Recently in Camcorder Category

"Before I upgraded to Windows 7, I used Windows Movie Maker as my camcorder software. Windows 7 doesn't have Windows Movie Maker, so I'm left wondering what the best camcorder software for Windows 7 might be?"

I find it highly disappointing Microsoft basically abandoned Movie Maker. There is a version available as part of the Windows Live Essentials pack, but it stripped out most of the features from the Windows XP and Windows Vista versions. While the best anything is relative, I'm left with one of three strong choices for best camcorder video editing software.

"I want to buy a Flip camera, but I'm not sure if there is night vision for the Flip. Is there a Flip night vision camera or do I need to buy something else?"

Flip cameras don't include a night vision setting, however, any Flip camera can record in night vision mode as long as you have the right light. Almost any video camera or digital camera has the potential to record night vision. In addition to visible light, camcorder sensors can also record infrared light, which means they can record in what we think of as the dark. There is one setup in particular I find useful for configuring night vision on any camcorder.

"Is it possible to capture the videos from video camera to PC with Bluetooth?"

There are some camcorder models with Bluetooth support for listening to camcorder audio, capturing audio via a Bluetooth microphone, or remote control of camcorder features. Currently none of the camcorders support transferring video from the camcorder to a computer. One of the reasons Bluetooth may not be a viable option is Bluetooth isn't an ideal method for transferring large files. There are a number of highly portable camcorders that support transfer via wifi, which would accomplish the same thing as transferring via Bluetooth.

"My Sony HandyCam recorded DVD was not finalized, now i don't have the HandyCam. How can I recover the data from the camcorder DVD?"

There are two types scenarios where DVD camcorder disks are not finalized. The easy one is you simply forgot to finalize the disk. The slightly more challenging scenario is that the camcorder failed to finalize the DVD. Depending on which scenario you have I recommend a slightly different course of action.

"Everytime I record videos of my dog playing in the snow, they come out looking washed out. What can I do to make my snow videos look better?"

Shooting movies of your pets outdoors, making nature videos, shooting outdoor sporting events, and shooting scenic movies all require special attention to the details, but one of the most challenging outdoor moments is shooting video in the snow. Here are a few tips (followed by a YouTube video from Videomaker magazine) to make shooting video in the snow a little easier. Follow the steps here and I guarantee your dog videos will look better.

Manual White Balance Gives You More Control - Most camcorders have preset configurations for shooting movies both indoors and outdoors. There's a color temperature adjustment in each case that's great for "normal" enviroments, but the outdoor one isn't necessarily optimized for snow. The generic Auto White Balance can sometimes deal with snow, but you'll get the best results using the manual over ride and dialing in the white balance yourself. If your camera offers the option to save presets, you can save this white balance setting and use it during your day outside in snow environments.

Lighting in the Snow is Tricky - Often the most comfortable times to be outside are in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky. This is also when shooting snowy video is the worst because strong sunlight makes everything look too white and washed out. Save shooting snow video midday for those overcast days. As a general rule, try to shoot your snow videos during sunrise times and sunset times, which gives you richer colors and more vibrant looking video filled with great pink, orange and purple colors.

Finding Camcorder Lens Ring Size Neutral Density Filters - Using a neutral density filter can be a great way to take the harsh edge off the snow. You can typically find one that will fit your camcorder at the local photography store or online at Amazon. The thing you need to know is the ring size of your lens, which you can generally find right on the front of the lens like the one pictured here (which is a 43mm).

Capture the Spirit of the Outdoors - We generally associate snow with cold, so be sure to find shots that help identify the viewer with cold weather. Get video of the kids in a snowball fight. Pan tightly past icicles or rushing water in a snowy stream. Shoot snowboarders carving through the powder on the way down the slope or you dog leaping through drifts. You can warm the audience back up with indoor shots including sips of hot cocoa with your dog in your lap, or a crackling fire before closing out your video.

For more on shooting video in the snow, watch the video:

"I don't like spending time capturing high definition video from tapes I record with my Canon HV20, but I also don't like the video quality I get from hard disk camcorders. Can I bypass the tapes in my Canon HV20 and record direct to my hard drive?"

Any camcorder with a FireWire connection can be used to capture directly to a PC hard drive, as long as you have software that supports capture. As you point out, this is a great way to save a step and avoid capturing video from tape after you record. In some cases, this is also a good way to reduce noise your recorded audio, because you won't get bleed over from the tape mechanism.

Chris writes, "I have a Sony DCR DVD403. I purchased the camcorder with the understanding that video editing was, to say the least, more difficult that most other forms of media. At the time, however, video editing was a non-issue. Shooting footage of my new baby girl was priority and being able to pop the DVD out and take it to the grandparents superseded any need for video editing capabilities.

