How to install and use SCFH DSF

Many people over the past year have written to me or mailed me asking how to install and use SCFH DSF, since the site and the installation instructions are in Japanese. Today, I decided to write up such instructions for English-speaking individuals, and also document the features that I use.

Keep one thing in mind: all of this applies to Windows XP. I have no experience with using SCFH DSF on Vista, but according to the author it should work fine. I just don’t have any experience using it under that OS. Also, there’s no mention of it working or not on Windows 7, so I would be very wary running it there — but if someone feels ballsy enough to try it, go for it and let me know.

  1. Download SCFH DSF, and unpack it into its own directory somewhere of your choice.

  2. Close and fully exit any applications you have which can utilise video capture capabilities. I’m talking about things like MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, etc. — basically anything that might be able to capture video from a device (think: webcam).

  3. If using a 32-bit OS: download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (x86) here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=9b2da534-3e03-4391-8a4d-074b9f2bc1bf

    If using a 64-bit OS: download and install the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (x64) here: http://www.microsoft.com/Downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=bd2a6171-e2d6-4230-b809-9a8d7548c1b6

  4. If using a 32-bit OS: go into the SCFH directory you unpacked things in, and double-click the install.bat file. (NOTE: To uninstall SCFH DSF, follow Step #2, and run uninstall.bat)

    If using a 64-bit OS: go into the SCFH directory you unpacked things in, and double-click the install64.bat file. (NOTE: To uninstall SCFH DSF, follow Step #2, and run uninstall64.bat)

  5. You’ll get a cmd.exe window and a pop-up dialog box that should say DllRegisterServer in scfh.ax succeeded (or scfh64.ax if you’re using a 64-bit OS). If not, something else is wrong and I can’t help past that point (I’ve never seen this step fail). Click OK to close both the dialog and the cmd.exe window.

  6. In the same directory there’s a program called SCFH.exe. Make a shortcut to this somewhere for convenience, e.g. on your desktop. This is the main SCFH DSF control program. Once you run it (hold off on that for a moment), you should leave it open while capturing.

  7. Launch any of the capturing utilities you want, such as Windows Live Messenger or Firefox/Internet Explorer with Flash which can capture from a webcam, etc… Ustream is a good example.

  8. Run SCFH.exe or the shortcut you made. You’ll be given a window that says Select process. Pick the process name of the program which you wish to control SCFH in and click OK. For example, if you want to let someone watch your webcam (SCFH DSF that is, e.g. stream a copy of your desktop) in Windows Live Messenger, pick msnmsgr.exe. If you’re using Ustream or something similar, pick your browser process instance. Unlike VHScrCap, the process instances here make a lot more sense, and there aren’t multiples of the same name to confuse you.

    If the process in question isn’t listed, you probably need to set up said program (or Flash) to note that you have a new capture device available — the device is literally called SCFH DSF.

  9. You’ll now be in the main SCFH DSF control program.

I’ll document the features the SCFH DSF control program that I’m familiar with or have a pretty good idea about. And whenever changing any of these features, be sure to click the Apply button!

  • Drag here — used to select a portion of a window or a dialog/model by clicking the left mouse button + holding it down and “dragging” the selection window/border around. You’ll have to try it to understand what I mean. Note that the one beautiful thing about the Drag here feature is that once you select part of a window, you can move that window around and not have to re-adjust SCFH to tell it where the X/Y coordinates are.
  • Area Selection — used to select a specific region of your desktop that you want to capture. Left click it once, and you’ll be shown a green translucent box that has the text Double-click to Apply in it. You can drag this box around and resize it (like you would a normal window), and when you’ve selected an area of your desktop you want to capture, double-left-click in the green translucent box.
  • X/Y and Size input boxes — define what X/Y coordinate you want SCFH to capture (upper left corner) and what width/height. Any changes you make here should show up in the capture window of the program (Flash, Windows Live Messenger, etc.) in real-time. If there are common X/Y coordinates or sizes, you can click the Add button next to the respective item and they’re stored for future use. More on that at the end of this write-up.
  • Show Mouse Cursor — defines whether or not SCFH DSF should capture your mouse cursor or not.
  • Show Layered Window — allows you to capture things like Tooltips and other things that aren’t technically a window.
  • Keep Aspect Ratio — should speak for itself. This option works significantly better than VHScrCap, in my opinion, and more reliably. This is quite possibly the main reason I stopped using VHScrCap given the described bug in my blog entries circa 2008.
  • Enable Enlargement — only works when Keep Aspect Ratio is enabled. Say the program which is using SCFH DSF as a capture driver is capturing at 640×480, but the area/window you have selected to capture in SCFH DSF is only 200×160. When Enable Enlargement is disabled, what you’ll see in your program is the 200×160 capture region, centred, surrounded by a black box to fill in the remaining 440×320 pixels. When enabled, it would stretch the 200×160 contents to fit the size of the capture area.
  • Over-Sampling — adds somewhat of a blur between two frames during animation/movement. Look up what oversampling means on Google, and some example sites/videos, and you’ll then understand it, or just play around with it.
  • Thread Num — not entirely sure on this one, but based on how the program works, my guess is that it probably defines the number of threads SCFH DSF should use for internal operations. If you have multiple CPUs or a dual/quad core system, you might benefit from increasing this to 2 or 4. I myself have a quad core system and I’ve never had to adjust this; I always leave it at 1.
  • Resize Method — allows you to pick how resizing functions and looks, and not just for Enable Enlargement but for any kind of resizing. They all look slightly different, and it’s especially noticeable on small resolution capture areas. I tend to use DirectDraw (1Pass) mostly because it’s incredibly fast and looks great. Note that you may want to adjust this if you’re capturing an area that has text. Try them all out, see which one looks best to you and to the person you’re streaming to. Keep in mind that most online streaming uses compression of some sort, so some of these resize methods might look better or worse once compressed by the streaming software.
  • Capture: XXX fps — should be obvious. This defaults to 30fps, which is more than sufficient. I’m pretty sure it’s adjustable, I just can’t remember where…
  • Performance — gives you an idea of how SCFH DSF is performing.  The author chose a unit type of frames per second, which is a little odd but understandable given the role of the program. The value shown here is highly dependent upon 4 things:
    1. CPU speed
    2. Video card speed (since many DirectX functions are offloaded on to the GPU)
    3. Resize Method selected
    4. Size of the capture region (for example, the performance is going to be much higher for a 200×200 window than it is for a 1920×1200 desktop that has to be resized/scaled down to fit into a 640×480 capture region)

Finally, SCFH DSF does not store any data in the registry — instead, it stores configurations per application (e.g. firefox.exe, msnmsgr.exe, etc.) in INI files in the directory where SCFH DSF is located. The files will be named things like SCFH.msnmsgr.exe.ini, SCFH.firefox.exe.ini, and so on — you get the idea. The SCFH DSF capture driver itself does not use these, only the SCFH DSF control program, so be sure you exit the control program before deleting any of them.

Hope this helps get folks started with SCFH DSF.

Update: An individual has made a Youtube video describing how to install and configure SCFH DSF for use with Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder and uStream/justin.tv for high-quality screen capture streaming.

Use of Flash Media Live Encoder increases the quality of the stream significantly (vs. using Flash in a web browser, as my above procedure mentions). I myself stream content on uStream using this improved method, and it does make a world of difference.

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