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CaptureFlux to preview a live video or audio stream,
record it in direct-to-disk or grab images from the stream


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Last updated on

Friday, August 01, 2008

 


 

Since the 1st of August 2008, you can download here the new version 6.0.4 of CaptureFlux

It is an early release that will continue to evolve during the next days. It's worth a try because of many improvements (see the readme file included)

Download (687 Kb):

Version 5.2.3

published on Sunday, March 04, 2007

 

If you download this software you acknowledge that you will use it at your own risk. It is delivered as is, without any warranty. It works fine for me, it could work fine for you, but perhaps will it not. I am not a professional programmer, and I cannot test my products on every single configuration.

 

This software is delivered for personal use of the video hobbyist only. Any use by a company, an administration or during professional activities is prohibited. If you need to use it for such activities, please ask me for a licensed version. To learn how to get a licensed version, click below.

 

 

     

 words_blue_new.gif New versions of the 3 plug-in for Dazzle DVC170, Dazzle DVC130 and ADS DVD Xpress DX2 have been published on Sunday, September 23, 2007. If you had issues with a previous one, try to download the new version and just replace the old plug-in xxx.pcf file with the new one:


1) How to install and launch CaptureFlux 5.2.x

    First of all, please read first the following disclaimer:

CaptureFlux is freeware granted only for personal use. Any use by a company, an administration or during professional activities is not permitted and therefore unlawful. If you need to use it in such circumstances, please ask me for a license on this page. CaptureFlux may be freely distributed, if it's for free and for personal use. It is not open source, so please don't ask me for the source code.

CaptureFlux is provided to you AS IS without any warranty. Use it at your own risk. It obeys to the principle: "It works well for me, it could work well for you, but perhaps not. Try it by yourself  and please report your remarks to help me improve my products". Let me remind you that I am not a professional developer, and I am not able to test my products on all different systems existing on the market.
Actually, my experience, with more than 600.000 visitors of my web pages, shows that my products are well working for a great majority of users, but not strictly for 100 %. In fact, is this really different from most commercial packages?

    Download a zip-file by clicking on the blue button above. The program needs no installation. Extract the exe-file called captureflux_52en.exe to a folder on your hard disk. CaptureFlux does not install any file or directshow filter on your system since version 4. It contains all code needed, even for inlay of datecode. It makes no mess in your registry. Actually, if you accept it, it will save some preferences into the registry in order to keep the settings until the next launch. To clean completely the data from CaptureFlux in your registry, there is a button in the Settings panel  (F10)  under tab Prefs to Delete the preferences.

    Launch CaptureFlux with a double-click on its icon. The program will look for all capture devices connected to your system, and find all video and audio sources delivered by them, assuming the devices are compatible with the directshow architecture of DirectX. So CaptureFlux is only useful if at least one video or audio device is connected. Among these devices, you may find DV camcorders connected to a firewire link, usb webcams or analogic video acquisition cards, for instance a DC30+ card with the XP driver from Maik  works well. A sound card, even integrated in the motherboard, can also give an audio source. By default, mpeg devices are not processed by CaptureFlux. But there may exist plug-ins that can make them work with CaptureFlux. Presently, the following usb boxes have plug-ins for the version 5.2.x of CaptureFlux, that you may download by clicking on their name:

    To install a plug-in, just download the desired zip file, unzip the *.pcf file contained in the zip into the same folder than CaptureFlux (or if you have changed it, in the folder of plug-ins of CaptureFlux). You must restart CaptureFlux in order to activate the plug-in.

    When you have launched CaptureFlux, with capture devices connected to your system,you will get the main window showing the preview of a connected video and audio stream. Click on an area on the picture to go to the relevant paragraph.

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2) How to get started capturing with CaptureFlux

If you have connected a video source before launching CaptureFlux, you should see the video displayed in real time on the video window included in the main form and eventually hear the audio source. If you have several sources connected, you should first check if the current active sources are the good ones.  Go to the sources panel (F2) .A list of all available video sources is given in the combobox (1) where you may change the selected one, if necessary.

Similarly, the audio sources are given in the combobox (2).

If a capture device has both audio and video sources, like a DV camcorder or a mpeg2 usb box, you will find each of these sources listed in the relevant combobox. If you connect more devices when CaptureFlux is playing, the new sources will automatically be added under Windows XP. You may nevertheless click on the update button to update manually all devices and sources. You may check which devices are recognized as being compatible with directshow in the help panel (F1) under tab Sources, where you may also check or uncheck which devices are to be activated by CaptureFlux.

