[Theora] video source

John Kintree jkintree at swbell.net
Wed Sep 15 06:40:36 PDT 2004

In order to experiment with the theora encoder, I bought a mini-DV camcorder a 
couple of weeks ago; a Panasonic PV-GS9 for $250.  I wanted a mini-DV because 
it is claimed that capturing video from the camcorder to a computer over a 
firewire cable results in an exact copy of the recorded video.

That was not my experience.  The video I captured to my computer over the 
firewire cable, using both MainActor and Kino, was not equal in quality to 
the video as it displayed on the camcorder's own LCD display, or on my TV 
when connected to the camcorder with the provided A/V cable.  When I played 
the captured .dv format files, that were about 225 MBytes per minute, the 
video was noticeably jerkier, and stair-stepped on diagonal lines, than the 
video that was stored on the mini-DV tape.

Thinking that the problem might be my 750 MHz AMD Duron with 128 MB of RAM 
computer, I took the camcorder to the Circuit City where I had bought it, and 
asked a salesperson to let me try the video capture over a firewire cable on 
one of their computers.  We tried it on a 2.8 GHz Pentium IV with 512 MB of 
RAM, and the result with MS MovieMaker was the same.  The resulting .dv files 
were the same as I had gotten on my computer.  There wasn't a large loss in 
quality, but it was a noticeable loss in quality.  

Since I had expected an exact copy from the firewire transfer, I left the 
camcorder with Circuit City, and got a full refund.

Since there is a loss of quality when the video is compressed, I want to start 
with as good a quality video source as possible.  I know this is sort of 
off-topic, but I don't know anyone else who has done a firewire transfer with 
a mini-DV camcorder, and wondered if anyone here has had, or knows someone 
who has had a similar experience, or was my experience atypical?  

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