Video Editing Tip #2: Knowing Your Video Camera

Choosing the right video camera for video capturing is an essential need if you want a clearer video. The budget sometimes is a big pain on your pocket, pretty understandable. One of the misconception that we have right now is buying the most expensive camera on the market and the "thinking" that this will provide them the quality that they want for video editing. Well, somehow that is true. But there are ways to save and still get the nearest video quality that you want for your videos. It's just a matter of knowing your old digital video camcorders and using some parts of it for a clearer picture.

You might notice that there are several video outputs on your video camera. The most common is the analog output that is consist of 3 colors (red, white and yellow), also there is an S-Video output, the USB 2.0 output and the IEEE 1394 output which is most commonly called as FireWire. We'll focus on FireWire right now.

According to the National Instruments website IEEE 1394 or FireWire "was never intended for basic computer peripherals – it was designed for imaging equipment. The initial speed of IEEE 1394a was 100 Mb/s compared to the 1.5 Mb/s of USB 1.1. This higher bandwidth is better suited for devices such as cameras and hard drives. Because of the initial bandwidth advantages of IEEE 1394, it is now the widespread standard for vision systems today, even though USB 2.0 has caught up in terms of throughput.

Furthermore, IEEE 1394a cameras offer similar or slightly higher throughput to analog cameras but with much greater flexibility to choose between resolution and frame rate. The IIDC specification for IEEE 1394 cameras (explained below) defines several standard frame rates that range from 1,875 frames/s to 240 frames/s as well as standard resolutions from 160 × 120 to 1,600 × 1,200. The specification also provides for a scalable image format, known as Format 7, which allows for almost any arbitrary resolution and frame rate. Format 7 images are limited only by the available bandwidth on the IEEE 1394 bus and the camera manufacturer’s implementation decisions. For many cameras, frame rate scales inversely with image resolution along a roughly constant curve. The IEEE 1394a specification provides a maximum data rate of 400 Mb/s, which is enough for a 640 × 480 8-bit monochrome acquisition at 100 frames/s. The IEEE 1394b specification doubles the available bandwidth to 800 Mb/s and the maximum frame rate at 640 × 480 to 200 frames/s."

In lay-man's term, FireWire is much better than S-Video, USB 2.0 and Analog Video output, plain and simple. So, I would suggest that you go to your nearest computer parts store and look for a FireWire card that comes with a FireWire cable. Most of them are plug and play thus you won't be needing any driver for that. But I have to remind you that when you start capturing videos at this stage it would require a lot of hard drive spaces on your computer. The video format would be ".avi" file but it's as clear as what you've captured on your DV camera. You could always change the format before or after capturing just to lower down the volume of the video size and its resolution. FYI, most of the TV stations use this kind of capturing and uploading.

Your Microsoft Windows Movie Maker 2.0 has an auto-detect system that would make the video uploading easier on your computer because it has a video capture wizard. Just read the directions and follow the simple steps . Also, don't forget to enable "DV-OUT" on your video camera. You can find it on the camera's menu settings.

[If you have any comments or suggestions, you can send me an e-mail or post it here. Thanks!]

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