Some devices, like mpeg boxes, are recognized here but cannot work without a plug-in. Plug-ins are *. pcf files copied in the plug-in folder of CaptureFlux. This folder is by default the same folder as the executable of CaptureFlux, but you may set a new folder in the folder panel (ALT+D). To check which plug-ins have been found in the current plug-in folder, goto tab System in the help panel (F1).

If your video source is a DV camcorder in VCR mode, you should discover the camcorder drive panel. It is very comfortable to play, pause or rewind the camcorder with a simple click, or even with keyboard shortcuts. They are to be found in the help panel (F1) under the tab camcorder.

If you select a sound card, like SoundMax Digital Audio, as audio source in (2) then you will have to select also an entry for it in a combobox displayed in (3).

Generally, you will choose the Line In entry, when you want to capture an audio from a TV or an external device connected to your sound card. But you may also choose the CD drive or the microphone if you have one connected to that entry. If you choose the mixer, you will have to mute (CTRL+M) the sound in order to avoid Larsen effect. And you will record all the little sounds and jingles from your computer when you make an error or shut down a window. So avoid this entry, except for specific purposes.

If you select No Video or No Audio, then the other stream remains active and can be recorded alone. For example, if you select No Video, then CaptureFlux will act as an audio recorder. It has not many settings like volume, balance or equalizer, but it has nevertheless three nice features: first of all, it is very flexible with audio sources. Do you know many software that can use the microphone of a DV camcorder to record live and direct-to-disk via the firewire link? Secondly, it can capture not only in wav but also in mp3. Finally, the capture can be scheduled for any future date and time. When you select No Video, a panel will be displayed containing a protest against the DADVSI bill, a french law which punishes with 3 years jail and 300.000€ fine all the people who will use the great freedom brought by the numerical data, and refuse the walls, prohibitions, and artificial incompatibilities like DRM made by the industry. If you want to read more about DADVSI look here.

Next you must choose the capture format in the combobox list (4). The following choices are available:

  • The native format (either AVi native or DV type1 native or DV type 2 native) is recommended if your system is short on CPU power, and if you fear to drop frames. With a DV source you will in fact have two native formats DV type 1 or DV type 2 native, the second being most compatible with editing software. The good side of these formats is that it does not need much CPU time (the hard compression work is done in the video device) and delivers the best quality available with a given video source. The drawback is that the files are often big, and no video effect such as inlay of datetime is possible, because the video frames are not recompressed by the processor and remain unchanged. Thus in these formats, even if the datetime is displayed on the preview, it is not kept on the recorded file.
  • Native mpeg stream: the same pros and cons than native. This format is only available with some mpeg devices having plug-ins, and if you choose the video and the audio from the same device. The mpeg stream containing audio and video in general is recorded without recompression.
  • the format DV type 2 (recomp) is recompressed. The main advantage of this format is to allow the inlay of datetime. It is also useful if you have a non DV source, for instance a webcam, or an old VHS tape read through an acquisition card, generally in mjpeg, and you want to capture a clip that will be included in a DV video editing project.  For me, DV type 2 is the best format for non linear video editing. On the other hand, this format needs a decompression/recompression and thus looses some quality. If your source is not DV, then you should indicate the TV standard of the DV file (Pal or NTSC) and the audio frequency by clicking on the Settings button .
  • Divx format: if you have installed a divx or Xvid encoder (compatible with directshow), then you can select the compression in divx. Click on the settings button to go to the divx panel where you may change the different settings. Remember to choose an encoding in one single pass, because it's real time and the stream does not pass twice! Another important limitation, is that in this format the size of the resulting video will be half size, that is to say the height will be less than 288. This is due to the huge power needed to decompress and recompress in divx. With a half image, it's 4 times less. And secondly, it avoids all interlacing issues. If you have installed the mp3 encoder of Elecard, you may also compress the audio in mp3. If you do not know how to install this encoder, look at the readme file in this little zip. In brief, use the divx format only if you make long captures when the size is more a critical issue than the quality (for instance video survey). If you want to make quality divx, it's better to capture native and then convert in two passes with a software like virtualdub.
  • the format Wmv (Windows media video) is a solution proposed by Microsoft which may be compared to DivX. It gives files that are generally much smaller than in other formats, and often with an acceptable quality. Click on the settings button to open the page of Windows media settings. You may select a profile, either one of those that I have preselected: Choose the High Quality  if you want good images; with the Medium or Low setting, you may record very long videos (several days on a big hard disk) with a quality sufficient for some purposes; or uncheck Use the default profiles to select one of Microsoft's profiles of Windows Media 4, 7 or 8. My experience is that the wmv format is useful for specific purposes, like capturing a long time without loosing sync between audio and video.
  • The image by image format. This is a special format where the video is made of images individually grabbed from the video source. In this format when you start to capture, nothing is actually captured until you click on the grab! button, or on the video screen, or type F5 or launch the intervalometer (in the grab panel with displayed with Alt+G) to grab automatically images. Theses frames are assembled in the video file as a DV file (without sound). You have to set the framerate in images per second of this video. It is very useful for all guys who make animation with modeling clay (like Wallace and Gromit), who want to catch a flower blooming or clouds passing in the sky (and of course accelerate it), or transfer image by image from an old Super 8 film to a DV video, like my friend Jean-Claude Grini.
  • Wav: the audio stream alone is caught to a WAV file containing uncompressed audio data (PCM)
  • Mp3: If the Elecard encoder is present, the audio alone is caught into a mp3 file. Click on the settings button to open the divx settings panel, where the mp3 settings are also available. You must set the bitrate separately in a combobox and not in the property page obtained with the button Advanced.

