FireWire Video Capture For Linux

It’s commonly thought that when it comes to the popular Linux distributions out there,  you’re out of luck when it comes to decent camera compatibility. Well as it turns out, this is factually untrue. As a matter of fact, support for both USB Web cams and FireWire connected DV cameras is actually pretty darned good. The problem is that for those looking to get a hold of some FireWire capturing options, there is more than one singular method for making this happen.

There are actually two basic schools of thought on making a FireWire video capture a reality on the Linux desktop. The first is to simply use compatible software to do the heavy lifting for you. Makes sense, as all you would need to do is run the application in question and hit the appropriate button to begin the capture process. It’s fairly simple to bring the entire thing to fruition. But at the same time, this is a pain in the butt if you’re not going to be using the same software edit what was pulled from the DV camera.

The command line option

If you’re like me, you happen to use software called OpenShot to handle all of your video editing needs. Unfortunately though, OpenShot lacks the ability to pull video from a DV camera. This leaves me opting for the command line solution called DVGrab. Fairly simple to do, you would only need to enter something like this to pull the video from the camera.

dvgrab --autosplit --format dv2 --size 0 --opendml my_videofile-

Obviously this is oversimplified, but the above example shows you how DVGrab might be entered into the command line.

Firewire Video Capture For Linux
Photo by isox4

Software that does the work for you

For GNOME users such as folks who use Ubuntu, running software called KINO is one option. DVGrab functionality is provided and all you need to do is run the application as root, so it can access the DVGrab functionality. The obvious alternative to running this as root is to change the permissions on the FireWire device itself. Just change the permissions on /dev/raw/1394 and you should be all set.

For KDE users, give Kdenlive a look. Like KINO, it also provides DVGrab functionality built right in. And as with KINO, you will have to determine whether or not the permissions to your FireWire device need to be changed.