MP3 Tutorials and Articles
Getting Video Into My Computer
For those of us that have been shooting video
of our family and friends for some time now, we most likely have
our video footage on an analog tape such as VHS, VHS-C or Hi8.
This footage is probably uncut and may even have a couple of
seconds focused on your feet. To avoid boring your friends and
family to tears (although they wouldn't tell you that), it's
time to move onto digital video. Get your home videos into your
computer and start editing!
There are many ways to get your video into your computer and
then it's digital video all the way! The one common necessity
for getting any video into your computer is to have software
that will capture and manage your video. Often this is the same
software that you will use to edit your video as well as convert
it to different file formats for specific sharing purposes.
Some great Ulead software that is designed for capturing and
editing video is
VideoStudio and MediaStudio Pro. If you want to
put your video onto DVDs or Video CDs, then check out
Once you land on a solution to get your analog video into your
computer, that same solution will work for ALL of your analog
content, even if it is on different tape formats.
So, here's some ways to get your analog video into your
Using a DV or D8 Camcorder
Your DV or D8 camcorder can act as a converting
device to change your video from analog to digital even before
it gets to your computer. Just hook up your VCR or analog
camcorder to your input plugs in your DV camcorder. Most often
you will use RCA cables. Then hook up your Firewire cable from
your DV camcorder and plug the other end into your 1394 (Firewire)
port in your computer. Start your video capture software and you
may need to hit Play on your VCR.
Using a Video Converter Device
This solution acts very much like the DV
camcorder scenario above. The only difference is that this
device is dedicated to converting analog video to digital video.
If you're in the market for such a device, make sure it can
output video just like it can input video. Some don't do both.
Also make sure that it can be used with your video
Using Analog Capture Cards
There are many hardware cards that either can
be installed into your computer, or connected to existing ports
on the back of your computer. These devices convert your video
to digital formats of varying size and quality. (NOTE: DV video,
such as that from a DV camcorder, is only one type of digital
video.) You should talk to your computer store representative to
find the best device for your needs. You can best determine your
needs by deciding where you want your video to end up after you
have captured and edited it. Do you want it to go to the web,
back to your camcorder, to VHS tape, to DVD/VCD discs or to
simply play on your computer?
What Makes Up Video?
Video is made up of an electro-magnetic signal
that that can travel through electronic devices like cables,
antennas, satellite dishes and TVs. Sent from its source, video
has a certain amount of information in it that makes up the
video picture. However, when that signal travels through a
sending device it can also pick up additional information from
other electro-magnetic sources. This is what is called
interference or static (for those of you who use bunny-ear
antennas on your TV, you know what I mean). What makes the
difference between Analog and DV video is the way the video
signal is interpreted on the sending and receiving ends of all
that electro-magnetic communication.
Analog video is what we consider "raw" video.
All the information that makes up the video picture is pumped
through the sending device. On the receiving end of that
communication, all the data (original and added information) is
received without question and is interpreted into a video
picture on your TV or camcorder screen. So, if your VCR cables
are lying next to a power strip, or your Hi8 camcorder tape is
old and worn, you will have added or changed data that will
degrade your video picture.
Digital video is encoded video. This means that
the device that is sending the video signal has changed the
video data into electronic language ('computer speak'), which is
a combination of zeros and ones. The same extra data can be
picked up through the sending device (cable) but on the other
end the digital receiving device is still only looking for
distinct zeros and ones. Once it collects this digital data the
device displays a clear, unchanged video picture for you.
The most common set of cables that connect your
VCR, DVD player or other video device to your TV is called RCA.
It consists of three connectors: Red for the right audio
channel, White for the left audio channel and Yellow for the
video channel. Both ends look the same. All of the current
Hi8/VHS-C camcorders and many of the DV and D8 camcorders have
these RCA connections.
The special cable that connects your DV or D8
camcorder to your computer is called a Firewire cable. It is
also known as an iLink or IEEE 1394 cable. This cable transmits
digital data of both audio and video to your computer and can
also send the same data back to your camcorder when you want to
output your project back to tape. In addition to sending video
data, it can also send commands from your computer to control
the play buttons of your camcorder.
Most cables have one four-pin end and another
six-pin end. Some cables have the same on both ends. Your
camcorder will always connect to a four-pin and your 1394 card
in your computer will most often use a six-pin. If you use this
cable to connect your computer to an external 1394 drive such as
another hard drive or a CD burner, you will use a cable that has
a six-pin connector on both ends.
1394 (Firewire) Port
This port is a special connection on the back
or front of your computer for connecting to 1394 devices (ie: DV
camcorders, external 1394 drives). Usually you must install a
1394 card yourself, but many new computers are coming with 1394
ports already built in. Most often the port is a six-pin
connection for connecting to a Firewire cable. Sometimes, it
might be a four-pin connection on computers that have a front
port for hooking up specifically to a DV or D8 camcorder.
Installing a Video Card into Your Computer
The computer manufacturer can either
pre-install a video capture card into your computer or you can
buy and install one yourself. Some of them even double as a
display card that sends the video signal from your computer to
your monitor. Installing a video card into your machine might
seem scary but it's quite easy. It often involves taking off the
computer's cover, finding the right socket to push the card into
(visually illustrated on the included instructions), and
possibly hooking up a cable for audio. That's it! The more
difficult part most often is installing the software driver from
the included CD to make sure the capture card works correctly.
These issues can easily be resolved by talking to the hardware
manufacturers technical support department.
Connecting to Existing Ports
Some video capture cards are actually external
boxes or devices that hook up to a port on the back of your
computer. These could include a USB connection, a 1394
connection or a Serial Port connection. Installation of these
cards is very straightforward. Be aware that although these
external devices are convenient, sometimes they offer lower
video quality compared to what you would get from an internal
video capture card.
A digital video format is simply video that has
been brought into your computer and converted into a file type
that the computer can read. With analog capture devices, there
are a couple of different file formats that are created. Most
companies that make such cards will create their own proprietary
file format. It is good to know the specifications of your
particular capture card's format, such as frame size, frame
rate, data rate, etc. This will better help you match those
specifications when you are making decisions in buying a video
For example, if your video capture card can capture video at 352
pixels wide by 240 pixels high, then it would not be a good
choice to try to convert your video to 720x480 pixels (this is
what the DV format uses). The video quality would be poor
because you start out with a smaller video frame.
Some of the digital video formats are:
A Microsoft video standard. For all types of uses
A Macintosh video standard. For all types of uses
DV (AVI or MOV)
A strict standard that is found in DV camcorders and will
work with 1394 devices For high-quality playback and for
going back to DV and D8 camcorder tape.
A VHS-type quality format that has very small file sizes
Great for Powerpoint, high-bandwidth e-mail and Video CDs
A DVD-type quality format that has very small file sizes
Used to make high-quality DVD videos