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swphreak 02-25-2010 12:34 PM

Need help with video capturing.
I'm trying to capture recorded shows off my DVR to edit and burn to DVD. I have a pretty crappy solution at the moment.

I bought one of those $20 USB video capture devices, and I got what I paid for (crap). It can capture video, but I could never get audio to work. So I ended up jury-rigging an audio cable from the DVR to the laptop's microphone jack. It works, but not very well. I then use Avidemux (free) to edit the video, output to an .MPG, use DVDStyler to make an DVD image, and then use ImgBurn to burn the .ISO to a blank DVD. In the end, the video quality isn't exactly spectacular.

There has to be a better, more streamlined way of doing this. Plus, I'd like to maintain as much video quality as possible throughout the capturing, editing, and burning process.

Does anyone know a better way? Money won't be too big of a deal, but it'd be nice if as much as possible was free. I imagine I'll have to buy a better video capture device, but I don't have any options. I'm using a laptop because my desktop is too big to carry around. The only input for my laptop is USB.

Astrotoy7 02-27-2010 01:29 AM

Now youre in my neck of the woods Phreakski ;)

Firstly, what capture software did you use? Most of those devices come with Ulead nowdays.

It really depends on whether you are planning to do this often.

As far as capture quality and device performance is concerned - it all comes down to one thing: Hardware vs Software MPEG2 encoding!

Most usb capture sticks use a software based encoder, they are slow, buggy whether you have sprung for a cheap asian generic one or a pricey one from belkin.

There are devices out there that have a dedicated processor onboard to handle the capture and encoding, this is called hardware mpeg2 encoding, or h-mpeg2 if you want to sound like an a-v nerd :p

The capture device defines the experience - even if you have a souped up pc, a crappy capture device will result in frowns. I tried one of those cheap capture sticks on my corei7 rig with 4gb DDR3, and it still performed hopelessly! H-mpeg2 is the key :)

You can get these capture boxes as external usb devices, or internal pci or even pci-e devices. Manufacturers Hauppauge are the leaders in the capture device market, and they often have tuners built into them.

For you over there in the US, you could go for something like the Hauppauge HVR-1950. Here's the newegg listing

As this device has a tuner built in it can also capture TV, but that makes it more expensive of course. There used to be a tuner-less versions but they has been phased out - though you might get lucky and find one on fleabay.

As you have a laptop, I can't suggest the pci cards which would work out a bit cheaper. Does your lappie have a PCMCIA or express card slot??

Important things to remember:
Most(not all) DVRs actually capture the transport stream(digital tv) in its native mpeg2 format. Some newer satellite services are in MPEG4 of course. Hence if you are using a proggie/usb device to capture that stream in avi, then get back to Mpeg2(DVD), you are already introducing 2 stages of compression - which if you're into image quality - isn't ideal.

Secondly, what software did your usb device come with? Most commonly, its some version of Ulead DVD Maker that gets shipped with those things.

I personally do my capture within windows media center, but if you are just doing existing recordings on a DVR, could stick to ulead for the capture.

As for the edit and encode to DVD though, there is simply no better(IMHO) consumer level mpeg2 editor than VideoRedo. The TV suite edition, allows you to do all your edits and output directly to dvd. Every htpc-er I know with a penchant for archiving their recordings uses this. It's super easy to use and has auto ad-detection/cut. (I set to find auto but not cut automatically to ensure accuracy)

If that is a bit too much pricewise, you could try the Kworld DVD Maker devices, which come with a much better software bundle(from cyberlink), but they will always have the same limitations of a software based encoder.

good luck ;)


swphreak 02-27-2010 11:23 AM

Yeah, I don't need a tuner. I'm strictly capturing video output from the DVR into the capture device.

I don't have a PCMCIA thingy, but instead I have this ExpressCard 34 thing. Never even realized that. I thought it was just a holder for the little remote that came with the laptop.

The USB capture device I'm using at the moment is some Diamond One-Touch video capture device that I ordered dirt cheap. It comes with some One-Touch grabber software and a VHS converter application.

Astrotoy7 03-03-2010 07:12 AM

well maybe a good first step before you hunt hardware alternatives is to try alternative software. Ulead video studio and cyberlink power director (click to get to free 30 day trial) are the most commonly used capture software, you can even use windows movie maker - or

The h-mpeg2 capture devices are no longer sold on their own because theyre most commonly used within htpc setups for capturing protected cable.sat tv sources via the 'analogue loophole' This is why it is desirable for them to have tuners attached nowdays, and Hauppauge phased out the capture only devices.


swphreak 03-03-2010 08:32 PM

I gave VirtualDub a try, and the quality pretty much looked the same. It must be a limitation of the cheap capture device I'm using. I do like that I can compress the video as I capture. So instead of 30 minutes taking up 5+ gigs, it'll only be a couple of hundred megabytes.

I also gave PowerDirector a whirl, and pretty quickly uninstalled it. It's just way too much price and feature-wise than I need. Avidemux does what I need, and I also figured out how to queue up projects. That let me run them overnight instead of taking up all my CPU while I'm trying to use the PC.

I still need to tinker with the audio capturing. After that, it'll be smooth sailing.

Astrotoy7 03-05-2010 11:11 PM

Fair enough Phreak :) Glad you found a happy medium that works for you!


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