New DVD burner, Mini DV camcorder and Firewire card. Now what?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Vlad D, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    I just bought a Panasonic GS120 MiniDV camcorder last week. I received an NEC ND-2500A DVD burner from NewEgg yesterday. And I also bought a Firewire card and cable. Everything is installed and ready to go. Only thing is that I am a total newbie to movie editing and burning DVD's. So I'm here requesting some advice and help.

    First off I just plan on recording family events (wife and I are expecting our first baby) and would like to be able to edit and burn them to DVD.

    Not sure as to what software to use. The firewire card came bundled with Ulead VideoStudio 7 Basic version. There is also Windows Movie Maker. I'm going to play around with those but just wanted some suggestions of other software that I might look into. Also I have Nero but not sure if this the best for burning DVD's. I also don't quite understand the MPEG encoding.

    Lastly, I am totally confused as to what disk I should buy, DVD-R/DVD-RW or DVD+R/DVD+RW?

    I'm sure I'll come up with other questions later but I thinl that's enough for now.

    Thanks,

    Vlad
     
  2. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Stick with "R" rather than "RW" discs unless you need to erase them for some reason.

    To determine whether you need DVD-R ("minus R") or DVD+R ("plus R") decide what player you want to play your discs on. Visit www.videohelp.com and hit the PLAYERS link on the left. Enter the make & model of your player and it will tell you whether your player takes the Plus or Minus formats. In my experience, most players take the Minus but your mileage may vary.

    Visit www.meritline.com and buy Ritek media. Get "Grade A" discs. Very high quality. You will make few "coasters" (bad discs).

    On the software end, I'm not familiar with the Ulead product you mentioned. WinDV is the freeware tool I use to capture (actually copy) DV to my hard drive.

    TMPGEnc is the 2nd best MPEG-2 encoder on the market and is relatively inexpensive. (The absolute best, Cinema Craft Encoder, costs thousands of dollars.)

    You will need to "author" the MPEG-2 files into an actual DVD. Your Ulead product may be able to do this for you. I'm not sure. I'm afraid I can't help you much with this step.

    NERO should be just fine for burning your DVD.

    Good luck!
     
  3. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I would just stick with Windows Movie Maker for what you're wanting to do. They copied iMovie and therefore it turned out to be a fairly decent program. If you decide you want to get really deep into it you could go with Adobe Premiere (around $500 probably). But if you try to drive right in to something like the Adobe program you may be turned off from video editing forever.
     
  4. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    To edit your DV files once they're on the hard drive, I recommend VirtualDub. Powerful, versatile, and FREE. Not nearly as difficult as AviSynth. Also, there are many free plug-ins available, to further expand its capabilities.
     
  5. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Thanks guys.

    So if I understand this correctly, I'll need a program to capture and one to edit my DV files. Ulead VideoStudio 7 and Windows Movie Maker does both. I'm also going to download and try your suggestions of WinDV to capture and VirtualDub to edit.

    Now here is where I'm not too clear. Once my DV file is edited, it needs to be rendered? And if so in what file format? Now once rendered, is that when I would use the encoder such as TMPGEnc? Which would convert the rendered file to MPEG-2? And then I use another program to "author" the DVD and yet another (Nero) to burn the DVD?

    Sorry for rambling on, but I'm a little bit confused.

    Thanks,

    Vlad

    BTW Rob, what movie is your sig pic from?
     
  6. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Vlad,

    You're absolutely right. The process can be very confusing, especially for a beginner.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Capture to hard drive (though in the case of DV, you're technically not "capturing" but rather copying the file from the tape to the hard drive)

    2. Once it's on your hard drive, edit as necessary. Take the boring bits out. Put the scenes in your preferred order.

    3. After editing to your satisfaction, encode the video into the MPEG-2 format (for DVD). Other choices include MPEG-1 (for VCD, an obsolete technology) or MPEG-4 (aka DivX, brand new but not supported by most players yet). If you want to post your videos online, you would encode to RealVideo, QuickTime, or Windows Media. If standard DVD is your goal, MPEG-2 is all you need to worry about.

    4. This is the tricky part. DVDs must be authored. Depending on the software you use, you will have the opportunity to place chapter stops, add menus, and create other features. For home movies, you can probably get away with something very simple. Your MPEG-2 files (which are probably *.MPG) will be turned into VIDEO OBJECT files (*.VOB). The result of authoring will also include IFO and BUP files as well. These are necessary for the DVD player to properly navigate the disc. I'm sure the more user-friendly authoring solutions make this much more simple than it sounds.

    5. Finally you will burn your authored DVD (all the files output by your authoring software) onto blank media.

    As for my sig pic, I will give you a hint. It is an early film from an Australian director, who is probably most famous for THE TRUMAN SHOW. The film pictured is available on a magnificent DVD from the Criterion Collection. It also happens to be one of my very favorite movies of them all.
     
