The Video Capture Port:
Getting Your Video Footage to Your Computer!

Video capture port

The video capture port allows you to download your video material from your camcorder or video device to your computer... Which one is best?

Let's take a look…!

Some of these ports you may already have on your video editing computer, others you can get as part of an ad-on capture card. The different types of ports have their good and bad points... Below is a rundown of the most common of these ports and what to expect when you use them to capture the video from your digital video camera to your computer.

The FireWire Port...

FireWire port

This versatile and fast video capture port is a brand name devised by its inventors, Apple Computers... And is also known as iLinkThe standard name is IEEE 1394. The letters refer to the Institute of Electrical Electronic Engineers, the numbers to the 13th patent in 1994.

FireWire is about four times faster than USB and transfers information at a breezy 400 MB per second. The result for the filmmaker is that with using a FireWire port for a video capture port Even the cheapest, most basic or free bundled software will produce better quality movies than more expensive software using a USB port for capture. If you have invested in a high quality digital video camera it wouldn’t make sense to then use a video capture port that loses some of that quality in transferring your video footage onto your computer.

VideoEditingSage – Tip

* FireWire should be used if you want to maintain the highest technical standards in capturing your movie on to your computer.

The USB (Universal Serial Bus) Port...

USB port

The USB is flourishing in the domestic PC market because it is a cheaper alternative to FireWire... It well serves the needs of the amateur video maker doing video productions such as  home movies of...

  • Weddings, 
  • Parties or... 
  • UFOs (smile)...

It is hard to criticize this as a video capture port because it has helped broaden the home video market by making it possible for cheap PCs to capture video... And therefore encouraging software manufacturers to cater to this market and improve the quality of their software.

It is also ideal for small businesses aiming to make and show short commercial movies on the web where perhaps picture quality is not an issue. USB is great for capturing video quickly... But... only at the expense of full screen capture and smooth frame rateIt also transfers information at a relatively slow rate of 800 KB per second to 100 MB per second. This will knock the screen size on your PC monitor down to about 2 or 3 inches square with the implication that if you later want to stretch the image to fill a full-size television screen or to project the movie... there will be a noticeable loss of quality.

The standard screen size for EU (PAL system), for instance, is 720 x 586 pixels... But USB prefers to work with a screen around 320 x 240, roughly half the size, and works more smoothly the smaller it gets.

You can try to alter this by enlarging the picture while cutting the number of frames per second from the maximum (25 in Europe, 30 in the USA) by half... But you have to be prepared to put up with the consequent loss in smoothness.

Video Capture Port… The S-Video Port…

S-video port

This port is used in consumer analog VCRs and in a lot of video capture cards. Most output capture cards use S-Video as one of their analog output sockets.

The S-Video quality is greater than that offered by analog composite signals and digital USB, but less than FireWire.

The wide use of this capture port in VCRs and cameras makes it a useful addition to the video capture card that incorporates it.

I hope this info will help you to understand the video ports and how to use them on your video editing computer a little better!

Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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