Goodbye capture, hello file copy

Well maybe not quite yet, but there are more and more cameras coming out that no longer use tape. They record the video onto a little memory card or hard drive. With the ones that contain a memory card you just pop the memory card out of the camera, put it in your card reader and copy the video files across just like your digital still camera.

When these video cameras first started to appear the video quality was a little lacking but they’ve been getting better every day and Sanyo are now coming out with a high-definition (720P) version (pictured below).

One of the fun aspects of working on the Movie Maker team is that quite often we get a chance to try out new video cameras. I recently took one of the Sanyo standard definition cameras out for a spin. It recorded at 640×480 in MPEG-4 and although the quality of the video (especially in low-light situations) wasn’t the greatest, the form factor of the device was just amazing. I took it to a couple of meeting and as soon as people saw it they wanted to pick it up and try it out. I found myself taking little bits of video here and there that I wouldn’t have normally taken because it was just so easy and I could copy the file across to my computer in seconds.

One of the arguments I hear from people about these cameras is that you don’t have a tape which you can keep on the shelf as a backup of a video. I understand the argument but I don’t think it’s an overriding concerning, at least not for me. You have the same issue with digital photos and I suspect most people don’t print out all their digital photos as backup. It just raises the importance of ensuring you have good backups of our computer data. Fortunately Windows Vista has a new Windows Backup feature, that I’m looking forward to trying out.

What do you think? Do you always see yourself using video tapes for the foreseeable future or are you feeling the lure of these new devices?

Comments (4)

  1. glow says:

    The bad thing about video tapes is that that you don’t get random access to them, only sequential.

    The good things are the quality and the amount of information you can fit.  My camcorder can take 90 minutes on a single tape.

    My camcorder can also record to a memory stick but the quality is only like a web cam – suitable for email but not for viewing on TV.

    Once the random access technology improves so that the quality, capacity and price are at least as good as tape and my favourite non-linear editor WMM supports them then I’d consider switching.

    One of problems with the XP versions of WMM was that they weren’t too happy with MPEG files such as those produced by random access cameras.  e.g. MPEG-2 used by DVD cameras has to be converted.

    Is the Vista version going to be happier with other file formats apart from DV-AVI and WMV?

  2. Dean Rowe says:

    Yes you’re right. The random access part is also important. You can play back video that you’ve captured on the camera and you don’t have to worry about potentially retaping over your video.

    I’m not guaranteeing that it’ll work with everything :-), but the Vista version of MovieMaker will work better with other formats than Movie Maker for XP

  3. Blaine says:

    You mentioned you got to play with the SD version of the Sanyo camera.  Will you be playing the HD version…? I understand it will be out shortly.  

    You can fit ~40 minutes on a 2GB card (in MPEG-4) format which wouldn’t be enough for my purposes.  I usually end up with several *hours* of video.  For an extended vacation, I know I couldn’t restrict myself to a meager 40 minutes.  I’d either have to get more 2GB cards or bring a laptop, which would be cumbersome.

    Unless the cost of these memory cards comes down, or the capacity goes way up, I think most people will stick with tape or maybe the hard disk models.  But I do agree that more and more people will want to get into HD video and are looking for smaller form-factor camcorders.

  4. Dean Rowe says:

    Yes, I believe the camera will be out very soon. I don’t know if we have one on order yet, I’ll have to find out 🙂