Adjusting video-capture settings in Studio

on Sunday, June 29, 2008

To make sure Studio is ready to capture analog video instead of digital video, click the Settings button at the bottom of the capture window. The Pinnacle Studio Setup Options dialog box appears. Click the Capture Source tab to bring it to the front. On that tab, review the following settings:
  • Video: Choose your analog capture source in this menu. The choices in the menu will vary depending upon what hardware you have installed.
  • Audio: This menu should match the Video menu.
  • Use Overlay and Capture Preview: I recommend that you leave both these options disabled. Leaving these options on may cause dropped frames (that is, some video frames are missed during the capture) on some computers.
  • Scene detection during video capture: This setting determines when a new scene is created. For most purposes, I recommend choosing “Automatic based on video content” for analog capture.
  • Data rate: This section tells you how fast your hard disk can read or write. Click the Test Data Rate button to get a current speed estimate. Ideally, both numbers should be higher than 10,000 kilobytes per second for analog capture. If your system can’t reach that speed.
If you have trouble with dropped frames when you capture analog video, try disabling automatic scene detection by choosing the No Automatic Scene Detection option. Scene detection uses some computer resources, and it can cause some dropped frames if your computer isn’t quite fast enough. When you’re done reviewing settings on the Capture Source tab, click OK to close the Setup Options dialog box. You are almost ready to begin capturing analog video. Like many analog video capture programs, Studio lets you finetune the audio and video that will be captured. Click the buttons on either side of the capture controller to open the Video Input and Audio Capture control. These control panels allow you to adjust color, brightness, and audio levels of the incoming video. On the Video Input control panel, first choose whether you’re going to capture video from the Composite or S-Video connectors using the radio buttons under Video Input. The Audio Capture control panel allows you to turn audio capture on or off.
Now press Play on your VCR or camcorder to begin playing the video you plan to capture, but don’t start capturing it yet. As you play the analog video, watch the picture in the preview screen in the upper right corner of the Studio program window. If you don’t like the picture quality, you can use the brightness, contrast, sharpness, hue, and color saturation sliders on the Video Input control panel to adjust the picture. Experiment a bit with the settings to achieve the best result.
As you play your analog tape, you’ll probably notice that although you can see the video picture in the preview window, you can’t hear the sound through your computer’s speakers. That’s okay. Keep an eye on the audio meters on the Audio Capture control panel. They should move up and down as the movie plays. Ideally, most audio will be in the high green or low yellow portion of the audio meters. Adjust the audio-level slider between the meters if the levels seem too high or too low. If the audio seems biased too much to the left or right, adjust the balance slider at the bottom of the control panel. If you’re lucky, the tape you’re going to capture from has color bars and a tone at the beginning or end. In that case, use the bars and tone to calibrate your video picture and sound. The tone is really handy because it’s a standard 1KHz (kilohertz) tone designed specifically for calibrating audio levels. Adjust the audio-level slider so both meters read just at the bottom of the yellow. When you’re done playing with the settings in the Video and Audio control panels, stop the tape in your VCR or camcorder and rewind it back to where you want to begin capturing.