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Capture how to.
Two most referred to are Ulead and Premiere.  They have the most features, and the greater ability to control content and subject. But the favorite tool in Usenet is Virtual Dub do the the price difference (free versus $500us). Review the editing software matrix here for a long list of totally free editors.
Things that affect your cap:
Settings  ( or use the defaults )
1. the frame size,
2. frames per second,
3. audio values - or not,
4. the codec for both video and audio, and increasingly common,
5. the compression rate (if any) to use during capping.
1. Frame Size - our first major detour. Please examine this image -
Here in partial scale is a comparison of standard frame sizes - while by no means as clear as the table below, it does give a bit of the feeling of the data you're attempting to move. Note that certain card manufactures include in their line counts the multiple audio tracks, blank interval lines. frame start, and control embedding. While their "video size" may appear to be different, all the above have in the last 5 years have been the embedded standard of all the capture chips I have been able to review the stats for.
Frame Dimension Pixels per frame Field order frame Rate per second Notes
160 x 120
19,200
varies varies the first size capture to receive wide spread posting on usenet.
240 x 180
43,200
varies varies first consistent appearance in usenet was 1996
320 x 240
76,800
varies varies The beginning of an attempt to post clips that could be enlarged to "full screen" without noticeable pixelation.
352 x 240 NTSC
84,480
Avi - varies
Mpg - full frame
Avi - varies
Mpg - 29.975
first introduction of Mpeg1 standard as a posting median 1998. For Mpg1, truly a "full screen" medium.
352 x 288 PAL
101,376
Avi - varies
Mpg - full frame
Avi - varies
Mpg - 25
Same as the NTSC standard above, but European format allows for more lines with less frames per second.
480 x 480 NTSC
230,400
Avi - varies
Mpg - field order A
Avi - varies
Mpg - 29.975
most common stanard for DVD, often posted as SVCD to mark it's mpeg2 encoding. Doesn't seem like much until you see that VHS tape contains 280 x 200 pixels.
480 x 576 PAL
276,480
Avi - varies
Mpg - field order A
Avi - varies
Mpg - 25
Same as the NTSC standard above, but European format allows for more lines with less frames per second.
640 x 480
307,200
varies varies an impressive increase, if and only if your card isn't counting the full field (320x240x2 fields). Never as become a standard for posting, but a great capture standard.
720 x 480 NTSC
345,600
Avi - field order A Avi - 29.975 Current Avi framing for DV captures that will be converted to mpeg2 DVD
720 x 576 PAL
414,720
Avi - field order A Avi - 29.975 Same as the NTSC standard above, but European format allows for more lines with less frames per second.
1200 x 675
810,000
varies varies currently the best I've been able to reach, but is 1/3 less than a standard American HDTV broadcast.
1600 x 900
1,440,000
varies varies HDTV - call it 1.3 mega pixels, cause the makers do, and what is now HDTV digital quality - again, with 29.75 frames a second, two fields. The ratio is 16:9 for HDTV, for the standard we've grown up with it's 4:3.
Think about the pixel count when you hear discussions of data rate between capper/posters - 5 meg a minute sounds like a lot until you realize that in the minute you've got to move 8925 frames at NTSC standard. Editing and compression - with the right codec, bring the picture to you without the overhead.
Taken in conjunction with frames per second, video size is the most important of all the considerations for capturing. The best advice to you would be to take a fixed source (DVD, VCD, tape) that you can play into your capture device, and cap at least a 3 min. piece over and over again until you have found the maximum capacity of you system to cap. Why cap at the peak? Because it's always easy to lose quality while editing to reduce file size, but totally impossible to gain back quality not capped.

2.fps frames per second - in NTSC 29.97fps @ 60 cycles is full capture ( or both a and b fields), but many cap cards are misleading as to their true specs.  Use a site like Videoguys to compare cards.  You should try and cap the best quality you can without drop outs.  In capturing video, the less you capture, the less you have to work with.  Any "noise" or artifact in the original capture will show up even worse when the final compression is done. When "moving pictures" first came into being, 10 to 12 frames per second were considered enough to provide smooth motion. Home film cameras worked between 15fps to 18fps. Movie's tend to be shot and played at 24fps. PAL system Tv is 25 frames, and NTSC systems use 29.975. As with size, capture high, and reduce later. Many of the avi's on usenet have frame rates around 15fps, and work fine.

3. Audio - your choice, but I love a good moan. In mpg standard, removing audio saves very little. Like video, audio has it's on set of codecs, and they allow a great deal of freedom in adjusting the final edit. But, again like video, there may be certain limits on what your sound card can capture sound at, so a great deal of experimenting should be done before you can be sure you're maxing out the work. Sound has basic "groups" - PCM ACM, MP3, and the like. No matter what you intend to post with, use the version your audio card uses. This will mean less processor time used in conversion, allowing more ability to capture.

