[thelist] Video Capture/Hardware/Software

Chris Cothrun cothrun at ix.netcom.com
Thu Nov 28 17:49:01 CST 2002

Hi Gina,

I've only dabbled in this stuff but I'll pass on my
experience and suggestions.

First off, what are your quality requirements and what is
your budget? I'm assuming you're working on a shoestring
budget, therefore the "Get a DV camera and a Mac and work
miracles" answers might be a bit beyond reach. Quality? Will
they be satisfied with the typical 320x240 web video
downloads? Do they want it to stream? Whatt about when they
archive it to CD?

On 27 Nov 2002 , <Gina K. Anderson <thelist at lists.evolt.org>> wrote:
> Short question, what hardware and software (besides Adobe
> Premeire--i don't need that 'big') do you use for video
> capture, burning to CD/DVD and web presentation?

Premiere is nifty but you can accomplish the basics with a
little more work and lots less money. If your operating
system doesn't come with a video editor bundled you might
start with Virtual Dub (http://www.virtualdub.org/). There
are assorted other shareware and freeware/os utilities that
can round out a budget video editing toolkit.

> I'm talking with a church about a little project--they want to
> put short video clips on their site, and maybe archive on DVD
> or CD. They shoot the video with an analog camcorder.
> I am having a new computer built anyhow, and I've actually
> thought of doing this with my own analog camcorder, so--I've
> been looking at the hardware and stuff needed--boy,
> overwhelming to say the least. I'm eyeballing the ATI
> All-in-Wonder 8500DV
> (http://mirror.ati.com/products/pc/aiwradeon8500dv/index.html)
> --but I dunno if this will fit what I need to do for the
> church and myself, and if it will be good for my main
> work--web design using Photoshop and all that.

>From my reading the ATI products are decent consumer products
but aren't highly regarded as a 'semi-pro' product and have a
reputation for driver problems. However, they are priced
better than some of the low end Canopus products and others
out there. ATI's widespread adoption might mean that more of
the above mentioned freeware/shareware products work with it,
instead of forcing you to capture with ATI's software and
then edit with something else.

I've worked a bit with one older ATI capture card. Quality
was iffy (but then so was the quality of the source
material). ATI's software was a pain to deal with, not
allowing me to customize my capture settings.

> I've also thought about getting a normal graphics card and a
> separate video capture card..alas, I'm still lost. What do you
> guys use?

You might look at some of the low end Canopus products, their
might fit very well as an add-in card and give you decent
enough quality to take on better projects down the road.

Some other bits and pieces I've picked up:

Don't try to capture uncompressed video with a PC. The
datarate is too high and frames drop. While DV to firewire to
your hard drive works because it was designed to, ATI to an
uncompressed AVI file doesn't.

Don't keep compressing and recompressing files as you
capture, archive and edit. Capture a nice high quality high
bitrate file and edit and recompress only as needed. That
high quality capture might be a source material for a wide
variety of end formats, from streaming video to VCD.

Pick a nice cross-platform format to target. MPEG-1 would be
my choice for a medium quality free, well adopted and widely
supported format. MPEG4 is nicer but seems to continue to
have licensing issues. AVI is a minefield of different
CODECs, unless you pick a crufty low quality one that
everyone has you might force people to download and install
software to view the video. Real has some nice streaming
solutions but I've never been impressed with the quality and
their software irrates me. MOV/Quicktime has some decent
options, I think you can buy Pro version for around $30 that
will allow you do slice up and re-encode into the quicktime

Flash MX has a low to decent quality video option, that might
work well if you've already upgraded to the MX authoring
environment as Flash 6 player adoption moves along pretty
good. I've run into problems with anything longer than 2 or 3
miniutes with it though, I don't know if they've fixed that.

Experiment with different bitrates with your chosen format.
The bitrate is basically equivalent to JPEG's quality
setting, tweak it until the balance between filesize and
visible artifacts are set to your satisfaction.

Generally, video captured at a smaller size and scaled up on
playback will look better than video captured and compressed
at a larger size but lower quality. For example, a high
quality 320x240 file played back at double size will look
better than a 640x480 file compressed to the same file size
as the 320x240.

Finding information on the web can be difficult. Much of it
is outdated or targeted to a different audience - either
broadcast quality projects, DVD rips or

All of the above is IMO...


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