Quantcast Advice regarding a new capture card - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
06-13-2004, 10:44 PM
Deadalus Deadalus is offline
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Hi and PLS help! I need some advice regarding a new capture card.

Over the time I have tried several H/W solutions for videoediting without any success.

Bravado 1000
ASUS V8200
Pinnacle PCTV Stereo
Hauppauge PVR o.s.v.
But they all have some drawbacks or it’s maybe me who don’t understand videoediting. I’m still new to this

Anyway, I have today an analog video camera Hi8 and want to transfer/edit old films to DVD.
To capture with the old Bravado1000 generates to low quality MPEG-1
ASUS V8200, to limited colour depth and lost frames (thought the AGP connection should help here, but it didn’t)
Pinnacle generated lost frame at decent resolution
Hauppauge generated ok quality with there on board MPEG-2 encoder, but after editing (editing was don with Ulead) this file generated to low quality

So my first question is, what file format should I use for capturing, I guess plain AVI (not compressed) should be the best but unrealistic, and SW encoders seems to lack speed at an accepted quality. And should I expect my PC to keep up with the bitstream (P4 1,7Mhz, 512M-RAM running WinXP)
My second choice was MPEG-2, but with the result with the Hauppauge made me doubtful if this was the right track. I guess recompression of MPEG-2 is not a good idée.
So is the DV the right choice? I mean as all new digital cameras are using this and the result looks fine for me (I have however not seen any editing done on this format)
Or have I misused some of the parameters when editing MPEG-2

Second question, what hardware should I buy this (last) time to be satisfied?
Is the Hauppauge PVR-350 generating good quality both before and after editing?
Or are some of the external DV (as Pinnacle) boxes to be recommended
Or should I go for some PCI solution without any encoders?
Or a completely different solution???


With best regards
Joakim Engelsten
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  #2  
06-14-2004, 05:29 AM
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Let me share my PC specs:
- Intel P4 1.8Ghz, 1GB RDRAM (was 512MB until a week ago), WinXP Pro (was WinME until a week ago), and then 7200rpm hard drives (560GB worth).
- Intel Celeron 1.7Ghz, 512 DDR RAM, WinXP Pro, and 7200rpm drives (180GB worth).

I can capture anything I want on the P4 and almost anything I want on the Celeron.

Now, you didn't mention your drive sizes. The most important aspect to capturing video (or even transferring DV footage) is that you use a second hard drive for the video files (not a secnd partition, but a physically second hard drive in the PC). Even a small 80GB drive will suffice, but bigger is always better (to a point).

The thing about PCI vs AGP is only important for graphics cards. The throughput of a video card is not that demanding, and even all the professional video cards are PCI slot cards (Matrox, etc).

I don't recall what these cards have chip-wise, but your results don't sound too impressive: Bravado 1000, ASUS V8200, Pinnacle PCTV Stereo. Those are not really regarded as high quality video cards anyway.

Now, the Hauppauge PVR series cards are quite nice... for MPEG. Now, the thing to realize is that MPEG is a final-format, not suited for editing. If you want to edit, this is not the way to go. A lesser compressed AVI is what you'd be after.

Another thing is the "ULEAD" software you used. Ulead is just a company with many softwares, most of them quite inferior. I use Adobe Premiere 6.5 for all my editing work, though I know it costs a bit more than consumer-level software. Vegas Video 4 or 5 is another option. These can always be found for cheap on eBay from people selling off their old stuff.

A good PC ... which your specs match ... can easily keep up with video capture. You should have no trouble doing whatever you want with that PC. Just be sure you've got decent hard drive space on a dedicated video drive.

DV is a format I personally hate. It is a horrible option for those that have NTSC video as it uses 4:1:1 YUV compression and looks absolutely dismal. For live camera footage on a DV camera, it is quite decent. But as a conversion tool, dismal. For those in PAL land, you get DV as 4:2:0 YUV compression (standard DVD MPEG2 YUV), so it's not really bad at all. It's an option, though it won't save any space as compared to other less-compressed AVI formats (like MJPEG, HuffYUV or YUY2). So DV depends on your video format. Your IP address (if mapped back correctly) indicates you are in Colorado. In this case, DV is not a good idea as you would be NTSC.

Cheap cards tend to lose audio/video sync quite easy. Those are normally the ones you see for under $50 US. Not great, you get what you pay for. I use an ATI ALL IN WONDER card because it provided me decent graphics card for photo work (I do not play computer games, so I don't need the uber-nerd gaming card of the minute), and then the video card uses the THEATRE video chipset, which provided top-of-the-line quality.

