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Personal Video recorders (PVRs) See below
You can upload stills and videos to Picasa. See example HERE or Youtube, of course.
Picasa is also the easiest way to add a photographic slide show to a disk which will not only work on your PC but also on a DVD player with your TV. I have wasted hours and many disks attempting to do with with programs such as Nero, Ashampoo and even the drag and drop facility offered by Windows. With Picasa it never fails. But DVD Maker (free with Vista and W 7. Premium) makes even better slide and video shows.
I am so pleased with DVD Maker and its ability to produce impressive DVDs which will play on a PC OR on a DVD player to a TV the I have devoted a page to it HERE
Recently I tried out a free video converter called Freemake Video Converter. It is not only useful for converting the varying video formats but also for editing videos in a similar way to Microsoft Movie Maker (with all recent Windows) or Windows DVD Maker (comes with Vista and Windows 7 Home Premium). You can even rotate videos if you take them in the wrong orientation with a camera or phone. Simples !
For instructions on making Videos on your PC take a look at the site of a friend in the USA http://bestnetguru.com/moviemaking/index.html He uses Corel-VideoStudio-X2-Pro-Ultimate £45 from Amazon. He also covers the difficult area of making DVDs that will play on a home DVD player. Another good place for training videos on using Windows Movie Maker can be found at http://www.atomiclearning.com/k12/moviemaker2 But also Microsoft has a number of videos on DVD Maker, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and Media Centre. n.b. Many of these are only available to Windows 7 and Vista Home Premium Edition users (Not Home Basic)
There is also a useful tutorial on using DVD Maker to create DVDs that will work both on your PC and on a domestic DVD Player (on your TV) These can include stills, videos and music. See http://www.7tutorials.com/how-burn-dvds-windows-dvd-maker
Video has been a hobby of mine for many years, starting with 8mm cine film. What a chore that was! Each film was expensive and lasted about 4 minutes. Once processed, if you wanted a longer, edited film you needed a splicer and glue. So, you cut out the bad bits or arranged the whole thing in a different order and hoped the glue would keep the whole thing together. I even had a projector which had a tape attachment and you could make a recording and somehow coordinate it with the film.
Then I found out about video tape and was able to borrow a recorder and camera from the Ely Educational AV Department.
The camera wasn't so bad but the recorder (a Shibaden) was so big it needed two people to carry it !
You had to be near a mains supply of course. But I did make a couple of films with it on the 1" x 6" spools. Just mono, no colour then. In the end, with the effort of lugging this thing about, I made the decision "I will wait until the technology improves". And so it did. Now you can take video with sound with almost any digital camera or even a mobile telephone. And the Canon digital video camera I now use just sits in the palm of my hand and will take a couple of hours for film complete with sound. The quality is excellent. And the cost, once you have the camera, is minimal. So, now you can bore your relatives and friends with hours of baby's first steps or whatever.
I don' t regret taking those early 8mm cine films, now saved onto VCR tape or DVD. Kids do love to see themselves when they were younger (40 years ago!)
And now we get invited to weddings for the express purpose of 'doing' the whole thing. And then there is amateur dramatics, which would be forever lost if it was not for our little camera.
So, how about the techniques ?
Firstly, I have copied old cine to tape by projecting it onto a screen or white wall and just setting up the video camera on a tripod to capture it. Slides can be copied this way, too.
Then you can edit VCR tape fairly satisfactorily providing you have two tape recorders (cheap as chips at boot sales now they are going out of fashion). Obviously you need an output from one and an input to the other. This is usually by a SCART plug at the output machine and either Phono or SCART plug at the input machine. Start the first machine at a point you want to record, start the second machine in record mode, making sure you can see it on the TV, and away you go. You can do a quickie edit by pausing the input machine if you spot things you want to exclude from the original film. You can even make it a little better by inputting music from a tape recorder, CD or whatever to the audio phono socket on the input machine. Takes a bit of practice but it can be done !
Saving to CD or DVD As VCR tape is on its way out you may wish to save your video to DVD. Apart from the fact that the equipment will be around for a little longer it is cheaper to send a DVD to someone by post (than a VCR tape) bearing in mind the additional cost these days of sending anything a smidgen over 5mm thick.
The easiest way is to have a combined VCR and DVD recorder. Over
£200 still but probably getting cheaper. But it does mean that
in the one machine you can play old VCR tapes, CDs of various kinds (including
ones with JPG photos on) and record and play DVDs. with one of these
machines. Although there are a lot of confusing buttons to play with it
is possible to record from VCR to DVD or DVD to VCR
Editing video on your PC. Although I had some software with my camera I find that Windows Movie Maker and DVD Maker were easier to use. These are FREE.
