Names, did someone say names?

Naming characters has to be without a doubt one of the more harder things to do in writing. Well naming in general is one of the more harder things to do. Once a character has a name, they are generally stuck with it. A name isn’t just an arbitrary thing, you can’t just go right you are Bob and you are Helen. The name has to be right for the character, as it is much a reflection of them as their actions. It is a bit like naming places in that sense, you wouldn’t call a flat barren area Mt. Heavens. You also have to think a bit about the character’s background, their ethnicity or race and if the created name is consistent with the style of their language of origin. There are probably many more aspects that go through my head when creating names, but those are the immediate things that come to mind.

So how do you come up with names? There are lots of ways one can go about coming up with names. Sometimes it can come from research other times it can come from letting the mind do its own thing. Most of the time I find it is a little bit of both. I tend to find translation tools helpful to see how English words appear in different languages. This is usually followed by speaking them aloud, merging words, toying with alterations in the spelling and speaking the aloud. I tend to get a short list going of words that sound nice and fit the character and their linguistics of the character, then start the splicing of words and ideas anew. By the end of it, I always give one last final check to make sure I am happy with the name and that it feels right with the character.

A great example is when I create names for one of my alien races. Their language tends to be more lighter and musical so there tends to be a lot of I’s, E’s and A vowel sounds in their names. For most of the time, I tend to lean on Latin and French languages with occasional German endings for individuals of this particular race. A current name in the conceptual process has started with the latin word luceat (shine). It has undergone modifications such as Iluceat, Iluciat and Iluciet. I am trying to move the sounding away from that latin chet ending to sound more like combining the c in Lucy and the iet in Juliet. I am not certain yet if I want to combine more into the name, so we will just have to see.

It is definitely a lot easier dealing with human names with real world nationalities. The conventions and concepts are already there. You need to focus more on research and era. Creating names for aliens and fantasy races is harder in it requires a lot more work from the grounds up. It tends to take a lot longer, but the difficulty of the task definitely seems to feel a lot more rewarding. You have to wonder how parents handle the task, it isn’t easy and unlike fictional characters we get stuck with the end result.

Anyway hope you are all having a good week so far. There is my two cents on naming for the day.

 

 

Out of Points of Publication for Short Stories – What to do, what to do?

It was bound to happen eventually, but yes it looks like two of my short stories have run out of places to submit for publication. There are only finite points of publication for short stories and they are very competitive. It kind of leaves me in a curious predicament of not knowing if they are publishable or not, if they are flawed in anyway and need improvement, if they just aren’t what the point of publications were after or if it was just a matter of someone slightly more skilled than I got in.

They have both seen an editor and received positive feedback, but that doesn’t necessarily constructively help. I think perhaps a publisher’s editor might be a bit harder or rather brutally honest. Which although the editor you hire directly helps immensely, you might not get the same level of feedback. It kind of leaves you asking the same why did this occur and how to make it better for next time questions.

What does running out of points of publication really mean? Well it means going back to the drawing board. So what is my new stratagem for these two science fiction short stories? Well as far as I am aware of I still have a few options open to me, but they all have pro’s and con’s, but here is what comes to my mind.

Option 1. I publish my two short stories on my website here and spread word about it or just give a few extracts.

Pro’s:
+ People get to see my work.
+ I will hopefully have encouraged at least one more person into reading books in general.
+ I’d get satisfaction of someone reading my work
+ There would be greater exposure to my work and I might get commissioned to write something in the future.

Con’s
– I would lose all future ability of my work being properly published.
– I would not be paid for my work.
– It would set a bad precedent for myself and potentially others for not getting paid for their work.
– Someone might steal my work or use its ideas.

Option 2. I compile an anthology of short stories, which these short stories could be apart of. This anthology could then be sent off to bigger publishers.

Pro’s:
+ People get to see my work.
+ Potential to get properly published.
+ I’d get satisfaction of someone reading my work

Con’s
– Cost of time.
– Potential to not be picked up by a publisher.
– Might be hard to fill an anthology if other works get accepted in magazines.

Option 3. I self publish these short stories as part of an anthology or on their own electronically. (Something like on Patreon, Smashwords or Amazon etc.)

