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Capturing video

Before you can edit your own video you need to transfer it to your PC’s hard drive. In NLE parlance, you need to capture it. Capture is a somewhat-misleading term used throughout the NLE world. All that Premiere Pro does during DV capture is to place the video data in a Windows AVI file “wrapper” without changing the original DV data.

The capture process in the analog world takes several steps: transfer, conversion, compression and wrapping. Your camcorder transfers the video and audio as analog data to a video capture card. That card’s built-in hardware converts the waveform signal to a digital form, compresses it using a codec (Compression/Decompression) process, and then wraps it in the AVI file format.

Three DV capturing scenarios

Premiere Pro offers tools to take some of the manual labor out of the capturing process. There are three basic approaches. I’ll take you through all of them:

  • Capture your entire videotape as one long clip
  • Log clips’ in- and out-points for automated, batch capturing
  • Use the scene detection feature in Premiere Pro to automatically create separate clips whenever you pressed the pause/record button on your camcorder

To do this and the following mini-lessons, you need a DV camcorder. Most DV camcorders have a FireWire (IEEE 1394) cable that you hook up to your PC’s FireWire connector. If your PC does not have a FireWire connector, I recommend you buy a FireWire/USB combination card. Decent ones cost less than $20.

You can work with HDV (a compressed high definition video format) or with a professional-level camcorder with an SDI (Serial Digital Interface) connector and a specialized video capture card.

Premiere Pro handles HDV and SDI capture with the same kind of software device controls used with a standard DV camcorder. SDI requires an extra set-up procedure. Refer to Premiere Pro Help for more on that.

If you have an analog camcorder, you need a video capture card that can handle S-Video or Composite video connectors. Your only option with most analog camcorders is to manually start and stop recording. Most don’t work with remote device control or have timecode readout so you cannot log tapes, do batch capture devices and most do not use the scene detection feature.

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