After that, you will have to notice the default folder and name of the video to be captured. Look at (5). The default name is made from a root (here video), an optional date and time when the present session of CaptureFlux has started, (here in french style: 20th of November 2006 at 21 hours 34 minutes and 39 seconds) and a rank number starting with 0. This folder and name may be changed in the Folder panel called by Alt+D. To open the folder where the clip is to be saved, it is easy to click on the button  in (6).

It's now time to start your first capture. To start, click indeed on the button Capture (7). But you may alternatively simply type the Space bar. The border of the screen becomes red to indicate that a capture is in progress. To stop the capture, click again on the button now called Stop Capture, or type the Space bar. You may also cut the current video with the Cut button ( or type F7) to stop a video file and resume the capture with a new one . Caution: this operation is not seamless, and you will loose some frames between the end of the first video file and the start of the next one.

During the capture, or during a preview without recording, you may grab images from the stream and save them on the hard disk by typing F5, by clicking on the button Grab!  in (8) or by clicking on the video window. The panel Grab Images will then be displayed. You may there start an intervalometer to snap automatically images at a given time interval. The folder where the images are saved is indicated in the folder panel (Alt+D) and the kind of images is set in the settings panel (F10) under the tab images. You may choose between bmp and jpg, and if it's jpg change its quality.

As indicated above, if your capture format is image by image, then the grabbed images are not saved to disk in bmp or jpg format, but are instead recorded to the video file. To remind you of that, the glyph on the Grab! button changes:

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3) The buttons to operate on the video

Two groups of buttons are displayed in the toolbar at the top of the main form:

The group called (A) has effect on the displayed video, at least on its previewing. The following buttons are available click on a button to go to the explanation:

    This button locks the preview to be the same as the capture. In other words, it's a function WYPIWYC: what you preview is what you capture. Check this button if you are not sure. For instance, when unchecked you may have a date inlay on the preview, but it will not be kept in the captured file in native format. For some users this was confusing, and is fixed with this button.

    Display the video in full screen . To come back  type Alt+enter (it toggles between Full screen and windowed mode), or right-click on the screen to open a popup menu. You may also type Esc. It has no effect on the saved file.

    Put the sound of CaptureFlux On or Off. It has no effect on the recorded video. Alternatively type CTRL+M. The volume of audio can be changed with a track bar under the video window. In the numeric pad of the keyboard you can also type the keys + or - to change quickly the volume. All that has no effect on the recorded sound.

    This button ( or the key F12) starts to inlay the datetime (or any data set in the inlay panel - Alt+I) into the video. In the inlay panel you may change many settings of this feature, for example choose between the real time or the datecode of the capture (for a DV stream) or the timecode. You may move the position of the inlay by clicking on the right bottom corner of the video window, or typing Alt+Y or with a popup menu by a right-click on the video. Two trackbars will appear. When finished, click again on the corner or type Alt+Y and they will disappear.

    This button has an effect on the captured video, only if it is recompressed. In format DV type 1 or DV type 2 (no inlay),the video frames remain unchanged, thus the inlays are not recorded to the file, but only displayed with the preview. It is the same for all native formats. But in DV type 2 recompressed, or in Wmw or Divx the inlay is permanently written to the captured video frames.

