Pinnacle Studio: Understanding the Capture Hardware

In order to transfer your digital video tapes to your computer's hard drive, you need the proper capture hardware. Your capture hardware is what makes it possible to play back footage from your camera and have it turn into a digital file. Without it, your video will only be a video tape.

What You Need

There are several pieces of hardware that you need for the capture process. You will need a camcorder, shot tape, a firewire, a computer with a firewire port, the appropriate video card and a video editing software program to control the digitization process. 

The Camcorder and Tape

Unless you have an older camcorder, you most likely have been shooting on mini DV tape. DV stands for digital video and mini DV is the consumer version of it. Basically, it shoots the video and encodes it on the tape in a series of 1s and 0s, the digital language. This code is what makes tapes digital and read by the computer. Because this is what we shoot our footage on, we will also use it for playing it back. 


A firewire is a special cable used for transferring large amounts of data. A regular USB cable doesn't do the job in this department. Digital camcorders have a firewire port, where one end can connect to the camcorder while the other goes to the computer. Data can be transferred in both directions with a firewire cable.

The Computer

The digital video signal exits the firewire and enters the computer. Your computer needs a video card to process the information, but if you have a newer computer that is less than five years old, this shouldn't be an issue for you. What might be an issue is the firewire port. Some new laptops do not feature them, while others may have a specific type of firewire connection that will determine which cable you need to use.

Editing Software

Although it falls under the category of software, you need an editing program like Pinnacle to capture your video. Through Pinnacle, you can manually operate the camcorder's controls to manipulate the playback. An important thing to keep in mind is that the capture process happens in real time. In fact, all it is is the computer recording what is exactly being played back. You can't play back the tape in high speed and expect it to play back in regular speed. 

Once you're finished recording a portion of the tape, it is saved to your hard drive where you can name the file. 

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