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Video transfer – how its done overview

This project started with a friend who wanted to upgrade his PC. He found a deal at $700 with a powerful CPU, lots of memory, good hard drive space, and multi-media capabilities. These multi-media capabilities included a TV card and a remote control. The software was the Windows Media Center in Vista. I got the TV card and remote control as he didn’t have any interest in those for his needs!

The TV cards have TV tuners and they also have composite and S video inputs. That means you can connect a video tape player output to them to capture taped video. The media center will write this video out as a file on the hard drive at the rate of several gigabytes per hour. Once you have this video file, you will want to edit it and then convert it to a format that uses less space and can be viewed on other devices.

The key concept with video files that you need to understand to get the best success in converting and editing them is that there are containers and codecs. Container formats specify how audio and video files work together. The codecs, or coder/decoder, describe the way the audio and video information is encoded as digital information.

There are scads of containers and codecs and figuring out which to use can be difficult. The standard movie on a DVD is good for DVD players but it is not highly compressed and contains many components that allow it to be put on older DVD media file systems.

Many DVD players can also play AVI files as long as they contain video in xVid format and audio in MP3 format. These codecs allow for much smaller video files than the ones standard DVD’s use. Modern AV equipment can also use more space efficient codecs and containers that also provide other features.

In order to convert the video from the TV card to something smaller and more useful, I use the following applications.

For editing – mainly cropping out advertisements and selecting clips – I use Avidemux. This can do transcoding but I use It mainly just for cropping.

For transcoding (making AVI files) I use HandBrake. This has a focus on converting DVD’s but also works well for converting the TV card video files to an AVI container with the proper codecs for my DVD player.

To create DVD’s I use DeVeDe. This program makes it easy to select video files into titles and set the various menu options for a standard DVD. It will also adjust compression ratios to fit the space available on a DVD.

The only problem is that these files take a lot of hard drive space. Now I have to shovel things around and make backups to DVD in order to get room to breathe.

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