Pro’s:
+ People get to see my work.
+ Seems easy enough to organise
+ There would be greater exposure to my work and I might get commissioned to write something in the future.
+ Potential to actually be paid for my work.

Con’s
– I would lose all future ability of my work being properly published.
– Marketing falls on me. Like social media stuff, it takes away from writing time.
– I’m pretty sure I have to give away my rights to my work.
– I don’t get the benefits that a publisher brings to the table.

All three options have their positives and pitfalls. I will probably have to have a hard think on what to do. There are plenty of people who have gone through this before, so I would be interested in hearing thoughts and advice on my strategy ideas or your own experiences when you have run into this sort of wall.

Anyway, back to working on my novel. I shall ponder my current options.

Samsung 32″ Monitor – LC32F397FWEXXY

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This has been an adventure, but finally at long last I have this monitor home. After a week and a bit of bartering between different shops and then a week on order this monitor came in. I didn’t take the car to my local shops, but in optimistic fashion I was like, its only a monitor. I can carry this! Oh god, it is about two times as wide as me. What have I done.

Optimism!!!! *Cough* sheer bloody mindedness *Cough*. I set out from the shops, the clouds had gone away. My arms were overextended as I clutched this monitor for dear life and began the walk home (This is just like the time, I bought a 25kg dumbbell set in a brief case and carried it across the train network home). Unperturbed by the odd stares, I commenced crossing the bridge and the wind struck me. It would not have my monitor! But boy if I had a boat, I would have a great sail. I checked the distance and in the end I wrestle this chunky monitor about 2.5-3km all the way home.

Anyway purchase story aside, what did I buy. I bought a Samsung 32″ curved monitor CF397. Its full name LC32F397FWEXXY, but that’s a mouthful. Let’s open her up. I am kind of excited, as I haven’t bought a computer monitor since 2000. 


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Ok typical goodies I suppose, your stand, a power cable, HDMI cable and the paper work.

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Now how am I meant to get the actual monitor itself out…..

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The answer is very very carefully. Square monitor you are all good, straight up and down. Curved monitor I was very nervous I was going to snap it.

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So having gotten it to the desk, I realise reading the instructions it is upside down and needs to face the desk to put the stand in. Back to the box it goes. Now looking at the stand, it was a very sleek and easy to assemble. It pretty much clips together. You the screw two small screws in and that is the stand assembled. Having assembled the stand and juggled the monitor bank onto the desk. I then had the nerve racking job of clicking the stand into the monitor. But click it went after feeling the strain exerted on the monitor.  Monitor dance time! Juggle juggle juggle.

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Ta da! Holy crap it takes up so much desk real estate. What have I done! Oh well she’ll be right. You have to admit it looks pretty smart. Final stage is plugging HDMI in and power cable. Naturally it is very straight forward you can’t get them in the wrong slots. In my case there is an extended step because I went out and bought a 3 or 5 metre hdmi cable so I could elevate my standing desk and also a display port cable to hdmi so I could dual screen my computer to the TV to watch Netflix still. Not that you really need a TV after you have a monitor this size.

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In reality the monitor doesn’t take up that much desk real estate. I can comfortably get a keyboard, a HOTAS and mouse on the desk with it. In reality, if you shift everything around a bit, there is room for my laptop. That just means shuttling things back towards the monitor. But having finally gotten all the paperwork off my desk and experienced it without all the clutter, I decided on a more spartan setup.

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Now down to the experience of the monitor. It has one of the crispest images I have seen on a monitor, the colour reproduction is really rich. I have had use of an IPS screen mainly in the past and well this really does wow me. Walking around a gazillion shops looking at turned on monitors this was the screen that really kept drawing me back. Lots of the research trail kept trying to take me away from it, but the on paper versus the in person experience kept bringing me back. To be honest that is kind of the way you have to do it though, go in person and look at the monitor turned on. Paper specs can say a world of things, but if the experience doesn’t fit to what you need then it kind of is silly buying that amazing beast on paper to get it home and be disappointed. For example, Samsung have a similar monitor which was about $500 more which had its quantum dot technology. I couldn’t see it in person and in the research I was getting a little bit stuck on it. I mean you have to semi-future proof right, a monitor will last you forever and a day. In the end though, I made the call against it because I couldn’t see it in person.

