In contrast, FireWire is a fully digital, Plug-and-Play transfer system that is up and running in literally minutes. So, what is FireWire and how does it work?
A FireWire card and software allows FireWire-enabled equipment - most popularly, some recent digital video cameras - to be controlled by the computer. Using appropriate software, you can shuttle through frames, fast forward and rewind the camera - and, of course, capture video clips to the hard drive. The whole process is digital, so there is no loss of quality when transferring video captured and edited in this way back to the tape.
You can count on using up about 2GB of drive space for each eight minutes of video captured. Depending upon who you talk to, this is equivalent to BETACAM SP or better (broadcast quality).
The advent of Windows 2000, in particular, bypasses the 2GB file size limit that has been an obstruction to long form projects, which have required heavy compression (and subsequent loss of quality). In effect, if you have the hard drive capacity, you can download movies as long as you like using FireWire.
A good example of a FireWire card is the Webstar three port card distributed by Melbourne-based Innovision, costing under $200. This PCI-based card comes bundled with MGISoft's Video Wave III LE editing software, which is a good starter system for those just getting into desktop video.
Once the card is in place, it is simply a matter of letting Windows 98SE or 2000 detect the card via Plug-and-Play, and installing the drivers. Then, you are up and running.
It is important to note that generic FireWire cards are not supported by Windows 95 or NT, although Digital Origin does make a proprietary hardware and software system that works under NT. Working with FireWire is a delight in comparison to older systems, and once you've tried it, you'd never want to go back.
Webstar FireWire card
Phone: 1300 785 795