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DDCSD
23rd of November 2008 (Sun), 19:55
My sister has asked me about putting her home videos on DVDs.

I'm wondering what is a good inexpensive (~$100) card/usb/firewire device to use to get the video on the PC would be.

I assume Vista Media Center can handle the recording and burning? Or is there something better out there that won't cost much/anything? It doesn't have to be fast or feature packed since I'm not going to be doing any real editing to the videos (maybe cut some junk out)

I don't know that it matters, but I will be importing from digital-8, hi-8 and probably some VHS as well.

Matthew Craggs
24th of November 2008 (Mon), 07:10
If your Digital8 or Hi8 camera has a Firewire cable (which it will if you have a Digital8 camera) you can simply plug it into your computer's Firewire. VHS is a bit trickier though.

Assuming you don't have a camera with a Firewire cable you can purchase something like a Pinnacle Moviebox which will connect your VHS deck/camera to your computer and give you the tools to capture the footage and burn a DVD.

DDCSD
24th of November 2008 (Mon), 12:42
Thanks Matthew,

I think at least one of the cameras has a USB port, but now that I'm using vista, I don't know that I'll be able to connect tot he cameras ( the digital 8 and high 8 are both at least 5 year old Sonys).

Since I'll need something for the VHS tapes anyways, I'm just wondering what is best. I've looked at the Pinnacle units, but I've seen some very mixed reviews on them so I'd like to hear from someone that is actually using it before spending the cash.

I did just get an email from Roxio about their Creator 2009 software and a USB capture device for $99.99. I'm wary of that one though, not sure if the USD device is any good.

Matthew Craggs
24th of November 2008 (Mon), 17:05
I wouldn't recommend using USB for capturing video. The USB ports on video cameras are designed more for transferring still captures and using the camera as a webcam. When I first started working with video as a hobby I tried the USB port and it gave me nothing but trouble. Though if you can make it work, then that's all that matters.

I worked at a community tv station for a while and we used an older version of the Pinnacle Moviebox. It did the trick for us so if anyone else has any experience to the contrary please chime in.

Also, if your cameras have AV/DV pass through, and you can capture from the cameras, then you may not even need additional hardware. If your cameras are capable of AV/DV passthrough, you simply turn it on in the cameras menus, hook the AV cables up to the outputs on your VHS deck, put your camera in VCR mode, and hook your camera up to the computer as normal. Your computer will then capture whatever is on your VCR.

When you turn the AV/DV passthrough on it's essentially telling the camera to take whatever is coming in through the AV cables, and send it out the DV end. The down side is that unfortunately, not all cameras are capable of doing this.

The Roxio Creator kit looks like a decent option though. Having never used it I obviously can't say anything about it but it certainly looks like it would do the job.

DDCSD
24th of November 2008 (Mon), 17:37
Thanks again Matthew. I'll have to try and have them dig up some model numbers and manuals.

I'm guessing that the bad reviews on the Pinnacle were at least partially to do with people having no clue how to get them working and being unable to read a manual. I think I'm at least one step above that level, I can read. ;)

DeCeccoNET
25th of November 2008 (Tue), 12:56
The Canopus boxes are excellent. But at around $250 they are probably more than whaty you are looking to spend. They are what I used to use at work when i was doing media, and continue to swar by at home.

A cheaper alternative would be if you have a Firewire capable video camera with RCA jacks you can (as I believe a previous poster indicated) use it to "pass through" a video signal from say a VCR through the rca, and out the camera's firewire to your computer. You should be warned however that some low end cameras have this ability disabled (professionals would use this method with cheap cameras to import videos instead of spending hundreds more on a "pro" deck.