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There are many varieties of camcorders (also known as video cameras, DVCs, etc.), and thus many ways to move video from them to computers. Camcorders can generally be split into two varieties: digital and analog.
Digital cameras

Digital cameras are the most interesting variety from transcode's point of view, since it's possible to take the video data directly from the camera and store it on the computer. How this is accomplished depends on the particular camera:

DV cameras
DV cameras are probably the most common type of digital video camera in use currently. The name DV itself means "digital video", but in this case refers to the format of the video data--confusing, isn't it? DV cameras are connected to a PC through an IEEE1394 (also known as Firewire or i.Link) interface, and the video obtained using tools such as [dvgrab]. (Note that when grabbing DV data, you should always use "raw mode"! There are two AVI formats for DV data, usually called "type 1" and "type 2", but transcode cannot read type 1, and type 2 is wasteful of space.) Raw DV files can be read using the dv import module.

Memory card cameras
A number of varieties of both video camera and digital still camera allow video to be stored on various types of memory card: Compact Flash, Memory Stick, SD-card, and so on. Some budget video cameras also record exclusively to memory card. In this case, the data is typically stored as an AVI file using either MPEG or MJPEG encoding, though some older still cameras have been known to use MJPEG in MOV (Quicktime) files instead. The easiest way to extract files from a memory card is to use a memory card reader (a small device, typically using a USB connection), mount the card as you would a floppy disk, and copy the file using ordinary methods.

In either case, once the data has been copied from the camera, it can be transcoded in the usual way. See DVtoDVD for an example of transcoding material from a DV camera to DVD format.

Analog cameras

While slowly being replaced by digital cameras, analog video cameras are still fairly common, and favored by some for their longer recording time. However, since the data is analog, it needs to be sent through an analog-to-digital converter before it can be used on a PC. The usual way of doing this is by connecting the camera to a TV tuner/capture card and using the v4l2 import module as if capturing material directly from television. Another way of converting analog video is the usage of converters like the Pinnacle MovieBox DV.

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Last edited March 16, 2005 12:36 pm by Reichhart (diff)