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Capturing Video on your Mac

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You have 100 hours of favorite TV programs and movies sitting on the hard disk of your DVR. So how do you get some of them into your Macintosh and thence onto a DVD disk? "It'll cost a few bucks, but it's easy!" says author Dave Taylor.
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I'm not a big fan of television. Most discussions about the latest sitcom leave me scratching my head and wondering what people are talking about. Nonetheless, there are a few shows that I enjoy watching, and I'm a big fan of movies; I once figured out that I watch over 500 movies per year!

The biggest improvement to my television watching has been the addition of a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The unit that I have from the Dish Network (my being a Dish Network subscriber will prove important later in this article) isn't an actual TiVO, but it offers 90 percent of the functionality—including the pause and rewind of live video, and a powerful programming and archival system.

That's where this article begins, with 100 hours of my favorite programs sitting on the hard disk of my DVR. So how do I get some of them into my Macintosh and thence onto a DVD disk?

There are other reasons to capture video on a computer, especially including editing movies and burning DVDs, but with applications such as iMovie and modern Firewire-enabled camcorders, that's as easy as plugging the camera into the Mac and turning it on. iMovie launches, and it's one click to "capture video" and begin the fun, but it's a phenomenally time-intensive task of turning raw footage into something coherent.

First Things First

The first thing that's obvious if you look at the back of a modern Macintosh is that there's no video-in port, so somehow the video that's coming out from your TV/video entertainment system needs to be turned into a Mac-friendly signal or the Mac needs to get a video-in port.

There are a couple of options in this area from ATI, Eskape Labs, Focus Enhancements and Elgato Systems. I opted for the latter choice because the Elgato EyeTV 200 includes composite, S-Video, and stereo audio connectors along with a more standard coax/cable connector; and it is a Firewire-based video device. Just about all the other choices are USB-based, and I'm interested in capturing the highest possible quality video, which translates to a whole lotta data pouring through that wire at any given time.

NOTE

The EyeTV 200 costs $349 at the Elgato online store.

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