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Old July 24th, 2004, 07:19 AM   #1
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What software? What capture Card?

Hi. Got a DVX100AE (Pal). Will start shotting soon and need to get the right tools to edit on my PC. First of all I know lots of people say Macs are better - but really I can only afford to upgrade my PC and NOT to buy a Mac from scratch. So PC it is....

Therefore my questions are:

1. Do you always need a capture card for PCs (I know a guy with a Mac laptop that is 'plug and play').

2. What one should I get? (What are the differences between these cards?)

3. What software should I get? (I hear very good things about Final Cut Pro but that's only for Macs isn't it?)

Please bear in mind that a. I am on a limited budget and b. I need to get a good combination between my machine (windows XP), capture card and software. I have heard from people who have got one card that says it goes well with one bit of software - and yet have still had compatability issues!

Thanks SO SO SO SO much for your help!! Looking forward to reading advice.........

PS: Does all the sotware/cards handle 25p?
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Old July 24th, 2004, 12:44 PM   #2
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You can read a lot of advice by just searching or browsing this forum to start with.

Then you should take a look at the product-specific forums and ascertain if the products generally have problems (understanding that most people post because they have a problem, not because they are satisfied customers) and go from there.

The order of selection is:

1. What am I going to do with the video
2. What software packages will allow me to accomplish #1
3. What hardware best supports the software chosen in #2
4 I several sofware/hardware sets satisfy the previous 3 items, which is the most cost effective or which do I like the best for other reasons.
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 11:52 AM   #3
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1) no you don't. You at least need a firewire card

2) basic firewire. I would not get another card to start with. A lot of software does not support them either

3) FCP is for mac only indeed. PC has a wide selection of NLE's to choose from. Like Vegas, Premiere, Avid etc. etc.

Both subjects (especially NLE selection) have been talked about
extensively here on the boards. Do a search and browse around
in this forum.
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 02:20 PM   #4
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Don't even THINK of capturing any way other than firewire (1394)!
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 05:28 PM   #5
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Why is that Dave?
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 05:53 PM   #6
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Cheap.
Good. (excellent quality)
Fast. (easy to setup, very few troubleshooting issues)

Usually you can get only two of those things from the "production triangle".

2-If you are dealing with DV (miniDV, DVCAM, DVCPRO25) then firewire is your best bet. Everything else makes little unless you want to edit uncompressed, in which case a capture card can help. Uncompressed is expensive and offers very little improvement in image quality. You also have to master to a format equal to or better than DV (i.e. betaSP, digibeta).

If you are dealing with analog formats then things are different. But you're not dealing with analog formats.
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 06:09 PM   #7
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Okay but little confused now. I have two conflicting pieces of info>

1. That the speed of editing (ie being able to edit in real time and renderind speed etc) can be helped by the capture card. A firewire card is very basic, but a $500 capture card will let you do all these things much better.

2. That actually the SOTFWARE (not card) is responsible for this.

So which is it> (if any!) ??

Thanks....
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Old August 2nd, 2004, 08:22 PM   #8
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For Premiere:
It's better to think of 'capture cards' as hardware acceleration cards that also happen to have firewire (and maybe analog) inputs.

They will improve the amount of real-time effects you get.

2- All NLEs have a base level of real-timeness that lets you avoid rendering. The hardware acceleration cards for Premiere give you more real-time.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 05:00 AM   #9
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Good explenations above, but let's put them all down in a neat
little list, shall we?

Hardware cards can offer the following extra's:

1. analog input/output (some camera's can do this as well and there are also analog to DV converters for if you only have a firewire card)

2. decreased rendering times and other (realtime effects)

The price (pun intended) you pay for such a card is:

1. the price obviously

2. compatability. It is 99% tied to certain operating sytems and more importantly certain editing platforms (Premiere being the most chosen one)

3. hardware and software conflicts (sometimes)

Most people choose such cards in the past for the realtime
performance they got through editing. The only "problem" is that
the CPU of today is so much faster that any good NLE out there
will give you (near) realtime editing anyway.

