Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Chapter 23. DV recordings

    I have in the previous sections, described analog video sources like, for example, VHS and how we can digitize their video signals.

    DV is today much more widespread than VHS when it comes to video cameras. DV is a completely different technology from VHS, not least when it concerns capturing video images into the computer. Let’s take a closer look.

    Introduction to DV

    DV stands for Digital Video. The most widespread format is, in fact, called Mini DV, as there is a professional version with the name DVCam. But in everyday language the term DV is used for the sort of small digital video cameras, which use DV cassettes as a storage medium.

    Figure 159.The DV cassettes don’t up take much room compared with the old VHS tapes.

    The video standard DV is first and foremost digital. This means, that both audio and image is digitised in the video camera and the film’s data is stored in the digital DV format on the small tape.

    Because the recordings are already digitised from the start, then they are naturally very much easier to work with in connection with a computer. There is no need for a conversion from analog video signals to digital video data. You don’t have to mess about with audio signals either, which are separately processed by the sound card. The DV film with image and audio is transmitted directly into the computer. This is done with a little Fire­Wire cable, which is directly plugged into the camera and the computer.

    Figure 160. Digital video is much simpler to process in a computer than analog video signals, which have to be converted.

    FireWire is purely technically a so-called high-speed bus. It is also a standard, which can be used to connect external devices, which work with great amounts of data, to a computer. Fire­Wire is typically used for devices such as external CD burners, scanners and so on and not least DV cameras, which are ”born” with a FireWire port.

    Fire­Wire is really smart in connection with the editing of DV recordings; Windows XP recognises quite automatically the camera as soon as you connect it.

    Figure 161. Windows XP is very suitable for working with DV recordings.

    In fact, Windows XP supplies a very simple and quite small program, which can be used to edit DV recordings. It is called Win­dows Movie Maker and is described in the booklet “Windows XP ­– teach yourself”.

    Figure 162. DV camera with FireWire cable.

    DV recording

    A DV camera can give outstanding recordings. How good the film is, depends on the photographer, of course. But if you, for instance, use a tripod and think carefully, then you can make film recordings of a very high quality – better, in fact, than those in normal television programs.

    A DV camera records, you see, with a rather good resolution as the image has a size of 720 x 576 pixels. This gives almost four times as much image details as a webcam. At the same time 25 images are recorded per second, there are not many webcams that can do the same.

    Figure 163. File properties for a DV recording, which has been transferred to a computer.

    The optics, image sensor and electronics themselves are, of course, much more sophisticated in a DV camera, which also has a stereo microphone for audio recording in a CD quality.

    So DV gives a better resolution than analog formats, and it is also important that there is a much lower level of noise in the image. With a low level of noise, the images can be compressed better. So, all in all, this equipment can be used for brilliant recordings!

    FireWire, software and a good hard disk

    It is, in fact, quite easy to work with a DV video. You need the following:

  • A FireWire card in the computer.

  • Software, which can process DV data.

  • A good computer with a fast hard disk and lots of available space.

    As the image quality is so good, the recordings’ data takes a lot of space. In fact, 3,6 MB per second is taken. This can quickly become a lot a data.

    This little film of just under 18 minutes, see Figure 163, takes, for instance, all of 3,9 gigabytes, when it has been captured into a computer. So there really does have to be a lot of available space on the hard disk. The ”raw” DV films can, of course, be deleted, when the editing is finished but during the processing, they take a lot of space.

    In the following section, I am going to describe how I have re-recorded a DV recording in a computer, edited it and finally stored it.

    FireWire card from Pinnacle

    You can use any sort of FireWire card to connect your DV camera, and these cards can be bought for fewer than 300 kroner. FireWire ports are also found on a number of other cards, such as Audigy sound card from Creative.

    FireWire is a standard interface, which is uncomplicated to use. If you use Windows XP, you don’t even need to load a driver for the FireWire card.