4. Hard / Soft-ware Compression - since the days of the Intel Video Recorder there have been many cards that lay claim to "software only" compression, but like the above card, these still contain a hardware chip that does the basic "conversion" (their word for compression under these cases) that take the composite/RGB/Dv signal and translate it to 1's and 0's. Don't even start capping until you know if your device is YUY, RGB, or one of the many varients there of. Use the software codec that matches the needs of your cap card - both in inherant compression and in style - don't waste bandwidth capping RGB on a cap card that's already converted the signal to YuY. If the software offers you the ability, and you cross types here, at very best you'll double your processing time, or more likely, half the quality of what you'll be able to cap. Take a look at available drive space!  A good digital cap card will eat up a gig every 7 minutes.  Do you have the space?  If not, start looking at which of the available codecs you use gives you the best "return on drive space".

7. Compression rate - increasingly the codec itself allows you to adjust the amount of compression it generates while you cap, found under the Properties / Quality slider control and identified in kps, or expressed as a percentage of the total ability of the codec.  I use a simple formula - more compression = lower quality.  Find a balance. Again, basic testing of the cap card's and your ability to capture based on hardware and software is the key to gaining the maxium return.


Editing
Editing has it's own section - cleverly called Editing.  But take a brief minute for this thought if you will. While there is and always will be people who post whole chunks of movies just the way they came off the source, ABME is really not the place for that - both because that was not the intent behind setting up the group; and because there are groups made for that kind of posting like alt.binaries.multimedia.vcd.erotica, and those down loaders would be much displeased to see our edited clips there.  Much of joy is in the development of skill acquired by re-editing.  You become the director, the editor - you control the intensity of the performance and it's content.  While capping & posting an entire 15 minute scenic takes some skill, learning to edit is both much more difficult and impressive. Most of the "collected" clips are of this second type.  Your choice, but IMHO, more impact and less fooling around is better porn, & better for Usenet.  Leave the "complete" works to Star Wars in alt.binaries.movies.



Final Compression.
 Again, more in editing, but for those tired of reading, a quickie. Many cap cards use a "special" codec to maximize their capture quality (see #5 above).  If yours does, do you really want to post with it?  Will other's be able to view it?  Can you share the decompressor?  And will other's be willing to add it to their system?  Your call.  But if you've capped in a native codec, test to find which common codec recompresses your clip the best.  An aside - test clips in AVI of less than 2 minutes will not return valid results. Results are more reflective of the codec recompress when the clip is 3 minutes are more.



Posting.
Everything you need to know about posting is in Posting (darn, aren't we cleaver with names). But again, a quickie. Your post should include the type of clip (F/M, FF, etc.), the codec used during the final compress (divx5.0, Indeo4.3, etc.) and the type of file (AVI, MPG, etc.).  This allows people to glance at the header and decide if they want to download it.  Make a 0 part file.  Include a more verbose description of the clip.
Make sure you know what and how to post.  Try out one of the test groups if you need practice.  PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - Don't practice in ABME

Cap Cards

This area is for tips and comments on particular cap cards.  Info is grouped by manufacturer. Most of the comments and/or reviews are culled from posting in alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.d. For a "pro" place to check out (if you haven't already) is desktopvideoworld. It has some very useful stuff (and has reviews of a number of other cards) and has an excellent user forum. Also of high value due to the number of cap cards they carry and for their use of a comparison chart is Videoguys, Anandtech, and Tom's Hardware.
As PolarBear pointed out:

1. Pay particular attention to incompatibility issues between particular cards and motherboards/CPUs. There have been several instances in the last 18 months of video chipsets that have given problems with some families of motherboards. Buy a _good_ motherboard, even if it means less $ for a faster CPU

2. Realize that the "latest and greatest" is not always the optimum solution - drivers and support for the newest bleeding-edge cards are sometimes a problem. You don't have to spend a bomb to get a decent capture card.

3. A Cap-card is not a Game-card is not (quite) a Display card. If you go with a single-card solution, combining a capture card with a display card, the ATI 128 cards have proven popular with many cappers here. But the display capabilities of these cards do not match some of the better Matrox cards, for instance, nor do the 3D capabilities come anywhere close to those of the current crop of gaming-oriented display cards.

4.Depending on the machine you are building, it may be worthwhile to explore putting in a separate, good-quality general-purpose video display card and then adding a tv-tuner or dedicated capture card.

5. Get as much video ram on the video card as you can decently afford, but don't be exceedingly anal-retentive about it. Good caps have been made with 8- or 16- MB cards; the ATI 32 MB cards that are common as dirt now work just fine for capping.

