My two PCs were designed with video authoring in mind. They’ve worked pretty well¹, but I’ve never been happy with the process of capturing video.
If you’ve never done this, video capture and playback on PCs is a challenge. In its native, uncompressed form, video files are immense. Compressing video on the fly for capture, making it small enough to deal with, is very CPU intensive. The best compression schemes aren’t workable in software.
Because I need to copy files from my DVR (downstairs, difficult to move) to my PC (upstairs, impossible to move), I borrowed a Canopus ADVC-100 from a friend. This is a hardware solution to compressing, meaning it’s faster.
It will natively render video in DV format, which is what most modern camcorders use. That makes it easily compatible with nearly everything else. The video moves from the Canopus to my laptop (which can be brought downstairs) through a Firewire (IEEE1394) port.
Is this all confusing? Don’t worry. The bottom line is, video is still very difficult to do on a PC. If you’re going straight from a camcorder, it’s do-able. If you’re looking to use ‘non-standard’ video, it’s like re-inventing the wheel!
¹ – Actually, the main PC has become increasingly unstable over time. I can’t use it for production because it spontaneously reboots. I think it’s a driver problem, but I haven’t been able to find my original drivers.