    Figure 164. Hardware for Pinnacle Studio Deluxe consists of an analog video grabber card with a desktop box (at the top) and two built-in FireWire ports.

    For this sequence, I have used a wonderful product from the company Pinnacle called Studio Deluxe. It is a package, which costs about 3000 kroner and contains:

  • An analog grabber card built together with a FireWire card.

  • A desktop box for the analog video connections.

  • The prize-awarded Pinnacle Studio 8, which is a program for video editing and which is very delightful and easy to work with.

    This package is great, especially if you need to both grab a VHS tape and capture DV recordings into a computer. All of it is, you see, elegantly linked together in the program Studio 8. Read more about Pinnacle’s products at the website

    Set up for DV re-recording

    The Pinnacle card has to be fitted onto the computer and the two CDs with software installed. The computer is then restarted and is ready for use. I connect the DV camera to the Pinnacle card with a FireWire cable and switch on the camera. Windows XP immediately finds the camera (see Figure 161 on page 3). I open the program Pinnacle Studio 8. The first thing that happens is that the program wants to test your hard disk to see if it fast enough for DV editing. Mine is:

    Figure 165. The program tests the hard disk’s speed.

    Studio 8 user interface

    Pinnacle Studio 8 is a complete video-editing program, which is tailor-made for private use. It is not wildly advanced, but it is extremely easy to use. I think that it is absolutely sufficient for most of us ordinary amateurs.

    The program window is split up into three sections, which describe the three phases of video production quite clearly:

  • Capture – transmission of video to camera / player to computer.

  • Edit, editing phase, which we are going to see.

  • Make Movie, where the finished film is stored in a format or is transferred to a tape or a CD.

    These three phases in the production are quite logical and intuitively placed on each its own tab at the top of the program window.

    You will be surprised at how simple and easily approachable the program is. Almost anyone will be able to produce a good and satisfactory video production in an hour without any experience with video editing. It’s that easy!

    Figure 166. The three phases in video production are placed on each its own tab.

    Set up for capture

    Just like the VHS video we saw earlier in the booklet, every video production starts with a capture session, where the video is played and captured / transmitted to the computer.

    In Studio 8, it is, of course, done from the tab Capture. First, I am going to tell the program, which source the video is to be captured from because it could be either analog video or DV as here:

    Figure 167. Studio 8 can capture video from both analog and digital sources.

    The next thing I have to do is select Capture format. This is the file type, in which the program stores the recording. As I know that the recording will be stored in the end on a video CD, I can just as well select a MPEG format in SVCD quality.

    The disadvantage with selecting a MPEG format at this time is that the computer will be compressing the images ”on the fly”. This means that I mustn’t use the computer for any other work while the video recording is running. I am not interested in holes in the video so I select  ”High quality (DVD)”.

    It might be a little illogical but the trick is that the video stream, is so to speak directly transmitted from the DV tape to the hard disk without any process demanding compression. This produces the enormously big AVI files, I have mentioned earlier, and there is only enough room for 18 minutes of recording in the maximum file size (4 GB).

    Figure 168. The DV format gives the best transmission but it requires a lot of space on the hard disk.

    When these settings are in place, there ought to be a connection to the video camera, if it is connected properly to the computer and is switched on.

    I can now control the DV camera from the program. There is simply a little figure of a video camera, where I can start and stop it playing and wind it forwards and backwards: So I wind the tape all the way back.

    Figure 169. A DV camera can be controlled directly from the computer.


    I now select the menu option Capture à Start. Then I have to give the recording a name. I am told, that the file can have a maximum size of 4 GB, and that with the selected DV format this will correspond to 18 minutes of recording, so that is what I will have to be content with:

    Figure 170. The maximum file size is 4 GB.

    The program starts the video playing and the recording begins. I can follow its course in the little preview window:

    Figure 171. The recording has started. Please note that 0 stands in the field ”Frames dropped”.

