Best Way To Capture MiniDV Footage

topic posted Sat, August 25, 2007 - 6:20 AM by  Randy
Hi All,

I have a miniDV camcorder and I have been capturing footage on Windows XP SP2 via WindowsMovieMaker. My system is a 2Ghz AMD with 1Gb ram.

Even at the highest quality setting, I get footage that, I feel, could be better.

Just wondering what program I should be using to get the best quality footage out of my camera?

PS: I have tried...

Nero 6
Adobe Premiere (lots of drop out)

WindowsMovieMaker makes the best quality files out of the list I have mentioned above.
posted by:
  • Unsu...

    Re: Best Way To Capture MiniDV Footage

    Sat, August 25, 2007 - 11:34 AM
    Hi Randy,

    The best way to transfer footage from any DV camera is via Firewire. The raw captured file may not look so great displayed on a computer screen as it's not optimized for playback on such, but don't let this deceive you. When you play it back over an NTSC video monitor or go to render a DVD, you'll see the clean video you're looking for.

    You're AMD configuration should be adequate for importing video over firewire. If you're trying to do this using a capture card, you may have problems. Why? DV video stored on tape is already digitized and compressed by the camera about 5:1. Transferring it to your PC is no more demanding on the system than restoring data from a tape backup. Conversely, a capture card is digitizing the video in real-time as it comes in, converting from analog to digital, as well as the sound. This is pretty processor intensive ... high-end capture cards have their own processor on-board and demand less from the CPU.

    Are you using Firewire? Premiere is the best of the 4 you mentioned, what version?

    • Re: Best Way To Capture MiniDV Footage

      Sun, August 26, 2007 - 8:18 AM
      I am using firewire, and premiere detects the DV camera and firewire port, but when I go to capture, it reports dropped frames which is unacceptable to me. The way I capture in premiere is via File/Capture. Is there another way?

      Nero 6 behaves the same way. Dropped frames and unusable audio.

      That is why I have been using the Microsoft Movie Maker. I am not a big microsoft fan, but it does seem to be the only program that works the way you describe. To simply import the footage without lost frames.

      My only gripe is that is makes a WMV, which is essentialy the H263 codec (as far I know, I could be wrong). So I have the quality loss on the tape 5:1 like you mention, then another compression into the WMV format.

      The result is acceptable, but I know it could look better.
      • Unsu...

        Re: Best Way To Capture MiniDV Footage

        Sun, August 26, 2007 - 11:11 PM
        You're doing it exactly the right way, and yes, dropped frames are no good. You're hardware should be fast enough that this shouldn't be an issue. Now there are a few settings in Premiere you can adjust that might help. You can turn off previewing on the computer during capture, that does free up some resources and can make a difference if you're hardware is on the borderline of being fast enough. I'm not on a machine that has Premiere at the moment or I'd tell ya where to find those settings.

        Virus & spyware resident shields like McAfee and ESPecially Norton System Works can interfere with the capture process ... or anything else that requires real-time performance for that matter. So can an excess of applications and utilities running in the background. Try freeing up some disk space and preferably capture to a second HDD in the machine. Be sure to defrag the drive you capture to.

        If you've checked all that and still no worky, there's a benchmark utility called Sandra written by SiSoft. It benchmarks CPU, RAM, HDD, etc. and you can compare the numbers to what a machine of those specs should be getting. This is to make sure you're system is up to par. BIOS settings can be off causing a machine to run much slower than it should.

        PC's are like an older car, you have to dink around with them to get and keep them running just right. I'm not a fan of MS Movie Mangler for capturing and editing, but, MS Media Encoder works well for making .wmv streams. I find the image & sound quality and file size to as good if not better than most other options (like .mpg, .mov) It's a freebee and .wmv's play on any PC and most mac's (although mac users may need to download Windows Media Player for mac or .wmv codecs for the QuickTime player).


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