First off, thanks to all in advance for taking time to look at my questions and help me. I'm more than ten years behind the times and unfamiliar with what I need, though I have done my best to look at some recent threads - some have helped while others have confused me. If I'm asking something that was broached in a former thread, I sincerely apologize.
My last purchase of PC video capture equipment was in 2003 when I bought a Canopus DV Storm 2 Pro, a fantastic capture card with an excellent proprietary software package (StormEdit) which gave me everything I needed to do as an amateur to edit, color correct, enhance sound, simple titling, etc. without having to go through the motions to learn Adobe Premiere. I've enjoyed using it but would like to move into recent times and capture HD. My other reason for mentioning this - my preference for forking out $1k at the time on the DV Storm 2 was on account of the rendering of MPEG2. It has a built-in hardware encoder on the card itself, which significantly sped up file renders. To take a 1h 45m timeline from raw AVI (13 GB/hr) and encode an MPEG2 in roughly the same amount of time using a hardware solution instead of a software solution was invaluable.
So, right now I have a Windows 7 PC, AMD A8-3820 2.50 Ghz processor, 8 GB ram with a 1 TB HD. I look to get a 3 TB HD as the target drive for captures. So, my questions are as follows:
1) Like many here, I too, like to capture television programming for my own personal enjoyment - mostly sporting events. My preference based on what I know and have seen is to output from my cable box via HDMI into my PC and in an HD format. I have seen the thread on HDMI strippers so there likely isn't a need to reengage on that here. So, what would be the best HDMI capture card for what I need? For my purposes, I need something fast but I don't believe I would need something 1080i 60fps that would based on my understanding get decimated down to 30fps anyway, then face the issue with dropped frames in the final render.
2) Next on the card, is there a hardware capture card (somewhat like the old DV Storm 2) that has a hardware encoder that would speed up conversions of raw video to the recommended output format? These days, is it even necessary given how fast CPUs are?
3) Is the current PC I have robust enough to accommodate the capture (assuming my goal is to add the 3 TB HD)? If it isn't, please advise a recommended configuration?
4) On software, what do some of you use? Edius and Adobe Premiere, while excellent packages, are beyond the scope of what I would ever use. I've looked at Cyberlink Director Suite 2 for the all-in-one ability to capture, edit, invoke transitions, etc. and render to the designated output format. Plus it is only $200. Does anyone have any experience with this? Also, if there are other software packages you like, compatible with your capture cards and are relative easy from an amateur standpoint, please let me know what those combinations are.
Again, thanks for the help and I look forward to the feedback!
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American HDTV uses 29.97 frames per second (NOT fields per second) for 1080 video. "fps" means "frames per second". So I don't know why you think you need to capture 1080i 60 fps when 1080i 29.97 fps is the standard and 60 fps is not allowed for 1080 video under the current standard. There is talk that the standard may be changed, but that hasn't happened yet.
I think your PC should be OK for what you propose.
The "software vs. hardware encoding" debate goes on here. In the past hardware was definitely better. Now many members here insist that software is better, but some capture devices simply do hardware encoding and if you have one, that's just how it is. Is hardware encoding necessary? Probably not. But I use a Hauppauge Colossus that does it and I'm fine with it.
Maybe I should let others weigh in on what capture card for you to use.
I appreciate the clarification. I always knew for NTSC that we operated under 30 frames per second, but also that these were comprised of even and odd frames, related to the 60 cycles associated with power current. So when I saw 60 mentioned, I wasn't sure if that had something to do with this or not. Regardless I appreciate the clarification.
Thank you very much also for letting me know you used a Colossus. I went to the Hauppage site to check it out.
More HDMI capture devices use hardware rather than software to encode. Those who use devices that encode with software are primarily interested in capturing using lossless compression, and re-encoding to a different format later. This could give better results because it allows two-pass encoding, but the lossless HD capture files are truly enormous, and re-encoding to the desired end format takes time.
If you want to use Windows 7's Media Center or NextPVR for program guide-based scheduled recording, the Hauppauge Colossus is almost your only choice for HDMI capture. You will need an HDMI splitter to use with the Colossus, and you'll need one that can remove HDCP as a side effect to use the Colossus (and most other capture devices) for recording cable TV or satellite TV.
