Transferring Video Footage
from Digital Camcorder to PC to CD or DVD

This is a very painful and time-consuming process. Having seen digital still cameras I also had a feeling that you connect your digital camcorder to your PC, copy all the footage on your hard disc and move it across to a blank CD or DVD.

However, this is NOT the case.

Although I am quite new at this as well and haven't figured out a perfect way of doing things, this is what I know:


Windows Movie Maker is a free and stable program built in Windows XP. It captures movies in two formats - avi and wmv.


  • There are lots of options to choose from while saving the file. In general, larger the resolution (and hence file size), better the quality. 90 minutes of good quality footage takes just over 1 GB.
  • Whenever you paused your camcorder, a new clip is generated within the file. So you can have numerous small clips from which you can pick & mix and make smaller files out of them.
  • Information like the original date and time of the recording is preserved both in avi and wmv formats.
  • After editing, the avi files can go back on your DV (digital video) tape.
  • The whole tape has to be run to capture the footage; no drag & drop.
  • No stand-alone DVD-player can play avi or wmv files (so far - Feb 2004). So saving these files onto CD or DVD is only good for storage purposes or to play on PCs.


With third-party software like TmpEng (I think I've spelt it correctly) you can change your avi or wmv files to MPEG (or MPG) files. The free version will let you make unlimited MPG1 files (which are inferior quality and are used for VCDs). In addition, you make MPG2 files for 30 days. MPEG2 is somewhere between VCD and DVD and creates Super VCDs or SVCDs.

You can copy these MPEGs directly on a CD or DVD and your stand-alone DVD player might play them - my Yamada 5320 does that. However, if your DVD player can't you'll have to burn your CD or DVD as a "Video disc" rather than a "Data disc".


  • Makes your avi or wmv file useable and transportable.
  • You loose the orignal information like date & time of recording.
  • It takes a good few hours for the conversion to take place - roughly 3 to 4 times the movie's duration.

This is a natural question that arises. Why can't we capture directly in a universally playable format?

ULEAD have a software (I forgot the name). I have used its version 6 which givea the option to choose between saving as a DV, AVI or MPEG file. Each of these options is configurable.


  • Potentially your work should be finished when you reach the end of the tape.
  • MPEGs can be played on almost all DVD players and the software itself burns it on a CD or DVD so you'll end up with a Video CD or DVD.
  • You can generate titles in different formats as well.
  • It takes ages to finish the job. Once the tape has stopped playing, it "thinks" and "thinks" and "thinks" till it can "think" no more! Eventually my laptop (P4 1800MHz, 256MB RAM) hangs up and I have to restart my computer.
  • Maybe I'm wrong but MPEGs don't seem to preserve the original date & time of the recording. (I know I've gone on & on about this but I think this is the point of investing in a digital camcorder - most analogue 8mm record almost as good quality videos otherwise.)
  • As you can imagine, I haven't completed a single project with ULead, however, it has some good things said about it so maybe worth a try. It is not free, I suspect - I got my copy with a PCI TV tuner card.


Perhaps recording directly onto a stand-alone DVD recorder will be a simple thing. Hook your camcorder to it, playback the miniDV tape and there you go - just like creating a VHS.

However, I must admit that I have no clue about the format of the video, whether or not it will be editable or universally portable. Mind you, DVD recorders as well as DVD camcorders are still not united on a format - Panasonic, Sony and Philips all have their own versions and it might be a while where there is ONE format for DVD recording.

Please email me if you have any questions.