So what have I used it for thus far, well I have watched Netflix on it and it kind of leaves my TV for dead (Ironically my TV is only 8″ bigger). The colours and contrast just seem to have that edge. Now what about gaming? I mean lets be honest, the intention was to be able to play Star Citizen after all. Well it does an excellent job. I keep seeing in my research that VA (Vertical Alignment) panel monitors have great colour reproduction and contrast, better refresh rates, but don’t get it for gaming it will suffer from ghosting due to the slow response times. Well from my experience, I haven’t seen any ghosting or visual distortions in Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, Cities Skylines or Stellaris. I haven’t even put it on gamer mode or adjusted any settings, beyond the brightness (It was up full and a 32″ flood light is no fun).

How can this be? Well Freesync for AMD graphics cards may be the answer. I do have an AMD graphics card, but it is older than dust so I doubt it has the capabilities to make use of the monitor’s Freesync capabilities. I doubt I have even downloaded the necessary driver software for it. So let us assume that it is the monitor doing its thing. Freesync for those who don’t know is AMD’s adaptive synchronisation technology, the equivalent is Gsync for Nvidia. It aims at eliminating visual tearing, frame stuttering and lag in response time. If memory serves for AMD’s variant it puts the graphics card in the drivers seat for governing refresh rate. Don’t quote me though haha.

What about the screen being 32″ with only 1920 X 1080 resolution? Well in my research journey there seems to have been people with the people that if you are going to get a big monitor especially a 32″, you really need a resolution above 1920 X 1080. This is because you will get large pixels you can see. Well I am going to debunk that one. The main time I can see the pixels is when my face is 2cm metres from the screen, but hey I can also see my laptops pixels when my face is 2cm from the screen. So I kind of shrug at that. I don’t find that 1920 X 1080 on this 32″ detracts from it.

Now what about the curved screen? Well to be honest I thought curved screens were a bit of a gimmick when they first came out. I kind of still feel this for curve screens on TVs, as I really don’t notice what it adds. In case of the monitor well that is a different kettle of fish. You are up really close so you do notice the difference. I don’t have to turn my head to use the screen. Some say it is better for your eyes, well I don’t know about that. I am not an optometrist. What I can say though, is that the screen draws you into what you are viewing and is far more immersive. To the extent in some ways it feels almost 3D, well I am not sure that is the best way to describe it. It just draws you in and in its own way it is easier to look at, as it is so big.

A comment I must make is that, I have to sit back at my desk. It just feels more comfortable looking at the screen sitting all the way back in my chair. This is probably personal choice for me, I bet there are plenty of people who would be up much closer. When my desk is in standing mode, I similarly am slightly back a little. Sometimes to the extent of the length of my arms. In part I feel you get a better experience of viewing the screen, but also because it is so big it doesn’t really matter if you sit back or walk a little bit around the desk. The size of the screen and really good viewing angle mean it doesn’t really matter where you are. I can quite happily sit 2.5 metres away at my dining table having coffee and watching the morning news (Apartment living).

Some people like to have two screens. I find this does the trick of having two in one. There is enough screen you can quite happily split the windows and look at multiple documents. It works from my writing I can research and write or go back to my stories notes as I go. In that same sense I guess if you were needing to eagle eye the stock market and fluff about on market announcements it work also be a valuable asset.

Is there any downsides or things I would like differently. it didn’t come with speakers. That was a little bit annoying. I have gotten so used to having laptops that I forgot about speakers so I had to go out and grab something. In my case it was a Corsair headset, but that is a story for another day. It is only a small annoyance that is easily solved and monitor speakers never seem that good anyway. The other oddity is the Eyecare mode, it dulls the colour and cranks the brightness up really high. I would really like control over the brightness in this mode as it is a bit bright. I guess it just takes a bit of getting used to.

