From Digital Video to DVD
Doug asks, "I have a Sony DCR-HC30 Digital Video Camera Recorder. I want to take the movies from the small tape and create a DVD from them. I have a Dell Computer and will get a DVD burner if it will work. Can you help?"
Like all of Sony's digital video camera's the DCR-HC30 uses an iLINK interface (which is known as IEEE-1394 or FireWire to every other company) to transfer footage from tape to your PC for editing. Typically, Sony does not include the required cable for making the connection between DV cam and computer. The connection on the camera is a 4-pin iLINK connector. One thing you don't mention is whether your Dell computer has a FireWire port somewhere on it.
The connection on your PC will either be a 4-pin or 6-pin connection depending on which version the PC manufacturer chose to include. Look for a logo like the one at the left to help identify the connection. If your PC has a 4-pin connector, you need a 4-pin to 4-pin FireWire cable. If your PC has a 6-pin connector, you need a 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable.
Depending on your operating system, I have a few different recommendations for video editing. If your operating system is Windows XP, you already have Windows Movie Maker installed. Connecting your camera via the iLINK connection and setting it to playback mode should automatically launch a wizard in Windows XP asking you if you want to capture the video. Use Windows Movie Maker to import the video to your computer, edit the file and output a finished movie.
If you're running an older version of Windows, like 98 or 2000, a shareware app called Video Edit Magic is a great option for capturing and editing your home movies. The trial version of the software is fully functional for 30 days, but does watermark your video output if you create a movie. After 30 the software will still do editing, but can no longer capture.
In both of these cases, you'll need DVD authoring software for making your DVD. If you are purchasing a burner, it's quite possible the burner will include software. My personal preference for DVD authoring is Sonic MyDVD.
Another option for Windows XP users, with a great feature set is Adobe Premiere Elements. The software handles all necessary capture and editing tasks quite well and includes DVD authoring as part of the package.
I cover the process of digital video editing end-to-end in my book, Easy Digital Home Movies.