Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today I had a great experience learning how to extract video from a handy cam with USB output.
I had captured a lot of stuff on my fathers panasonic camera over the past 2 years and was desperate to have them on the disk, did some cable purchases, USB, DV and yet had not made much progress. Until today.

Today I was sitting at home after a eventful evening a couple of days back and was trying to make some headway on the transcoding business.

connected the panasonic to the PS through USB. Most cameras, today come with USB and these can be connected to the PC on the USB bus. The moment the camera got connected ,windows automatically recognised the camera for its flash drive and additionally as a web camera as a web cam option within explorer. Windows recognises the camera [ atleast in my case the camera being panasonic there were no driver issues] and the camera was to be a web cam device. I tried playing from the web cam and it worked!! this one outcome gave me confidence that the camera video output was being received into the PC without much ado.

The next step was to identify a good software capture and store the analog video tape into multiple digital video like mpeg4 etc... . I already had VLC [video lan client] and being FOSS [ free and open source software] is a great player, that was already established. This was the right time to find out about its video capture capabilities.

I opened file < >> open device capture > and and tried a few options ... no luck... then it struck that there must be a better expert on thissoftware and i could think of my friend Pradeep BV, pradeep had worked extensively on video and multi media streaming solutions and had introduced me to VLC a few months back. A call to him and a few instructions through and I was receiving a storing video onto my PC, the steps were

  1. [open capture device]
  2. [refresh] list against video device name and select the USB video cam option [ as in my case as that was how windows identified the panasonic camera]
  3. check [stream/save] options and
  4. click settings
  5. in the menu that opens up, under outputs select [play locally] {so that u know what video is playing from the camera} and also select [file ], browse to select a file location that you are suitable with [ needs space , in my case min == 20 MB ]
  6. under transcoding options
  7. select video codec and drop down mp1v suitable bitrate [1024 kb]
  8. select audio codec mpga dropdown suitable bitrate [32 kb ]
  9. and save and close all windows, immediately vlc goes into capture play and save mode, this is if the camera is under play mode.
I started recording some sample videos and I still had problems. The video was not getting stored and only audio was getting stored. Some thinking and tinkering later i realised that some modification needed to be done to the above instruction, that was remove the video transcoding option and only maintain the audio transocding option. The thing worked smooth and i was able to record 40 minutes of the 2 hour of tape that was in the camera. Then the battery ran out. As usual my father had not given me the charger unit and that was the end of todays workshop.

So i was happy that some useful work had gotten done and some more to go, there were a few more useful pointers to remember

  1. always encapsulate the video play time with the vlc record time, that is, you start vlc record, then camera play out then once reocrding section is done, stop camera play out and then VLC record {VLC start {Cam Start ===Record === Cam Stop}VLC Stop}
  2. Video lan overwrites onto the same file, so if the tape is being recorded as pieces one needs to save each recording as a different relevant file name that the effort /recording is not lost

After this couple hours saga there I sat thinking about the happenings and realised that this needed to be blogged for posterity to encourage others into digitizing their records onto HDD / DVD / CD and enjoy captured videos without the fuss of the digital camera.

And then, in the future, all of these these would be obviated by camera designs that directly record into digital DVD.



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