The Basics of Taking Screenshots

Hotsampling

The term refers to running a game in higher resolutions than your monitor supports, and in doing so being able to get screenshots in bigger definitions (not desirable while playing since you will only see a portion of the window and, probably, with very low FPS).

It is also often referred to when talking about a game running in aspect ratios that aren't supported by monitors, like 4:3 or 2:1.

To properly Hotsample you would need to use programs like SRWE or WindowedBorderlessGaming. Please take in mind not every game supports this feature, so before attempting to Hotsample check if the game is capable of doing so in the games guide if it has one. Some games might have a mod or cheat engine table that unlocks Hotsampling or custom ARs, and there have been reports of games Hotsampling in borderless windows instead of windowed mode (which should be tried by default).

If a game hotsamples it's advised to use SRWE on it, but in some cases, like with some Ubisoft games (Steep, Ghost Recon Breakpoint), you will only be able to hotsample with Windowed Borderless Gaming. It might be tricker and more frustrating than SRWE to use, so make sure to follow the guide linked below.

Another technique used to achieve high-resolution screenshots is DSR. The advantage of Hotsampling over DSR is that you can play at your regular resolution, switch to a higher one for a screenshot, and come back to your gameplay resolution when you are done without the need to go through a menu, whereas DSR requires you to go to the menu to change resolutions, which in some games might reset the camera thus losing the composition (besides having to traverse menus with low fps and using higher resolutions for longer, which might increase the chances of crashes.)

How to hotsample

Below you can find some guides on how to hotsample:

Historical background

SRWE precursor, Skyrim - Unstretched Windowed Fullscreen Mode, was intentionally made for running Skyrim in a smaller window to save memory, but in 2012, the user midhras used it to do the opposite and asked the developer to build a generic tool that would allow the same in other windowed games, which he later did. Since this had become widely popular, there was a need for a term to define this act. When Duncan Harris and midhras were discussing on what to call the act of using SRWE (or similar tools) to resize the game window, allowing for higher resolutions, they came up with the term/name Shotsampling. Later, Duncan called it Hotsampling, which stayed.

Ansel

Ansel is the NVIDIA tool that allows the player to move the camera freely (with restrictions depending on the game), take screenshots in high definition by stitching various shots, take 360° shots, apply filters, etc. It is named after the famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams.

Controls

Description Key/Jotstick button
Open Ansel Alt + F2
Move the camera orientation Mouse (While pressing left click)/ Right analog
Move the camera position forwards,left, backguards, right W,A,S,D / Left analog
Move the camera up, down Z,X / L2, L2
Tilt the camera Q,E / L1, R1
Fast movement Shift (While moving) / R3
Slow movement Control (While moving)
FoV In Ansel GUI (Camera section)
Hide/show the Ansel GUI Ins / In Ansel GUI

Configuration

You can find the Ansel .exe configuration in C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Ansel\NvCameraConfiguration.exe or C:\Program Files\NVIDIA Corporation\Ansel\Tools\NvCameraConfiguration.exe. There you can, for example, change the output format to Lossless Output Image Format (PNG). If you cannot find the folder you will have to create it yourself and ask someone for the .exe.

If you want to use Freestyle in Ansel be sure to drop the shaders you want to use in this folder too.

Limitations

It is overlooked often since it comes with some limitations:

  • You cannot use Reshade with Ansel enabled, instead you have to use the NVIDIA alternative Freestyle (which works with most ReShade shaders).
  • You cannot Hotsample with Ansel enabled.
  • The camera often has limitations such as a range limit or clipping.

That last one can sometimes be overcome with mods or cheat engine tables, so make sure to look them up.

List of Games

You can find the full list of games that support Ansel here, but the list also includes games that lack one or more Ansel features, so be aware that not all of the games listed there have a Freecam available using Ansel.

Be sure to check the "enable experimental features" in GeForce Experience, since support for some games have not been released yet.

Dynamic Super Resolution - DSR

Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR for short) is a feature available in the NVIDIA GPUs that allows games to render at higher resolutions than your monitor supports. When playing with DSR, the image is downscaled such that it fits your monitor, but the screenshots you take using it will be at the definition that the game renders.

To add new resolutions (with custom aspect ratios) see the Custom DSR Resolutions guide.

Bear in mind that not all games support this feature, so if you can't find the resolution in the game options after adding a new DSR resolution to your system then it probably doesn't support DSR. However, on some games while they do support DSR, the definition won’t show up in the game’s video settings and you will need to set the DSR definition as your desktop definition.

ReShade

ReShade is a post-processing injector for games, which means that it allows you to apply post-processing effects in real time. More links and information can be found in the Setting up Reshade guide.

If you wanna know about the stuff ReShade allows you to do check out the shader catalogue.

How to capture a screenshot of a game

There are a number of ways to take screenshots from games, here are a few of the most commonly used programs.

  • Steam (Make sure to select in Steam screenshot parameters the option to save a lossless .png)
  • Reshade (In some ReShade builds the built-in screenshot function does not behave well with certain graphic APIs)
  • Windows Gaming Bar (Windows key + Alt + Print Screen)
  • MSI Afterburner (Key is configurable)
  • Nvidia Overlay (Alt-F1)
  • Windows Screen Capture (Windows key + Print Screen)

Steam, ReShade and Afterburner have been proven to work well while Hotsampling, but if you run into difficulties with any of them try switching up.

If you feel like Reshade takes too long to take the screenshot in .png format you can use .bmp instead. It will be faster, but the files will also be heavier, so it's advised to later convert them to lossless pngs.

It's worth mentioning tho that if you use Reshade screenshot function with low fps (that being while using DSR or hotsampling) you may have to spend a good amount of time hitting the screenshot key to see if the game detects. That is because the same process that has to read the keyboard to detect when you hit the screenshot key is the same as the game, so if the game is slow so will Reshade. An alternative to this would be using MSI Afterburner since it has its own process, so the game running slow won't interfere with reading if the screenshot key was pressed. However, sometimes Afterburner isn't compatible with some tools or mods and it may crash the game, so be aware.

Further reading