“I am using two Samsung SC-MX20. They give me really good video in low light, however, Samsung uses MPEG-4 compression and this can be a real hassle (time consuming) to uncompress. I tried a USB video capture device but (of course) it drops frames. Since Samsung does not have a FireWire connection, would a PCI video capture allow me to take the compressed video and capture in AVI format? If so, which PCI video capture card(s) should I consider? I have tried searching the web, but it seems everything is more aimed at capturing TV to PC and I am not sure it that will work for me?”
Since the Samsung SC-MX20 camcorders record MP4 files, rather than capturing to tape, you should be able to optimize a setup that will get you faster editing by simply opening the files. There could be a scenario where you could capture over component video connection using something like a Black Magic or AJA capture card, but upgrading a few components on your computer may get you to where you want to be for less money.
Typically when I hear that someone is struggling with editing MP4 files on their computer, I draw one of two conclusions. Either the video decoder software in the video editing application you are using has issues, or your hardware is under-powered. If you’re using a standard commercial editing application from a company like Pinnacle, Roxio, or Sony, the video decoder is generally not the limiting factor, so we should examine some possible hardware upgrades.
The biggest limitation for what you’re trying to do is probably a combination of your computer’s video card, RAM, and processor. If your computer shares memory between the video card and the processor, that can often be a source for frustration in video decoding. The best thing you can do is upgrade your video card to one with at least 1GB of dedicated video RAM, which will cost you under $200 in most cases. The next thing to look at is your computer’s RAM. Most systems don’t have the maximum RAM supported by the operating system installed. Use the Crucial Memory Calculator to determine how much RAM your computer supports. is actually the configuration of your editing PC. A less likely possibility is that your processor is dramatically underpowered for decoding the video from your Samsung SC-MX20, if that’s the case, you might need to think about an overall upgrade of your PC.