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What is Video Capture?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 16, 2024
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Video capture is a software program that allows the operator to highlight a section of digital video from another source and save that section within the software program. The purpose of a video capture is to move streaming video from one tool to another and allow the user to modify the video as needed. This type of software can be found on the Internet or in a computer store.

There are a wide range of video capture software products available to meet these needs. The quality and price ranges from several thousand US Dollars USD for professional grade to free software for the casual home user. Each software product has different features and benefits.

The professional grade video capture tools cost anywhere from $500 USD to $10,000 USD and require computer hardware with huge memory capacity and processing speed. The video capture software is able to isolate video up to the thousandth of a second, capture and modify. The types of modifications available range from alterations of the video image to shifting the timing of video/audio integration.

Middle grade video capture software ranges in price from $50 USD to $2,000 USD and is widely available to the consumer market. This type of product is focused on the modification of home video in a digital format. The video must be on the same computer in order for the video capture process to work.

Free video capture software is also available over the Internet and provides very basic functions. User can highlight and capture video, save the file and add special effects. This file can then be distributed to other users for viewing.

A career in the movie industry requires the use of video capture software, in addition to a wide range of other technologies and video modification tools. Courses are available on the different software products to help staff learn these important skills.

Analog video must be converted to digital format before it can be edited with computer software. This conversion is done using an analog to digital video converter. This device reads the analog information and creates the digital equivalent, modifying the format.

Once this transition is complete, the digital video can be used with video capture software, video editing software and a wide range of related products. The actual digital file can now be saved on digital media, allowing access to a wider range of video reading devices. This includes DVDs, online video software and computer video streaming products.

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Discussion Comments

By julies — On Jul 31, 2011

While there are some free video capture sites available on the internet, I would caution that you get what you pay for.

The quality that you receive from a free site, is no where near as good as you would receive from a paid service. It is nice to have options that are affordable for the average consumer to use, but I would just be wary of using the free services.

If you are looking to just use some very basic services, you will be able to accomplish that, but I have found myself quite frustrated trying to achieve a quality product from a free service .

By animegal — On Jul 31, 2011

I have a few sites that I visit that distribute Japanese animation completely legally, but they don't have an option for downloading their material.

How hard would it be if I wanted to use video capture software to make a copy of my favorite shows for personal use?

I am one of those people that likes to watch shows over and over again, pretty much until I can recite every line in the show. Watching a streaming video over and over again is a huge waste of bandwidth in my opinion. I honestly don't see why they just down allow downloads since no one is paying for their videos anyway.

By ceilingcat — On Jul 30, 2011

@starrynight - Pirating is definitely a big problem. There are a few things people can do so they at least get credit when their videos are pirated.

One of my friends has a website. She posts How-To videos and gets a lot of traffic. Awhile back, she noticed someone had used video capture software to make copies of her videos. They were selling the videos she posted for free to generate a profit!

First, she was able to send a take down notice to the persons website host, so that solved part of the problem. Then she started using software that watermarks the video with her website address. If her videos are ever stolen again, at least they will still promote her website. And, whoever bought them might realize they were pirated and let her know.

By popcorn — On Jul 30, 2011

Free video capture software is a great way to make copies of your favorite shows off of sites that have streaming options but no downloads available. While some people are content to just watch the episode once, I like to keep a collection on my hard drive so I can watch episodes of my favorite shows without needing to be online.

I also love to do reviews of TV episodes, and sometimes the only way I can get the clips I need is to use video capture software. Having this kind of software available for free is a great thing for those of us that want to be able to work with what we are seeing and keep it for another time if need be.

By starrynight — On Jul 30, 2011

There are plenty of legitimate uses for video capture software. However, it is often used for illegal activity too.

A lot of people who pirate videos use video capture software to do so. They capture video that is streaming legally and the redistribute it illegally. And it sounds like it's not very expensive to do!

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