Another option I chose was the JVC DRM10SL DVD recorder. It gives me results as good as the ATI MPEG captures. For you, this is probably still not an option, as you'll still be in the MPEG edit-unfriendly zone. You'd want to stick to a PC and AVI for editing.

With PC cards, there are many options. But as far as the best one, for AVI especially, I tend to go ATI AIW (All In Wonder). It just depends on if you are willing to take out your current AGP card. Any ATI AIW card from the last few years works too. You can find them for as little as $50-75 on eBay, no need to buy the newest $400 one from the store. I use the 7200 AGP card (on the P4) and an 7200 PCI card (or the Celeron) from 2001. You can double-up the ATI PCI with an existing AGP, but that's more advanced work, something I don't even like to mess with. ATI also has it's own dedicated software (ATI MMC) and does not make you rely on some 3rd party stuff like most cards.

If you don't want ATI, and decide to buy something brand new from the store, be sure it is not DV, that it costs more than $100, and then experiment with it capturing AVI.

Let me know if this is helping ... and if you have any more questions...


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  #3  
06-15-2004, 11:37 AM
Deadalus Deadalus is offline
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Hi and thanks for an excellent and useful replay over my expectation!


First of all, I must mention I went down to the local computer shop who hade ¡§Pinnacle AV/DV deluxe¡¨ (300USD) on the shelf. I was promised to buy it on a 10days open return (not shore if this is the right term, but hopefully you understand what I mean) to tray it out.
And as I live in Sweden this is a PAL country, even if I do not fully understand the compression numbers 4.X.X DV should be minor issues for my region.

I have so far not hade the time to fully test it out, but the result seems to be promising compared to my previous H/W.
The card seems to be able to capture in MPEG (in S/W), MJPEG and DV however in DV mode it start to lose frames after about 30 seconds, generating irritating short jumps at playback. The video quality is ok but not greate according to my subjective judgment.

I guess the reason to the lost frames is that I only have one disk (60GB, 45GB free. Installed XP a week ago for the first time so it should also be relatively unfragmented) in the system, shared by capture H/W and the System/OS. I have got the recommendation before to add an extra disk for video editing, however as the DV capture works fine the first 30 seconds and then start to lose frames which increases quite rapidly after this point I¡¦m slightly doubtful if this really will fix the problem, looks as its some type of buffer/cash that¡¦s overflows (the cash on the disk maybe?).
Do you still think an extra disk will cure the problem, or do you have any other explanation of the odd behaviour?
The capture card you use, does that have any hardware compression or do you mean your PC keeps up with this just because of the secondary disk??

Regarding the picture quality, you mentioned MJPEG, is this better or worse than DV and/or will it be a better solution for editing or in any other aspect?
You also mentioned the Matrox card, in Sweden it costs about 1300 USD and have a lot of features I don¡¦t understandƒº, will this be a better choice generating a (remarkable) more crisp picture and any other for me usable feature? Or should I spend the rest of the money on DV cam?

Finally you mention something regarding PC-card from ATI, do you use this cards for capturing? I can¡¦t find any info regarding any form of video-in on this cards or am I wrong?



With best regards, and thanks again for your previous response
Joakim Engelsten
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  #4  
06-23-2004, 12:03 AM
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Post slipped right by me, sorry about that.

Being in a PAL country, the DV devices using the 4:2:0 YUV compression should look great. DVD MPEG2 is 4:2:0 compression.

For dropping frames, you may want to read the dropped frames guide on the site (digitalFAQ.com). It's likely the fact that your OS swap file on the main hard drive is fighting the DV transfer on the same drive. That will happen, is why you need 2 drives for video. I think this will fix it, without a doubt. Also be sure DMA mode is activated.

MJPEG (different than MPEG) is an AVI compression. Yes, it can be better than DV, but with 4:2:0 PAL DV, you probably won't see too much difference.

For $1300, I'll assume you mean the Matrox RTX100 card. That card does great, but it's main usage is for realtime editing effects, nor capturing. I mean, sure, it can capture fine, but it's wasted money if you don't need the realtime editing.

I use the ATI All In Wonder (ATI AIW) cards. They are mostly NTSC cards, but there are a handful for PAL version in Europe too. Mostly sold in the UK as I hear it from people I know in Europe that do video stuff.

I prefer to buy only what I need. I save the rest for something else. For example, money invested on a good VCR and TBC is a wise choice, if you convert any kind of VHS or analog tapes to DVD.


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