How To Capture Analog Video with a Digital Video Recorder

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There are two types of video - analog video and digital video. There is little difference when it comes to the quality of output created by these two types of video configurations. It is their format that makes them distinct from each other. The way you capture an analog video is also different from a digital video. And another point of difference is storage. Analog videos are usually stored on VHS, 8mm, and Hi8 tapes. Digital videos, on the other hand, are stored on VCRs, DVDs, or even on your computer's hard disk.

To capture digital video, you can simply add capture cards like Dazzle and ATI. But because these are additional cards, using them may not be an option for others. But there certainly is another way. You can certainly capture analog video using your good and steady digital video camera.

Generally, there are two ways to do it:

  1. Play the 8mm and the Hi8 analog tapes using a Digital8 video camera recorder. After which, connect the camera to your computer system through the fire wire port. Digital8 camcorders can serve as a bridge from the old analog videotapes to the newer digital version. And it does this in a relatively seamless manner.
  2. Use the capture ability or the analog pass-through of your digital camcorder. Basically, the same idea is used by this method. The pass-through capability of newer digital camcorders allows the user to feed an analog signal coming from an S-Video or an RCA connected to the camcorder. Once processed, the output produced would then be in the form of a standard DV AVI signal.

There are certain benefits for using digital video cameras for analog video capture. Most of the newer camcorders today have converters that provide for the conversion of analog video to digital video. The conversion output is usually good. And the hardware that digital camcorders are equipped with is comparable to capture cards. The DV AVI output it produces works normally at around 3.3 Mbps. The DV AVI format is also relatively smaller but isn't as compressed as MPEG-2.

If you want to capture analog video using your Digital8 camcorder, here are the things that you should do:

  1. Put the analog 8mm or Hi8 tape inside the digital video recorder. Attempt to play the file. More often than not, the camcorder would automatically detect that the tape you are playing is analog. If it happens that the video recorder failed to detect it as such, then it might be necessary to dig deeper into the camcorder's menus and configure it yourself. For tapes that have bad quality audio and video, try to turn off the digital noise reduction and the time-based correction system that are at work.
  2. Attach the fire wire connection. After the tape has played, you should be ready to connect the digital camcorder to your computer using a fire wire connection system. It is advisable that you just use a standard video capture program in order to capture the output video file.

Once you have completed these two steps, you should be able to effectively capture analog video using your digital camcorder. And no matter how old your 8mm and Hi8 tapes are, you should be able to resurrect them all using these steps.

Using this method is a good work around for people who can't use Dazzle cards because they use a laptop instead of a desktop computer. Desktop computers that don't have extra PCI cards won't be able to use the said capture cards as well. Plus, capture cards require fast computers. If what you have is not a gigahertz type of a computer, then you are going to have some problems installing and using a digital capture card. Additionally, it is not a guarantee that the video files created by these capture cards are 100% good. Most of the time, the cards create problems with either the color or the motion of the video recording.

So every time you need to capture analog video using a digital video recorder, these are the things that you should do. Just do these simple steps and you should be all set!


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