by January 1, 2000 0 comments

Before you get to work on video–before adding it to your presentations or other multimedia applications, you’ve to first capture the video and then convert it into machine-readable format. The traditional way of creating video is with a video camera. This video needs to be “captured” on a PC using a video capture card. Today’s digital-video cameras can be directly connected to a video capture card on a PC. Combine a digital-video camera with a cheap video capture card, and you’ve an affordable but potent combination that can add a dramatic new dimension to your work.

So here’s what you need to get going–a video source, a computer with a video capture card, and video-editing software. Lots of imagination and a bit of patience will of course get better results.

The source
Your source for the video can be a video camera, VCR, television, Webcam, or a VCD or
DVD. The source just needs a video output of some kind. Most devices have two types of video output–S-video or composite video. S-video uses a single jack for audio and video, while the composite video output has separate jacks for both audio and video. Most capture devices support both of these, but you should always double-check before you buy one.

CPU: There’s a simple policy for choosing a PC that you’ll use for video capture and editing. The faster, the better. Due to the complex mathematical nature of compression
codecs, the faster your CPU, the faster your projects will render. But if you plan to capture only small clips or have lots of coffee breaks in between, even a P/166 would do. 

RAM: The RAM should be 64 MB or higher, because video editing is very data-intensive and requires constant data updates. The more RAM you have, the less your hard disk has to be accessed. This speeds up the responsiveness of your editing software. 

Hard disk: Plan for lots of hard disk real estate to store all those clips that you capture. The higher the disc rpm, the faster the system. For high-end work, choose SCSI disks. Video capturing and editing are space hogs, so get the largest drive you can afford. 7,200 rpm (or better) is recommended. Since the amount of information being sent through your system is huge, even a slight increase in transfer rates will speed up your work. 

Capture device
This is the device that lets you capture video on your PC. Most capture devices do pretty much the same work–the expensive ones just do it faster and give you more options. If you just plan to make a small video for the Web or a CD-ROM, you don’t need to go in for expensive capture devices. There are many different types of capture devices available. Some plug into the PCI slot, some are USB devices, and some even connect to your parallel port. High-end devices have started incorporating

Here we’ve reviewed some video capturing devices to help you understand the kinds of things you can do.

Video editing software
Finally, to produce a professional-looking video clip with all that raw footage on your hard drive, you need software that helps you cut and join those clips for transition of scenes, and generally add effects. Most capture cards come with some bundled video-editing software. As we go along, we’ll look at some of the things you can do using these packages.


Our test machine was a
Celeron/400 with 64 MB RAM and a SiS 620 display adapter.

Grand V Cap USB

External video capture box. Rs 4,500
Features: USB device; supports NTSC/PAL/SECAM.
Pros: Good software; easy to install.
Cons: Doesn’t support S-video.

Source: Multi Media Systems, J 1/44, DDA Flats,
Kalkaji, New Delhi 110019. Tel: 6424446, 6234677, 6404357 Fax: 6284577 

No, this isn’t a UFO, it’s a USB video capture device. This device can capture video from different sources such as a PC camera, VCR, camcorder or even a TV. But make sure your video source has a composite video out. This device doesn’t support S-video. The device has two cables sticking out of it. One connects to the USB port on your PC and the other to your source’s composite video out. Installation is easy–plug in the device and Windows will auto-detect it. All you’ve to do is give the device drivers which come with the Grand V Cap. 

The accompanying CD contains a variety of software. GrandCam is a simple video capture and editing tool. You can’t do much with your captured videos using this. New Soft Video Works on the other hand, is a comprehensive video capturing and editing software. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. You can easily capture your videos and add cool effects using the Video Fun option. You can merge two video clips with drag-n-drop. You can also add text or a logo to your video. You can experiment with different things to transform your plain videos into professional-looking ones. The CD also has New Soft Image Folio, which is an image-editing tool, and a demo version of Internet Phone 5.

We tried capturing 60 seconds worth of video from our VCR. We tried the video capture in different screen sizes and frame rates. At 176×144 dpi with a frame rate set at 30 fps, the captured video quality was good. After capturing the video sequence, we encoded it into an AVI file. Motion was smooth and the colors came out very well.

Next, we tried a video capture at 352×288 dpi with a frame rate of 30 fps. This time too, the picture quality was good and so were the colors. Motion was slightly jerky–this indicates that some frames might have been dropped. But the overall result was very good. 

This device is recommended for beginners. It’s perfect if you want to capture videos at small screen sizes (for the Web or sending a small clip to your friends by e-mail). Its small dimensions also make it ideal for portable computers. For its price, it’s a very good buy.

