Question: we videotaped several workshops using our camcorder, and now we’d like to get them onto DVDs. How do we do that?
Answer: There are many different types of camcorders out there, so I’m going to focus on what’s most common: a Sony camcorder recording on mini DV tapes. There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself first: A. USB or Firewire? and B. PC or Mac (and if PC, either VIsta or XP).
A. Without going into too much detail, USB and Firewire are basically two different ways of getting your movie from your camera to your computer. Firewire is easier and faster, so should be used if it’s available. The Sony camera should have ports, or jacks, for both. They look this:
On your computer, you’ll have either USB or Firewire ports as well (or both, if lucky). While just about every computer in the past 5 years has USB ports, not as many PCs have Firewire (while all Macs have both). Look for these symbols for Firewire and USB (respectively):
B. Next, are you on a Mac or PC? Generally, if you have a Mac around, use that for video editing (see B1). If your option is a PC, determine if you are using Vista or XP and follow the directions below (B2).
B1. So if you are working with a Mac, use the firewire port. You should be able to just hook up the cable from the camera to the computer and then download into Imovie. One caveat: if you have a brand new mac, it has something called Firewire 800. Most Firewire cables are 400, so to hook up a camera to a new Mac, you’ll probably need an adapter. Just google firewire 800 400 apapter, or stop by your local computer store. When you are done editing and creatinga the movie, you can burn to a DVD-R using iDVD.
B2. If you’re on a PC, you have more options.
- If you have a computer with Firewire, hook the camcorder up using the firewire cable. On WIndows XP, use Windows Movie Maker to import; on Vista, it should automatically open in the Video import or you can import with Movie Maker. Either way, it’s probably easiest to edit your movie in Movie Maker. Instructions on that can be found on the web, such as on youtube. Once your done editing, click “publish movie” and choose settings based on where you’re going to be using the movie (on a computer, on the web, etc). Once that’s done, you can burn it to a DVD-R using a variety of programs, such as Media Player (that’s what I use).
- If you don’t have a computer with Firewire: if you’re going to be doing video importing and editing, it would be smart to have one computer with firewire. Firewire cards are fairly cheap (less than $25) and can be installed on just about any PC. If you are on a computer running Vista, this is really your only option, as there is no way (that I can figure out at least) to import video from a camera to a computer running Vista using USB.
- If you are on an XP computer, you can pretty easily import video from your camcorder using USB. But before you do that, you MUST switch your camcorder to USB streaming. This set up is generally under menu, then you’ll need to scroll through the options until you see USB stream. Select EXEC, then arrow down to USB stream, select EXEC again, and turn on USB stream. Once you do this, you should be able to just hook up the camera using the USB cord and import using Movie Maker. Note: video transferred via USB will be lower quality than with Firewire.