Tips for capturing and editing video with a computer and free software:
Idea: To create compressed DVD, SVCD, VCD, or MP4 (DivX) video
from captured video. For example, put a full 2 hours of high-quality
video onto one 4.7GB DVD disk. Or, put 5 hours of low-quality DVD
video onto one 4.7GB DVD disk. Or, put 1/2 hour of medium-quality
video on one CD that will play in a DVD player (SVCD). Or, put 1 hour
of low-quality video onto a CD (VCD). Or, put one hour of high-quality
video onto a CD for computer playback (MP4/DivX). Or, create video
files that you can play on your PDA (MP4/DivX).
Warning: This can get really complicated! You need a lot of
Hardware: To create high quality output, you will need a hardware
Option #1, Digital Camcorder: Some high-end digital video
cameras have video input and Firewire or USB2 output, allowing you
to capture in high quality from any video source directly to your
computer. Of course, you may only be interested in editing your own
video and don't need the video input.
Option #2, MPEG2 Capture Box (or card?): I'm currently using the
Adaptec VideOh! USB2 external
capture box (mostly because it was cheap). It works very well,
although there are some limitations imposed by the software that it comes
with (which is why I'm writing this page!). Don't try to use video
capture cards for long captures! The problem with all the
ones I've tried is that they use the sound card for capturing the audio,
which always leads to audio-visual synchronization problems. Also,
the audio quality doesn't seem too good (at least with my ATI
All-in-Wonder). The files will play just fine from the hard drive,
but they are tough to edit (although turning them first into DVD mpeg with
TMPGENC before editing seems to work). Also, most capture cards are
software encoders, meaning that they use the computer's CPU to encode.
This seems to always lead to dropped frames, even with fast computers.
I think that the dropped frames is the root cause of most AV sync
Note: The MPEG2 files created from video capture seem to all
have the sound encoded as LPCM (linear pulse-code modulation), which is
basically uncompressed audio. LPCM audio is great for quality, but
eats up a lot of space (you can only get about 1.3 hours on a DVD in
high-quality). Also, most of the simple video editing programs that
come with your camcorder or MPEG2 capture device only work with LPCM audio
(another reason I'm writing this page).
Software: I usually work with only free software, not because I'm
cheap (OK, it's because I'm cheap)
TMPGENC: This is a wonderful program for creating DVD-ready MPEG
files (also SVCD, VCD). Unfortunately, it does not work with LPCM
audio directly, but there is a work-around. It uses a Panasonic MPEG
encoder with a 30-day trial period. See other sites for more info on
the 30-day trial :). Note: If you want to make SVCD or VCD you
will need CD burning software. I mostly use Nero for this, although
there are freeware alternatives.
DVD2AVI: This is the work-around program for allowing TMPGENC
(and other programs) to work with the LPCM MPEG files. It creates a
".d2v" video project file and a ".wav" audio file that TMPGENC can work
with. The ".d2v" file is called a "wrapper" or a "frame-server"
because it is not a "real" video file, it merely points to frames from the
MPEG file from which it was derived. (So don't delete the MPEG file
or the ".d2v" file won't work!)
SpruceUp or MovieFactory: Programs for authoring DVDs from the
DVD-ready MPEG files that TMPGENC creates. The problem with most of
the authoring software that comes with capture devices is that they only
work with LPCM audio, limiting the length of video that you can put on the
DVD. I'm currently looking for other software that might work
better... Maybe DVDAuthor or IFOEdit but these look harder to use.
Note: Although these programs can burn DVDs, I usually use Nero to
do the actual burning.
IFOEdit: I use this program in this process for only one reason!
That is to make a DVD that skips the initial menu and starts playing the
video immediately. This is especially nice for the second disk of a
NOTE: If you're creating DVD, SVCD, or VCD you only need the
software above. The software below is ".avi" creation.
DivX: This is a great MP4 codec (coder/decoder) that creates ".avi"
files from video. With it installed, you can store an entire 2 hour
movie onto two 700MB CDs in high quality! Or, you can save 2 hours
of video onto about 300MB at reduced quality for playback on PDAs, for
example. Required for playback of DivX videos.
VirtualDub: This is an excellent video editing program that
takes ".avi" or MPEG input and saves as ".avi". Usually, I use this
to convert a video from MPEG to DivX. This program can also
re-compress the audio and rotate the video, very useful for creating files
to play on a PDA. You need a work-around to work on LPCM encoded
MPEG video. Note: If the video you captures was from a film
(i.e., you are backing up VHS movie that was from a progressive 24fps
source that was telecined to be interlaced 30fps.) you can inverse-telecine
with VirtualDub and restore the 24fps progressive video. This is a
good idea if you plan on viewing the video on a computer.
VFAPI: This is the work-around program that allows VirtualDub
(and other programs) to work with the ".d2v" file created by DVD2AVI.
It only takes a couple seconds. You just open the ".d2v" file and it
creates a ".avi" file that VirtualDub can open. You then tell
VirtualDub to use the audio from the same ".wav" file that DVD2AVI
created. This ".avi" file is again a wrapper or frame-server for
VirtualDub (and other programs).
This player is required to view DivX ".avi" videos on your PDA. It
works really well. I have a fast PDA (Genio E550g, 400MHz) and can
get nearly fullscreen video at 24fps and fullscreen video at 15fps.
How to get 3-1/2 hours of OK quality capture on 1 DVD (by compressing
the audio to MP2)
|Create a custom profile with video bitrate=2650, set the file
split size to > 6.5GB|
|used DVD2AVI to extract audio|
|Compress audio to MP2 with TooLame at 384kbps (toolame.exe
-f -b384 filename.wav )|
|Extract video to a .m2v file using TMPGENC's demultiplex utility
(not "simple" demux) using "MPEG Tools"|
|Use IFOEDIT's DVD Author function and give it the .m2v and .mp2
files created earlier.|
|Use NERO to burn the files in the video folder (or use the IFOEDIT
image utility (seperate executable) to create a disk image and then
use DVD Decrypter to burn the image).|