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Capturing video

Before you can edit your video program, all source clips must be instantly accessible from a hard disk, not from videotape. You import the source clips from the source videotapes to your computer through a post-production step called video capture. Consequently, you must have enough room on your hard disk to store all the clips you want to edit. To save space, capture only the clips you know you want to use.

Source clips exists in two main forms:

Digital media

Is already in a digital file format that a computer can read and process directly. Many newer camcorders digitize and save video in a digital format, right inside the camera. Such camcorders use one of several DV formats, which apply a standard amount of compression to the source material. Audio can also be recorded digitally; sound tracks are often provided digitally as well—on CD-ROM, for example. Digital source files stored on DV tape or other digital media, must be captured (transferred) to an accessible hard disk before they can be used in a computer for a Premiere project. The simplest way to capture DV is to connect a DV device, such as a camcorder or deck, to a computer with an IEEE 1394 port (also known as FireWire or i.Link). For more sophisticated capture tasks, a specialized DV capture card might be used. Adobe Premiere 6.0 supports a wide range of DV devices and capture cards, making it easy to capture DV source files.

Analog media

Must be digitized. That means it must be converted to digital form and saved in a digital file format before a computer can store and process it. Clips from analog videotape (such as Hi-8), motion-picture film, conventional audio tape, and continuous-tone still images (such as slides) are all examples of analog media. By connecting an analog video device (such as an analog video camera or tape deck) and an appropriate capture card to your computer, Adobe Premiere can digitize, compress, and transfer analog source material to disk as clips that can then be added to your digital video project.


Video-digitizing hardware is built into some personal computers, but often must be added to a system by installing a compatible hardware capture card. Adobe Premiere 6.0 supports a wide variety of video capture cards.

If your system has an appropriate capture card, Adobe Premiere also lets you perform manual and time-lapse single-frame video captures from a connected camera or from a videotape in a deck or camcorder, using stop-motion animation. For example, you can point a camera at an unfinished building and use the time-lapse feature to capture frames periodically as the building is completed. You can use the stop-motion feature with a camera to create clay animations or to capture a single frame and save it as a still image. You can capture stop-motion animation from analog or DV sources.


Premiere 6.0 supports device control. This enables you to capture stop motion, or perform batch capture of multiple clips, by controlling the videotape from within the Capture window in Premiere. However, stop motion does not require device control within Premiere: If you don't have a controllable playback device, you can manually operate the controls on your camcorder or deck and in the Capture window.

For more information on all the topics covered in this section on capturing video, see Chapter 2, “Capturing and Importing Source Clips” in the Adobe Premiere 6.0 User Guide.

Capturing DV

When you shoot DV, the images are converted directly into digital (DV) format, right inside the DV camcorder, where your footage is saved on a DV tape cassette. The images are already digitized and compressed, so they are ready for digital video editing. The DV footage can be transferred directly to a hard disk.

To transfer DV to your hard disk, you need a computer with an OHCI-compliant interface and an IEEE 1394 (FireWire or i.Link) port (standard on most newer-model Macintosh computers and on some newer Windows PCs). Alternatively, you can install an appropriate DV capture card to provide the IEEE 1394 port. Be sure to install the accompanying OHCI-compliant driver and special Adobe Premiere plug-in software that may be required. Adobe Premiere 6.0 comes with presets for a wide variety of DV capture cards but, for some, you may need to consult the instructions provided with your capture card to set up a special preset.

Adobe Premiere 6.0 provides settings files for most supported capture cards. These presets include settings for compressor, frame size, pixel aspect ratio, frame rate, color depth, audio, and fields. You select the appropriate preset from the Available Presets list in the Load Project Settings dialog box when you begin your project.

To enhance DV capture, Adobe Premiere 6.0 provides device control for an extensive range of DV devices. See the Adobe Web site for a list of supported devices (www.adobe.com/premiere).

If you have an appropriate digital video device attached to or installed in your computer, you can do the following:

To specify the DV device in your computer, choose Edit > Preferences > Scratch Disks & Device Control.

Click the Option button in the Preferences window to see the DV Device Control Options dialog box and select your DV device. Click OK.

Capturing analog video

When capturing analog video, you need to first connect the camcorder or deck to the capture card installed in your system. Depending on your equipment, you may have more than one format available for transferring source footage—including component video, composite video, and S-video. Refer to the instructions included with your camcorder and capture card.

For convenience, most video-capture card software is written so that its controls appear within the Premiere interface, even though much of the actual video processing happens on the card, outside of Premiere. Most supported capture cards provide a settings file—a preset—that automatically sets up Premiere for optimal support for that card. Most of the settings that control how a clip is captured from a camera or a deck are found in the Capture Settings section of the Project Settings dialog box. Available capture formats vary, depending on the type of video-capture card installed.

