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Digitizing Analog Footage

Despite the pervasiveness of DV, video and audio are still recorded, stored, and delivered using analog formats. Common consumer analog formats include VHS and Hi8 videotape and audiocassette tapes.

To use analog media, most computers require a video capture card—add-on hardware that you install in one of your computer's expansion slots. (Sometimes the capture card also includes a break-out box, an external component to which you connect audio and video cables.) The capture card digitizes analog video and audio, converting it to a digital form that can be stored on your computer ( Figure 3.3 ). Digitizing analog video can be compared to using a scanner to convert a photograph into a format your computer can understand. In contrast to using DV, which uses a single IEEE 1394 (aka FireWire and iLink) or USB 2.0 (aka Fast USB) cable, analog capture cards typically use separate cables to deliver the video, audio, and timecode (data that identifies each video frame with a number, expressed in hours, minutes, seconds, and frames; see the sidebar "Timecode").

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Figure 3.3 Analog footage is digitized with a capture card. Separate cables deliver the video and audio. A professional deck and a separate device-control cable are often required to deliver timecode.

Many capture devices convert analog sources into the DV format. This way, you can enjoy some of DV's editing advantages even if you didn't shoot or store the video in DV. One of those advantages is the ability to edit the footage using Premiere Elements. However, analog-to-DV converters can't be accessed directly within Premiere Elements. In other words, you won't be able to use Premiere Elements' Capture panel (explained shortly) to capture the footage. Instead, you'll have to use the software that comes with the capture card to digitize your footage, and then import the files—now in the DV format—into Premiere Elements.

Other (usually older) capture cards digitize video into other formats. For example, some digitize video using a format known as Motion-JPEG (MJPEG). Because these cards don't convert the analog footage into the DV format, you can't edit the captured footage using Premiere Elements.

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