Here are the major specs:
1800R Curved VA Panel
3,000:1 Contrast Ratio
Full HD Resolution 1920×1080
4ms Response Rate
60Hz Refresh Rate
1 x HDMI Input
1 x Display Port Input
1X Headphone Jack
AMD Freesync
Width: 72.4CM
Height: 53CM
Depth: 24.3CM

Nobody had done any reviews on this Samsung monitor or the more expensive range of Samsung monitors available. So I had to do a bit more research. I’d have to say the best advice is go and experience the screen in person, even if it checks out on paper. This is a nice monitor, clean sleek design, immersive and offers amazing images. I am a very happy chap and would give it a 10/10. At the end of the day it was a final calculated leap that saw me go with it and it looks like I got it right. Anyway back to the novel writing, have a good one!

YouTube – The Channel Launch

Well here goes nothing! I made an intro for the channel. Pressing public across the board!

(Well that auto embedded, nifty)

I don’t think it is as concise as I would like it, but you know that is alright. I chucked in a few game recordings in the background for a jist of what games I am going to be covering. You get the general idea of what my YouTube experiment is about.

Surprisingly, the Europa IV clip lagged at some points in the recording, so that required a bit of extracting. I was deep into the Thirty Year war when I recorded, so I guess it kind of makes sense. A gazillion tiny nations in the Holy Roman Empire and outside all going each others throats, is bound to make the CPU cry a tiny bit. Especially when everything is being effectively generated twice and when you think about it EUIV is an intensive number crunching game. Not that I experienced any in game lag, it was purely in the video feed.

It is kind of ironic, because Star Citizen is more intensive on resources. If anything was going to have video lag, it should have been it.  In many ways that is the problem with recording, you could have amazing content, only to find it has lagged on the cutting room floor. It will probably see me eventually change to my server pc, sooner than later.

The main thing stopping me is:
A. Wrestling with it on my TV
B. The keyboard and mouse setup is a bit of a lame duck, as it was originally meant for Netflix/YouTube and running a server (Albeit it is a beast, 32g ram, 8 core processor and a damn good graphics card in it).
C. Buying a monitor for my standing desk and decent wireless keyboard to alleviate A and B.

Overall, making the welcome video was rather relaxing. Especially the Cities Skylines part. I was like, right, lets just jump on one of the trains and roll around a city. I might actually do some city tour videos, after they are constructed, mainly from the perspective of a citizen or vehicle. The most annoying part about the camera, though is it bobs every time you hit a power line or a traffic light. As you can imagine, hit a city street full of intersections or a part of your train track filled with road bridges. Bump bump bump bump, teeth rattling.

Anyway, that wraps it up for now. I am going to go back to my morning writing, I have almost finished another short story. Amidst the pile of work and many other interruptions.

I hope you all have a lovely Friday and an amazing weekend!!!! Hahaha, I know I will. I’m yet another year older. Feel free to comment below or on my videos, happy to chit chat or discuss things and constructive feedback is a gift. Will see you around.

 

YouTube Channel – The Final Stage – Editing

Hello,

This is a retrospective piece today. I am kind of excited I have actually got my YouTube channel going. But let’s not jump the gun, editing I Lightworks has been easy and smooth. I find it like Adobe Premier, albeit better because it is free. The free version however is not as friendly as the paid version. There are a lot of easy efficient interface bits and all the tutorials are only for the paid version (But I might look into buying it, because face it. It’s a one off payment rather than a constant burn on money).

If you wanted to jump the gun, here is a link to my now established YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTly8mpNh_Z3oJ7gKMs9m9A/featured.

Lightworks, is all pretty straight forward from my understanding.

log

Here is your Log screen. It appears to be the easiest to navigate your computer and import video and sound files for your project.

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Here we have the cutting room floor. Chop change and fiddle with your clips  and audio on your timeline. You have your little box of imported items to use above and to the right the preview window. Little blue marks to mark out points in your video. Everything can be broken up by hitting c which cuts from the point your seeker bar (red diamond) is at.

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Audio is self explanatory. Here you alter all your audio files. Something too loud, click in your little points and then drag the sections volume down. Want to stretch the audio or put in audio fade ins and outs. This is your section. You can also easily turn your audio channels on an off. Plenty of audio alterations, like equaliser, cross fade and other such things up in the top left hand side. It really reminds me of Audacity and that after practice was a very useful piece of software.

