BOOT CAMP 466 (06/03/07)

Video Tape to PC to DVD part 3


So far we’ve concentrated on the mechanics of transferring analogue video recordings on tape from a camcorder or VCR to DVD via your PC but now it’s time to look at the software you will need to complete the job. To recap there are three basic steps to creating a DVD: capturing and recording, editing and authoring and finally, burning the finished recording to disc. 


There are a number of freeware and Open Source applications that can be used at each stage of the process, and some of them are very good indeed, however, because they are separate programs there’s no guarantee they will work together and you can run into compatibility problems and difficulties with video files from one format to another.


If you want to do keep things simple with the best possible chance of ending up with a polished and professional-looking DVD then I suggest that you use one of the all-in-one DVD editing and authoring suites we’ll be looking at in a moment.


On the other hand if you enjoy a challenge then there are ways to create slick looking DVDs using nothing but freeware. Two programs that definitely will work together are Video DVD Maker Free and Windows Movie Maker, which is bundled with Windows XP. If you have the first version of Movie Maker, which frankly is not very good, you can either upgrade by installing SP2 or download Movie Maker 2 from the Microsoft website


Video DVD Maker is a fairly basic video to DVD utility and it is very easy to use, however, all it does is capture and burn, so what comes off the tape ends up on the disc, wonky bits, warts and all. This is fine if all you want to do is preserve your original recordings on disc but if you want to spruce up your home movies, add some eye-catching scene transitions and titles, or chop out the adverts in recorded TV programs then you will need to run it though an editing program. That’s where Windows Movie Maker comes in (see Tip of the Week) and I’ll show you how to use these two programs together next week but now, as promised an overview of some of the most popular commercial programs on the market.


There are plenty to choose from but my personal shortlist would be Pinnacle Studio, Roxio Easy Media Creator and Ulead Video Studio and they can all be found selling for less than £50 online. Unfortunately the descriptions are going to have to be fairly general as manufacturers have a habit of constantly updating their products, releasing Special Editions and so on. Then there’s the added complication of Windows Vista, so my best advice is to check the manufacturer’s websites for details of the latest releases and the product that best suits your needs and hardware setup.


Pinnacle Studio has been around in various incarnations for years and the latest Titanium Edition is a good choice for newcomers. It is easy to use and has ‘Smart’ features for simplifying either the whole process, or single operations, like modifying the soundtrack. The program has a library of 49 effects and transitions plus Pan and Zoom modes. It has a sophisticated title composer, you can create fancy DVD menus, there’s an instant DVD transfer feature for quickly copying movies direct to disc and it includes conversion functions for creating movies that can be played on Apple iPods, Sony PSP games consoles and MPEG 4 and DivX media players.


Video editing and DVD authoring is only one of Roxio Easy Media Creator 9’s many talents. In fact it is almost lost on the feature list, which boasts a vast array of utilities for burning data, picture, audio and video discs. The video editing features are bang up to date with HD Video support; if you are in a hurry it will automatically copy and burn recordings from tape to disc. There’s a good selection of professional-looking 2D and 3D effects, filters, titles and transitions, an auto-correction facility for optimising colour, brightness and contrast and finished recordings can be saved in a variety of formats for use on the web and media players.    


Ulead Video Studio is another video editing program that has been around in one form or another since the earliest days. Version 10 is ready to run on Windows Vista and has built-in support for HD video camcorders. It’s a little more advanced than some of its rivals but still very user-friendly and novices needn’t be put off by it’s apparent sophistication. Headline features include an anti-shake filter to remove camera wobble, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, an automatic ‘Ad Zapper’ for removing commercials, scores of effects and transitions, Pan and Zoom, noise reduction filters and there’s full MPEG 4 and DivX support for exporting recordings to media players.


Next Week – Video Tape to PC to DVD part 4


Part 1 2 4 5 6





Multi-channel surround sound system with five main speakers for centre-front and right and left stereo channels, and right and left rear channels, plus one (the .1 in 5.1) ‘sub woofer’ channel carrying low frequency effects


MPEG 4 & DivX

Video compression codecs used to reduce the amount of data in multimedia video files



Change from one scene or shot to another, from a simple fade or cross fade to fancy wipes and dissolves



Windows Movie Maker is included with Windows XP and you will find it by going to Start > Programs > Accessories. It’s a fairly basic video editing program with facilities for importing recordings (most formats), which can then be divided up into ‘clips, trimmed and reassembled on a ‘timeline’ in any required order to create a single movie file. Transitions can be inserted between the clips and there’s a remarkably good range of visual effects, including blur, fade, mirror, grain, smudge. You can also add opening titles and closing credits and edit the soundtrack, by adding music or a commentary.


© R. Maybury 2006, 2102

Search PCTopTips 



Boot Camp Index















Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME






 Copyright 2006-2009 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.