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Thread: Total newbie badly in need of advice

  1. #1

    Default Total newbie badly in need of advice

    I stumbled upon this forum and just registered. It looks really pro so I am a bit hesitant to display my total ignorance but here it goes anyway.

    I have a number of small dv tapes shot with an oldish panasonic 1,7 megapixels (the NV-GS120 if that rings any bells...wouldn't mean anything to me) and a few more short with a Sony Handycam (DCR-PC350E). It is time to start getting those tapes onto the hard disk and start doing something with them.

    After being mis-sold dazzle this and pinnacle that, and a PCMCIA Firewire adapter (which was normal size and didn't fit my new laptop: I finally understood I needed an express card), I am now the proud owner of a firewire port on my laptop and I did my first capture from tape to hard disk. I figures that bit out. But...

    I tried capturing in various ways (some defaults under Vista, Ulead VideoStudio SE freebie I got with one of the kits, and a couple of little utilities. I am now totally confused as to the settings I shoudl use to capture, the best format for capturing (AVI, MPEG etc, given that I want to edit the files thereafter) etc...

    So first question: will you tell me or point to a FAQ/article that sets me up for optimal capture from tape to disk please. I suppose all captures are not equal and that it is better to pay attention at this stage that to post-process to death trying to get quality.

    If there are great differences betwenn utilities for capture, will you please tell me what tool (free, cheap or relatively expensive) is going to get the job done properly, every time, no surprises? Could be a freebie or Premiere, I don't care, but I really need to get to grips with formats and parameters for optimal capture quality.

    I did test capture to AVI and MPEG-2. The results are really different. Getting pixel blocks with MPEG-2, less so with AVI. But with AVI, I also tried several capture utilities and get different quality output (viewed on same player). And then, I try to view the same file with different players (Windows Media, VLC, Gom...) and I get a very different visual experience...but it's the same flippin' file!

    So my second question is: how do I streamline my workflow (no but really, I actually understand what those words mean. I think.)? Do I use one capture tool, one output format ready for editing, one player only? If so, which ones do you recommend together please?

    For a first post, this is getting way too long. So I will just leave two more questions without the running commentary:

    1) Is there a recommended enhancer (editing tool or plugin for one) that will take a bland clip and bring it to life a bit? An easy auti-enhance kind of thing that does a decent job? Just to start with?
    2) What all-in tool would you recommend to put my first DVD together that does titles, transitions and some effects well. Very general question but don;t quite know what else to shoot for right now.

    Thank you for your patience and advice.


    I see in teh FAQs that there are some guides on som editing tools. I will read them but would still value your recommendations.
    Last edited by cricri; 03-26-2009 at 10:45 PM. Reason: Additopn after readng FAQ

  2. #2


    So first question: will you tell me or point to a FAQ/article that sets me up for optimal capture from tape to disk please. I suppose all captures are not equal and that it is better to pay attention at this stage that to post-process to death trying to get quality.

    Your tapes are in a format called DV.avi. This is an almost completely uncompressed video file format and is PERFECT for editing! There ya's lookin' good! You do not need to do anything regarding the file format for capture. Don't try to change it in any way, just capture to DV.avi.

    You could also try VideoStudio again only this time make sure you capture to DV.avi.

    You can do a search ofr a tiny utility called WinDV which is a free piece of software that only captures video. It is a great little utility and manages the task of capturing very well.

    Once you have captured to a folder on your hard drive then you can open an editing program like VideoStudio and import the files from there.

    There are about 800 file formats that use the extension .avi, the one you want is DV.avi and you will get the exact same quality that is on the tape. If you choose MPEG or another form of .avi like MPEG4 that means the computer is trying to transfer 13gig per hour of information in real time AND convert it all to another format at the same time....I forsee unhappiness there!

    Before you capture clean up your computer and take out the (computer) garbage. Do a defrag as well. WinDV has a little itme on it called a "Dropped Frame Counter." This records the number of frames the computer "skipped" becasue it ran out of space, time or got confused! The correct number of dropped frames is 0.

    You already have a good video editor in VS. You just need to learn how to drive it! Get back here and let us know which version of VideoStudio you have and I need to know is it SE or SE DVD?

  3. #3


    That is brilliant. And so clear. Thank you so much.

    I have SE DVD 10 it seems. I have known Ulead since their first graphic offering and they are pretty good, though there must be an update for this software by now. And it puts a watermark with the file name on the first few seconds of capture (couldn't switch that off). Editor looks good. I am happy to upgrade if recommended. I will also have access to Premiere and After Effects (CS3 upgrading to CS4 soon) at work though not with much quality time.

    I am really gratefil for this generous reply. Getting WinDV now. Please keep the advice coming.

  4. #4


    Whoa there! lets walk before we start running with adobe! hehe!
    Ok, VS10 SE DVD will allow you to capture DV.avi and internally handle everything including burning to DVD. It's a good program. It is two versions out of date but there is no need to upgrade at this point.
    Go to the Help section and then to their currect Corel site (they wee bought by Corel) and check for any updates. That version allows you to upgrade at a discount still but don't worry about that yet. Check out the User to User forum for help as well.
    Go to file/preferences and there should be an entry regarding showing the date stamp, turn it off. Also turn on the dropped fram counter.
    Let me know how you are going.

  5. #5


    You can't fault me for entusiasm but I will stick with the one piece of software for now. Thank you for your kind advice. I'll explore videostudio a bit more, and come back when I have had a go at putting together my first DVD. Your posts have really got me started with confidence.

    I have thought about what you described above and I think it is crucial to keep a safe copy of the captured dv avi, because when I start processing it, I am going to trunce it and also lose quality if I compress. And compress I must at some stage, right. My first full capture is over 10 gig and that ain't high definition! So to get an hour's worth of that kind of video onto a DVD, I am going to have to compress a lot, which is basically what everyone does one way or the other. Is this correct?

    I have already played with VideoStudio on the edit side a bit. I guess I am running ahead of myself wondering how best transfer to DVD once edited but I do have a delivery date for a DVD of a school thing (yeah, yeah, you got it, 4 year olds wearing Christmas hats and singing but you got to start somewhere!) coming up.

    Nice week end everyone. Glad I found this place.
    Last edited by cricri; 03-27-2009 at 06:13 PM.

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