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Here is the VFX screen. Things like dissolve handle your transitions. I spent ages on trying to work out how the hell to make such transitions so for a note, you remember those blue markers I was tell you about. Well this is were they shine. You put in an in mark and an out mark and then you can click the effect and tell it to apply on the marks. Can’t remember all the crazy stuff I was trying before but nothing work until I found dissolve tucked away, in a section that isn’t apparent in the tutorials for the paid version.

An issue I faced in my first video recording involving Star Citizen and the Constellation Andromeda tour, required editing my voice in. I recorded on OBS, but my voice had cut out funny at the end, so I never go to say goodbye properly. Right say I, well I have an Olympus  DM-720, I was using for a journalism major a couple of years back. This would be easy. So dumpty dum, di da, wham! I hit another wall.

The voice recording quality of my recorder was a gazillion times better than the mic on my laptop. It was very very apparent. Makes sense though, it’s designed for fighting amongst a marauding pack of journalists in a press conference. If you are the person that gets stuck at the back, this recorder saves your bacon.

I overcame the issue, by first cutting out the bad audio, putting my new recording in a separate channel set. From there I took a slice of background noise of the game out of the video and repeated placed a copy of it underneath the recording of my voice. I dropped my voice volume and in theory I patched it up enough that it isn’t extremely noticeable. You can tell me if you like, here is a link to my now operational youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO3dTSf5ry4.

It’s been a week or a month building this channel and this editing is the final piece. I mean you don’t think as an author doing the writing thing, you are going to be doing a gazillion other things. I mean stuff like learning how to build a website, how to create picture and graphics content. YouTube and video editing, wasn’t even on the map, until tadaa, look what’s on the to do list for an adventure. I think if anything from this experience so far, I have learnt a lot of skills and polished old ones. Haha you can never say the life of an author is boring!

Anyway that wraps it up for now. I hope you have an amazing Thursday. Feel free to comment below. If you are using Lightworks and you need help, I’ll do my best to see if I can give you a hand. Please note though I am a beginner myself, but I dare say I have the basics under wraps.

See you next time.

Seb

 

Why do you write?

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I was asked the question, why do you write, the other day. It came point blank and out of nowhere. I could have made an off the cuff remark, something like, I write because I write, I write because I have always read a lot and well the obvious one, because I like to. I’m a thinker though, so I have gone away and reflected upon it. I mean you could think yourself into knots, I probably do at times. But this is what I have come up with at this point in time. There are various reasons, why I write and why writing resonates with me, so without further wait, here we go.

Firstly, I would say and this is the closest I probably have to an altruistic reason. I want to share with the world, a love and passion for reading and inspire it. To bestow the joy of the imagination, of thinking, characters and other worlds. I always think reading is amazing, not only does it provide an endless source of entertainment, but it challenges our ideas, teaches us and makes us grow as human beings. They say walk a mile in another person’s shoes, well a book plunges you in to other lives. You experience, infinite experiences, endless worlds, a different point of view and in many ways and drawn to empathise within characters whose ideas aren’t your own. I think reading, transfers and cultivates empathy to your everyday life. Yet of course even with all this exposure to experiences, there is just the sheer entertainment side, in which books are very much able to stand on their own two feet for.

Secondly, I have grown up with a love of reading. Writing is not as easy, as reading, in fact at times it can be damn hard, but I love experiencing these different worlds, getting to know different characters, the imagination and exploring. There is this aspect of why I write, because of the way I write. When I write, I am on the same journey as when a reader looks at my manuscript. I just write, it comes out and I end up in my imagination, where ever my imagination takes me. It is an amazing adventure, even when characters don’t cooperate with what you want them to do.

People ask me what am I writing about, the answer is usually, I’m keeping it a secret or if I am honest, I don’t know. The reality is usually, I don’t know until it is written. Sure sometimes there is an idea, but who know were the path will lead. I therefore like to wait till the end, when I have the big picture before I give a proper answer. The fact I am just as much in the dark, really is part of it. I must admit, I think if I the author were omniscient, I wouldn’t pick up a pen or put fingers to keyboard. I’d get bored.

