick 450 (if it doesn't, and it starts at the beginning, then click Goto again). Sometimes it doesn't start at the exact number you specify, but at a close one such as 451. Keep the demo paused for the moment and click on Smooth.

demo smoother

The Demo Smoother:
Another menu pops up next to the Demo Playback window called Demo Smoother. You can move the windows about to keep things easy to see, so move it to the right of the screen. Firstly, click Reload, this simply reloads the path you took during the recording in specator mode as a timeline around the map.

In the Start Tick and End Tick boxes type in the two numbers you noted down earlier, and click Select on the Demo Smoother side. This action selects only the part of the demo you actually wish to smooth. It's worth mentioning that the Demo Smoother gives you a little wiggle room by adding around 30 ticks to the start and end of your selection.

demo smoother

With the section you wish to edit selected, click Show Processed and immediately click Pause (its where the Resume button currently is, and only changes when you press Show Processed).

Above the Start Tick and End Tick boxes you will see the following: 6.619 at Tick 441 (3.030 s), again the numbers will differ but the principle is the same, and the important bit is the Tick 441, this tells you where you are in the selection between 450 and 650 on the Demo Smoother side, and in this case, it's just before the cool moment you wish to record, and the perfect place to start. To the left and right of the Resume button are Forward and Backward Arrows like this << RESUME >>. This allows you to step forward and backward through the processed ticks of camera movement.

Now move over to the Demo Playback window and click the button next to Resume that looks like this >. This allows you to step the actual Demo forwards by a single Tick with each press. You need to match up both to correspond to each other as you progress through your demo. Think of it like this, in the Smoother you are stepping the camera forwards and backwards, in the Playback window you are stepping the actual demo/action forwards (you can't go backwards on that side!).

Now, here comes the fun bit! You now need to start placing Keyframes throughout your scene/map for the camera to travel between. The principle is the same as any other program that uses keyframing, you place a keyframe at one point on the timeline, and another later on, and the program motion tweens between the two smoothly.

OK, so! Move the ticks using the Demo Playback window to the first point you wish to place a keyframe (in this example, tick 451), then move the ticks on the Demo Smoother window along to tick 451 aswell, so they both match. Now click Drive.

To move around your demo scene, click and hold down the left mouse button and use the WSAD keys to move around, the Z and X keys to move up and down and the mouse to position the angle of the shot. Position yourself at the point you wish the camera to start from, and let go of the mouse button. Now click Make Key on the Demo Smoother window.

demo smoother

Note: For some reason, for me at least, and I'm unsure if this occurs for everyone, when I click Make Key, the camera angle resets itself to a flat plane, if this happens to you, simply reposition the angle again, by clicking on screen and moving the mouse up or down to the original angle, then press Space Bar once to delete the keyframe, and again to place the keyframe again, this ensures the angle of your shot is as you want it, rather than flat all the way through.

Right, thats the first camera position placed, now move to the location you wish the camera to move to, and press the step forward button on the Demo Playback window to advance the demo forward (say to the point where the player you're following leaves a corridor and goes through a door).

You need to make sure you place around 30 ticks between keyframes for movements of around 30 feet, judge this as best you can depending on your needs, but the less ticks you leave and the further the movement, then the more choppy and unsmooth your final demo will be. For example, if you moved the entire length of your map between keyframes but only advanced 20 ticks, it would move very quickly but very choppily. If you want one smooth long movement along the entire length of your map, have loads of ticks between the keyframes (like 1000), then speed it up in your video editor later, providing you with a very smooth recording.

demo smoother

Back to the tutorial... Now do the same again in your Demo Smoother window, advance the Ticks to match the number in your Demo Playback window, in this case 507 and 507 (they don't always match, so just as close as you can get). Once again, click the Make Key button (use the spacebar twice tip if necessary), now you've made your second keyframe. Keep repeating this process of placing keyframes throughout the whole of your demo selection up until the End Tick mark (again, in this case 651).

Once you're happy with the Keyframes you've placed, click on Process and go up the list to Spline Origin. Now (for some reason), click Show Processed, and pause it again, then click Process again, and click Spline Angles (odd quirk, but if you don't click Show Processed the drop down menu disappears).

Once that's done, you can check the camera's movement and ensure you haven't accidently gone slightly into a wall or through a door badly, by pressing Show Processed again, this plays back just the camera movement and not the demo/action itself. If there is a problem, use the Next and Previous Keyframe buttons to advance backwards and forwards through your placed Keyframes, delete and reposition, and keyframe again as necessary to adjust the path.

demo smoother

Exporting to Video:
Right then! You're smoothing is complete, all you have to do now is click "Save", and the Demo Smoother saves a second version of your demo with "_smooth" on the end as a whole new .dem file. Click Load in the Demo Playback window to load up this new demo (you might need to restart your mod again to get it to show up). When its loaded, click Pause and in the Goto box type the start Tick number again (in this case 430 as we need to leave a little bit of time to do extra things before the smoothed section) to go to the start of your smoothed section.

