Video capture cards for linux

David Price davidmprice at
Sun Dec 2 20:42:37 EST 2001

On Sat, Dec 01, 2001 at 08:56:03PM +1100, Michael Still wrote:
> Hey folk.
> I'm interested in being able to capture video streams onto a disc for
> later playback. Please note that I don't just want to watch TV, I want to
> be able to record and time shift it in the same manner as my VCR. Does
> anyone have any experience with products that do this sort of thing (with
> Linux)?
> I'm especially interested in hardware recommendations.
> On the software front, XVidCap seems to be on the right track, but is a
> bit of a hack from the sounds of things (you what I want to do). Can you
> do this with just plain old bttv?

I use an old bt848 card for this sort of thing.  streamer from the
xawtv package works nicely.  It captures to a few different formats,
but I use mov format with mjpeg encoding.  This takes up a lot more
hard disk space than DivX ;), but is pretty good quality, uses less
CPU to encode, and can be edited using bcast2000 (no longer available
for download).  Typically a couple of hours of television will take up
a few GB, so large file support is essential.

On a 1.2GHz Athlon I can just capture 640x480, but usually use 320x240
since at 90% jpeg quality this looks pretty good and uses heaps less
disk space.  I used to capture on a PII 350, and I think it could do
320x240, although only just.

There is a program called VCR that captures to DivX ;) and has some
sort of web front end to make selecting programs easier.  I've been
meaning to try it again since there seems to have been a fair bit of
development on it since I last ran it.

I'm afraid I haven't tried any non-bttv capture cards, so I can't
really provide a comparison, but I'd say I'm fairly happy with bttv -
even this few year old card.

I haven't tried XVidCap, but might give it a go.

Hope that helps,
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