Digital video may be here to stay but that doesn't mean analogue video is dead - at least not yet. Most users still have VHS tapes littering bookshelves and some (shock, horror) haven't yet replaced that old video handycam with a modern DV version.
But VHS is a long way from the convenience of DVD and even those who are still relying on a video camera would love to be able to put their movies on DVD.
Enter analogue-to-digital capture devices. They're nothing new - video capture cards have been around for years - but they do have a reputation for being difficult to set up and use, at least on a PC.
Miglia's Director's Cut Take 2 aims to take the hassle out of converting analogue video, or even outputting digital video, to an analogue device. It does this by fooling DV editing software into thinking it's a DV camcorder.
Unlike other devices, it requires no driver and does not need its own capture software, though a FireWire card must be pre-installed in the PC.
I first tried using it with the FireWire port on my Audigy sound card, which works fine when capturing video from a DV camcorder.
However, with the Director's Cut, I got dropped frames when recording. I then installed a no-name, budget FireWire card and the problem was resolved. The Director's Cut Take 2 has two sets of analogue outputs and one set of inputs at the rear. For importing video, connect the camcorder or VCR to the S-video or composite video jacks, and audio to the left and right audio inputs.
The unit draws power from the PC via the FireWire cable. With an analogue input device attached, a user can simply fire up a favourite video editing program and use its capture function to convert video, a process that occurs in real-time.
Although Director's Cut 2 is recognised by editing software as a DV device, the user cannot control the analogue device attached to it.
As a result, playback on the camcorder or VCR must be done manually.
Director's Cut Take 2 does a very good job of capturing video, with negligible reduction in quality. I tried it with Adobe Premiere Pro and Ulead DVD Workshop 2 without any problems. But the Director's Cut does more than just capture analogue video to the PC. It also exports edited video back to tape.
Users can connect a VCR to either or both of the analogue outputs (recording two copies of the file to separate VCRs is supported) and then use the export mode of the DV program. The front of the unit has a Capture/Export button, which is used to toggle between the two states. A TV can also be connected to one of the outputs to act as a preview monitor, an effective way to see how the captured video will appear on screen.
At $570, Director's Cut Take 2 is not the cheapest analogue-to-digital capture option available, but it is quite possibly the easiest to set up and use, and the quality of the result will not disappoint.
MIGLIA DIRECTOR's CUT 2
Easy to set up and works with virtually any DV editing/capture software. Also lets users output video from the PC to an analogue device.
Not the cheapest solution Quality: 4.5 stars Build: 4 stars Features: 5 stars Value: 4.5 stars Overall: 4.5 stars
The product is distributed by Conexus and Adimex.