Advice on laptop DV editing



I am a secondary school teacher needing advice on editing DV. At school we have a JVC DV camcorder which seems to be straight forward but I would like to edit footage using a school laptop. The problem is the laptop is a HP omnibook xe 4100 which does not seem to have any input sockets for the camera. Is there anything we can do to 'capture' (if that's the right term) the footage.

If not what kind of Desktop PC should I consider investing in if all else fails.

I have Adobe Premier if that is any use.

Many thanks

Duncan Craig

Hi there,
You may have a number of options open to you.
Cost is obviously an issue, but you can get educational discounts I assume.

Firstly, you need to capture (digitise) your material (footage) on to hard disk.

The simplest way is Firewire, also known as iLink or IEEE1394. This should be the connector that you have on you DV camera , a 4pin firewire socket. You'll need a Firewire card on you computer, it would probably have a 6pin socket, and a 4pin to 6pin cable (to connect the two together). Firewire is a perfect digital connection from DV tape to the hard disc, but it uses a lot of hard disk space. 1 gigabyte per 5 minutes of tape.

Another way to capture is via a capture card, these are available as external units with ordinary analogue video and audio connections, they convert the picture to a digital signal, and it gets stored on disc. A benefit of capture cards is that you could capture at a lower quality, saving disc space. Hopefully other forum readers will advise on good capture cards as I have no idea what budget stuff is out there.

Then you need to edit your material, If you have Premiere that will do all you ever need, perhaps too much as it is quite complicated.

Lastly you will want to put you edit on tape.
If you go the Firewire route then you're camera will need to have the Firewire input enabled (not all cameras have the input, even though they can output DV), this uses the same socket to output and input. It's a perfect digital copy of the original footage.

Or, your analogue capture card may have video outputs as well, so you can connect this to a VHS for example.

Another option is to buy a new Apple Macintosh, quite good prices with discounts.
All new Macs have Firewire ports, and come with iMovie, which is a simple but effective DV edit system, which even the kids could use.

Any more specific questions? just ask.


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