Video Capture

I'm in the process of converting a bunch of our old VHS home movies to DVD. To capture video, I currently have the VCR output routed to the input jack on our Sony Handycam. The HandyCam is then connected via USB to a USB Hub, which is then connected to the PC. I'm using Nero Vision Express to capture the video from the HandyCam, and the HandyCam is doing the analog to digital conversion on the signal. The result has been less than I had hoped. The capture video is very grainy and choppy. I'm not sure if this is due to the capabilities of the HandyCam, speed issues with USB (I think I'm using USB 1.0), or of the software on my PC. In addition, the audio is out of sync with the video. What is really frustrating is that I can't do high speed dubbing, so it is only after waiting for the video to finish (anywhere from 1 to 2 hours) that I find out just how bad the capture was. I thought maybe the choppyness and syncing issues might be due to playing the video on my PC, but after burning to DVD, the issue remains.

My PC is a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 with 512 MB of DDR 266 memory. The hard drive has over 20GB free, and spins at 7200RPM. I don't run any other applications while capturing video, and the performance monitors show that, while the system is under a load, it isn't exceeding the limits of the PC. I'm fairly certain that my PC has the horsepower to do what I want, so I'm looking more at my method for capturing video. I watch the output from the VCR on a second monitor to verify that the VCR has quality output, and the image is bright and crisp, so I know the VCR is working well. The screen on the HandyCam also shows a nice, bright image with good quality resolution. But when I get to the PC, the image is dark, grainy, choppy, and the audio is often out of sync. I'm fairly certain that I either need to upgrade to a firewire connection to the HandyCam, or I need to invest in a dedicated video capture card and go straight from the VCR to the PC.

Anyone out there in webland have experience with doing this? Any tips on what a good next step might be, or good equipment for video capture?


Absenth said...

You might consider a dedicated piece of hardware such as this to capture the analog video, and do the conversion to digital. Alternatly a USB2.0 interface might work, however I think in the long run, dedicated hardware is the way to go. Besides transfer speed you might find that memory also plays a big factor in the overall quality of video capture. While working at Eagle Micro we built a number of machines for capturing video. Most if not all of them had at least 512mb of ram, more still had 1gb of ram. Feel free to let me know if you need any help.

Adam said...

That looks like exactly what I need. I may stop at Fry's this weekend to see if they have one in stock.

Jennifer said...

NO...not another trip to Fry's! That is the bad place. :)

Jade Mason