|MICRO CENTER: COMPUTERS AND ELECTRONICS|
|In The Lab
High Definition Video Capture under Vista
It's officially summer and many readers will be venturing out to view fireworks, attend festivals, visit Renaissance fairs, or just take some time off to get away from it all. If you take your camera or camcorder with you to record memories, consider transferring the results to the computer for processing.
Digital cameras are usually pretty easy to deal with. Just pop the memory card out of the camera, plug it into an external or internal flash card reader on the computer, and drag the pictures over to your folders to copy or save. Most cameras also have a USB connection that allows the flash card to appear as a drive on the computer for the same purpose, essentially turning the camera into an expensive card reader.
Video cameras are not quite as convenient when it comes to transferring your results. True, some camcorders like Sony may save directly to recordable mini-optical disks, but the file format is often proprietary and may need to be converted to a standard format before they can be edited or viewed on the computer. Additional issues may crop up if you own one of the newer High Definition format cameras; if nothing else, many older video editing programs cannot handle the higher screen resolutions typical of HDTV standards. I have been using a Canon HV20 High Definition Video (HDV) camcorder. This has a slot for a miniSD flash memory card (used for still images) and a 4mm digital tape for recording video. There is a USB connection for accessing the flash memory for the still pictures, but not to transfer the digital video. I can transfer digital video to a computer in one of several ways, but the preferred method is to do a digital transfer using an IEEE 1394 connection (AKA Firewire or i.link). If you don't mind some signal loss or having to run things through converters or capture cards, the camera also has composite analog video out, component video out, and HDMI out. The HDMI and component signals might or might not be useable for video transfer, but can be used to send your video playback directly to a large screen TV or other digital video display.
Windows XP and Vista include the Windows Movie Maker application, which when you have an IEEE1394 connection in the computer, may be used to capture or import digital video from most camcorders that have IEEE 1394 plugs. When the camera is attached to the IEEE 1394 port and powered on, Windows should report "New hardware found" and start looking for drivers. To capture video in Movie Maker, you may need to disconnect and reconnect the camera when Movie Maker is open. If the camera is supported, the Import video window should open, or will respond when you click on the selection in the menu or task frame.
The Import Video wizard will ask for a file name, a folder location where to save, and the format of the file. I show three choices for file format, which determine the file extension and could impact how you will be able to use the media when done. Keep in mind that some video editing programs might not deal with high definition video very well, no matter what file format you save as. Standard digital video capture choices might include:
With my High Definition camcorder and Windows Vista Ultimate on my home computer, I only get a single choice - to import in a "High Definition Video Device Format (MPEG)", and no choice at all to automatically create scenes. Because that is my only option, I have to monitor the recording process and stop the import once the video is done, and then use the edit features to create my own breakpoints in the video. If I have multiple clips, these have to be manually selected and published to create separate clips.
If you have an option to "Only import parts" the application displays multimedia control buttons that have the necessary control to capture short clips from your tape. You will be able to control the camera playback from the camera's buttons or use the "Digital video camera controls" in the software. You can use the controls to advance through the portions you are not interested in capturing or limit how much to capture based on a specified time in minutes. Click the "Start Video Import" button when you are ready to record your tape or the first clip.
Importing High Definition Video from a Canon HV20 under Windows Vista Ultimate
Check out the short sequence I took of the Penguin Palace case mod and saved in a small 320x240 resolution format.
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