Workshop: A Digital Facelift for Your Analog Movies

Recording And Restoring Movies

The most effective tool for restoring videos can be had for nothing: Virtual Dub can give analog films a full makeover - and a new life.

Virtual Dub's video recording feature is easy to use. Call up the recording menu under File -> Capture AVI. Then select Video -> Source to select the video source, which can either be a tuner or S-Video. If you select "Tuner," you'll be recording via the integrated TV-card tuner; picking S-Video means that you intend to feed in the video footage through the S-Video input port on the graphics or TV board. But before you can work with movies from DV camcorders in Virtual Dub, there are two obstacles to overcome. First of all, you can't capture video in Virtual Dub through the FireWire port. Secondly, the program only recognizes DV film material in the type-2 DV-AVI format because it uses an older Video-for-Windows interface (see "Picking the Right Program and Codec").

Never fear - help is on the way, and it's free to boot. Microsoft provides Windows XP users with video-editing software at so they can work with DV movies. The program saves DV footage transferred by camcorders in the DV-AVI format. Commercial programs such as Ulead Media Studio 6 will do the same thing. The Ulead freeware DV Converter can also convert the DV-AVI formats from one type (1 or 2) to the other.

Compression With Format

You can select the codec you want to use in the Compression menu item (File -> Capture AVI). The codec must be installed on the system already. Set the resolution (Format menu item) as high as possible to record the video footage in high quality in Virtual Dub. But watch out: you shouldn't capture video data in full PAL resolution (768 x 576 pixels) but in DV or in a DVD-compliant resolution (both 720 x 576 pixels). If the source and the capture format have different image dimensions, you'll have to use a lot of your computing resources to convert them. Converting from PAL to DV will reduce the resolution, diminishing quality. However, if you are working with equal resolutions, the conversion will be a lot faster. Virtual Dub simply transfers the video from one codec to another. If you also have to convert image dimensions, however, the program will take five times as long.