There’s a difference between a DV bridge and plain old capture device or capture card. Capture devices merely digitize your video input to any of number of video formats. DV bridges, on the other hand, are specifically designed to convert any video and audio input into DV-AVI files, the preferred video format for PC-based video editors. (Macs also prefer DV video, although they are saved as DV Quicktime files rather than AVIs. The video data content, however, is identical.)
DV bridges range from relatively inexpensive to high-end professional devices with time base correction and other video optimizers. The best value on the market in DV bridges and a Muvipix recommended “best buy” is the Grass Valley Canopus AVDC, a favorite of many videographers and available online for under $200. This great device can is a great value if you plan to edit a lot of video from non-DV sources.
Another great device is ADS Pyro AV Link, which is discontinued but can still be found for under $150 obnline. Like the Grass Valley Canopus device, the Pyro AV link will take any AV input (a camcorder, a DVD player, a VCR or virtually any other video source, including live video) and port it into your computer as a high-quality DV-AVI file.
Capturing video from a DV bridge is easy. Just plug your camcorder’s, DVD player’s or VCR’s AV cables (RCA jacks) into the DV bridge’s inputs and plug the bridge (connected by FireWire) into your computer. Windows will recognize the device just as it recognizes a miniDV camcorder connection.
The capture process itself is essentially the same as capture from a miniDV camcorder. The only difference is that, since there’s no direct connection between your video source device and the computer, you won’t be able to control the device with the Capture Monitor’s playback controls. But, once you’ve got the device cued up to the segment you want to capture, you just click the Capture button and you’re good to go!
By the way, these DV bridges can also be used with DVD camcorders and hard drive camcorders, so it’s a great way to make any non-miniDV video 100% Premiere Elements compatible.
An alternative to a DV bridge is a set-up called a pass-through, which essentially uses a miniDV camcorder as a DV bridge.
To do pass-through capture, attach your non-DV camcorder to your miniDV camcorder, via its AV cables, and then link the miniDV to your computer via FireWire. With the miniDV camcorder in play mode (but without a tape inside) the non-DV camcorder’s video then flows through the miniDV and into the computer, where it’s captured as DV-AVIs.
The biggest challenge to using this method is that fewer and fewer new miniDV camcorders support pass-through connection. And it’s very difficult to learn, from most spec sheets, which camcorders do. But, if your miniDV camcorder is pass-through capable, this is a simple and effective method of digitizing almost any analog video input.