Ahh, {VirtualDub}… What a program that is. If you have any sort of interesting in how the streams are put together, or if you like the idea of QuickTime Pro but want more codecs and control then go and grab a copy immediately. Using this program rather than the (frankly not very good) ATI built-in capture system I could get much better results with full frame PAL uncompressed captures. The overhead of the software was very low indeed, and apart from the size, the editing ability was much better, with frame accurate cuts possible. The only real drawback now was the {Windows 98} 2GB AVI file size limit, but even then the answer was fairly close.

{HuffyUV} is a very, very handy codec indeed – it allows AVI files to be capture in a lossless manner, but manages to cut the amount of information that needs to be spooled to disc in half, resulting in super smooth captures. The best bit was the ability to keep the video and audio clocks in step: the program would trim up the stream as necessary, dropping a frame if required so that the drift was never noticable.

Around this time I also found that the display mode also made quite a difference to the capture frame rate, with the optimum display size vs capture speed being 1024×768 in 16bit colour. More colour was a waste of time (and didn;t alter the capture colour depth anyway) and slowed the system down, and 800×600 was just too painful to contemplate. Dropping down to 256 colours slowed everything down again as the colours had to be matched to a palette rather than simply shoved onto the screen.

Unfortunately, the lack of storage thanks to the stupid 2GB AVI size limit was getting very annoying indeed, as was the general instability of {Win98}. I was also starting to get interested in MPEG-2 as an alternative to MPEG-2 encoding, as MPEG-2 allows fully interlaced material to be captured and played back still interlaced. This gives much smoother motion on a TV set, and SVCD’s were starting to pop up. Ok, they only had 30 to 40 minutes of video on a CDR, but how many home movies last that long without the viewers wanting to gnaw their own legs off ?

The CPU I had wasn’t good enough to do realtime MPEG-2 fullframe, so I went and found out that in the time I’d been messing around Slot 1 CPU’s had come and almost all gone again. Althons were now the order of the day, and I ended up getting a palty PIII 700 for the sort of money that would have got me over 1GHz of Athlon… Of course I had too much time and money invested in the motherboard to want to change that too, so I did the next best thing and bought another Slot 1 motherboard and gave my wife a decent speed machine for her music work.