Now, however I wish to edit the content of some of the DVD(s). Tell me as much as you will. Is this possible, what's the best program, best connection type for the camcorder, etc. At this point, I can't even get the DVD content to my PC because "Picture Package" is the only program I have that came with the camcorder and it seems to be relatively useless, but it might just be me. Any help would be appreciated."

I've lamented the lousy experience in editing DVD camcorder movies for almost as long as the format has existed. Using the Windows XP version of Windows Movie Maker requires a third-party MPEG-2 decoder and lots of luck. Copying the video files from the camcorder DVD to your hard drive and re-naming the file works with several applications. But all of this requires too much guesswork to be efficient. Roxio Easy Media Creator finally provides the best solution I've seen so far.

With the DVD from your camcorder in your computer's DVD drive open VideoWave, the editing application bundled as part of Easy Media Creator and click on the Capture/Import.

You'll be able to import your video in a matter of a few simple steps.
1) Choose your DVD drive as the capture/import source

2) Select either specific chapters or the movie you want to capture from the DVD

3) Choose a video import setting (I recommend sticking with the MPEG default, which is compatible with the video on your DVD).

4) Choose a place to your hard drive to save the files.

5) Click Import Now to start importing video from the DVD.

Depending on how much footage you're importing from the disk, you may have to wait anywhere from about 60 seconds to several minutes.

When it's finished, click Done and then add your imported video to the editing timeline to make cuts, add effects and transitions, add titles and music and author a finished video project.

Easy Media CreatorDownload Roxio Easy Media Creator

Steve writes, "I have recently purchased a Sony HDR-SR8E with USB2 input/output. I have just purchased Pinnacle Studio v11 Plus (Ultimate). I cannot get Pinnacle to see the camcorder as a capture device, nor will it import the m2ts files generated by the camcorder. Any advice on how to resolve this so that I can maintain the 1080i (AVCHD) output would be appreciated."

It seems that some of the AVCHD files are more compatible than others with various video editing applications. After struggling with this new format for months, most of the kinks are worked out, but there are still steps you can take to get better results. One method I've found to be almost fool-proof is to take the Sony software that ships with these camcorders out of the mix completely.

The new hard disk based camcorders don't need fancy software in order to work with the files on the disk. You can simply mount the video camera as a hard drive using a USB cable. Browse to the camera in Windows Explorer under My Computer and find the files with .MTS extension on the camera.

After locating the correct directory, copy the .MTS files to your hard drive. Then go back to Pinnacle Studio (or any other video editing app that supports AVCHD) and import the .MTS files.

One additional step may be required for everything to work smoothly - depending on what mode you used for recording audio in your video, you may have multichannel surround sound audio in your file, which doesn't work well with some applications. To get around this, install freeware app AC3Filter, which down-mixes the multichannel audio to stereo.

If you're in the market for an ultra-portable, highly affordable camcorder, the Flip Video and slightly improved Flip Video Ultra may be two of the best choices you can make. I was highly skeptical about the Flip even after reading rave reviews in places like the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. You can't possibly shoot decent looking video for under $150; at least that's what I thought.

At just thicker than an iPod, the Flip easily fits in your pocket meaning you have no excuse to not take it with you.

The $120-$150 price makes it not the end of the world if you ever drop or lose your Flip. And for that price, the Flip shoots video I'd put up against any of the DVD camcorders on the market and some of the low-end MiniDV camcorders. I'm not about to replace my Canon HV20 (or a Canon GL2) with the Flip, but for many situations, it's the perfect camcorder for catching impromptu moments.

"I unintentionally recorded in HDV mode on my Canon XH-A1 on DV tapes (instead of DV) and now cannot transfer the videos into any software I have. Is there a way of overriding the software? If not, which program will accept the HDV."

Most of the HDV footage I've seen from the XH-A1 looks amazing, so hopefully you'll be pleasantly pleased with your unintentional results. If you recorded in HDV mode then what's on your tape is HDV, not DV (the tape doesn't matter, the HDV and MiniDV tapes are the same with different packaging). HDV is reasonably mature as a format, with widespread support from most of the major video editing packages. Here are several options for capturing your HDV footage.

How to edit AVCHD M2TS files from Sony HDR-SR1 camcorders
Sony HDR-SR1 CMOS Block Noise
Reusing DVD Camcorder Disks
Print Quality Digital Video Stills
10 Tips for Buying a Digital Camcorder
Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1a
Which Video Camera for Video Blogs?
Capture Video from Sony Digital8 Camcorder
Sony HDR-FX1
1CCD vs. 3CCD DV Cam Shootout

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