Since I didn’t get a response I downloaded several free or demo software for testing, here my findings which might be of interest to some of you:
Note: After testing I found that my DV camera does not function anymore, there is no picture in standby/recording mode, just a pitch-black screen. I have reason to assume this happened after using the Firewire connection (or i-Link as Sony calls it) and I have to bring it in for repair. Therefore using any of the mentioned SW is strictly at your own risk!
Seems to be a bit older since the installation routine complained that some DLL to be installed were older than the one on my system.
Installation was done quite quickly but then the problem failed to start, either it crashed immediately or after an error message. Re-installed, same thing - that’s it and I removed the entire SW from my PC.
5 thumbs down.
Home DV SenseCapture Demo
As the name implies this is a demo version. The graphical user interface looks primitive (not very attractive) but the strength lies in it’s simplicity.
Settings are very limited therefore, not much to configure which is good news for starters. VCR control works a treat and capturing happens at the click of a button. Of course there is a preview window.
You can use some logic to split the video stream based on the picture information or just capture everything into one (big) file.
As well it’s possible to capture frames as still pictures (JPG or some other formats offered).
Video Man 3.0 (Trial)
A trial version limited to 15 days from first use. More comprehensive than SenseCapture it offers way more configuration options, it’s possible to capture frames, pictures or the entire movie stream.
Of course there is the obligatory VCR control and optional preview. It’s possible to apply different encoders for saving the file, so you can immediately compress it. The SW complained about my DIVX version (5.0.5), so it couldn’t save in any other format than DIVX itself. The output file was as big as the original but distorted. Need to update my DIVX and see if it can be improved, perhaps using another format.
The demo software also comes with a simple editor as a seperate application, didn’t have much time to play with it though.
Both applications worked fine for capturing a DV stream via the Firewire/i-Link/IEEE1394 port. While Video Man is more powerfull the SenseCapture SW wins for sheer simplicity, in particular if you intend to use another application for editing and encoding. The help file answered all questions and it’s easy to use from the start.
Some notes on the connection and burning a VCD:
Hooking up via Firewire was easy, WindowsXP immediately recognized my DV camera and added an icon to the explorer (My Computer) where you could actually see the camera picture and take a snapshot.
As mentioned above the applications had no problem to control the camera (VCR control) via Firewire, i.e. no additional LANC cable is required.
I used NeroExpress 5.5 to burn a VCD from one of the captured files but the result was horrible: heavy pixelation, colors smeared etc. - not watchable so I guess a better MPEG-2 (SVCD, DVD) or MPEG-4 (DIVX) Format is called for, suitable playback hardware assumed. Note the comments about DIVX above though.
My NeroExpress does not support encoding to MPEG-2 format (supposingly you can download a plug-in but you have to pay for it).
One minute of DV recording takes up appr. 1GByte of harddisk space, so you need a fairly large disc partition or, even better, a seperate harddisk drive. Thus at least 15GByte are required for a 60min tape.
In fact you probably need double the capacity for writing back the file after editing.