Grand Multi Capture Card

PCI video capture card. Rs
Features: Supports NTSC/PAL/SECAM; four video inputs; image
resolutions up to 768×576 dpi.
Pros: Good bundled software; easy to install; can be used for
Cons: Cables not supplied; doesn’t support S-video.

Source: Multi Media Systems,
J-1/44, DDA Flats, Kalkaji, New Delhi 110019. Tel: 6424446, 6234677
Fax 6284577 E-mail:  

Grand Multi Capture Card is a PCI-based video-capture board. An important feature of this card is that it has four composite video inputs. You can have four cameras placed at different locations and the inputs from each can be passed through this card. This makes it useful for surveillance purposes. It can also capture video from any composite video source such as VCR, camcorder or even a TV. It supports all major video formats such as
NTSC/PAL/SECAM. Its installation is similar to most PCI devices. The card comes with–New Soft Video Works 4.1, PC security (for surveillance), and I Phone 5 (demo version) software. 
Again, to test the card’s performance we tried to capture a 60-second video clip from our VCR.

At 176×144 dpi and a frame rate of 30 fps, the captured video quality was very good. The video sequence ran smoothly without any jerks and the colors showed up well. 

Then we captured the same sequence at 352×288 dpi at the same frame rate. The result was better than expected. The video sequence ran smoothly and there were no jerks visible. Image quality was also quite good.

This time, we took a step further and tried capturing at 640×480 dpi. It was fine while capturing the sequence, but when it came to rendering, it took more than half an hour. This is one of the main differences between professional and home-capturing devices. After the rendering was over, the results weren’t all that good. There were several jerks and the picture quality had deteriorated. 

Looking at the results, it’s clear that these devices are best for capturing at small screen sizes and maybe at medium sizes with a lower frame rate. These devices are ideal for producing video for the Web with a small screen size. You can also use them to capture small clips from your camcorder, VCR, etc, and e-mail it to friends and family. For anyone starting out with video, these devices are great, they don’t cost a fortune and get the job done.

AverMedia MPEG Wizard

External MPEG-1 Encoder. Rs15,560
Features: Real-time MPEG-1 compression; connects to parallel port; supports NTSC/PAL. 
Pros: Supports composite and S-video; good bundled software.
Cons: None.

Source: Aditya Promoters
Khemka Center
DDA Building
2-5 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019. 
Tel: 3961850/3964079 
Fax: 6227979, 2931082 

The AverMedia MPEG Wizard is an external real time MPEG-1 encoder. It compresses video on the fly and uses the industry MPEG-1 standard of 200:1 ratio compression. The device can be used for a large variety of applications, including Web page authoring, Web video broadcasting, CD-ROM authoring, video e-mail, and more. 

Installation is relatively simple. It plugs directly into the parallel port of your PC or a laptop. It also has a pass-through parallel port, to which you can attach your printer. 

The Wizard supports both composite video and S-video. It needs a separate sound card for sound capture. Bundled software includes–AverMedia MPEG Wizard Plus, Ulead iPhoto Express, Ulead
VideoStudio, and Microsoft NetMeeting. 

Using AverMedia MPEG Wizard Plus, you can capture and playback video. You can choose between different video bit rates such as 200 kbps (for video e-mail), 300 kbps (for the Web), 1.15 Mbps (for video CD), or define your own bit rate. This feature comes in handy if you want your captured video to be played from different sources. The software doesn’t have any video editing features, so its scope is limited.

Ulead VideoStudio is a much better application. The whole process of video editing is divided into eight easy steps—start, capture, storyboard, effects, title, voice, music, and finish. Starting from the first step, you can skip or go through all the steps until you reach the end. In the end, you’ve an option of saving your video in different forms, such as a greeting card, e-mail, a Web page or just a movie on your hard drive. According to your choice, it renders the movie appropriately. This application is great for beginners and really adds value to the MPEG Wizard.

To test the device, we captured different screen sizes and frame rates.

At smaller screen sizes the image quality was clear and the video ran smoothly. However, at bigger screen sizes, though the image quality was good, a few jerks were visible. This was easily corrected by lowering the frame rate to 15 fps. The movie ran quite smoothly without any visible image deterioration. Overall, the image quality was good. 

Due to its wide range of support for different applications such as Web, e-mail, CD-ROM, presentations, etc, this device can serve a lot of purposes. Also, its easy parallel port installation and easy-to-use bundled software make it great for PC-phobic video enthusiasts. 

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