I am very new to video, but I would like to use a digital camcorder in a lab to record insect movement. I plan to record the video data directly into a PC rather than to the camcorder. Other than making sure I use a firewire connection, is there anything else I need to purchase, set up, or know about in order to record directly to the PC? Since I will be recording a lot and may want to reduce file size, I would also like to know if there is a way to have the video automatically compressed as it is being recorded to the PC. I also have considered setting up the camera to only record at set intervals (i.e. 30 seconds every 5 minutes), and would like to know if anyone knows of a way to set up a recording schedule of that type. Any advice you can offer on any of my questions will be very much appreciated!
Running into firewire will automatically compress the incoming video into DV format (this is part of the firewire/DV spec). A good-sized hard drive will hold quite a bit of DV footage. I would probably recommend adding a very large hard drive (something like a 250gig Westen Digital or 300gig Maxtor SATA drive), but other than that I would say you should be fine.
DV will take up approximately 13GB of disk space for every hour of footage. Depending on what you're going to do with the footage, you could add a Matrox RT.X10 card, connect the camera directly to the card, and encode to MPEG-2 from the camera. This would save you considerable space.
If you're planning on editing the footage after capture, stick with DV format.