Why do I write science fiction? Well to be honest, I grew up on Star Trek. I was absolutely captivated. The Star Trek Universe asks a lot of the big questions, it explores an endless amount of themes. Growing older, the thing that has stood out has always been the sheer optimism for the future, the goodness of humanity and things we can aspire for. Patrick Stewart as Picard and the morals, the society established really resonates. What Star Trek to me is like a beacon of hope. I think that if there was something I would like to capture for my writing it is this optimism for the future, it is this innate goodness in humanity and of course it is the awe of space. The need to reach out and explore that final frontier. It is heart breaking to see all this dystopia fiction, played out as the main thing for science fiction. The future is a lot brighter than that, there is a lot more to science fiction and I have an unwavering faith in Humanity to see us to a future that is amazing.

So with Star trek as the start for my love of science fiction, I got to watching, and reading, a lot of science fiction over the years. I really migrated to science fiction from fantasy, but generally drift between the two. What sort of books did I read that inspire me in the genre, well it is more authors, Neal Asher’s, Jack Campbell (John G. Hemry)  and Ian M Banks for a start. Charles Stross.  My love of science fiction naturally, made it became a home genre for me. I probably won’t ever write hard/high science fiction, because sadly I am not a theoretical physicist and it really is characters that captivate me rather than numbers. That said that doesn’t erase the need for diligent research and reasonable speculation!

Why do I write fantasy? I write fantasy, principally for the magic and just like science fiction, there are an endless amount of interesting worlds you come across. This is my other genre I grew up with. Think of books like, Forgotten Realms books, The Black Magician trilogy, Rift War Saga and many others. There is a very immense amount of freedoms given to writers in the genre and well you can explore lots of themes and ideas. It is also an incredible amount of fun to write.

I guess this at the moment is why I write. My reasons probably will change and grow, as I change as a person over the years. So I will say, this is why I write at this point in time. I hope that when I do get published, you as the reader are able to get the same amount of enjoyment, as I have writing and go on to read widely.

So let me pass the question along to other writers and authors. Why do you write? Feel free to comment below or on social media.

Have a great day where ever you are in the world.

 

YouTube – The Next Mountain

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Thank god, I don’t have to climb that mountain. I’m only going to be talking about figurative mountains. On my side quest, constructing a YouTube channel, I hit this mountain like an express train. What’s the issue? Well I thought I had my OBS settings perfect, but it appears this isn’t the case. The recordings are experiencing visual feed lag, even though the audio is coming out fine,

The scuttle butt is that if you are recording, you are using double the CPU and GPU power. The frame rate itself drops off astronomically on the recorded feed, unless you have a really powerful rig. So you could be getting 60fps in game, but the recording could come out the other end at 20fps as it generates the next screen.

I am using my laptop and not my desktop/server for recording, I just prefer using it, but that comes with its own price. Even though it has an I-7 4 core processor, 8g ram and a NVidia 650m. I had a chat with a few guys at my Star Citizen organisation and they were very helpful in chipping in some ideas on what to do.

A sudden idea had occurred to me after there advice had filtered through (takes a day cause of time zones). It was to force OBS to use my Nvidia card out of the Nvidia card manager, but this resulted in a black screen. I did this because normally my laptop fights over using the weaker intel card to save battery with fullscreen programs, rather than the Nvida. Whatever the reason, OBS chucked a wobbly. So I let it have its way and returned it to the intel card in the Nvida manager and just let it use the Nvidia from OBS’ own internal settings.

Anyway the recommendations were to drop the bit rate from 30,000 to 12,000-16,000, drop frame rate to lock in at 30fps output (Because at 60fps it just keeps demanding resources regardless of them being there) and also dropped the output to 720p HD. In addition, since I was using my laptop to use less intensive games like Battlefield 4. Well I am an optimist. So I kept with Star Citizen (Since its the most intensive game I have apart from DOOM), then tried each setting one at a time in the recording

Sure enough after this trial and error, it brought the video feed into alignment with what I was actually getting onscreen in game. OBS suddenly became quite smooth in its recording. So I think I am laughing now. All setup for the recording side in game. Here are my current video settings in OBS if you are curious. Hopefully that is of some use to you:

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Anyway that wraps it up for this segment, next time we are going to look at editing software. Have you used OBS, how are you finding it? Feel free to comment below or o my social media. Hope you have a great day wherever you are in the world.