6. Remember that the important part of the card, from the capping point of view, is the output. What can it produce, in terms of a video stream, (i.e. what codecs?), and is it limited by its chipset or by the manufacturer's lack of support? Matrox has the latter problem, ATI the former. Most people work around the ATI problem by using software other than that supplied with the card. ) In addition to your capture/display hardware, a decent amount of RAM is nice (256 MB minmum), and lots of hard drive space. Raw video caps are BIG. Figure 1 MB/second for raw MPEG, and 3-4 MB/second for raw avi, in larger frame sizes.

7. In a good ABME cap, less is better than more. Editing is more than half the battle. Good software for this is freely available; the trick is learning what you can chop, and how.

When you look at a really good ABME cap almost every element has been altered from the original source media, but you don't even notice. That's skill, not hardware. Good tools are a good beginning.

ADS - Pyro
 

ATI 

All in Wonder / All in Wonder Pro (8 and 16 meg)
  hardware chip - Brooktree BT829. Proprietary Codecs - VCR1, VCR2.

All in Wonder 128 (16 and 32 meg) / All in Wonder 128 Pro 32 meg.
Chip - Theatre. Proprietary Codecs - VCR1, VCR2, with support for MPEG1 and 2 (Ligos). RCA vid in/out, SVHS in/out, Sound thru chip and then to your own sound cards' input. The only difference between the 128 & the 128 (32 meg) Pro would appear to be that the Pro has AGPx4, while the plain is only x2. DVD read and capture ability software comes packaged with the card.
Capture outside of the VCR1/2 codecs can be a little rough to configure, but over all one of the best moniter card/TVtuner/graphics cards for the price - three notes -
1. All-in-one cards trade off quite a lot to give you capping and TV.
2. No one in abme seems to care.
3. You might want to try other capping / editing programs than the ones that come with the card. Most of those capping with this card HATE the ulead video studio that comes with the package.

ASUS 
GeoForce 256 with ASUSLIVE

V6800 Deluxe GeForce 256 DDR
Powered with GeForce256TM DDR - Double Data Rate GPU (Graphics Processing Units)  Built-in 32MB Frame Buffer / Smart DoctorTM Technologies - Smart Cooling, Dynamic Overclocking, Overheat Protection, Fan Speed Monitoring, AGP Power Level Monitoring ASUSLIVE Capture Driver - 704x480 real time 30fps video capture  Large Screen TV-Out (800*600) - S-Video and Composite connectors.  Video-In Support - Video capture, video editing, video conference. MPEG/II encoding & real time capture. QuadPipeTM Rendering, Transforming & Lighting. AGP 4X with Fast Writes, etc..
Comments: The 3D performance is top notch and could cap at 800X600 if I wanted to without dropping a frame until I ran out out of disk space. This card replaces my Intel SVR3.  By having a 3D/2D/Capture combo,  losing the ISVR3 frees up an IRQ.

AVerMedia
Well, times change. Thanks to an email, found that AVerMedia IS still alive. Most of their product line for capping seems to be based on the Phillips TV tuner, but specs are too lite to find the underlying cap chip.  Would guess from the picture of the tuner cards that its the Brooktree 829, as are most of this class of card. The best of their line would seem to be the AVerDV firewire, which seems to be along the lines of the Canopus Pyro FireWire card with 3 ports.
Canopus 
based on the informaion on their website, as well as this authors own experience, review their comments on conflicts between their DV cards and NICs before buying. No review was possible due to these conflicts, and the card was returned. Awaiting other cappers input.
DPS / Spark 
Dazzle - as Now been Bought out by FAST. See Fast for their new line up.
Digital Origin / Radius

Fast 

Fast F60
been gone quite a while, but was the last of the great ISA slot cap cards. Using the Fastavm codec allowed for 30frames/sec at 320x240; or 24 fr/sec at 640x240 (both field order A only). T'was several years before faster ide hard drives made this card outdated.

AVMaster
hardware chip Zoran. Proprietary Codecs - FastAV and Fast Audio. There are several generations of this card, the newest being the AVMaster Pro. Features builtin sound capture on board, which improves sync during capture and playback - but you will still need a seperate sound card on your system.

The DV.go series
- appears to be the new Fast dv codec, in the old Dazzle package.

The DV.now series
 DV.now

 DV.now.AV
now this is what I call a great entry level DV/analog video capture/edit device. Strong loss-less compression with the new FastDV compressor. One of the few not using the QT onboard compression chip. Complete mpeg2 standard imposed.
Specs as follows:
Digital connections 2x i.LINK external (6 pin)
Analog Video Inputs: 1x Composite, RCA (Cinch), 1X Y/C, mini DIN 4-pin
Analog Audio Inputs: 1x Stereo, RCA (Cinch)
Analog Video Outputs: 1x Composite, RCA (Cinch), 1x Y/C, mini DIN 4-pin
Analog Audio Outputs: 1x Stereo, RCA (Cinch)
Audio: 4-channel, 32kHz, 12 bit (in); 2-channel, 44,1 kHz, 16 bit (in); 2-channel, 48 kHz, 16 bit (in and out)

Compression/Codec: As per DV-Standard. Compression rate 5:1 (25MBit/sec.); DV-Hardware and High-Speed DV-Software Codec from FAST
Video resolution: High Quality 24 Bit True Color (16,7 million colors), PAL (720 x 576), NTSC (720 x 480), CCIR601 as per DV Specification.

