capturing video

Karl Petersen karlpet at
Thu Mar 28 13:16:01 EST 2002

At 6:02 PM +0900 3/28/02, cowhead wrote:
>Alternatively, I will soon be buying a fire-wire ready video camera.
>Would it be easier to just record from video's to the digital camera,
>then use the camera as the video input device to the computer?

Yes, the video camera may be the better solution. It delivers the 
most bang for the buck. A standalone analog-to-digital converter box 
will do the job, but it may become redundant the moment you buy a 
camcorder. If the purchase were mine, I'd apply those $hundreds to a 
camcorder to get the best I can afford. THAT's the most important 

(Speaking of $$, note that all camcorders come with a hidden 
accessory. When you open the box, a black hole emerges to take up 
residence in your house. It sucks up cash for hard disks, RAM, PCI 
cards, software and sometimes even a new Mac. For example, just a few 
seconds of video filled my old hard drive. Unless you have deep 
pockets, the black hole makes it doubly important to not waste money 
on hardware you will never use. Nonetheless, life with a black hole 
has advantages: Editing video may be the most fun you'll ever have on 
your Mac. And this newbie.rev finds the QuickTime-iMovie-Revolution 
combo a promising addition to my digital hub.)

On the other hand, if you plan to import hundreds of hours of video 
you may want to save wear and tear on your camcorder and get a 
converter box. The Dazzle DV Bridge is popular among iMovie users, 
but it costs $300. 
Most important, it supports FireWire, required for iMovie. If other 
cheaper solutions worked well, my guess is Dazzle wouldn't be so 

You don't say whether your source video is copy protected, so I'll 
mention there may be copy protection issues that limit your options, 
both hardware-wise and legal-wise.

And note that camcorders differ how they handle analog-to-digital 
conversions, especially with iMovie. Most will do what you want, but 
may require taping the source video. Some can't import video at all 
-- even video you've created in iMovie -- a limitation built into 
cameras sold in some parts of the world. Most will do what you want, 
however, but they do not work the same.

If your Mac has a free PCI slot, a cheap solution may be to add a TV 
Tuner card. They cost just $70, if you can find one, and let you 
watch TV on your Mac in a resizable window. They come with software 
to capture live TV/VCR video to a QuickTime movie. (I prefer using 
the $40 shareware program BTV Pro, which understands how to use most 
TV Tuner cards.) The faster your Mac, the better/larger your captured 
video can be. A 375 MHz G3 processor captures 320x240 video nicely at 
30fps using "None" compression. I compress it later, or bring it into 
iMovie. The captured video looks surprisingly good, although not as 
good as digital video from a camcorder. If your destination is a 
320x240 QuickTime movie the captured video may be plenty good enough. 
At that size, it's hard to tell the difference from camcorder video. 
The quality of the source video seems to be the key variable then, 
not the capture method.


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