camcorder to laptop transfer

  monnid 13:06 18 Sep 03

I have an anologue camcorder (Hi8) that I wish to use to transfer (recorded tape) to my laptop for conversion to VCD. I realise that I need a capture device - external in my case - and have looked at some previous threads. So far I have found the 'Pinnacle Studio Movie Box (USB)'. Are there any alternatives to this? I have access to two laptops, one has a standard USB and CDRW (for VCD), the other has standard USB and IEEE1394 but no CDR/RW, so I would have to transfer the digital file between the laptops in order to use the CDRW. This is messy and not prefered. Also, I have editing SW from a previous PC (Pinacle also include SW with the system), but the graphics cards in my laptops (approx 18 months old) are almost certainly fairly bog standard. Are these likely to be okay for the conversion and writing stage of the process? Third question - does anyone know if the Pinnacle card mentioned above will allow me to use the camcorder as a web cam via Netmeeting?

  stlucia 15:31 18 Sep 03

You don't tell us the specs of your laptops. But I can go part way towards helping you by saying that I use Pinnacle for digital video, and with a 600Mhz Athlon, 256Mb memory, and a several-year-old plain vanilla video card I have no problems downloading the video and editing it.

The one problem you might find is that you will need many Gigs of hard disk space. From memory, I think I've used over 20Gb per hour of downloaded digital video -- how much space analogue will need probably depends on what format it's digitised into by the capture device.

  monnid 18:21 18 Sep 03

stlucia, thanks for your reply. It would seem from your comments that my 'bog standard' video card may be okay. For general information - My laptop with the cdrw is 1.0Ghz with 256Mb RAM and a 30Gb hard drive. It has about 20Gb of free space. In addition I have a tape drive the can store 15Gb of information (30Gb if compressed) on a single tape. According to the Pinnacle web site the captured video needs about 45Mb of memory for every minute. This translates to 2.7Gb for an hour. For every disc (say 70 mins) I should only need about 3Gb of memory? So I should be okay there.

  stlucia 08:48 19 Sep 03

The only time I've ever noticed a problem which I would attribute to my video card is when I play back my movies on my PC -- it then sometimes skips a frame or two. But I don't believe that the video card plays any significant part in the actual downloading of the data from the camera (which is the only part of the operation which has to take place in real time) or in the subsequent editing processes.

So far as the other part of your query is concerned, as I understand it you have the option of downloading your video using Firewire, but you can't burn a VCD on that machine; your alternative is a new Pinnacle card via USB on the other machine that doesn't have a burner: Assuming your camera already has the capability of Firewire download, you could consider spending your money on a USB memory stick instead of the Pinnacle USB thingy, and then transfer files from laptop 1 to laptop 2 for burning after you've converted them to MPEG, by which time they're much smaller. You'd still have to buy the Pinnacle (or whatever) software unless you already have something which will do the job.

  stlucia 08:50 19 Sep 03

Sorry -- a mis-type. "... your alternative is a new Pinnacle card via USB on the other machine that doesn't have a burner ..." should have read "... DOES have a burner ..."

  monnid 11:15 19 Sep 03

stlucia, Having thought about it, I think you are right, it is probably only at the 'replay' stage that the video card has any major role. Having done a little more investigation on the 'Pinnacle' web site, they say that the video card has - as a minimum - to be DirectX 8 compatible, although it recommends an NVIDIA GeForce3 or higher. I think mine will be - it has DirectX (version something) at the moment, but I will look at upgrading. In any case the CDRW is also DVD, and the Laptop has software for DVD playback, so again I would be surprised if I had problems in this area.

No firewire connection on the camcorder I'm afraid, only analogue 'S' video or composite video. These are the inputs that the Pinnacle capture system needs.

I think that through your comments and a little futher thought by myself that I am heading in the right direction and am no longer running around like a headless chicken. I just need to do a little more research to confirm technical compatability. Thanks for your help.

  stlucia 13:34 19 Sep 03

It's good to talk!

  Chegs ® 13:47 19 Sep 03

40 mins of AVI is approx 10GB on my puter,there are progs out there that can convert direct from camera to MPEG,etc but I haven't tried them,I load into pc in AVI,edit,convert to final format(mpeg2=dvd,mpeg1=vcd,etc)and then burn to disc.The GC only has a bearing on playback,rendering is RAM+CPU speed.

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