Digital Video Hardware
The Tools of The Trade
The hardware required to edit Digital Video can be quite extensive. Hardware-wise, you want to make sure that you have a computer with the fastest CPU, most memory, and largest hard drive that you can get your hands on. Software-wise, applications like Apple's Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere are good options. These are the midrange editing apps that many pros use, but there are other options if these two don't fit your liking. Digital video (DV) editing requires all these things (which is why it's only become useful to the average consumer recently) and then some. If you plan on purchasing your own hardware and software, be prepared to use anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000+ dollars for all the required equipment. Thankfully, you can take advantage of the equipment available from Classroom Support Services, which is some of the best equipment money can buy.
The Digital Video Format
When someone talks about DV, they can actually be talking about many different things. There are DV cameras, DV tapes and the DV compression method. Below is a quick introduction to each.
- DV Tape - A special type of tape cartridge used in DV camcorders and DV tape decks. The most common type of DV tape is the mini-DV tape.
- DV Compression - A type of compression used by DV systems. Video that has been compressed into the DV format can actually be stored on any digital storage device, such as a hard drive or a CD-ROM. The most common form of DV compression uses a fixed data rate of 25 megabits/sec for video. This compression is called DV25.
- DV Camcorders (Cameras) - Finally, DV is applied to camcorders that employ the DV format. When someone refers to a standard DV camcorder, they are talking about a video camcorder that uses mini-DV tape, compresses the video using the DV25 standard, and has a port for connecting to a desktop computer. Today, such DV camcorders are in use by both consumers and professionals.
Benefits of DV
There are many benefits to DV, particularly when compared to analog devices like VHS decks or Hi-8 cameras.
- Superior images and sound - A DV camcorder can capture much higher quality video than other consumer video devices. DV video provides 500 lines of vertical resolution (compared to about 250 for VHS), resulting in a much crisper and more attractive image. Not only is the video resolution better, but so is the color accuracy of the DV image. DV sound, too, is of much higher quality. Instead of analog audio, DV provides CD-quality sound recorded at 48Khz with a resolution of 16 bits.
- No generation loss - Since the connection to your computer is digital, there is no generation loss when transferring DV. You can make a copy of a copy of a copy of a DV tape and it will still be as good as the original.
- No need for a video capture card - Because digitization occurs in the camera, there is no need for an analog-to-digital video capture card in your computer.
- Better engineering - The quality of the DV videotape is better than analog devices. Plus, the smaller size and smoother transport mechanism of the tape means DV cameras can be smaller and have more battery life than their analog counterparts.
Over the past few years, this type of connection has become the norm for digital video connections. Most digital camcorders are including a firewire port so that you can connect the camcorder directly to the computer (that has firewire) for immediate editing. These types of connections give footage that is basically the exact same quality at which the footage was taken. Firewire is also known as IEEE 1394 and i.Link.
A general rule of thumb is that when you want to edit DV you make sure that everything that touches your footage (capture, transfer, etc.) is also capable of DV.