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What are the advantages of using a capture card?

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Guthrie Andres
What are the advantages of using a capture card?
on Jun 25, 2010 at 9:14:03 pm

Alright, so I am the general manager of a student-run University TV station, and we are currently upgrading our systems. I've slowly been upgrading to HD, first with the purchase of a 7D so students could get the totally manual feel for HD film making, and now with an AJA Ki Pro for recording our live shows (still in SD because of Camera, Keyer, and Switcher). However, eventually we will be getting new cameras, and I want them to be tapeless, and have HD-SDI for live shows. So, is there any reason we would need our new computers to have HD-SDI capture cards? Couldn't we just as easily, and probably more quickly import the files from the solid state memory rather than in real-time over HD-SDI playback? Unless we need the capture cards for monitoring, though right now we monitor over firewire through the deck. Just wanted to know how other people have this set up. I learn so much from reading these forums.
thanks,
Guthrie Andres


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Alan Okey
Re: What are the advantages of using a capture card?
on Jun 26, 2010 at 5:05:34 am

You're correct in that importing directly from memory cards is much faster and easier than using a capture card.

Capture cards become more useful when you have to deal with multiple formats and format conversion. Cards like the AJA Kona 3 can upconvert, downconvert and cross-convert footage in realtime, and with better quality than software conversion. They can also add 3:2 pulldown to 24p video that's being output to interlaced formats (NTSC-SD, HD 1080i60), and they have the ability to do a live key over video - useful for adding bugs (logos) and such. If you don't foresee the need for those capabilities, then a capture card really just becomes a way to monitor your video.

If you're monitoring video over a deck via Firewire, be aware that you are probably not seeing correct black level, unless you have a fairly expensive deck. Lower end decks (Sony DSR-45, DSR-11, etc.) output a 0 IRE black level, not the 7.5 IRE level required by US-NTSC. This results in blacks being too dark. If you are using an NTSC monitor and you don't correct the 0 IRE signal with a proc amp, you aren't getting an accurate preview of your video. This often results in people being perplexed as to why their DVDs appear lighter than what they see in their NLE.

Details here:

http://www.signvideo.com/dv-black-levels-dvd-authoring-mpeg-2-part-1.htm

Also keep in mind that you won't be able to monitor HD over Firewire through a deck unless it's an HDV deck. Even then, format support won't be as broad as though a capture card. Additionally, Apple Color does not support video preview via Firewire, only through approved capture cards (AJA Kona, Blackmagic Decklink, etc.).




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David Roth Weiss
Re: What are the advantages of using a capture card?
on Jun 26, 2010 at 5:22:20 am

Great points Alan.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: What are the advantages of using a capture card?
on Jun 26, 2010 at 5:20:09 am

There's no doubt that you can get away without an I/O device/card, which is really the proper terminology, as capture card really refers to just one of the many capabilities of these devices. However, since you're hopefully teaching your students the things they'll need to know when their schooling is over, I think you should be showing them how these jobs are properly routed, captured, monitored, and output in a professional edit bay. Giving them more information than they'll ever need is a lot better than the alternative, don't you think?

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Guthrie Andres
Re: What are the advantages of using a capture card?
on Jun 26, 2010 at 5:33:33 pm

Thanks for your responses. I have experienced that issue you speak of with inaccurate color and didn't know what the cause was. I am actually a student myself (totally student run), and I just want to keep improving the organization. The way money works around here, its easier to get one big expenditure passed through committee than several small things. So I was thinking of getting 4 Decklink Studio 2 cards, since they seem to have the best combination of analog and digital inputs and outputs for our existing equipment. I would like to be able to monitor in apple color, soundtrack, and motion, none of which support FireWire monitoring.


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