by July 4, 2002 0 comments

Of the sequence of processes involved in making a movie, capturing the movie onto a PC for editing is an important part. This determines the quality of the final video because the parameters that you use during capturing will determine the losses you will have. Most capture hardware come with their own capture software. But very often there is a need to capture software that allows you to do much more than just capture and dump the video on your hard disk. Also, the favorite software that you use for editing and encoding video may offer on-the-fly editing and encoding. 

Video-capture devices use a capture driver software to interface the GUI of the capture application with the actual hardware. This is the driver that a free capture software would use to interface itself with the concerned hardware. Let us look at some examples.

Looks like VirtualDub is the jack-of-all-trades! This handy software is an easy to use editor and encoder. The beauty of the software is that it allows you to configure almost everything in all its functions. While the encoding aspects of VirtualDub have been discussed in another article, DivX to VCD, we will talk here of how to use it for capturing video.

The VirtualDub is an easy-to-editor and encoder. Of course, it’s also a capture softwareVirtualDub needs a video for Windows capture driver for capture. Hence it will not be able to capture video from DV devices because they don’t ship with one (VFW driver). Also in case of some capture cards; the drivers provided are WDM (Windows Driver Model) drivers. Although these can be used with VirtualDub through a Microsoft wrapper, reported results are not too good and buggy. (You don’t need to concern yourself with the technical terms because if the driver can be used through the wrapper, it would show up as ‘Microsoft WDM Image Capture (Win32)’ in your capture devices list.)

Start VirtualDub and from the File menu, go to Capture AVI option. The application will switch to the capture mode. There are three settings here that interface with the capture driver for your capture hardware: Format, Source and Display. The settings for these will vary from card to card and if you have already worked with your specific capture card, you would know what settings to use. Hence we shall not elaborate of them. 

VirtualDub allows you to capture your video as plain AVI or encode it in real-time and then store it. If you are capturing as AVI, use a drive with lots of space. Press F2 to specify a capture file. From the Compression option of both the Video and Audio menu, select a desired compression format. Of course, this would be determined by the installed codecs on your machine. Play the video on your source and hit F7 to test the setup. If the software throws up some errors, you would need to re-look at the settings. Once through with the setting, hit F6 to start the capture. 

This is another freeware capture utility, which also comes bundled with some capture cards. FlyCap is again based on Video for Windows capture drivers. So, as in the case with VirtualDub, this would work only with compatible drivers.

This free utility comes bundled with some capture cardsThe software is easy to use and a look at the interface will show you all the familiar settings for a video capture application. A preview window shows the video playing. In the Video tab, you can specify the maximum file size; capture time limit and the frame rate. Settings for the capture driver software (the interface to your capture hardware as we talked of earlier) are accessible through the buttons. The interface also shows a volume level meter, which is convenient because you can easily access an audio source’s volume properties through the drop-down box and the sliders. You can also record just audio by using only the settings in the Audio tab. 

To encode video and audio in real-time, use the Video Compression button and the Audio Format buttons respectively. These invoke Windows’ inbuilt dialog boxes for available codecs and their settings. Once through with the settings, you hit the record button. A status bar at the bottom shows the capture file size and available disk space on your drive. A real-time graph has been thrown in for monitoring your PC’s CPU usage.

An interesting feature with the software is its ability to record on a schedule. You can specify the date and time to start recording and stop recording. This is very useful if you want to record that football match or your favorite soap on TV. Of course you will need to specify the capture source as your TV tuner card in that case. The software also allows you to playback your recordings from its interface. 

Ashish Sharma

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