As I say in my books, if you're bringing your footage into Premiere Elements correctly, the data moves in unchanged. (Capturing to a codec is sort of obsolete concept based on the early days when devices like the Pinnacle's Dazzle captured analog footage.)
Video from tape-based camcorder streams in over FireWire. The video data is unchanged, but the video files are encapsulated as AVI (from miniDV) or MPEGs (from HDV).
Hard drive and DVD based camcorder footage is not streamed. It is downloaded as is over USB -- so it, too, is exactly the same video data as was created in the camcorder. That's why it's so important to ensure that you only use any footage in a project set up to work with that particular video format.
My books (available from Amazon.com and from the Muvipix store) have much more detail on this. You can also get a pretty good idea how it all works from my free Basic Training with Premiere Elements tutorials at videomaker help site Muvipix.com.
In very basic terms, the camera, or source, determines the CODEC. In the case of cameras, that is predetermined.
As Steve points out, other devices and software can allow the user to change the CODEC. His example of the Pinnacle Dazzle is a good one. I have a Turtle Bay capture card, and through its software, one can choose the CODEC for actions like capturing from VHS tapes, or from a DVD through a DVD player. In that second case, the DVD has already been compressed and Transcoded to MPEG-2, the CODEC of DVD-Video, so one is basically doing a conversion, and in my case from the original MPEG-2 to DV-AVI Type II files.
Now, if I do a Capture (note the capitalization, as this is the process of using your NLE, like PrE, to do the Capture, as from my Canopus 300, then the CODEC will be DV-AVI Type II for my SD Projects.
To distill, it depends on the exact operation, and the device and software used in the workflow. In some cases, changes can be made, but in others, it cannot (except by using a file conversion program).
PS - for a little background on CODEC's, this ARTICLE might prove useful to you.
Your answers have got me very excited indeed. Thanks to your video tutorials Steve, I performed a test where I got something from a DVD (recorded from a set top box LG recorder) and created a new PE8 project using a Hard Disk settings and not DV (PAL as I'm in the UK). I imported the 30 sec clip, brought it in the timeline, burnt a test disc, and she played back beautifully with no shaky artifacts, whilst retaining its "shot on broadcast quality video" look.
Whenever I've used Prem El, I've always brought in DV-avi only as I thought that this software worked with DV only. Perfect for anything captured through firewire. However if I'm bringing in stuff sourced from DVD then it works great if the material is shot on film, or processed to look like it's shot on film. Then the conversion process may change it slightly - but doesn't as far as I'm concerned, cause detriment to the look of the footage.
If I bring in footage that looks like it's shot on broadcast-quaity video (news, sports coverage), then the conversion process is clearly visible and disturbs the picture quality. I have a piece I made with my camcorder years ago from before the time I owned a computer. The film was edited and burnt at a friends house and only the DVD remains. Converting it to DV-avi changes the footage quite profoundly, and my camcorder shoots with the video look I just mentioned.
Now I'm getting really excited.
I used to have PE2.0 and I bought the MainConcepts plugin so that I could re-edit my piece. I then exported it with smart rendering, and used a Roxio application to burn the disc.
Yeterday's test indicated that if you choose the Hard Disk project settings, you can happily bring in vobs, edit them and burn a disc with no conversions going on?
When I did another test testerday with the DVD footage from my camcorder piece, it seemed to look perfect!
Is it the case that these project settings now mean that Prem El is able to import, edit, and burn discs natively in MPEG?
Well, yes --- and no.
As I say in my books, Premiere Elements can use MPEGs as a source when you use the DVD/Hard Drive Camcorder project preset. But it doesn't "smart render" MPEG files. In other words, even if you put in MPEGs and export an MPEG or a DVD (which is also a form of MPEG) the program still converts it to a DV-AVI while it's working on it. The MPEG project setting merely makes sure it does this correctly.
But even then, not every MPEG or DVD file is going to work natively in the program. Sometimes MPEGs -- because of they way they're encoded -- can load into Premiere Elements with their audio out of sync or missing completely. It's just the nature of the beast.
So, yes, it works. But no, not always. And you're always at the best advantage if you convert your files to DV-AVIs before you bring them into the program.
On the other hand, if your workflow works for you -- there's no reason not to use it!
And, "Smart Rendering," can be a bit overrated, in the programs that support it. If one adds Effects, PiP, Overlay Titles, or Transitions, they have altered the original enough that even the Smart Render programs are likely to have re-Transcode. Many have had issues with just the addition of Transitions, where the quality suffers, at the point of the Transition. If one only does Butt-Cuts, then the quality is maintained.
Just my observation,
I am simply astounded at what has happened this week. First of all I produced an excellent result for the first time bringing vobs in to the PremEl timeline and burnt a test disc (having chosen the right project settings), but then things just got better. Read on:
I then tried this MPEG Streamclip application you mention in you online tutorial (mentioned above). I'd heard about this wonder-codec from apple called DVPRO but didn't know Windows could have it till now. I had to pay fifteen pounds (nineteen dollars in the US which is not the same amount) to upgrade my quicktime player to do MPEG-2, but after that I used Streamclip to make some test DV clips. Prem EL then burnt them making the best result I've ever seen.
You've no idea how long I've wanted to find this solution - and now I have it.
Perfect DV conversions*. GO STREAMCLIP!!!!!!
*Well - perfect as far as I care.
Now there's another matter that just turned up. My miniDV camcorder has just died. In an effort to find a way to transfer all my tapes to a portable hard drive, I look online for a cheap miniDV tape replacement camcorder, and no-one really makes them anymore. I'll find a way soon to get my taped material into my computer to edit at a later date, but after that I'll need a new camcorder which leads me to some thoughts:
Okay, so we now have Prem El, which has come a long way over the past four years in dealing with MPEGS and vobs (Prem El 2 gave me all sorts of problems) - but at it's heart is still a DV workspace, and now this streamclip method can give us more-or-less perfect conversions into DV for it to work with.
Question 1: Steve, Bill, do you agree with the last sentance?
Question 2: (forget HD for the moment - it'll be a while before anything in my house is HD). If I'm going to buy a new camcorder this year, which do you think is the best type for Prem EL, is it:
- Everio (or similar hard drive), then convert the footage using Streamclip to DV, or
- Everio (or similar hard drive), then use the Hard Disk project settings, or
- something else altogether
What kind of camcorder would you say will give me the best results for Prem El 8?
by the way, thanks guys, Perfect DVs from vobs FINALLY!! what a week!
For a "best camera," I would look into an HDV tape-based camera. That should also allow you to use it for the transfer of your old tapes, though perhaps not - depends on the camera.
I would personally stay away from any HDD camera, and the only flash media that I would be looking at would be P2, but that is just me.
For those old tapes, it might be easiest to rent, or borrow an SD tape camera, and use it. There are several companies, that mfgr. DV tape decks, but some are a bit finicky to use. Again, a rental, or used unit would probably work fine, and with FW, you can use that to Capture directly into PrE.
As for MPEGStreamClip, I have not used it, but many have, and sign its praises. Glad that you have it working for you too.
Just my personal observations, and good luck,