Recipe 11.8. Capturing Video to Your PC


Problem

You want to capture video to your PC so that you can edit it there or view it on your computer.

Solution

Windows Movie Maker, built into Windows XP, will let you record and edit videos and create DVDs from them. To run it, choose Start All Programs Accessories Windows Movie Maker.

Follow this advice for capturing video:

Using an analog camera or videotape
  • If you have an analog video camera or videotape, you need some way of turning those analog signals into digital data that can be stored on your PC. You can do this via a video capture board or by using a device you can attach to your FireWire© or USB port. If you're going the route of a video capture board, make sure the board has XP-certified drivers, or else you may run into trouble. To find out whether a board has XP-certified drivers, go to the Windows Compatibility List at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/catalog and do a search.

  • If you have a USB port, you can import analog video via your USB port, with DVD Express, or InstantDVD, or Instant DVD+DV, available from http://www.adstech.com. They're hardware/software combinations to get the video into your PC, connect the analog video device to DVD Express, InstantDVD, or Instant DVD+DV, and then connect a USB cable from it to the USB port on your PC. (A similar set of products, called the Dazzle Digital Video Creators, will do the same thing. For details, go to http://www.dazzle.com.)

  • Check your system documentation to see what type of USB port you have. If you have a USB 1.1 port, you won't be able to import high-quality video, and you'd be better off installing a video capture card. USB 2.0 will work fine, though.

  • If you have a FireWire©-enabled PC, you're also in luck, because its high-speed capacity is also suitable for importing video. You'll have to buy extra hardware, such as the DAC-100 FireWire© Digital/Analog Video Capture-Converter. Plug your RCA cable or S-Video cable into it, and then plug a FireWire© cable from it into your FireWire© port, and you'll be able to send video to your PC. For information, go to http://www.synchrotech.com/product-1394/analog-dv-converter_02.html.

  • Once you've gotten the hardware and your camera set up, recording the video is easy. Open Windows Movie Maker, choose File Record, start the camera or video, and click Record.

Capturing video with a digital video camera

If you have a digital video camera, you shouldn't need any extra hardware in order to capture video from it, as long as you have a FireWire© port (or a USB 2.0 port) on your PC. These devices generally include built-in FireWire© ports (note that the cameras might call the port an IEEE 1394 or an i.Link© port) or USB 2.0 ports. If you don't have a FireWire© port on your PC, you can install a FireWire© port card. These generally cost well under $100. Make sure that the card is OHCI (Open Host Controller Interface)-compliant.

When you plug your digital camera into a FireWire© port and turn it on, Windows will ask you what you want to do with the camera. Tell it that you want to record in Movie Maker and Record in Movie Maker, and it will launch Movie Maker to the Record dialog box, with a video showing in the preview window.

Best settings for recording video

Before you start recording, you'll see a preview of your movie in the Record dialog box, shown in Figure 11-7. Before you begin recording, choose your video settings here.

Figure 11-7. Before recording your video, choose the best settings for video capture


From the Setting drop-down box, choose the quality of the final video that you'll capture. Movie Maker comes with a number of preset profiles, including three basic ones, High, Medium, and Low quality. When you make a choice of your profile, Movie Maker tells you how many hours and minutes of recording time you have, based on your disk space, and the disk requirements of the profile. So, for example, you might have 193 hours of recording time based on the High setting, but 1630 hours based on the low setting.

These preset settings will be dependent on the input source if you're using a digital camera, for example, you can record at a higher quality than an analog camera, and so you'll have a wider range of options.

Those three basic profiles of High, Medium and Low quality aren't your only choices of profiles. You can choose from a much wider variety of profiles, based on what you plan to do with the eventual video. Do you plan to post the video on the Web? Just play it back at home? Run in on a personal digital assistant? You'll find profiles designed for specific purposes like that.

To select the profile, choose Other in the Setting drop-down list. Underneath it a new drop-down list appears, with a range of profiles from which you can choose. They're prebuilt for specific uses, for example, recording video to post on the Web, for color PDA devices, and for broadband NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), which is standard TV.

Whenever you choose a profile, you'll see underneath it the frame size of the video, the frames per second, and if you choose a profile from Other, you'll also see the video bit rate. Here's what the settings mean:


Video display size

The size of the video, in pixels, for example, 740 x 480, or 320 x 240.


Frames per second

The number of frames captured per second. For smooth video, you need 30 frames per second, which is the High quality setting. The Medium and Low quality settings record at 15 frames per second.


Video bit rate

The bit rate of the recorded video the higher the bit rate, the greater the quality.


Audio bit rate and properties

These settings aren't shown in the Windows Movie settings, but they vary according to which profile you choose. Audio properties are measured in kilohertz (khz); the higher the greater the quality. Audio bit rate measures the bit rate, and again, the higher the bit rate, the greater the quality.

To help you make the best choice among profiles, Table 11-2 shows the settings for every one of the Movie Maker profiles.

Table 11-2. Settings for Movie Maker profiles

Profile name

Video display size

Video bit rate

Audio properties

Audio bit rate

Video for Web servers (28.8 Kbps)

160x120 pixels

20 kilobits per second (Kbps)

8 kilohertz (kHz)

8 Kbps

Video for Web servers (56 Kbps)

176x144 pixels

30 Kbps

11 kHz

10 Kbps

Video for single-channel ISDN (64 Kbps)

240x176 pixels

50 Kbps

11 kHz

10 Kbps

Video for e-mail and dual-channel ISDN (128 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

100 Kbps

16 kHz

16 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (256 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

225 Kbps

32 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (384 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

350 Kbps

32 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (768 Kbps)

320x240 pixels

700 Kbps

44 kHz

64 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (1500 Kbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,368 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband NTSC (2 Mbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,868 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband film content (768 Kbps)

640x480 pixels

568 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for broadband film content (1500 Kbps total)

640x480 pixels

1,368 Kbps

44 kHz

128 Kbps

Video for color PDA devices (150 Kbps)

208x160 pixels

111 Kbps

22 kHz

32 Kbps

Video for color PDA devices (225 Kbps)

208x160 pixels

186 Kbps

22 kHz

32 Kbps

DV-AVI (25 Mbps)

720x480 pixels (NTSC)

720x525 pixels (PAL)

1,411 Kbps

48 kHz

16 Kbps


After you make your choices, click Record, and record your video. When you're done, click Stop. The recording will be saved to your hard disk, where you can open it and edit it with Windows Movie Maker or other video editing software.

Discussion

Be aware that videos can take up a significant amount of hard disk space, so make sure that you have a very large disk before recording any videos. Also, you should have as fast a PC as possible, and should not be using the computer for any other purposes during video capture. You can also capture video directly from TV, if you have a capture board.

See Also

For excellent advice about capturing video, and creating videos, see http://www.eicsoftware.com/PapaJohn/MM2/MM2.html.



Windows XP Cookbook
Windows XP Cookbook (Cookbooks)
ISBN: 0596007256
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 408

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