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DV Video Capture

Connecting Up for DV Capture: - If you are using a camcorder with a DV-out (firewire) connection, connect the camcorders DV-out socket (sometimes labeled iLink) to your computers firewire socket using a 6 pin to 4 pin firewire cable. No firewire socket on your machine? No problem. Anyone who can use a screwdriver can successfully fit a firewire card into a spare PCI slot in minutes. They are available for approx. 25 and normally come with a 6 pin to 4 pin firewire lead and often also have some very usable video editing software included.

Once connected boot up your PC, and then switch the camcorder to playback mode. You may need your Win98 SE disc now if this is the first time of starting since fitting a 1394 firewire card to your system. Windows will install the 1394 bus controller drivers for the firewire card from the Win98 SE disc, plus the VCR device control drivers to allow your system to operate the camcorder playback functions from your software. IMPORTANT- the required drivers are NOT on Win98 First Edition. If you have Win98 First Edition or earlier you will need to upgrade your operating system to second edition or later.

Software Installation: - there are a number of different video editing programs now available, each doing much the same thing. However there are major differences in both the ease of use and the price of most of them, and possibly output quality.

If you have fitted a separate 1394 firewire card you will probably already have some video editing software to get you started (normally an LE version of Ulead Video Studio or similar is bundled with these cards). Trial and full versions of many other programs can be found on the internet, from the advertisers on this website, and also on the front cover discs of various PC and Video 'how to' magazines. Why not try them out before spending your hard earned cash? My reccomended video editing software is Pinnacle Studio 9. It is easy to get started with and produces excellent results without too much technical know-how required (thats why I use it !!)

Most programs are straightforward to install, but not all of them . Remember to install your software with the camcorder still connected and switched to playback. Once the program is installed and you have restarted your PC you may then have to install various video drivers, or programs containing codecs, that the editing program will need to use to perform its tasks. When this is done it is a good move to visit the software suppliers website and download any appropriate updates, patches and bug fixes available. The time taken doing this will more than repay itself. Lastly, run the maintenance wizard / disc defragment routine to prepare your PC's hard disc space ready for the next step. That all done? O.K. Let's move on.

DV Capture: - open your editing program and select the various settings. This stage varies somewhat depending on which program you are using and also on how you will output the finished project. Some programs make this part easy by simply requiring you to select your intended output format (to disc, tape or web) and, where needed, your TV system.


For output to VCD format you will need a CD writer on your PC. Use MPEG1 low quality capture settings, not high quality (high quality setting will produce lower picture quality). VCD's can be played back on most (but not all) DVD players, and can be provided with simple navigation menu's. For output to S-VCD format you will need a CD writer on your PC plus a player that will cope with this format. Capture using MPEG2 medium quality settings.

For output to DVD format you will need a DVD writer on your PC. A CD writer CANNOT write a DVD disc. Use MPEG2 high quality when capturing for a DVD output project.

IMPORTANT: - There are currently three DVD standards available: - DVD-R, DVD+R and DVD-RAM. Which to use? Well that's an easier decision to make than most people seem to think. Use whichever your player will cope with (probably DVD-R). Never mind the arguments currently underway about quality etc. Heard it all before (VHS v's Betamax video and Sky v's BSB satellite). Do also remember this point also when buying a DVD writer for your PC.


To produce a video project ready to record on to video tape use your programs DV medium quality settings. For higher quality playback from tape use an S-VHS VCR.


Sharing your production via the internet is possible with many programs using Real Video or Windows Media formats. Capture using MPEG1 low quality for this.

Some programs allow you to capture in low 'preview' quality to conserve hard disc space, then automatically recapturing only the frames needed to produce the required files for output. Select this option where available to save on hard disc space.

IMPORTANT: - Most people that experience problems when it comes to rendering their finished project do so as a direct or indirect result of incorrect capture settings. AVOID the temptation and do not make the mistake of thinking that you MUST capture using the high quality DV format setting for every project. The resulting workload placed on the PC when rendering such a huge mountain of information will quite often result in a system hang, lock-up, or crash.

Rendering, or combining and converting files of different types and formats into a single file ready for output, will seriously put your system through its paces. Converting to MPEG on capture will ease the burden from the computers final render process, and make the whole rendering job considerably easier.

Many experienced video editing individuals are not aware of this. You are.

You can now go ahead and begin capturing video footage. Each clip will be stored on the hard drive in the appropriate folder and a thumbnail added to the album ready for selecting and adding to your project at the editing stage.

Editing: - once all your scenes have been captured you are ready to start editing your video.