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Elgato Video Capture Review

Elgato Video Capture Review

Elgato have pretty covered most of our video needs with TV encoders (and EyeTV) for our TV capturing and editing needs. The Turbo.264 HD allows us to encode footage directly from AVCHD camcorders and virtually any other video format.

Now the company tackles our analogue video needs in the form of “Video Capture” Video Capture package is a USB device with Composite / RCA and S-Video inputs,a SCART adaptor for connecting to a range of devices and a CD containing the really easy to use Video Capture software. One of the biggest selling points is the device captures directly to the H.264 / MPEG-4 format that is iTunes and iPod friendly.

The device arrived in perfect time as I have a video produced in 1986 on VHS that I needed for a presentation at the end of this week. Traditionally we opted for using a Video to DVD recorder (capturing in real time) we then had to handbrake the DVD for editing in Final Cut or iMovie.

This device offers a direct to edit workflow. I decided the best way to test the device was to connect it to the various analogue devices I could easily get my hands on and import a section of video from each. The list includes a video recorder, Sky+ set top box and a Xbox 360 console.

The video (above) shows 30 seconds of output from these various sources that was imported into iMovie for adding titles. Note the video hasn’t been adjusted or enhanced in anyway.

Over the years I have found capturing from analogue devices to be particularly problematic. Low video quality, incorrect dimensions and frequent audio issues have dogged the experience so much I have sat with VHS tapes on my to-do list for a number of years.

The Video Capture software features a very simple workflow that steps through a number of stages before final capture. These stages check both the video and audio settings to ensure the best possible recording is achieved.

Once you have installed the software you can connect the Video Capture hardware directly via a free USB port. Obviously such a system is going to be best suited for Macbook and Macbook Pro users who can move their computers close to the likes of Sky+ boxes etc. Elgato have also included an RCA extension cable for those hard to reach devices.

The first stage is to select the video input, i.e. S-Video or RCA and the video size (4:3 or 16:4).
The next stage is to check the audio is coming through to the computer and then it is off to the large red record button. The software allows you to either man the recording and click stop when it is complete or alternatively you can set the duration of the recording and let the Elgato Video Capture system do the rest.
For testing purposes I monitored the recording directly but the ability to capture for set time periods is particularly useful when capturing old VHS tapes etc.

Once the recording is completed you can trim the ends of the video (if necessary) before it is saved into your My Movies folder. Finally you have the option of watching your recording in Quicktime (or iTunes) or further edit with iMovie. If you are happy with the recording and want to share it with the world direct export to YouTube is also just a click away.

I think looking at the show reel of captures (above) it is easily to see the value in the Elgato Video Capture system. To be honest I am especially happy with the VHS recording as much of the noise visible on the TV screen has been ignored in the recording making the imported footage of a higher visual standard than the original.

The baby featured in the video is now considerably older and excited about seeing the clips. The Sky recording looks as good as the TV but the recording from the console looks a little darker than the reality. I am sure the brightness could be tweaked a little but I think the quality is as good as game footage I have seen featured in TV programmes etc.

One slight negative was I found I had to play the game through the laptop screen as my TV didn’t offer any form or video out from an HDMI device. Again this is a very small negative and I sure there is a better way to connect the device to the Xbox to overcome these issues.

I love this device as it serves a genuine need I face on a regular basis. TV recorded on Sky+ and old videos on VHS are now easily transfered to a digital format using the Elgato device. In reality this little USB device will record virtually anything with an RCA or S-Video output.

The Elgato Video Capture package is a perfect combination of top quality video hardware coupled with really easy to use software. Analogue video brilliance !

The devices costs ?89.75

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