The current models should offer some additional speed increases
on heavy effects and perhaps mpeg encoding (not every card
will accelerate this!), but the question is do you need it and is it
worth the price.

Sometimes these cards offer additional services that might be
interesting like analog in/out and scopes and things that an NLE
might not have.

If you want to use any other NLE than Premiere your card is
usually worthless. The other NLE's will not see it or use it. For
anything! Most of these cards are not even OHCI compliant so
you can't even use the firewire port on it outside the supported
applications.

Some people swear by such products and others like myself
aren't too convinced in this day and time.

Personally I would rather spend the money on a analog to DV
converter that I can use with any firewire card out there and
even use it for my laptop than stick to a card that needs to go
inside my PC. Again, this ties you to your NLE, OS and hardware.

For example. In the coming months and year there is probably
going to be a great new revolution called PCI-Express. It will
replace all (most of the times) of the current PCI slots and you
will not be able to use the card you just bought.

I'm probably sounding a bit negative about this range of products
and that comes from personal opinions and feelings. The best
thing you can do is to first get a cheap firewire card ($30 or
something) if you don't have one.

Then do a good comparison of which NLE you want to work with
and works best for you (every manufacturer out there has a demo
of their product available!). Do some projects this way and if you
still need extra speed do a very very carefull comparison of
products you might find interesting and could work for you. It
also depends on your camera. I haven't seen any cards out there
yet that support (and thus accelerate) 24 fps editing or HDV.

Jeremy: both your statemens in your last post are true these
days. With software you should say CPU. Your main CPU is one
of the best accelerators out there and easily upgradable.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 05:49 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for great advice. Sounds like initially the Firewire card will be less of a headache! So decent start out combo would be:

Firewire Card
Decent CPU (2.7 Ghz plus, I guess)
Premiere Pro
Running on Windows XP

Final question (well maybe not!) is are all firwire cards the same? What one do I get? Why will one be better than another and what does 1394 or whatever that number is mean!?? Ok so that was kind of a few questions. lol

Thanks guys!
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 05:57 AM   #11
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1394 = firewire = i.link

Get an OHCI (Open Host Controller Interface) compliant firewire
card with at least 2 ports. Other than that it doesn't really matter.

Do you already own Premiere Pro? If not I would urge you to
look into other NLE's. Ofcourse that will lock you out of any
accelerator card (at least for now).
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 06:21 AM   #12
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Hi Rob. Thanks for all your help. No I don't already own Premiere so urge me!................... why and what?...!
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 06:37 AM   #13
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There are a lot of NLE's out there, but I think the 3 most used
now are:

1. Premiere
2. Avid (some form)
3. Vegas

Personally I would look at the last one. A lot of people, myself
included, are very excited about that product and it has been
used a while already. It is quite powerful, especially with the
Vegas + DVD Architect package.

The why is more difficult. It boils ofcourse down to personal
preference the most. The system is just more flexible, easy to
use and more stable for me personally and with me a lot of
others.

Cross fading is just as easy as sliding tracks over eachother
and fading in and out is just dragging a corner of the clip etc.

Great audio tools as well. Anyway, decide for yourself. Try demos
of various NLE's with some real editing and see what works for
you and your system. All will work with a normal OHCI compliant
firewire card so that is no problem.
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Old August 3rd, 2004, 07:24 AM   #14
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In my four years of desktop editing I've seen proprietary capture cards go from being virtually essential for PC to being entirely optional depending on need for speed and access to depth of FX (endless transition and effects choices). As Rob and others have pointed out, firewire is now quite viable given the power of today's CPUs and systems. A further consideration is that more of us are editing in more than one environment or through a network of systems and drives. Using firewire and the MS DV codec you have no delays for rendering on one system something captured on another. The old arguments about the quality of the Microsoft DV AVI codec versus Canopus or Main Concept, for example, have died down. With the MS codec you can work seamlessly between systems, over a network and/or on the road with an up-to-date notebook.


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Old August 3rd, 2004, 07:33 AM   #15
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Very good points David! Thanks.
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