    It is practical to select a pure DV quality when you re-record DV tapes. It might cost space on the hard disk and you can only record just less than 18 minutes a time (this is a limitation in Windows, which doesn’t accept file sizes larger than 2 or 4 GB). It also requires a suitably fast hard disk but all modern computers have that. The big advantage is that you can be sure that you will get an optimal video quality. I can sit and work with all sorts of other programs on my computer, and the recording just runs unaffectedly on.

    If I try the same after having already selected MPEG compression under cap­ture, then I will get lots and lots of dropped frames. This means that single images just fall out of the video because the CPU simply cannot keep up with the image stream. The result is some really horrible hacks in the film, which nobody can stand looking at. So rather record 18 minutes at a time in a top quality.


    Gradually as the program works it way through the recording, scenes will appear, which can be seen in the capture window.

    When you record with a DV camera, you made a new scene every time you start a new recording. The recording is often stopped and started on a DV tape and these single scenes are automatically registered in Studio 8:

    Figure 172. The program itself finds the single scenes in the recording.


    When the re-recording is finished, then it is time to edit your home video. This is done very easily and quickly in Studio 8. The program can edit in single scenes and you can create a lot of smart effects, just as you can put in audio, texts, etc.

    Figure 173. At the top on the left ”the album”, which contains the scenes I have at my disposal. At the top on the right is the player, which I can used to view the scenes. The storyboard is at the bottom which here is called ”Movie Window”.

    In the following I am going to show a fast little sequence where I make a film with only a very few effects. When you have first found out how easy it is, then you can start experimenting with all the other possibilities yourself.

    I select the tab Edit. Now I can see the scenes at the top on the left, which I have to disposal in my album. I can control them with the help of the player, which you can see at the top on the right. The idea is that I will drag the scenes, which are to be in the film down into a storyboard. In Studio 8 this area is called ”Movie Window”.

    I make a selection of the scenes, which are to be in my film by dragging them from the album down into the area Movie Window – mind you in the right order. If I need more scenes than the 18 minutes then I can just make a second capture and add the new scenes.

    Figure 174. I have dragged scenes down into Movie Window.


    When you have two scenes, then it is smart with a transition, where the one scene is weaved into the other. Studio 8 has a lot of transitions, which are ready for use. You just have to drag them down between the two scenes, and that is all …

    To the left in the window Edit, there are a number of tabs. I click on number two, which contains a big library with hundreds of different transitions:

    Figure 175. There are lots of transitions, which are ready to be dragged down between the scenes.

    I can now quite easily drag a transition down between two scenes. I select one of the very simple transitions, where the one scene fades out to black and the next fades in correspondingly:

    Figure 176. The transition is placed between two scenes in Movie Window. It couldn’t be easier.

    I can quickly see the effect by marking the transition and clicking on Play in the player up on the right. So I now drag other different transitions down between the individual scenes.

    Figure 177. There are an incredible number of transitions to choose between. Here you can see one of the scenes dissolving into small squares while it glides over into the next.


    When you make your own film, then it is natural to add texts to it on the way. This takes no time at all in Studio 8. I am still in the window Edit and I click on the tab Titles:

    Figure 178. Titles are small text templates, which you can adapt for use in your film.

    Again the system is very simple. You drag a title down in Movie Window, where you place it between the scenes.

    If I double click on the text, I can change it, select another script type, etc.:

    Figure 179. You can add to and adapt the texts quite freely.

    There are many other possibilities in Studio 8; you can add single images like, for example, digital photographs. They can just be put in as scenes and shown for 10 seconds, or whatever else you want. And there are lots of other possibilities – I have only shown a very simplified video production.

    If your family, for example, has a digital camera and a VHS or DV video plus maybe a webcam, then you can quickly clip the whole year’s collected video production together – with the addition of texts and colour photos -  – onto a representative VCD or SVCD. This sort of disk is much easier to show and distribute than any other video format.

    Figure 180. This little headset is practical, if you want to record soundtracks on your own video productions.

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