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What is a Capture Card? What Do They Do and How?

avercapture hdThe world of gaming has blown up in recent years, it is one of the most successful industries in the world and a great way to relax, and socialize. One of the social aspects of it is sharing your footage. If you are looking for an easy way out to convert video signals to digital data that is compatible with your PC, then a capture card would be the ideal solution. However, a capture card is not the same as a video adapter card. The latter works to direct images to your PC Screen, and the former captures video as it is and records it as a data. Videos from several sources such as video cameras, DVD players etc can easily be recorded using a capture card. Most of the capture cards work hand in hand with a piece of software that comes along with it when you purchase your model. This software usually helps to display videos on your PC and helps you to save the video files in media file format which you can then go on to edit, share and do what you please with.

Types of Capture Card

There are two main types of video capture cards. One is a circuit board that you install internally in your PC and the internal video capture card that fits into standard slots on a PC’s motherboard such as the PCI and PCI express, this is a little more techy and though it can be wonderful in terms of getting results, isn’t the best for beginners. Another one is an external box that can be connected using a USB interface. Both the internal and the external video capture device come with couple of input jacks to accept analog or digital videos. 

There are a growing number of capture cards which can capture STRAIGHT to an SD card or memory stick, meaning it doesn’t need to instantly be hooked up to a PC or Mac, this is a great feature and something I expect to see way more in the future.

The input jacks of the capture card can accept videos from a wide range of sources, and aren’t just for capturing footage during gameplay. A capture card may accept videos only in digital format or it can also accept videos in analog format and this depends on the type of the capture card. S-video jacks and RCA are some examples of the ones which accept videos in analog format.  To accept videos that are HD from several digital video sources, you must use a HDMI connector. There are some capture cards that has the feature to select videos from specific channels from a broadband TV signal or an antenna. This is achievable user a tuner circuit that also enables users to do parallel activity such as watching TV and checking emails at the same in separate windows. Basically, you can use them for so many different things, and even convert old videos such as VHS to digital formats.

The incoming video sources are converted to digital image format using a distinct chip feature that is available on the capture card (I won’t go into too many details with this as it gets kind of complicated). The image quality and the frame rates are based largely on the source of the video as well as the quality of the capture card, the best capture cards will record at higher standards. It is a known fact that you can achieve higher resolution from digital video sources at a much faster pace. On the other hand, analog signals usually do not come with high quality. While the analog signals are processed at 30 frames per second with very low resolution standards, High Definition signals are processed at 60 frames per second with very high resolution (dependent on the quality of the capture card).

The buffer is responsible for holding some amount of video data and regulates the amount of video data that needs to be sent to the computer, thus helping in synchronization. When you install a capture card, ensure that appropriate drivers are loaded to help your PC’s operating system to recognize the card and handle the data from the capture card. Some can even do amazing things like rewind and capture if something happens you want to go back and save.

Undeniably these are the best way to get footage out of a console and onto things like youtube and twitch, especially if you want to edit them or store your footage for things like compilations.

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