Please help a beginner!!



I am thinking of buying my first Digital camcorder (possibly JVC GRD20), but am totally confused!
I simply want to use the camera to take on holidays, family at home etc - not requiring pro performance - and then put the results onto CD disc to play in my DVD player (as I already do with 'stills').
My questions are:-
What other bits& pieces will I need to buy? Firewire card and lead I understand, but will I need extra software (and if so , what?).
Will my computer be able to handle the size of the downloads - 13.6Gb hard Drive Free Space, 1750mHz Pentium 4 processor. I was told at least 60Gb was required. Will my CD burner that I use for my 'stills' also do the video (I use the Windows software for that).
All in all I am tempted not to bother and hope things get simpler, as I have had so much conflicting advice - Can anyone help an ageing novice??


Standard Member
Firstly if you want to edit your video on computer make sure that the camcorder you buy has DV in AND out enabled (and preferably pass-through). This is because you will probably want to send edited footage back to the camcorder for archive as well as be able to capture it from the camcorder.

Your basic computer spec is OK but you will need to free up some disk space or preferably buy a second hard disk. The disk should be at least 7200 spin speed and a minimum of 80Gb. There have been some good Jan sales offers around. Captured AVI files are big, (13Gb per hour) and you will need two to three times this amount minumum to edit and create the files you will need to make DVDs.

You will certainly need editing software. If you have WinXP then you can download a free copy of Microsoft Movie Maker 2 (the upgrade) from their web-site. If not look at something like Pinnacle Video Studio 8 or 9 for a reasonable beginners package.

Finally, if you are looking to make something you can play on your set-top DVD player you could certainly use your CD re-writer, but it depends on what quality you are looking for. I mentioned earlier that AVI files are big. After compressing to best DVD quality an hours footage will be about 3.7 to 4Gb and fit comfortably on a DVD, but not a CD. For CDs (600 or 700Mb) you will need to compress further, either to VCD or SVCD. VCD is about VHS quality and you can get an hours worth on a CD. Many set top players will play them, but some are fussy about format and media (look up your player on SVCD is nearer S-VHS or Hi-8 quality but you can only get half an hours worth on a CD and many set top players won't play them (check as before). If you have some spare cash you may feel its worth investing in a DVD re-writer which can be had for about £80 these days for a dual format machine.

To produce a DVD, VCD or SVCD you will need an encoder to compress the AVI to MPEG format (MPEG1 or MPEG2). You will also need software to author and burn the disk, (you can't just copy the files to the CD as with data files). If you buy the Pinnacle product it will do all the jobs (editing, encoding and author/burn) but the quality of the encoder isn't the very best. If you use MM2 you will need separate software such as TMPGenc and one of the Ulead applications (eg Movie Factory 2). These are about the cheapest options anyway.

As you can see its not straightforward and you must be prepared to put in some time and effort to learn more. However, when you see your final masterpeice on your TV screen it is all worth it!

Good luck


Originally posted by badgery2
All in all I am tempted not to bother and hope things get simpler, as I have had so much conflicting advice - Can anyone help an ageing novice??

believe me badgery2 you do - it is really not that difficult, thousands of us do it and it is very satisfying and you've made a good start at sorting out your problems by posting here, As David has said you could do with a bit more hard disc space, but this is relatively cheap and easy to instal either as a second internal HDD or an external one plugged into your new firewire card. A firewire card and cable need only set you back around £20 and is very easy to instal.

Try looking at things one step at a time and keep coming back here to ask questions, someone almost always knows the answer - you'll always get some confliction because what I consider as good might not work for somebody else (for instance I prefer Ulead VideoStudio7 to Pinnacle 8 or 9 - you can try ULVS7 for free as well )but there is a path for you we just have to find it.

Finally age is no barrier - I'm propably older than you and have friends bordering on their 70's who are still filming and editing daily


Hi badgery2 and welcome to the forum :hiya:

As the others have already said you really should not be put off buy all the Techi bits that can put your head in a real spin if you try and do everything in one go.

Do you know your way around the insides of a PC? If you do then adding firewire card & new Hard Disk is really easy and cheap. If not then drag a friend out of the pub to do it for you. As said a firewire card is about £20 and a 120Gb HDD is less than £80 (and if required a DVD writer can cost as little as £60 as newer models are released pushing the older ones down in price).
Software is often very easy to use. If you only want to do simple edits then Movie Maker 2 is great as long as you have Windows XP. If you don't even want to put in transitions between scenes then you can get Ulead DVD MovieFactory 2 for around £30 or the just released MF3 for about £40 that will do everything. This makes life very simple as you only have the one interface to learn.



Cheers, David, Beejaycee & MarkE19 - your comments have cleared away much of the stuff I have been told elsewhere!!
I will 'go for it' and use the forum for any further assistance, so many thanks again - will keep you informed of progress (or otherwise!!!).

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