need your recommendation re video capture card

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Mike Eisenstadt, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. I wish to follow Ken's advice and replace my Intel SVR III
    video capture card.

    I have never tried to capture video with this card, I only
    used it to grab individual frames from a Sony 3CCD
    DCR-VX1000 camera using its S-video output.

    I need your recommendation(s) for replacing the Intel
    card with a card which, like the Intel, can capture frames
    as bmp's without artifacts or color casts. In other words,
    video capture rates are not an issue in this situation.

    Amazon offers a number of card in the $60-75 range
    (far less than the Intel cost); which card for my purpose
    would you recommend?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Michael Eisenstadt
    Mike Eisenstadt, Jul 29, 2007
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  2. Mike Eisenstadt

    Ken Maltby Guest

    That was Mr. V Green's suggestion, actually, but it is
    one I totally agree with.

    I find it somewhat odd that anyone would be using a
    professional digital camcorder to capture stills from an
    analog S-video output. Is that how its "Photo Mode"
    works? If you want to "grab individual frames" why
    not do it off the DV-25 .avi file, your camera is designed
    to provide your computer. You don't need a capture
    card, to extract stills from the .avi file.

    Ken Maltby, Jul 29, 2007
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  3. I'm not following you. The Sony camcorder outputs
    s-video as well as composite video. How does the
    s-video signal get into the computer if not through
    a capture card with an s-video jack? Likewise
    how does the avi file get from the camcorder to
    the computer with a capture card?

    The pictures I take are of immobile objects, my
    main concern is to find the right vantage point to
    get the most attractive picture. The camcorder
    with 3 CCD chips provides more accurate color
    than a 1 CCD digital camera and the image can
    be viewed on the monitor in real time. When I
    am satisfied with the image, I capture the frame
    as bmp with the Asymetrix software.

    I don't know if the Asymetrix software will work
    with a card other than the Intel card it came
    bundled with.

    Please help me untangle my confusion about all this.

    Michael Eisenstadt
    Mike Eisenstadt, Jul 29, 2007
  4. Mike Eisenstadt

    Ken Maltby Guest

    Most people bring the contents of a mini-DV camcorder
    into a PC using a "Firewire" or IEEE 1394 connection.
    If your PC doesn't already have such a connection, they
    can be added with very inexpensive PCI cards.

    Many prefer this program for the Firewire transfer:

    (Note the comments on still capture options.)

    Ken Maltby, Jul 29, 2007
  5. Mike Eisenstadt

    Ken Maltby Guest

    While the $40 Scenalyzerlive should be all you might want,
    there is another more expensive approach. But it won't be
    around too much longer. Adobe bought out Serious Magic
    and are bundling parts like "DV Rack" into their $2400.00
    package. It appears that you might still be able to get it at:
    for $200. I guess if you are paying that much for a camera
    (even refurbished they are costly) this may be worth it for

    Ken Maltby, Jul 30, 2007
  6. Mike Eisenstadt

    Paul Guest

    I don't know what this is good for, but this is what showed
    up when I searched for "generic bt848 bt878 driver". The
    driver types are VfW (old) and WDM (newer). I think this one is
    WDM. Your capture application would have to be designed to
    work with a WDM driver, to make this work. Otherwise, you
    may need a new capture client as well.

    This is a BT878 datasheet (your card probably has the BT848
    but this will give you some ideas). About a 2MB download.

    That chip can be used with an onboard TV tuner/FM radio. When
    doing so, each tuner has an identity, and the enumeration info
    is stored in an EEPROM on a properly equipped card. Some cards
    have no EEPROM, in which case the user has to set up custom
    information for the client, if indeed it is even possible to
    figure it out. Some TV capture programs, recognize 30 or 40
    different types of capture card, each one with different
    EEPROM contents.

    The connectors on the front of the card, map to different ports
    on the input mux. The driver code doesn't have a problem with the
    back end of the chip, as it tends to be the same between applications.
    But something has to select the port number. And it isn't always
    clear to me, what is supposed to do that. Whether the port number
    can be changed through the WDM driver, or whether port selection
    is some other kind of kludge.

    The reason I mention it, is I used a BT878 equipped card, on a
    computer platform it wasn't meant for. Someone on the 'net, wrote
    a driver to map the card to the video capture standard for the platform.
    When I tried it, I got the "blue screen" meaning I was looking at
    a port with no signal input. By using a PCI peek/poke application,
    I was actually able to program the registers on the BT878, to select
    the port that had the signal on it. And capture actually worked.
    Needless to say, this was just an experiment, and I soon removed
    the card after that. You don't want to have to repeat register
    setup via the PCI peek/poke program, every time the computer
    is rebooted.

