How to Record Video on a Computer

By James Clark

You can use a computer installed with a video capture card and recording software to capture content such as television programming or home videos taken with a camcorder. If the computer does not already have a video capture card, these devices are available for installation inside the computer, which is a job best left to the technically experienced, or as stand-alone components that connect between the computer and a source signal, such as a camcorder. A stand-alone video capture device is the better choice for individuals uncomfortable with the thought of opening a computer and tinkering inside.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with recording software and video capture card, either built-in or stand-alone
  • Composite AV cable
  • USB cable

Step 1

Connect the video source to the computer and a stand-alone video capture card by plugging the three connectors on one end of the composite cable into the matching red, white and yellow AV OUT jacks on the video source, such as a camcorder or television. Plug the other ends into the matching color jacks on the stand-alone box. (For computers with a built-in capture card, connect the composite cables directly between the video source and the three colored jacks on the back of the computer tower.)

Step 2

Hook up the USB cable from the port on the stand-alone video capture card and any unused port on the computer. The USB cable is not needed when using a video card installed in the computer.

Step 3

Open the video recording software on the computer by double-clicking the program name, which should be the same as the brand name of the video capture hardware.

Step 4

Set up the video source for playback, for example, cue a video tape or the hard drive in a camcorder to the desired spot for recording video or tune a connected television to the desired channel for recording.

Step 5

Click the "Record" button on the computer software. This button on virtually all video software will feature a red circle in the center.

Step 6

Press the "Play" button on the camcorder to start the video or click the computer software "Record' button when the TV program begins. Click "Stop" on the software when finished. The "Stop" button will typically feature a black square in the center.

Step 7

Click the software "File" tab to open a menu of options. Choose "Save As" to open a box for typing a name for the video recording.

Step 8

Click the down arrow below the title box to reveal a list of file options for saving the video. Click "Save as MPEG," which is a compressed audio-video file format suitable for storing on a computer or burning to a DVD at another time, if desired.

Step 9

Click the "Save" button usually located in the lower right-hand side of the software screen to store the video recording on the computer hard drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • Unplug the components from the electricity when hooking up AV cables.