For more information, or if you need help resolving technical issues you may encounter using your capture card with Premiere, see the Adobe Premiere Web site (www.adobe.com/premiere) for links to troubleshooting resources.

Using the Movie Capture window

You use the Movie Capture window to capture DV and analog video and audio. To open and familiarize yourself with the Movie Capture window, from the title bar at the top of your screen choose File > Capture > Movie Capture. This window includes:

  • Preview window that displays your currently recording video.

  • Controls for recording media with and without device control.

  • Movie Capture window menu button.

  • Settings panel for viewing and editing your current capture setting.

  • Logging panel for entering batch capture settings (you can only log clips for batch capture when using device control).

To set the Preview area so that the video always fills it, click the Movie Capture window menu button and choose Fit Image in Window.


When doing anything other than capturing in Premiere, close the Movie Capture Window. Because the Movie Capture window has primary status when open, leaving it open while editing or previewing video will disable output to your DV device and may diminish the performance.

Movie Capture window: A. Preview area B. Controllers C. Movie Capture menu button D. Settings panel E. Logging panel

Capturing clips with device control

When capturing clips, device control refers to controlling the operation of a connected video deck or camera using the Premiere Interface, rather than using the controls on the connected device. You can use device control to capture video from frame-accurate analog or digital video decks or cameras that support external device control. It's more convenient to simply use device control within Premiere rather than alternating between the video editing software on your computer and the controls on your device. The Movie Capture and/or Batch Capture windows can be used to create a list of In points (starting timecode) and Out points (ending timecode) for your clips. Premiere then automates capture—recording all clips as specified on your list. Additionally, Premiere captures the timecode from the source tape, so the information can be used during editing.


If you're working in Mac OS, the Enable Device control button runs all the way across the bottom of the window where the image is displayed.

Movie Capture window with device control enabled: A. Previous frame B. Next frame C. Stop D. Play E. Play slowly in reverse F. Play slowly G. Preview area H. Jog control I. Shuttle control J. Take video K. Take audio L. Rewind M. Fast forward N. Pause O. Record P. Set In Q. Set Out R. Timecode S. Capture In to Out

Capturing clips without device control

If you don't have a controllable playback device, you can capture video from analog or DV camcorders or decks using the Adobe Premiere Capture window. While watching the picture in the Movie Capture window, manually operate the deck and the Premiere controls to record the frames you want. You can use this method to facilitate capture from an inexpensive consumer VCR or camcorder.

Using the Movie Capture window without device control: A. Take video B. Take audio C. Record D. Enable device control button

Batch-capturing video

If you have a frame-accurate deck or camcorder that supports external device control and a videotape recorded with timecode, you can set up Premiere for automatic, unattended capture of multiple clips from the same tape. This is called batch capturing. You can log (create a list of) the segments you want to capture from your tape, using the Batch Capture window. The list (called a batch list or timecode log) can be created either by logging clips visually using device control or by typing In and Out points manually. To create a new entry in the Batch List window, click the Add icon (). When your batch list is ready, click one button—the Capture button in either the Batch Capture or Movie Capture window—to capture all the specified clips on your list. To open and familiarize yourself with the Batch Capture window, from the title bar at the top of your screen, choose File > Capture > Batch Capture.

Batch Capture window: A. Check-mark column B. Sort by In point button C. Capture button D. Add New Item button E. Delete selected button


Batch Capture is not recommended for the first and last 30 seconds of your tape because of possible timecode and seeking issues; you will need to capture these sections manually.

Components that affect video capture quality

Video capture requires a higher and more consistent level of computer performance—far more than you need to run general office software, and even more than you need to work with image-editing software. Getting professional results depends on the performance and capacity of all of the components of your system working together to move frames from the video-capture card to the processor and hard disk. The ability of your computer to capture video depends on the combined performance of the following components:

Video capture card

You need to have a video capture card installed or the equivalent capability built into your computer to transfer video from a video camcorder, tape deck, or other video source to your computer's hard drive. A video capture card is not the same as the video card that drives your computer monitor. Adobe Premiere 6.0 software is bundled with many video-capture cards.


Only supported video capture cards should be used with Adobe Premiere. There is an expansive range of choices. Not all capture cards certified for use with Adobe Premiere 5.x are certified for use with 6.x. Please refer to the list of certified capture cards found on the Adobe Web site (www.adobe.com/products/premiere/6cards.html).

