Capture Card or Record to disk - best practice

Hi all,

Just about to finally buy a video capture card but thought I would ask quickly what others thought about the pros/cons to recording direct to disk vs to video capture card. I.e. Is it realistic to think you can get by recording to disk and then edit later or have most people found that realistically you need to invest in a video capture card eventually due to the demands on your system etc.

I think I know the answer (option 2) but I’d be very interested to hear other people’s experience with this.



I guess it depends on what the capture card is doing.

Some capture cards encode to H.264 (or other codecs) as they capture. This means the work of encoding is taken off the system. So all the system is doing is writing the data to disc.

Others, like the Blackmagic Ultrastudio cards, simple bring in the uncompressed signal for the computer to then do the encoding. The encoding options you choose will directly impact the load on the system. Encoding in ProRes is pretty easy for most systems but other more compressed codecs will put more load on the system.

Recording direct from VDMX’s output means that the system would do all the work. Again the selected codec would directly impact the performance.

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What capture cards were you looking at? Will you use another computer to capture you VDMX output?

I was looking at the one you had suggested a while ago as it’s finally available in the UK:

ClonerAlliance UHD Pro, Standalone 4K H.265/H.264 HDMI Video & Gaming Recorder, Playback Instantly. Schedule Recording. UVC Standard. Live Commentary.

At present I’m using (or starting to explore) VDMX for production, to be captured and then ‘set’ in a NLE after the fact. Feels closer to my workflow with Ableton. At some point I’ll probably perform live with it but it’s not my immediate focus.

And no - not planning on capturing onto another computer…unless that’s better (but then I’ll have to get another computer).

I like that one. They also have a 4K30p recording version now. I’d have to check but i hope it does 1080p60

Do you prefer the 1080p60? I’m not longer recording at 4k now (using mostly found footage) so that might not be as important to me as it was before though I am also thinking a bit about future-proofing my setup.

Btw, I’ve been trying to record using syphon again just to see if I can make do with it but getting strange results. Probably user error but even loading up the audio responsive template and playing some beat stuff through it live via my audio card and capturing with Syphon it seems to be recording multiple mono audio files (like 18!). I can’t figure out what is causing it looks like the video capture card is the way to go.

I like the option to record at 4K for full screen desktop captures and 1080p60 for video mixes that I might mix into future live events.

1080p30 is fine, but I’ve owned a 1080p30 capture device for 6+ years now. 4k30 is my latest upgrade

That makes a lot of sense. I’ll check out that last one you mentioned that’s now available here in the UK. Still lots to learn for me.

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Keep in mind that h264 is not a very friendly codec for reusing as source material directly nor for editing later— it has temporal compression so you are losing a lot of data. For the best quality & performance, ProRes is the way to go! If you can afford it, the best solution is an external device, such as an Atomos Ninja or you can use a cheap Black Magic Design Mini recorder connected to a 2nd computer.