I have recently upgraded my PC to enable me to edit footage from my digital video camera. At times it was tortuous and frustrating ­ but how satisfying to output my first edited video clips! I have written this to help anyone who may be pondering... wouldn’t it be great to present some highlights from the group in the debrief, or wouldn’t it be fun to edit the video we took on holiday!

A trawl through specialist magazines and shops in Tottenham Court Road (where assistants are clued up on sales techniques but less so on equipment) led me to conclude that there are two possible alternatives. The easiest is to buy a dedicated system all set up with the necessary hardware and software.

This is the most painless approach, but you’re in for £3,000-plus. The alternative is to upgrade what you’ve already got. This is more economical and means that you start to learn how it all works ­ always helpful when something goes wrong.

I’ve learnt that you need to work out what you want your system to do before you start. Not always easy as you often only realise what you need once you embark on the journey! And of course it may then be an expense too late!

So some things to consider . . .

Are you likely to want to edit analogue data or digital

Examples of analogue data includes material on standard vhs tape, like clips from TV programmes or ads you may want to reference. Digital includes mini DV tapes from your video camera. This will influence what capture card ­ printed circuit board and connecting port that lets you connect external imaging devices to the computer ­ you need. Check you haven’t got this on board.

You will need a video capture card

Check if it is compatible with both the software you want to use and your video camera. If, for example, you want to use Adobe Premiere version 6.0, check its web page for compatible capture cards. Many cheap versions come with their own software, but they may not let you do what you want.

What software do you want to use?

If you have your heart set on using Adobe Premiere, ensure that your capture card is compatible with the version you have or intend to use. Final cut is what budding filmmakers use on Apple Macs.

How do you get it out again

Once you’ve got your video footage into the machine and edited it, how do you get it out again? You may just want to slot it into a presentation, but if you want to copy it onto a vhs you will need to make sure your capture card has analogue out.

Is your video camera compatible with the video software and the capture card?

Check the web page or ring them up.

Check your video camera connecitons

Check whether your video camera has connections to send data out to the computer but also in (mine is out only, so if you want to keep a master on digital tape you have to buy something to enable data to pass back into the camera)

Can My Computer Cope With It?

You’ll need

You may also want to import vhs footage eg copies of ads, clips form TV programmes into your video/presentation. This is analogue data. It’s also useful to connect your camera up to your video camera to see what you’re editing. How do I get the images out of my camera and into the computer? Through a fine wire cable (comes with the video capture card!).

What it cost


Useful Sources of Information


Computer Video Magazine

Video capture cards

Pinnacle systems
Telephone 01895 424228

Jessops Photographic
Telephone 0800 6526400


Adobe Premiere
<a href="https://www.adobe.com">www.adobe.com</a>
Telephone 020 8606 4000