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After capturing my video to an AVI file and then editing it, my video editing software (Pinnacle Studio 9) converts the file to the MPEG-2 format in order to create a DVD. Is there any reason not to capture the footage direct to MPEG-2 for archive and ease of access for future editing, since that conversion will be happening anyways? And if so, is the quality different? I just want to archive some mini-dv tapes for use at a later time.
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Studio version 8 and up now allows users to capture directly into the MPEG-2 format.  This has potential advantages because MPEG-2 is much smaller size than DV or AVI capture files (about 1/5th the size). This is important because storage space, backup costs, and backup effort all go up when you have 5 times more stuff to deal with which is why capturing direct to mpeg2 seems like the best solution.

But its really not when considering quality?you would be taking a big hit. Despite MPEG-2s high quality, it is necessarily lower quality than raw DV or AVI captured video because it is 5 times smaller.  This reduced size comes at the price of some quality.

  • Once you capture direct to MPEG-2 you would need a separate, 3rd part application to burn to a DVD. If you plan on editing the MPEG-2 video you just captured, Studio will have to encode to MPEG-2 again (to pick up titles, transitions, etc.).  This second encoding will cause another small quality loss. 
  • MPEG-2 is lossy compression- which means once you compress it down it can?t be compressed back to its original quality.
  • The third reason not to capture direct to MPEG-2 is you run the risk of losing frames unless you use the select the "Encode after capturing" setting, which will require you to wait between captures.  Rather than wait here, we can encode our captured video to MPEG-2 after we have created our movies.  The result is the same outcome for the same time effort without compromising our movie quality.
  • The final reason not to capture direct to MPEG-2 is that when you put MPEG-2s on your timeline to edit them, they slow the editing process down.  MPEG-2s require more work by your computer to play them back than with a DV or AVI file.  The result is your preview playbacks while editing are jerky and you have to wait when you move the timeline to the middle of an MPEG-2 video to clip it or grab a frame.  Obviously, the more computing power you have the less of an issue this will be.
  • Direct to MPEG-2 compression can be very sensitive to noise, camera shake, out of focus pictures etc.

So always capture using the DV format over the Firewire (1394) port and maintain files in DV format until the final output conversion process.

The best archiving solution

I strongly recommend you skip the PC entirely and go with a separate DVD recorder. Such recorders are available from major DVD player manufacturers such as GoVideo, Pioneer, RCA, and Samsung. 

Another option is to use the newest product called Presto! Digital Converter from NewSoft. This is a device that converts analog audio and video to DVD with real-time capture and real-time burning that sells for just $59.95.

Two easy steps transfers audio and/or video from any playback device with AV-out or S-Video-out, to be simultaneously recorded to standard DVD without going through the computer?s hard drive.


Last update: 07:55 AM Monday, January 16, 2006


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