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AGP or USB video capture device to record from analog camcorder

Posted on 2004-03-24
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Similar questions have been asked but I can’t find a good solution for my requirements. Perhaps some easy points on offer here!

Basically I have been given a nice camcorder that works perfectly except the tape mechanism is shafted. My plan is to use it as a top dorris webcam! Hence I’m looking for a cheap AGP graphics card or external USB 2.0 video capture device with S-VIDEO and composite inputs. I would imagine the AGP route is the best way to go as I would like to compress the recorded video and audio in real time and so the more resources available to the CPU the better. I would most likely be sourcing this product form eBay.

Quality wise I’m not looking for professional results but it would be great to be able to capture at whatever the native resolution is of the analog camcorder is.

As you might be able to tell, video isn’t something I know a lot about; I’m an audio man really. Any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
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Question by:wjdashwood
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by:Callandor
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If you're looking for inexpensive, AGP is not the way to go (those ATI All-in-Wonders are expensive!).  Here's a couple of PCI video capture cards which have good quality:

Leadtek WinFast TV2000 $35 (thanks to buckeyes33 for this)
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=14-122-181&depa=1

The Flyvideo2000 is also a good PCI tuner card for around $46:
http://www.lifeview.com.tw/eng/pro_fly_2000.html
http://www.streetprices.com/Electronics/Computer_Hardware_PC/Video_Cards/Video_Capture/SP1243256.html

The recording process is not compute-intensive, but compressing avi to mpeg2 afterwards is.  If you want to record and compress on-the-fly, you will need a hardware compression card, like the Hauppauge PVR250, which costs about $150.  It will capture 640x480 at the highest quality at a rate of 2GB/hour.  If you want to edit your avi captures, Pinnacle Studio does a good job and is easy to use, and it will also compress.
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by:wjdashwood
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I've found a cheap ATI ATI RADEON 64MB DDR VIVO on eBay. How would that do?
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by:Callandor
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JaffaKREE earned 200 total points
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I really like the ATI All-In-Wonder series for video capture.  You can get the 7500 model pretty cheap now, as there are several newer models.
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by:wjdashwood
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Is the 7500 model just an upgraded ATI ATI RADEON 64MB DDR VIVO?
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by:Callandor
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by:JaffaKREE
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Yes, the AIWs are superior to the one you mentioned.  I've had mine for about 3 years, and it gets as good results as anything currently available.  

 -JaffaKREE
 "Damn that Callandor - he's always one step ahead"

 
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by:wjdashwood
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I could really do with a review of these cards in the context of video capture. 3D benchmarks aren't very relevent! I'd like to know maximum frame rates at what resolutions and so on. I know a Matrox Marvel G400 would be a safe bet but I'd like to see how it compares with newer cards.
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by:JaffaKREE
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The 7500 AIW can capture at up to 720x480 @ 30fps.  You don't need a higher framerate than that, anyway.  It uses about 40% processor on my 1.8ghz athlon with the fairly processor-intensive huffyuv capture codec.

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by:Callandor
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Having done video capture myself for a while, I would say there are other factors more important than ability to capture at a given framerate, because a very low-end video capture card can keep up with the best - that may be why there are no benchmarks.  Things like picture quality and audio sync (not the fault of the capture card) are far more pressing issues.

JaffaKREE, you should see the guys that are always one step ahead of me!  They respond in less than a minute of the post ;-)  (see MSAccess, Excel, Windows XP, for example)
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by:marius_petrescu
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I think you have ruled out the third posibility: Use a PCI capture device.
First of all, every AGP capture device uses proprietary drivers, and even proprietary capture applications.
USB on the other hand, if it's not USB2, tends to be slow, so you probably won't be able to capture at full frame rate or resolution.

So my suggestion would be: a Conexant BT878 based card, which have some advantages:
- they are cheap (a new card like Pixelview Pro - with TV+FM+Video composite in + SVHS in is about 35 USD)
- they can capture full 720x576 frames at 25 fps
- there are generic drivers for them (WDM and VXD)
- they work well under Linux (if you need it)
- you could use some nice free capture software - freeVCR and VirtuaDub are some of them

If you need stereo TV sound, than ATI TV Wonder (no longer in production and not the VE edition) offers you a on bord MSP3400
if processor for multinorm stereo sound + nicam.
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by:JaffaKREE
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Marius,
 
   I think most of your points apply to any capture card currently available (drivers, software, framerate).   I have to generally recommend against USB capture devices, I've seen too many throughput issues.

   Just a note, USA standard max broadcast/DVD resolution (Non-HDTV) = 720 x 480 or 640 x 480, @ 29.97 (Telecined Source)
                     EU = 720x576 @ 25fps, interlaced source.

Callandor - that actually scares me a little !
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by:tpilg
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I use the usb2800 (xpert DVD maker usb 2.0). It is better quality that some of the internal cards, and allows snapshots.
See this site www.kworldcomputer.com and the dvd maker usb2.0.
The dv/av expert card is also good. This one comes with PowerDirector, which is fairly good for creating small good quality mpegs.
At the end of the day I reckon it is the software to capture the video and create decent avi's/mpeg's that should be the decider. The hardware is much of a muchness in the cheap range (you have to spend several hundred dollars/quid to get a card to do hardware mpeg encoding). Most of the software that comes with telly cards that can take s-video input (that I have come across and I have several of them) is pretty useless for creating manageable mpegs.
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by:JaffaKREE
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Capture resources -

www.virtualdub.org
http://neuron2.net/     (Donald Graft's site)
www.tmpgenc.net
www.avisynth.org
http://www.cinemacraft.com/index.htm


You can pretty much throw away the software that comes with your card.  
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by:wjdashwood
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I agree with JaffaKREE, I would probably install just drivers and nothing else.

tpilg, the Matrox Marvel series offer hardware MJPEG compression which would suite me well for then transcoding to xvid or divx.
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by:marius_petrescu
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Yes, i always forget about those TV standards...
And if you plan to use the card under Windows, there's just the need for the drivers. But his doesn't apply to other OS.
Take the Marvel as an example... It works OK under windows, except with may favourite Tv program - DScaler
(it seems a normal thing to me... Murphy never sleeps). And VirtualDub afaik has only BT878 support.
Starting the thing under X was a mess. After i managed it to start (and lost a few hours) there was no GL support any more. Which made
me just drop the thing and turn to my old ATI TV Wonder (which works without problems).
And as other guys told me, the All-In-Wonder series isn't better supported...
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by:wjdashwood
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Well thanks for all your help. I ended up spending more than intended but I'm quite happy that a Hercules 3D Prophet AIW Radeon 8500DV is heading my way shortly for the reasonable price of £65 including P&P.

I was also considering the Matrox Marvel G400 but marius petrescu's comments put me off a little and at the end of the day, I bought a plain G400 when they first came out and that was about 5 years ago! That's a long, long time in this game! I'm sure when Half Life 2 comes I would have regretted buying a card that underpowered in the 3D stakes.

I'll let you know how I get on with it but should I give out points now? Will I be able to add to this question at a later date if I do that?

Thanks for everything!
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by:Callandor
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You can award points now if you felt people have contributed to your solution.  You can ask more questions if they're related to resolving this one, but different questions should be asked as separate questions.
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