Your video capture card must be fast enough to capture video at the level of quality that your final medium requires. For full-screen, full-motion NTSC video, the card must be capable of capturing 30 frames (60 fields) per second at 640 × 480 pixels without dropping frames; for PAL and SECAM, 25 frames (50 fields) per second at 720 × 576 pixels. Even for Web video that will be output at a smaller frame size and a lower frame rate, you'll want to capture your source material at the highest quality settings your system can handle. You'll be using up lots of hard-disk space, but it's better to start with high quality (more data) so you'll have more choices about what information to discard when you reach the encoding stage. If you start with low quality (less data), you could potentially regret having fewer options down the road.

Hard disk

The hard disk stores the video clips you capture. The hard disk must be fast enough to store captured video frames as quickly as they arrive from the video card; otherwise, frames will be dropped as the disk falls behind. For capturing at the NTSC video standard of just under 30 frames per second, your hard disk should have an average (not minimum) access time of 10 milliseconds (ms) or less, and a sustained (not peak) data transfer rate of at least 3 MB per second—preferably around 6 MB per second.

The access time is how fast a hard disk can reach specific data.)

The data transfer rate is how fast the hard disk can move data to and from the rest of the computer. Due to factors such as system overhead, the actual data transfer rate for video capture is usually about half the stated data transfer rate of the drive. For best results, capture to a separate high-performance hard disk intended for use with video capture and editing. The state of high-end video hardware changes rapidly; consult the manufacturer of your video-capture card for suggestions about appropriate video storage hardware.

Central processing unit (CPU)

Your computer's processor—such as a Pentium or PowerPC chip—handles general processing tasks in your computer. The CPU must be fast enough to process captured frames at the capture frame rate. A faster CPU—or using multiple CPUs in one computer (multiprocessing)—is better. However, other system components must be fast enough to handle the CPU speed. Using a fast CPU with slow components is like driving a sports car in a traffic jam.

Codec (compressor/decompressor)

Most video-capture cards come with a compression chip that keeps the data rate within a level your computer can handle. If your video-capture hardware doesn't have a compression chip, you should perform capture using a fast, high-quality codec such as Motion JPEG. If you capture using a slow-compressing or lossy codec such as Cinepak, you'll drop frames or lose quality.

Processing time required by other software

If you capture video while several other programs are running (such as network connections, non-essential system enhancers, and screen savers), the other programs will probably interrupt the video capture with requests for processing time, causing dropped frames. Capture video while running as few drivers, extensions, and other programs as possible. In Mac OS, turn off AppleTalk. See the Mac OS documentation or online Help.

Data bus

Every computer has a data bus that connects system components and handles data transfer between them. Its speed determines how fast the computer can move video frames between the video-capture card, the processor, and the hard disk. If you purchased a high-end computer or a computer designed for video editing, the data bus speed is likely to be well matched to the other components. However, if you've upgraded an older computer with a video-capture card, a faster processor, or a hard disk, an older data bus may limit the speed benefits of the new components. Before upgrading components, review the documentation provided by the manufacturer of your computer to determine whether your data bus can take advantage of the speed of a component you want to add.

For more information, see “Optimizing system performance” in the Adobe Premiere 6.0 Technical Guides found in the Support area on the Adobe Web site (www.adobe.com/support/techdocs/topissuespre.htm).

Capturing to support online or offline editing

Depending on the level of quality you want and the capabilities of your equipment, you may be able to use Premiere for either online or offline editing. The settings you specify for video capture are different for online or offline editing.

Online editing

The practice of doing all editing (including the rough cut) using the same source clips that will be used to produce the final cut. As high-end personal computers have become more powerful, online editing has become practical for a wider range of productions such as broadcast television or motion-picture film productions. For online editing, you'll capture clips once, at the highest level of quality your computer and peripherals can handle.

Offline editing

The practice of preparing a rough cut from lower-quality clips, then producing the final version with higher-quality clips, sometimes on a high-end system. Offline editing techniques can be useful even if your computer can handle editing at the quality of your final cut. By batch-capturing video using low-quality settings, you can edit faster, using smaller files. When you digitize video for offline editing, you specify settings that emphasize editing speed over picture quality. In most cases, you need only enough quality to identify the correct beginning and ending frames for each scene. When you're ready to create the final cut, you can redigitize the video at the final-quality settings.

Once you have completed the offline edit in Premiere, you can create a table of scene sequences called an Edit Decision List, or EDL. You can then move the EDL to an edit controller on a high-end system, which applies the sequence worked out in Premiere to the original high-quality clips.


Typically, offline editing is not employed when working with DV, because Premiere handles DV at its original quality level.

For more information on all the topics covered in this section on capturing video, see Chapter 2, “Capturing and Importing Source Clips” in the Adobe Premiere 6.0 User Guide.

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