    This button (or type F3) toggles between a native display of the video, and a display forced to fill the video window (usually 4x3, but you may select 16x9 with the next button). It has no effect on the captured video, but only on the preview. It is useful for a DV source to get the aspect ratio of 4x3, when the stream is delivered in 720x576 if it's Pal or 720x480 in NTSC. The same is true with some mpeg2 devices that deliver images in format DVD.

    This button changes the size of the preview window, and puts it to 16x9 or back to 4x3. It has no effect on the captured video.

    This button (or F4) flips the video vertically, up/down. It is sometimes useful with laptops, because in some situations you may want a reversed image.

    This button (or Shift+F4) flips the video horizontally. It is rather a gadget, and I can hardly imagine it's interest. But some users have asked for this feature. It's not active during capture in order not to request CPU resources.

    This button (or CTRL+D) deinterlaces the video preview and the grabbed images with an internal deinterlacer of CaptureFlux. If you activate it, the video preview will be deinterlaced, an so will the grabbed images. As this is rather resources consuming, it is disabled during capture to avoid lost frames. In the settings panel (F10) under the tab Images you may check a box if you want all grabbed images to be deinterlaced, even during capture or when this button is not pushed.

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4) The settings panels

Without giving all the details, because this page is only a help to Quick Start, this section will present the panels for changing the settings of CaptureFlux. This is done by browsing the buttons of group (B), each one calling a different panel (click on a button to go to the explanation):

    The sources panel (F2) is the main panel for selecting video and audio sources. You may also choose the format of the capture. On this panel, a button helps to open the captured avi files in DVdate (you may alternatively type F8), another one to open the folder where the captured videos are stored.

    The folders panel (Alt+D) lets you select folders and names for the captured videos or the grabbed images. You may also indicate a program to be launched with a click with all captured videos open in it. I suggest to keep the default DVdate  which can open many files at once to get data about them or to change them. On this panel, the plug-ins folder can be changed.

    The schedule panel (Alt+P) is the place to schedule  a future capture. You must of course keep the computer on and the capture device connected during all the time. If you have set the start and end of the capture, click on the Prog button. The border of the video will become yellow to indicate that a capture is scheduled. When the start time arrives, the capture will start automatically. The border becomes Fuchsia to indicate that a capture is in progress with a scheduled end.

    The images grab panel (Alt+G) shows the grabbed image, and lets you launch the intervalometer for taking snapshots automatically.

    The inlay panel (Alt+I) has many settings to modify the inlay, for instance the font of the inlay, or the format of the date and time. I find also very useful to modify the time before inlaying it, when I missed to set a time difference in my camcorder on a travel abroad. In CaptureFlux 5.2.x the time may be fixed with any interval, not only an integer number of hours. Since version 5.2.3 you may set here a bordersize to create a black border around the inlayed text. It is very useful to let the text be visible above any video image. Set 0 if you do not want a border.

    The preferences panel (F10) is a collection of different useful settings. For example, you may choose a system profile for the Windows media capture in Wmv or different settings if you capture in DV type 2. Here you may also indicate if the grabbed images should be bmp or jpeg, and if they are jpeg, choose the compression rate. In this panel you may also choose if the preferences are to be saved in the registry or not, in order to find them again at next start. I recommend to check Save the preferences when quit.

    The help panel  (F1) gives a list of keyboard shortcuts and some properties of your System. It is useful to check which capture devices are recognized and which plug-ins have been found. If a capture device makes trouble, uncheck it under the panel Sources.

    The About panel  (Alt+A) gives information about Paul Glagla and about CaptureFlux and its restrictions of use. Let me remind you that CaptureFlux is delivered freely only for personal use. Use by a company, an administration or during a professional activity is forbidden and unlawful. I give freely my products to web surfers and video amateurs who respect this limitation, but it is not fair for companies or professionals to make money (or save money that could have helped some professional programmers) by using my hard work without even supporting me.

    The quit button (Alt+F4) exits from CaptureFlux when you are finished.

Do not hesitate to browse between these panels (you may type F6 to go to the next panel), and look at the hints that appear briefly when the mouse moves over a control. You should find the settings that are adapted to your needs, and then - if you have enabled the feature of saving the preferences when quit in the Settings panel - find these settings again over and over.

 You may even hide all panels when you are done by typing Alt+Backspace. Of course this is only safe if you know some keyboard shortcuts, because you won't have any possibility to click on buttons when the main form is reduced. Type Alt+Backspace again to come back to the panels if you need to make a change.

Another little trick: you may mirror the whole interface from left to right by typing Alt+W. So try which side is best for you.

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