Posts in Category: digital video

video capture part three: what to do next

win2k/sonic mydvd

There will be some details here, just as soon as I can stop screaming at the memory of it all…

video capture part two: getting it working

win2k/tmpgenc

The answer to the AVI capture limit was simple: move to Windows 2000 and NTFS, and capture until my hard drive ran out of space. This was good, in that it worked fine, plus the move to MPEG files rather than AVI meant that there wasn’t really a limit anyway. The O/S was far, far better than Win98 in terms of stability, and the Task Manager that could be invoked by a simple CTRL+ALT+DEL was a delight: I could bring the system down to the bare minimum of executing tasks in a moment.

The only slight problem was that the quality of the MPEG-2 captures I was getting wasn’t as good as I’d hoped for. Sure, it blew the MPEG-1 stuff away, especially on motion scenes as the macroblocks were that much smaller, but it still didn’t make me go: Wow !

In order to get the best quality I could, I then started to capture with VirtualDub and the HuffyUV codec with conversion to SVCD via the rather handy TMPGEnc program. Back when I started doing this the software was struggling into Beta 12 (I think I found it a little earlier) and an English translation was a separate patch to the original software. After much searching I ended up with a DVD player too: a Pioneer 525 simply because it would playback CD, CD-R, CD-RW, VCD, SVCD, oh, and DVD too.

Now I was getting somewhere – the interlaced playback, and the generously blurry nature of a TV set rather than a monitor meant that the stuff I could put onto SVCD (via Nero, a superb CD writing program) was getting distinctly watchable.

video capture: the first steps

beos/hauppauge wintv

Hmm, well that was nice. It’s a wonderful OS, bringing elegance and slickness to the desktop of even ‘slow’ machines, if you can find a selection of hardware with the correct drivers. It can do multiple video and audio streams that even today’s O/S have trouble with, and the default versions even came with Japanese localisations – how about that for a US company ?

Well, not so great, actually. There was an unfinished BT8x8 video capture app. that came with some of the later versions, and if pressed it could cope with PAL and 25fps, but for some reason, despite contacting the author and having quite a few exchanges with him, there was never any move to cope with European audio, particularly NICAM. The stills of Emma from 1999 were grabbed via the Hauppauge WinTV card and this driver, but I could only ever get AM audio decode to give intelligble sound, but AM decoding an FM signal isn’t a recipe for CD quality audio…

Would I have stuck with it otherwise ? Maybe. I never managed to get as far as sorting out an editor for capture footage, and perhaps (given the lifespan of Be) that wasn’t such a bad thing. I’ve still not found a better filing system though, <sniff>…

video capture: the quest for quality

background

I’ve been messing around with digital video since my first video camera (JVC GR-DVJ70), and have played with capture on BeOS, Windows 98, Windows 2000 and MacOS X. If I knew at the start what I know now, I’d have saved up the extra for a unit with Firewire output… As it it, the camera is a fully digital MiniDV unit, but it only has analogue ouputs, and no video inputs (external Mic is provided, but no headphone out).

stuff i’ve used

It varies a lot: operating systems, capture cards, capture software, processing methods, editing software, viewing options. Have a look at the list of subpages as I’ve tried to keep each part as a nice small segment, each with its own set of experiences and links. There might end up being a large summary of handy sites at the end, but it makes more sense at the point to simply link off when it suits the narrative.

timescale

The problem with a lot of my experiences are probably down to simply wanting to do too much with the systems of the time. All of this started back in early 1999 (Feb/Mar) and things have moved on apace since then. I also have refused to spend my way out of the situation, which may have cost me a bit in terms of now unused hardware, but overall it possibly cheaper than having bought expensive items which are now junk 🙂

The latter portions (MacOS X stuff) are from May 2002 onwards, and are really, really amazing compared the the tools available 3 years ago. I hope that the knowledge I’ve gained the hard way wasn’t wasted, and so just for anyone else who’s thinking of playing with home movies since they bought a PC with a USB webcam/TV card, I’ve tried to explain why I was forced to take another step, when all I wanted to do was get my home movies on the TV…

parts

Due to the size of the posting, I’ve split up the body into three main portions: Part 1 deals with my first steps and the stuff that didn’t work. Part 2 is where I actually manage to get to a point where I’ve produced a full wedding video. Part 3 is how to do it properly (!) and what to actually do with the files once they’ve been captured and edited.