Some HDMI capture devices (the Elgato Game Capture HD is one) only work well (or work at all) with the manufacturer-provided software, so try to find out if there are third-party options before you buy in case it turns out that you don't care for the software provided with the capture device.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 14th May 2014 at 16:03.
I know things have changed quite a bit in ten years, but I appreciate what you're saying about capturing to the lossless compression. That was the issue faced when I got started in capturing raw AVI. Either you made your edits from raw AVI then encoded or recorded on-the-fly to an encoded MPEG2. But once in MPEG2, your only option was to then reencode at a different bitrate, crop or trim. You didn't have (at least being an average consumer) programs like Edius that would allow you to take multiple encoded formats, put them onto the timeline and perform all your edits, then encode.
Thanks for the suggested feedback on third-party software. I mentioned earlier my interest presently with Cyberlink Director Suite 2. I've already contacted support to ask specifically which cards don't work and specifically which ones have worked well in the testing of their products. I thought this might become an issue and you seemed to confirm it.
PowerDirector will work for capturing video from the Hauppauge Colossus, and I have read a few things indicating that PowerDirector does not work well for editing .ts or .mts files produced by that device. If you get a Colossus I would try PowerDirector before buying the software.
However, VideoReDo TV Suite H.264 does work quite well for editing for editing .ts or .mts files produced by the Colossus, but VideoReDo's products are for editing video and authoring DVDs and do not include the ability capture. Capture4ME might be worth trying for capture if you need a third-party capture product without PVR functionality.
Apparently nothing works well for editing .mp4 files produced by the Hauppauge Colossus.
Thanks for sharing what you know about the Collosus and the software that does or does not work well.
Is your source Sat, cable or OTA?
Here's an example of a cheap device that accidentally (wink wink) removes HDCP as it splits HDMI.
At the end of the day, I like having the ability to watch my renders on a big TV (currently I have a 46" HDTV in my "dude-room") without digitizing in the final product. Perfectly pristine renders are wonderful to watch, but not at the expense of adding another 15 GBs to whatever format is dictated.
So, perhaps, if I settle on a particular program(s) to capture / edit / author, the fact the standards are open to more than just HDMI opens up the possibility for more capture cards for the PC. Thanks again.
OK, so I got a response from CyberLink on Director Suite.
All they indicated for a capture card was that it needs to be PCI or USB1.0/2.0 capture device compliant with WDM standard.
PowerDirector's developers would have to know how to configure the settings for the hardware encoder and/or multiplexer for that particular device to use them because the settings for hardware encoders are not completely standardized.
Most third-party capture software only works with capture devices that use software for encoding because those devices supply uncompressed output to the PC. ...which makes it is possible for the third-party capture program to substitute other software encoders, multiplexers, and file writers for those supplied with the device. That isn't an option if the device uses hardware to encode because the encoder and multiplexer is integrated into the device itself, and the device can normally only supply already compressed output, so there is no way make a substitution.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 16th May 2014 at 00:39.
Thanks again UQ. It appears I've been thinking about this all wrong. I should have gone back to what someone told me years ago - "Start with the end in mind."
Ultimately, what I need to do is determine my needs and the hardware that achieves those needs. After what people have indicated here, I've done a little more research into the Colossus. I even called Hauppage this morning and found out a few things. First, I don't really want to bother with the hassle of HDMI and HDMI strippers for what I want to do, especially if component will achieve for me the quality I desire. From what I found out, it uses ArcSoft to handle the capture. As long as I can get high-quality raw video that can be imported by an editor, I'll be fine. What I do know is that it is compatible with Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere based on what they said. I don't know a thing about VideoReDo, but I do recall you mentioning above about the compatibility there as well. This is where the trial software will be helpful, regardless of what software package is used.
VideoReDo TV Suite H.264 is a frame-accurate editor that can do smart encoding (only re-encode the GOPs affected by cuts). This makes it very fast when exporting the edited file, and leaves most of the video untouched. VideoReDo can also deal with some kinds of errors in transport streams, which conventional editors can't do. Vegas and Adobe Premiere are more powerful/versatile but older versions would re-encode the entire file after editing, which makes exporting the edited file slower, and slightly reduces the quality of the edited video. I think the latest versions can smart render H.264 video.