Transferring MiniDV to your PC
by berryjooks - 9/5/08 10:04 PM
There are a couple of different ways to transfer DV to your PC.
The best way is to use a hardware video capture card and video capture software. Plugging a device into one of the inputs and turning it on causes Windows to open the video capture/editing software.
If your PC has a Firewire port, youll want to use it for digital video transfer. This is the most desirable method as it keeps the video in a digital format start to finish. You can use the RCA (Composite) jacks but you will be converting the camera's digital data into analog to use this connection, then back into digital on the PC, and this will affect the picture quality.
For software I use InterVideo WinDVD Creator. Ive found it to be a very powerful tool and easy to use, but there are many options (Pinnacle, Ulead, etc., features and prices vary widely). You can add video, stills and music to the storyboard, and then add titles and transition effects. There are options for editing and stretching both the audio and video, capturing stills and setting the length of time a still frame is shown. Once youre satisfied and are ready to burn it to DVD or a file, the software will render your project into whatever output format you choose.
If you don't want to install a video capture card, you can purchase an RCA to USB video capture device that will come with drivers and capture software for about $40.
One last thing. Video editing and rendering is time and resource consuming. For instance, recording a 1 hour tv show on my pc uses about 6 Gigabits of disk space (DV tapes (avi files) are even larger). Editing that same show ie: trimming out comercials, taking snapshots or screen caps of the video to use on the title pages, etc. can take quite a while, depending on how Spielbergesque you want to get, and finally the rendering and burning to DVD part of the process takes about one and one half hours for every one hour of video.
Also, you need a pretty high end machine to have the processing power and speed to create good videos, and even then you'll need to stop every other process, including your antivirus software, before you begin. The most common problem encountered is choppy video or audio in the finished product. This can be quite frustrating if you've just spent 4 or 5 hours working on it.
Hope I didn't scare you off. It can be a lot of fun, and you can really turn out some slick productions.