Jared Norman | Apr 5, 2013
Videography used to be limited to professionals and those with a lot of extra money. Now anyone can create their own video masterpieces. From home videos, to documentaries, to epic blockbusters, anything can be created with a little creativity, and a few basic tools. Cameras and editing software are both necessary, but before you can even begin the editing process, you need to get your videos onto the computer. To do that you need a video capture device, also known as a frame grabber. A frame grabber allows users to transfer audio and video from a camera, camcorder, or other devices to a computer. They are also handy for transfering movies from VCRs (yes they still exist), meaning you can finally transfer all those VHS videos onto DVDs or your hard drive. There are a myriad of different video capture devices out there, made by various different manufacturers, such as Epiphan and Blackmagic Design. To ensure that you get the film grabber that you need, there are some things you should consider before you buy.
This is the first question you’ll need to ask yourself: what will you be using it for. If you only want to transfer all of those old family videos you have stored on VHS tapes to your computer, you probably won’t need the same video capture device as a professional videographer. If you are or want to be a videographer, you need the highest quality video capture cards that support multiple resolutions, uncompressed color, and high frame rates, like the Epiphan DVI2PCIe. Ephiphan is an industry leader in frame grabbers, offering incredible performance and comprehensive features. However, if you are just capturing home videos, you might not need all of those features. If you are just capturing an occasional home video, a simple, inexpensive frame grabber like the USB Capture Adapter is a better fit. If you are somewhere in the middle, like an amateur enthusiast, you can find cards like the Black Magic Design Intensity Pro that offer a good blend of features with a lower price tag.
Inputs and Outputs
It’s very important to consider what inputs you need before you buy. HDMI is quickly becoming the standard connection for A/V. However, there are other connection types out there so be sure to check the devices you need to capture video from and make sure the card you want to get has that input. For example, some of the newer high end cards no longer have RCA inputs, since all modern professional equipment now uses digital connections. That means that if you are transferring video from a VCR or an older camcorder, you might want look into other cards.
Computer and OS
There are two types of video capture devices: internal cards, which are installed inside your PC using a PCI or PCIe slot, and external devices, which simply plug into a USB port on your computer. While the USB devices are much easier to use, internal cards can offer many more features. Although you could get the Epiphan DVI2USB 3.0 frame grabber, which combines some impressive features with the ease of use offered by USB. Another aspect you need to consider is your operating system (OS). While most devices work on all of the major operating systems, this isn’t true across the board. Make sure that the card you want will work on your operating system.
The saying “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to video capture devices. The more features a card offers, the more you will need to pay. If you only need to capture an occasional family video, you probably won’t want to spend too much on a fancy capture device. But, if you are going to use it on a regular basis it might be worth it to you to spend a little extra to get the best card possible, especially if you need to use it for your profession.