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Previewing Video Camera Output on a PC Monitor



11:53 am on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hey folks. I'm looking for a method to preview video shoots on a laptop monitor to see if I have the proper lighting. It's difficult to see through the small LCD screen. I talked to some folks at Best Buy and they didn't have any real answers for me.

I can plug it into a TV and preview but who wants to lug around a TV? Is there a special firewire adapter I need?

Thanks for any assistance.

travelin cat

4:33 pm on Dec 31, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator travelin_cat is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member


Do you have any video editing software on that laptop? Adobe Premiere (and others) will allow you to hook the cam up and view the video on screen.

On a Mac (sorry, all I know) I hook my Canon up via a regular ol' Firewire cable and control the cam within most programs, pausing, fast-forwarding etc.

[edited by: travelin_cat at 12:14 am (utc) on Jan. 4, 2009]


9:21 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a trial version of Sony Vegas pro 8.0, but don't see that option. I have however found out how to view it live in the Windows scanner and camera wizard but the screen isn't the size I prefer.

It's a fixed size and I can't make any changes to it. If I'm able to enlarge this window I'm all set.

Thanks for the response...any suggestions now?

The Contractor

9:38 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Can you use "Windows Movie Maker"...which is a free download if you don't already have it.. it allows connecting to a video camera if I remember correctly.


9:47 pm on Jan 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Got it figured out in "capture video" through the editing program.

Robert Charlton

9:00 am on Jan 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Note that if you're planning to use a monitor to judge lighting and color, it's extremely important to calibrate your monitor using SMPTE or HD "color bars" of some sort.

How to do this is a long discussion, particularly as you get into the differences between the color curves of computer monitors and the color curves of TV sets. (TV sets are generally more saturated and contrasty than most computer displays). We're also in a transition between television systems, in the US moving from NTSC analog to ATSC digital.

The principles of NTSC monitor calibration can nevertheless be applied to ATSC. Color bars with various degrees of accuracy are available from: professional color bar generators, professional video monitors or cameras, prosumer video cameras, jpegs and video on the web, video tapes, DVDs, etc.

There are numerous references online for calibrating TV monitors. Search for various combinations of these phrases for instructions on monitor calibration and setup, and just to get a background on the subject...

television/ TV monitor calibration/ calibrating monitors / etc
SMPTE color bars
HD color bars

It's likely you're not going to have a professional monitor with a blue-only button, which is generally what's used to achieve neutral color balance in production situations, so you should use a blue filter, as some instructions will describe, to view the color bars for setting up chroma (the idea is that when all the bars are blue, making them equal in brightness will give you a "flat" color curve).

Consumer and some prosumer equipment is not going to have any standard "neutral" setting, so it's probably a good idea to do some tests with whatever cameras, monitors, and calibration procedure you're going to try.

Also, extremely important in my experience is to be cautious about ambient light when you view your monitor in the field. It's a good idea to carry a black cloth to drape over yourself and the monitor, and to let your eyes get accustomed to the dark before making any critical adjustments.


11:20 pm on Jan 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wonderful response Robert. Many thanks!


11:12 am on Jan 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

While on the topic if you're going to DVD you're best bet is to preview on a regular TV. A simple and "cheap" solution for preview during the editing stage is a Canopus 110. This is a DV converter primarily used for converting analog like VHS to DV for transfer to a computer however you can also send DV to it from your computer. It has RCA output jacks which you can hook directly to a TV.

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