  7. RandyMcc

    RandyMcc Agent

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    Rob,

    This may be off target, but you said:

    "though in the case of DV, you're technically not "capturing" but rather copying the file from the tape to the hard drive"

    Is this a setting when transfering the file? I always assumed you would be capturing it which seemed weird to me because DV is supposed to be Digital. Does it take as long capturing a file from a old VHS style camcorder? I ask because I am in the Market for an entry level camera and was leaning towards the Mini DVD to avoid having to "capturing" everything.

    Great post, and thanks!

    Randy
     
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Either way, it's done in real time. With VHS analog, you have to worry about dropped frames because it has to digitize it as it is capturing... whereas firewire direct digital is just writing the stream... but it's still done real time.

    -V
     
  9. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    ^^

    What Vince said.

    When you are capturing from VHS or other analog sources, the capture card in your PC is converting the analog signal into a digital one. This is a sensitive process, subject to interference from a number of sources.

    When "capturing" from DV, the data is already digital. No conversion of any kind is being done. This is a much more foolproof process. However, firewire cards are still sometimes called "DV capture cards" even though they're only copying and not really capturing.

    No change in settings is required. This is just how the hardware operates.
     
  10. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Rob,

    Again, thanks for the detailed instructions. It's becoming a bit more clear now. Just a few more questions.

    Once I finish editing my movie, I must save it before encoding to MPEG-2 format, right? Now, the editing software I'm currently using (Ulead Video Studio 7) lets me save in the following formats: NSTC DV, NTSC VCD, NTSC MPEG-1, Real video file and Windows Media format. So which format should I save in before I encode to MPEG-2 using TMPGEnc? My version of Video Studio is the basic version and according to the manual the full version would allow me to also save in NTSC DVD, NTSC SVCD and MPEG-2. If I had the full version and saved directly to MPEG-2 format, then I wouldn't need TMPGEnc and thus save a step, right?

    Thanks again,

    Vlad

    BTW, I looked it up and your sig pic comes from Picnic at Hanging Rock. Seems interesting. Is it worth a blind buy? Because I doubt my local Blockbuster will have it.
     
  11. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Vlad,

    Save your edited movie to DV. Then encode to MPEG-2.

    If the cost of upgrading your Ulead to the full version is greater than the cost of purchasing TMPEG, I would definitely suggest going with TMPEG. www.videohelp.com did some tests and found CCE to be the #1 MPEG-2 encoder (but at a cost of thousands of $$$) and TMPEG to be #2. At a cost of about $50, it is the best buy. MPEG-2 encoding is a very sensitive process, as I'm sure you're aware, given the varying quality of DVD releases. Even with the full version of Ulead, it will take some time to perform the encoding, so you won't really be saving any steps. I always believe in using the best tool for the job (or the 2nd best tool, in this case, if I don't have thousands of dollars to spend. [​IMG] ).

    As for PICNIC, I would probably suggest renting it first. Are you a Netflix member? Is there a well-stocked video store near you? You are aware that Blockbuster is the spawn of Satan, don't you? I love the film but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. I'd hate for you to drop $30+ on the film and end up not enjoying it. It is somewhat slow and very mysterious. It is quite ambiguous, and not nearly all of your questions will be answered by the end of the film. My friend Moshe is a much bigger film buff than I, and he loves it too. We went with a group of friends and everyone else liked it but only he & I consider it "Top 10 of All Time" material. The other film in Peter Weir's catalog that is most similar to PICNIC is the follow-up THE LAST WAVE with Richard Chamberlain. If you like that film, you'll probably also enjoy PICNIC. I've heard Peter Jackson's HEAVENLY CREATURES compared to PICNIC as well, although HC is much more whimsical. What other kinds of film do you enjoy?
     
  12. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Rob,

    I'll probably just buy TMPGEnc and make sure I have a quality encoder. Only decision to make now is which version. They have three listed on their site.

    TMPGEnc 3.0 XPress $58
    TMPGEnc Plus 2.5 $37
    TMPGEnc DVD Source Creator 2.0 $39

    Probably makes sense to get the latest one.

    As for my taste in movies, it spans the whole spectrum. I love foreign movies, small independent movies, and big budget epics but I also enjoy mindless blockbusters.
    Some of my all-time favorites: Scarface, Star Wars OT, Matrix, Donnie Darko, Pulp Fiction, Lord of the Rings, Moulin Rouge, Usual Suspects, Grease (don't laugh), Y Tu Mama Tambien, Monsoon Wedding, Amelie. I'll probably just buy Picnic, I have a feeling that I'm going to like it.



