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Chapter 4. Capturing Analog Video > Connecting for Analog Capture

Connecting for Analog Capture

Although not quite as simple as setting up for DV capture, connecting for analog capture is pretty easy if you can follow color codes and fit square pegs into square holes (metaphorically speaking).

Before taking the steps that follow, make sure that your analog capture card is installed and running. In addition, quickly review the sections “Selecting Your Capture Drive,” “Defragmenting Your Capture Drive,” and “Testing Your Capture Drive” in Chapter 2.

To connect the camera and computer for analog capture

1.
Plug in your analog camcorder to AC power.

Battery power should work, but it doesn't always with some cameras.

2.
Make sure that the camcorder is in VCR, VTR, or Play mode.

3.
Connect your video cables to the camera (Figure 4.5) by doing one of the following:

  • If both your camera and analog capture device have S-Video connectors and you have the necessary cable (Figure 4.6), use the S-Video connector.

    Figure 4.6. An S-Video cable. Use S-Video whenever it's available, because you'll definitely get higher quality than with composite video.


  • If S-Video is not available and your analog camera or deck has a separate composite video port (Figure 4.5), use the composite video connectors with a cable like the one shown in Figure 4.7. In most instances, composite video connectors are yellow, and most three-headed cables are coded yellow (composite video), red (right audio), and white (left audio and mono audio). Follow the color coding at both ends and you'll speed your installation.

    Figure 4.7. The typical three-headed analog cable with separate RCA connectors, for composite video and left and right audio. Fortunately, most cables are color-coded to help you make the right connections.


  • If S-Video is not available and your camera has a specialty A/V port, use the composite video connectors with a specialty cable. You should have received a specialty cable that looks like that shown in Figure 4.8. Plug the single end into your camera.

    Figure 4.8. If your camcorder has a specialty A/V plug, you'll need a specialty cable. Note the three rings on the single connector: one for each of the three outputs.


Figure 4.5. The business end of my venerable Sony Hi-8 camcorder has separate outputs for S-Video and composite analog video as well as stereo audio.


4.
Connect your audio cables to the camera by doing one of the following:

  • If your camera has separate audio connectors (Figure 4.5), connect a cable like that shown in Figure 4.7, being careful to match the colors of the connectors and output ports when applicable.

  • If your camera has a specialty A/V port, you should have a specialty cable that looks like the one in Figure 4.8. Plug the single end into your camera.

5.
Connect your video cable to the capture card in your computer.

Most capture cards have input ports and output ports. For example, the ATI All-in-Wonder 9000 PRO card installed in my HP Workstation xw4100 uses a separate breakout box for analog input, with ports for S-Video and composite video and right and left audio (Figure 4.9), but a different port and cable for outputting productions back to analog tape. If you see two sets of analog connectors, either in a break-out box like the All-in-Wonder or on the bracket of the internal card itself, check the product's documentation to determine which connector is input and which is output.

Figure 4.9. The breakout box for ATI's All-in-Wonder graphics card. This box accepts analog inputs.


6.
Connect your audio cables to the computer by doing one of the following:

  • If your analog capture card has separate audio inputs, use the audio input on your capture card.

  • If your analog capture card doesn't have separate audio inputs, use your sound card's Line In connector (Figure 4.10).

    Figure 4.10. A representation of the bracket on my sound card. Use the Line in connector, not the Mic in (microphone), for your analog audio input.


Most computers have single-pin stereo audio inputs (Figure 4.10) rather than separate RCA connectors (Figures 4.7 and 4.8). To convert RCA inputs into stereo audio inputs, you'll need a Y-connector like the one shown in Figure 4.11, or a similar adapter. You can find these at Radio Shack or on the Web at www.cables.com.

Figure 4.11. Use a Y-connector to convert the two RCA-type analog connectors to one stereo connector compatible with your sound card.


You're now ready to run Studio, set the appropriate software options, and start capturing.

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