    Maybe the above driver will work with your card. If it doesn't, it
    could well be differences on the front end.

    This is a video recorder that claims to be able to use
    a WDM driver equipped card. Maybe this could be used as a test
    vehicle, in conjunction with the above driver.

    If you are shopping for a new card, there are a number of different
    chips available. This is another Conexant one. This follows in the
    footsteps of the BT878, but uses a 10 bit DAC instead of the 8 bit
    on the BT848/BT878. It is the Conexant CX2388x family.

    On Newegg, I did spot a couple cards that uses that chip. But again,
    there are reports the software sucks, and that is an impediment
    to a lot of the cheaper capture cards.

    Another device, which others may sneer at, is the Snappy still picture
    product from . Play went out of business years ago.
    They sold their remaining stock of product, for less than $13 per
    unit. As near as I can tell, the Snappy connects to the parallel port
    on the computer. It may have been battery operated (holds a battery
    inside). There is one listed on Amazon for more than it is worth.
    While this unit promises a resolution higher than the BT878 or the
    CX23883, of course the limits of bandwidth in the video stream in
    the first place, makes such high res kinda moot.

    On my BT878 card, one discovery I made, is the benefits of averaging.
    I believe the Snappy may have used such a method (but again, I'd
    need to dig up some historic articles, to find the details again).
    My discovery was, if I averaged just two captured images in Photoshop,
    taken from the same motionless input scene, it would remove a lot of the
    CCD noise. Averaging more frames than that, didn't seem to have
    nearly as much incremental benefit. And it did take me a while to
    figure out, how to get Photoshop to do something simple like average
    the two frames. Photoshop seemed to do the right thing, when I did
    A+B/2, by providing enough dynamic range so that the A+B part
    would not overflow in bright parts of the image.

    You can have plenty of fun, for not a lot of money, but it seems
    to be harder to offer a solution that "just works". There are plenty
    of more powerful devices, with compression schemes on them that would
    just ruin the results. Thus you are left with the low cost solutions,
    that seem to lack good software.

    My old card was a Hauppauge, but I don't know if they still make
    uncompressed capture devices or not.

    I think there are also some cards with Philips (company name is now
    NXP Semiconductor) capture chips on them. One of their chips has a
    9 bit DAC, for whatever that is worth. I don't recollect seeing
    a web site, that compares the capabilities of these things.
    Reviews on Newegg, may be as close as you can get, to some useful

    Example reviews from the cheapest card.

    Have fun,
    Paul, Jul 30, 2007
  7. If you want to avoid "artifacts or color casts" then use the
    digital signal from the Firewire output of your camcorder.
    You can either transfer video clips (and then select your
    frames to grab), or some software will let you grab frames
    from the DV stream on-the-fly.

    Perhaps we don't understand why you appear to want to
    use the analog (S-video) output from your camcorder?
    Richard Crowley, Aug 2, 2007
  8. Most people bring the contents of a mini-DV camcorder
    For some unexplained reason, the Sony DVC-VX1000's
    firewire output is inferior in color accuracy to its s-video
    output. I won an auction last night on EBay for a KWORLD DVD-
    MAKER s-video capture card. It comes bundled with Ulead
    software and according to the specs it can grab a frame
    as a bmp. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will work.
    Meanwhile I installed a card with Firewire ports and
    downloaded SceneAnalyserLive. I could see the feed
    from the camera but I couldnt figure out how SceneAnalyser
    can be made to grab individual frames.

    Thanks Ken and others for your useful suggestions.

    Mike Eisenstadt
    Mike Eisenstadt, Aug 3, 2007
  9. Mike Eisenstadt

    Ken Maltby Guest

    That should not be technically possible.

    I hope you got lucky, Kworld"s products haven't been
    considered of very good quality, still you never know.
    From their web site:
    With ScenalyzerLive you can quickly export stills in both, jpg
    or bmp format. This can be done either from live-pictures from
    your camera or frame-accurately from .avi files by simply
    pressing 'F2'. ScenalyzerLive also gives you the option to choose
    3 possible resolutions with optional de-interlacing, cropping and
    with adjustable jpg compression factor.
    Ken Maltby, Aug 3, 2007
  10. Mike Eisenstadt

    Ken Maltby Guest


    I can't leave it with you just looking at Kworld options; take
    a look at what V-One Multimedia is offering:

    Their Snazzi* V DVD Pro even has YUV Component input.
    If you must have a capture card, you might as well get a good

    Ken Maltby, Aug 3, 2007
  11. Mike Eisenstadt

    tonsofpcs Guest

    If he is capturing it live (not from a prerecorded tape), the analog
    signal will be better quality than the DV compressed signal on the
    IEEE1394 bus.
    tonsofpcs, Aug 6, 2007
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