New guy here, I'm trying to digitize content from tapes that were shot using my Sony Hi8 cam. Here are my system specs:
Dell Dimension 2350 Series
Intel Pentium 4 Processor 2.20GHz
768MB DDR SDRAM at 266MHz
Integrated Intel 3D AGP Graphics
30GB Primary + 250GB Secondary (Internal) Hard Drives
Capture Card -- ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0 (external, usb)
Capture Software -- ATI MMC 9.x
My question for the group is: Which capture settings in ATI MMC (or another easily available program) will allow me to convert my Hi8 content to the highest quality digital video, within the constraints of my processor?
Since I have a 250GB secondary HD, I'm assuming my processor will be my limiting factor, not disk space. Also, please consider that I prefer using my Apple iBook G4 for editing, so I would prefer to capture video in AVI or another iMovieHD compatible format.
Here's what I've done so far:
--Connected Hi8 cam to ATI TV Wonder (USB 2.0, external) card via S-Video and RCA Audio
--When using VTR on Hi8 cam, playback is viewable in ATI MMC on-screen on my Dell
--I first tried to capture the video in AVI according to these custom settings:
--I tried several different combinations of codecs/resolutions/etc. from that tutorial, but everything I tried ended up really choppy.
--So then I tried capturing in MPEG via these custom settings:
--Some of the captures didn't skip or lose frames, but they are definitely not as high quality as I had hoped.
--So before I continue to try random combinations of codecs & settings, does anyone out there have a sure-fire way of capturing the best analog possible with my system?
--I'm willing to download/buy some new software or buy a new capture card, but only if it's guaranteed to noticeably improve upon the best that I could get with my current setup, and my max to spend is about $100.
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Welcome to the forum! You've given us good specs on your hardware setup but to help you best could you tell us a little more about the Codecs you have used, and what you intend to do with the finished product, (ie Burn to DVD, Share online, Disc for DivX player, Video for iPod etc)
The guides you have been reading are really good, but they are intended for ATI All-In-Wonder Cards, The ATI TV Wonder is a whole different animal with different chipsets etc. So perhaps that is whyyou are seeing a quality difference. I am not familiar with the USB TV Wonder myself, perhaps others on the forum are using it and can give you specific guidance.
My end goal is to create the highest quality digital version for archiving purposes. I'm working with Hi8 home videos that I'd like to keep forever. My understanding is that .AVI would be the best format as far as quality goes, but that file size and required processing speed are the main drawbacks of the format.
So, if file size isn't a concern for me, what's going to allow me to capture the highest quality version with my system?
Also, I'm willing to change my software or hardware at a cost of up to $100.
You have to balance the quality of your source to the amount of compression that will affect said source. For Hi-8 capturing uncompressed avi or even HuffyUV will be overkill and waste Hard Drive Space (even if you have lots). If you prefer avi over MPEG-2 then probably something like PicVideo 3 would be a good balance of retaining quality and filesize. It's an MJPEG Codec that requires low CPU overhead and generally works well with most Capture hardware. It's not free but it used to be around $14.00US. A second choice would be a decent DV codec, Look in the "Tools" section on the left hand margin under "Codecs" there are several DV ones to choose from. As jagabo stated Audio should be PCM uncompressed (at 48khz if possible)
EDIT: PicVideo MJPEG and DV Codecs will create video streams that have a keyframe for every frame, so if you go to edit it later to convert to MPEG-2 or 4 then you can make frame accurate edits, If this is for archiving at this point in time then make sure whatever Codec you choose creates a keyframe for every frame. It will be a great benefit down the road.
I make a dvd from my Sony hi8 footage with a dvd recorder. It's a lot easier to do it that way.