Live Capture Plus is designed to manage all those occasions when you may need to capture DV material outside of an editing application such as iMovie or Final Cut Pro.

If you are commencing work on editing a specific project you may already have a clear idea of which footage you need and can capture it directly inside your chosen editing application. Often, however, you will be faced with a mountain of anonymous tapes that you have recorded and not have a clue what’s on them, or where to start bringing some order to them. This is where CatDV and Live Capture Plus can help!

As you probably know, DV cameras record video information at a constant data rate of about 13 Gigabytes per hour of footage. Even with falling hard disk prices, a typical hard disk can still only store a few hours of uncompressed DV material at most (once you allow for system software, applications, and other documents or media files you may have), especially if your main machine is a laptop. And yet, in order to make most use of the storage capacity and processing power available to you, you really want all your raw video material instantly accessible to you on your computer without having to waste time rummaging around tapes to find that one clip you want.

The answer is to capture (or digitize) your video material using a different, more efficient, video codec than DV, such as MPEG4, Sorenson Video 3, Motion JPEG, or any number of other formats supported by QuickTime. Unfortunately, compressing video material using one of these codecs is often very computationally intensive. It only needs to be done once, but compressing a clip usually takes longer than it takes to play a tape in the first place, so can’t in general be done in real time (unless you compromise heavily on quality and resolution). Live Capture Plus manages the whole process of capturing and compressing, buffering data and pausing the tape as required. At the same time, Live Capture Plus also solves the other great problem afflicting video editors, namely dropped frames (as well as errors caused by tape drop outs and timecode resets).

When a DV tape is being played, data arrives at the computer over the FireWire connection at a constant and very high rate. If the computer isn’t ready to process this data as soon as it’s received, on a moment by moment basis (perhaps it was busy processing an incoming email message, or some other behind-the-scenes interruption), then that data is lost. The result is a corrupted movie file with missing frames, resulting in stuttering when played back or incorrect movie durations and timecode value. These can cause subtle but noticeable errors subsequently when editing, especially if batch capture is used.

With Live Capture Plus, each individual frame is analysed as it is being captured. Every DV frame has its own unique timecode value encoded within it, and if these are found to arrive in anything other than a strictly increasing sequence (which would indicate that one or more dropped frames or some other capture problem occurred) then Live Capture Plus will automatically rewind the tape and recpature the offending frame(s).