Now depending on the way you wish to export this demo to video footage you can do a number of things... The cheapest and easiest way is to use Fraps or another similar program, but an even better way is to export every frame of the sequence as an individual, full quality TGA file, you can even do it in 720p, by simply changing to Windowed Mode in the Video Settings box, and choose 1280 x 720 as your resolution in 16 x 9 mode.

If you do wish to export as TGA files, which you can then sequentially link together later as an AVI file, then do the following... Type these commands into the console:

cl_drawhud 0
host_framerate 30 (for slow motion demos, try 90 or higher)

Close the console, and click Resume (it may take a moment or two) and as quickly as you can, close the Demo Playback window so it doesn't appear in your recording for long. Watch as your demo, very slowly, exports as TGA files, and when it's finished, open up the console again and type:


After a moment or two of processing, you'll regain control of your mod, and can happily close it. Now go to your mod's root directory, and witness the potentially several gigabytes of TGA files, all in sequential order inside, along with a wav file which is most likely not in time with your recording! Awesome!

Lastly, load up After Effects or another editing program which allows you to import TGA files in sequential order, and drop them onto a timeline as a nice easy to edit file! You can now export your video as an uncompressed AVI and get rid of all those messy TGA files if you wish, or simply edit using those files as your source material!

Now just repeat the WHOLE process again for your second shot! Woohoo! Oh, and get a bigger harddisk! The Jailbreak Trailer took up 70gb of TGA files by the end!

To finish up, here's another sexy trailer I made... This one took only four days to record, process and edit!

I'm sure I've probably missed something important, or introduced an unneccesary step along the way that someone can correct me on, but I figured this all out without tutorials, so it was all guesswork and experimentation, so if you want to add something, or simply know something I don't then please comment in order to correct me and others! Likewise, I have also intentionally left out some of the more superflous functions of the demo smoother to avoid complications.

The Jailbreak: Source team have just started a Development Blog delving into the more hardcore aspects of mod making, such as coding, modelling and animating in XSI, shaders and advanced level design, so make sure to bookmark it and come back once a week for two new tutorials along with progress reports on the development of Jailbreak: Source 0.5 (which p.s. has been delayed a little bit, sorry!)

Post comment Comments
MrMattWebb Feb 13 2009 says:

Thank you a lot!

First to comment :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Nathanius Feb 13 2009 says:

It's amazing what's hiding just under your nose :P

thanks for tips guys!

+1 vote     reply to comment
hushpuppy Feb 13 2009 says:

Cool ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Wills Author
Wills Feb 13 2009 says:

Thanks guys! I hope that this will enable others to make some lovely trailers for your own mods or just mods you like to play. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them here, and likewise, if you do make something, post it, as I'd love to see it!

+3 votes   reply to comment
stenchy Feb 13 2009 replied:

Great job Wills, thanks for sharing.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Pathard Feb 13 2009 says:

That's awesome! Thanks a lot!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Bird_of_Prey Feb 13 2009 says:

Wow! Very useful. Been wondering how to do that but never took the time to look it up. Now I don't have to! Thanks!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Varsity Feb 14 2009 says:

Quote:be very careful not to go through walls or outside of the map and into the void, otherwise the players will suddenly disappear at a later stage.

There's a console command that disables this from happening - sv_spectator_noclip or something.

Anyway, good job!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Wills Author
Wills Feb 14 2009 replied:

Oh awesome, I didn't know that! Thanks man, that's a very useful tip... just looked it up and it's apparently "sv_specnoclip". Updated the tutorial!

+3 votes   reply to comment
Alt` Feb 15 2009 says:

Lovely tutorial!

+4 votes     reply to comment
CustomCharacter Feb 15 2009 says:

Please say this isn't what caused 0.5 to delay. :P

Very useful tutorial, by the way. I'll definitely be using it if I ever decide to make a mod. (And what mod doesn't have trailers?)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Nauz Feb 16 2009 says:

very helpful, thanks.

+3 votes     reply to comment
MastermanT Mar 28 2009 says:

i have a problem when i press f2 nothing happens what should i do, does anyone know how to fix this

+2 votes     reply to comment
crazyb2000 Mar 28 2009 replied:

same here.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Wills Author
Wills Mar 28 2009 replied:

Sorry guys, you need to press SHIFT-F2 together. Updated the tutorial to reflect this.

+3 votes   reply to comment
crazyb2000 Mar 31 2009 replied:

ok thanks. how do you get that lighting effect you get in your video.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Wills Author
Wills Apr 4 2009 replied:

That's achieved using After Effects, basically you duplicate the video clip you want the lighting effect on, so it's layered ontop of each other. Then you change the blending mode to screen, add a gaussian blur (any amount depending on how intense you want it), and change the opacity to affect how much of the effect you want seen. So...

Duplicate Layer
Blending Mode: Screen
Guassian Blur: 3
Opacity: 60%

+3 votes   reply to comment
lebofly May 1 2009 says:

Good job i never knew about demo smoother thanks alot

+2 votes     reply to comment
matthewdryden Jun 13 2009 says:

Very helpful. Thanks.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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