Both the DV.go and the DV.now cards have new versions coming to market for the those wishing to spend less. Look for the DV.go! and the DV.now Lite

Guillemot - Hercules 
Also using the Brooktree 869 for cap


Intel

Smart Recorder II

Smart Recorder III
come on guys, there is enough of these capping today - send in that info

 Matrox 
Marvel
hardware chip Zoran. The MJPEG codec that Matrox distributes can also be adjusted to maintain highest quality (huge files) or minimal quality to save space; There is no MPEG-1/2 compression options as there are with the Voodoo3 3500. The zoran chip handles the compression. I've tested it with a P-II 233, and a Celeron 333A, though Matrox states a minimum of a Pentium 166 and 32megs of ram. While lacking in the 3d graphics features, it  is worthwhile for the net capper. What it lacks in 3d horsepower, it makes up with image quality for someone who wants to do non-broadcast quality video, or photoshop retouching and color correction.
The TV Tuner is comes separately in a breakout box, which also has the appropriate composite/S-Video video in/out connectors as well. Hardware DVD playback capability is also a separate add-on daughterboard.
Transfer rates max out at around 3 mb/second, though it appears I've only been able to get the following resolutions (NTSC) using either the included media station viewer/capping software, Premiere, or Media Studio Pro... 176x120 / 352x240 / 352x480 / 704x480.
The Newer model, the G400, is more up to the Millenium G400's 3d graphics abilities, though I'm not sure what's different between the Marvel G200 and the G400, besides a faster chip. It's not a bad consumer graphics/video editing card...

Matrox g400tv
There are some limitations with this card, but have found a group of matrox users that have all the hacks/cracks/tweaks/etc.. As with most cards, the bundled software is doodoo so use avi-i/o or virtualdub for the raw captures. MJPEG encoding is not the best quality but the raw caps are manageable in size and it doesn't require a ton of sustained throuput. With some tweaking YUV can be enabled and the HuffYUV 'lossless' codec looks very promising.

Matrox G200 with the Rainbow Runner for capture.
I added the Rainbow Runner about a year after I got the G200. Matrox uses a Fourcee MJPEG codec for capture by default for NTSC devices like a vcr, and it's next to impossible to convince the card to use another codec. The default software doesn't support MPG.
The problems start when you try and capture using a different codec. The Rainbow Runner does a poor job of capturing "less then perfect" tapes. They come out very dark, and playing with the brightness simply washes out all the color.  I'd hoped that the HuffyYUV codec would be more forgiving, but, alas, installing it has screwed up my system to the point that I can't capture *anything* to my standards any more. Matrox support and I are at the point where we agree that my only choice is FDISK.
Virtual Dub 1.3d is not always able to find my vcr as an NTSC device through the Rainbow Runner.  Sometimes it will, sometimes not. Turning the computer off for a few minutes usually fixes it.

Pinnacle / Miro 
DC10 series
DC20 series
DC30 series
DC50 series


Stb

For the Voodoo3 3500 card, NTSC/PAL TV encoding is handled by a Brooktree Bt869 and the TV-tuner is the very capable Philips FM1236


Truevision TARGA
 

WinTV 

WinTV PCI tuner card ($40), Promise Fastrack IDE Raid card ($70), and the biggest IDE drive you can 45-60gb ($225-250) - Put the 2x30gb drives on the Fastrack Raid to make one screaming Raid0 30gb drive that is twice as fast as a single drive. For about what you would spent on a Marvel or Radeon AIW you end up with a super fast capture drive (20+ mbps depending on the kind of drives) and massive storage. And don`t let the cheap price of the TV tuner card fool you they all use the same Brooktree chip as does the AIW 16mb. You can check some of the hardware sites for a easy fix to make a regular Promise Ultra 66 ($25) into a Fastrack to save even more.

WinTV 2000
In terms of cost (retail us$49 - often us$29 on sale), this is the true entry type input only type of capture, yet you can cap and produce an above average quality clip with the card. A tip from MOM on using this card -
for some unknown reason,  I don't drop many frames with my setup.  But when I do start dropping frames, the first thing I do is look and see if there is a pattern to the frames being dropped.  If so, I rename the file to something else and recapture the scene.  If I no longer have a problem great. If I still have the same pattern, though, I repeat the renaming and recapturing until I get something I can live with.  Then I erase all the unacceptable files, empty the trash bins, and defrag my HD.  End of problem.




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