    Well I knew they were evil but not that evil. [​IMG]
     
  13. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    The "Source Creater" version looks like a stripped-down version, with fewer features. It may be the easiest to use, but it probably does not allow for "tweaking" that may be necessary to squeeze the best PQ out of your video.

    Version 2.5 is the one that did so well on the tests conducted by videohelp.com (although I can't find the comparison anymore).

    The new version 3.0 claims to have increased performance and a new interface. I have no idea if the encoding PQ has been increased at all. I can't imagine 3.0 provides poorer quality than the previous versions, but you never know.

    Without knowing more, I would go with 2.5 or 3.0. Can you afford the extra $20? Is performance an issue? Remember, unless your existing Ulead software has authoring capability, you will also need to buy software to perform this separate task, as I know of no freeware authoring software at this time. I would love to be proven wrong on that last point, however.


    One more thing, Vlad. Considering your broad range of tastes in film, I have a feeling you will enjoy PICNIC as well. [​IMG]
     
  14. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    For the extra $20 I'll most likely get ver 3.0.

    Thanks again for all your help. I'll update you once I make my first DVD.

    Laters,

    Vlad
     
  15. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    Sorry for coming late to the party Vlad, but if I can be permitted to chime in here...

    If you are ever ready to drop a major wad of cash or push the limit on your credit card, there's nothing quite like Adobe's Premiere Pro and Encore DVD programs for more serious authoring. They also have a high learning curve (which is why they offer the "Classroom In A Book" series).

    Premiere Pro offers menu-less authoring with chapter encoding and lots of cool post-production tools, and can produce 16x9 video. It also comes with a limited-use 5.1 Dolby Digital encoder (3 free trials, then drop another $300 US for a full license), plus allows you to customize video bitrates to get the best possible picture out of your source, especially when you lose so much space to PCM audio (I've had good results up to 90 minutes with a constant video bitrate before serious artifacts occur).

    Encore DVD works in tandem with Premiere Pro (to import .m2v, .avi, .wav, .ac3 files) and creates still and animated menus in conjunction with Photoshop 7. (more $$...)

    After spending countless hours using analog capture devices from ATI and having conversion problems making .avi files from .mpg video, I was greatly relieved to save hours of rendering time by recording via firewire capture from a JVC miniDV camcorder. A 90 minute movie generally uses up about 20GB for the capture to DV-grade .avi files on Premiere Pro. Up to 5GB is also needed to create to files to write to DVD, and my p4/1.6 w/1Gb RAM takes approximately 4 times the length of the video content to convert and burn the disc.

    Therefore a modest 40GB hard drive can be exclusively used for your video production work (I best recommend using a separate drive for any form of media production and storage vs. o/s and program files anyway)

    The best thing about it is that the camera also has analog A/V input, and allows the use of the camcorder to be a video interface for capturing from an external video source (VHS/LD, etc) without the need for recording it to DV tape first. It definitely reduces 'frame dropping' because the signal is already 'digitized' by the DV camcorder before passing down the firewire interface. It's been a great tool for converting my rare LD's.
     
  16. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i've been using pinnacle studio 8 with great success. i've already captured, edited and burned several dvds with pretty good results. no dropped frames or anything like that.
     
  17. Joe McCormick

    Joe McCormick Auditioning

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    I just started making home movies and I use pinnacle studio 9. Program works fine. I amm not happy with the quality of the dvd's, when I watch the minidv tape on my tv the picture quality is alot better than the dvd I make. The program is easy to use however and makes it easy to give out dvd's of family events.
    joe
     
  18. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Joe,

    I've learned everything I know about making DVDs from the fine folks at Doom 9. By far, the two most popular MPEG-2 encoders among the users there are Cinema Craft Encoder and TMPGEnc. Practically nobody on that site uses Pinnacle products (or Adobe for that matter), at least for encoding. You may want to try TMPGEnc. With some experimentation, you should get excellent results.
     
  19. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Joe,

    I've learned everything I know about making DVDs from the fine folks at Doom 9. By far, the two most popular MPEG-2 encoders among the users there are Cinema Craft Encoder and TMPGEnc. Practically nobody on that site uses Pinnacle products (or Adobe for that matter), at least for encoding. You may want to try TMPGEnc. With some experimentation, you should get excellent results.
     
  20. Jean D

    Jean D Screenwriter

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    I have a question. I too am new at this. My Sony DCR-TRV33 films in 16x9 (I prefer that over 4:3). I tried to "capture" a claymation movie I made using the bundled software. I found that I could not import the 16x9 image. it sqeezed the frames into 4:3. I dont know if its the software, or what. can anybody help me? I think I have Pinaccle Studio 8 at home (stopped using it cause it kept crashing my comp) I could use, but would that fix my issue. I also couldnt edit using the bundled one. it was very basic though (obviously). Thanks guys.
     

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