Windows DVD Maker is only available with Premium versions of Windows Vista and 7. It is better from the point of view of producing a Menu at the beginning of a Video DVD you make, which is usable with a DVD controller, allowing chapters and some nice transitions, plus music. It also allows recording in PAL as well as NTSC (American) format. I have written instructions on a separate page at HERE
Windows Movie Maker. Download the latest versions of Movie Maker from Microsoft
Various formats. Videos come in numerous formats, which can be confusing and sometimes are not accepted by different programs or equipment. For instance the common Windows format of WMV is not usually recognised by a domestic DVD player, although DVDs made for that sort of player can often be opened on a computer. They are built up of several file types. The one most likely to be viewable on a PC has the ending VOB and these could be extracted to the PC and manipulated. But there are many other formats and you may wish to convert them. There are converters for such purposes such as http://www.freemake.com/free_video_converter/ which is capable of converting from all the following : : AVI, MP4, MKV, WMV, MPG, 3GP, 3G2, SWF, FLV, TOD, MOV, DV, RM, QT, TS, MTS, and many more. Import music (MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV), and photos (JPG, BMP, PNG,GIF). It can then convert to AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, SWF, MPG, 3GP, MP3, also iPod, iPhone, iPad, PSP, PS3 and Android equipment. They also do a video program downloader at http://www.freemake.com/free_video_downloader/ which will enable you to save videos to your PC from sites such as Youtube.
Later versions of Windows Movie Maker includes more effects and transitions, and support for the DVR-MS file format in which Windows Media Center records television.The HD version adds support for capturing from HDV camcorders. The capture wizard will create DVR-MS type files from HDV tapes. However, the Windows Vista version of Windows Movie Maker no longer supports importing video from an analog video source such as a VCR or from a Web camera.
There is help on Movie Maker at the Movie Maker Forum and PapaJohn'sWebsite. That really is a must and so helpful.
The layout of Movie Maker consists of the usual 'storyboard' view and a timeline to view and organise videos imported from various sources. When in Storyboard view, the video project appears as a film strip showing each scene in clips. The storyboard/timeline consists of one 'Video' bar, one 'Music/Audio' bar, and one 'Titles/Credits' bar. In each bar, clips can be added for editing (e. g., a .wav music file will belong on the 'Music/Audio' bar). Still images can also be imported. The Video and Music/Audio bars can be "cut" to any number of short segments, which will play together seamlessly, but the individual segments are isolated editing-wise, so that for example, the music volume can be lowered for just a few seconds while someone is speaking.
The original camera file on the hard drive is not modified in any way. Until you save your video your current 'project' is really just a list of instructions for re-recording a final output video file from the original file. When you have saved the video and close it you are asked if you wish to save the format for future use or amendment. The file has an ending MSWMM.
Importing footage. When importing footage into the program you can either choose to Capture Video from camera, scanner or other device. The accepted formats for import are .WMV/.ASF, .MPG (MPEG-1), .AVI (DV-AVI), .WMA, .WAV, and .MP3. Additionally, the Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Movie Maker support importing MPEG-2 Program streams and DVR-MS formats. 
When importing from a DV tape, if the "Make Clips on Completion" option is selected, Windows Movie Maker automatically flags the commencement of each scene, so that the tape appears on the editing screen as a collection of short clips, rather than one long recording. That is, at each point where the "Record" button was pressed, a new "clip" is generated. However, the actual recording on the hard drive is still one continuous file. This feature is also offered after importing files already on the hard drive. In the Windows Vista version, the "Make clips on completion" option has been removed the clips are now automatically created during the capture process.
After capture, any clip can be dragged and dropped anywhere on the timeline. Once on the timeline, clips can be duplicated or split, and any of the split sections deleted or moved to another position. Right-clicking any clip brings up the range of editing options.
Although it is possible to import digital video from cameras through the USB interface, most older cameras only support USB version 1 and the results tend to be poor "sub VHS" quality. Newer cameras using USB 2.0 give much better results. A FireWire interface camera will allow recording and playback of images identical in quality to the original recordings if the video is imported and subsequently saved as DV AVI files, although this consumes disk space at about 1 Gigabyte every five minutes (12GB/Hr).
Earlier versions of Windows Movie Maker did not allow the direct burning of DVDs. The project had to be first saved as an AVI file, and a separate program used to author the DVD from that. This was not a major problem, as limited but perfectly workable software for this (eg Power Producer) is often bundled with DVD burners or video cameras
Editing with Movie Maker There are over 130 effects, transitions, titles, and credits available. They are applied by using a drag and drop method from the Effects or Transitions folders. Titles and credits can be added as stand alone titles or overlaying them on the clip. Titles range from static (non-animated) titles to fly in, fading, news banner, or spinning newspaper animations.
Saving the finished item. Movie Maker lets you save movies to your Hard Drive, or save to a CD or a DVD. With the feature of Saving to the Internet, you can publish a very compressed version of your movie without any extra work.
Another free video editing program is DVD Flick
PERSONAL VIDEO RECORDERS (PVRs) These are boxes which contain large hard disks to temporarily store off air video. They attach to any TV via the SCART plug and also contain a Freeview facility, though these sometimes require a new outdoor aerial
Why get a PVR? One of the biggest selling points of these digital recorders
is their user-friendliness; all of them have an in-built freeview programme
guide, and you can just browse it and select things to record. Then go away
and forget about it, and before you know it you'll have a backlog of shows
to catch up on.
The ability to pause live programmes is useful too; no longer will you have to wait with a raging thirst for the ad break before you get a drink, nor deny calls of nature. Used properly, a PVR'll make your tv viewing fit around you, rather than vice-versa; you may find that you never watch shows when they're actually aired anymore. How much ? These days you can get a reconditioned model that will record around 35 hours of video for around £45. For about £85 you can get one that will record around 160 hours.
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