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Home Video System

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Man... I was quite down yesterday... things are better today :)

In fact yesterday afternoon I finally received my Pinnacle AV/DV Studio 9 package from Amazon. I had to buy an AV version because I don't own any digital camera but only an analog one. My wife and I have filmed quite a lot our children and before anything does get lost, we want to create a little film with it and burn it onto DVD.

So yesterday was "AV/DV installation evening". What a happening ! First the software didn't want to install. I first had to install the service pack 1 for Windows XP. Anyone who already has done this knows that this takes long... very long. In fact I first tried to install SP2 which failed for whatever which reason. So I downloaded SP1 and installed that. It took about 1 1/2 hour. I don't know why but it took that long.

The rest of the installation of the "AV/DV" package was quite smooth. The software installed without problems. One thing that disturbed me is the fact that you get 2 CDs (one CD and one DVD). The CD is the usual installation CD. The DVD contains bonus effects and other stuff. Unfortunately I don't have a DVD reader on the machine where I installed the Pinnacle system, so I couldn't access the DVD content. But hey ! They say you can order a CD containing the DVD bonuses. So I went to their site, selected the product and what do they ask you ? Money ! They want you to pay for a content you already have on a medium you don't need (since appearently it fits on a CD). So why didn't they put it onto CD from start on ?!?

After the software installation I finally could put the hardware into the computer. Reboot and the installation of the drivers for the new hardware begins.

When I started the software, I had to select the video source within the options. The software default is DV input so I had to change it to an AV input. Another thing I had to change was the sound input. I plugged the sound connector into the microphone plug of the sound card. Pinnacle seems to pick an arbitrary input source so my first capture tests where without sound. Selecting the appropriate input source solved the problem.

Capturing a video is as easy as saying "boots". You simply hit a capture button in the gui and start you camera. It doesn't matter if you are actually using a tape. You can directly capture what you see with your camera. So my wife made some funny faces.

I captured 3 different sequences which I then disposed within the editing panel. There you can cut the sequences as you want them to have and add blending effects. Unfortunately you cannot use all effects (there are several hundreds) since you have to unlock the "hollywood FX". But for my testing those that were available were enough.

The final stage of the video capture is called "Make a movie". In this panel you can select into which format the video has to be converted. During the conversion, the software also applies image per image the effects you have added in the editing panel (NB : You see the effects in the preview of the editing panel. But if you have a slow machine, the display will skip images to keep the time frames ok). I first tried to convert the movie I made into an avi file. The ~2 minutes sequence took ~81 mb as an avi file. I then converted the same movie into mpeg which resulted in an ~7 mb mpeg file. You can trigger the size by adjusting the image size and quality. The sound is automatically included into the created files.

I just took a short look at this piece of hardware and the withcoming software. I'll think I'll do more this evening (because my wife went to bed early yesterday and would like to learn how to use the system). But my first impression is very positive.

Just another note : I won a price at a local tombola. And the price is : .... 12.5 kg of potatoes. WOW ! We almost never eat potatoes (only rice and pasta) so this will be enough for the next five years...
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