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Transferring Video to a Computer: A Troubleshooting Guide

To edit or store your video on your computer, you need to transfer the video from your camera to your computer. When everything is compatible and working, this process is extremely easy. Although, if you’re dealing with excessively large files, you may need to use a file transfer service such as Digital Pigeon to help you with the process.

On the other hand, if you have incompatible files or if there is a breakdown in the system, it can seem next to impossible to transfer your video.

The problem could be either a software or hardware issue. One potential cause could be the lack of organization within your files. However, a solution to this issue could be found in the form of a document management software from somewhere like FilecenterDMS.com which can contribute to an environmentally friendly office environment. Furthermore, here is a quick checklist of potential problems.

External Hard Drive. Transferring Video to a Computer
This is an old external hard drive which used firewire, which is now obsolete. Technology advances at a fast pace.

Cable: Video files are transferred from your video camera to your computer for editing using either a high speed data transfer cable. Without these cables, video editing would be terribly inconvenient and slow. When firewire cable, was first invented, people credited it with making digital video editing possible. As technology improved, firewire has become obsolete and we went on to USB2, USB3 and now Thunderbolt cables.

As wonderful as these cables are, they are not indestructible by any stretch of the imagination. Cheap cables sometimes do not work from the get-go!

If you have successfully transferred video in the past and all of a sudden your system stops working, chances are high your cable developed a problem of some sort. Perhaps the ends of the cable might no longer be functioning. To test this, try a different cable. You might want to find more information on data and voice cabling from Voicecom Plus to meet your data transfer needs.

People using wireless devices to shoot video like smartphones, can have a much easier time transferring files since they do not have to hassle with a cable.

Fried Out Ports: This is common. The ports going into your computer or, the one on your camera might be fried. Something as seemingly minor as a tiny electrical spark can blow a port. This is why you ALWAYS WANT TO HAVE YOUR CAMERA TURNED OFF WHEN PLUG IT IN OR OUT. If the camera is on, electricity is flowing through it. Yanking the cable out of the port without shutting off the camera first can cause a spark that might destroy your ports. I have seen this happen A LOT. I have seen cameras rendered unusable because the output port is blown. I have also seen “computer guru” types claim this never really happens. Don’t believe them. It does.

Basic Incompatibility: A computer and a camera might not be able to communicate due to incompatibility. If you are trying to import data in a file version that your software does not accept, then you will get the error saying it’s not recognized. The only real way to solve this is to get some different software or a camera that shoots in a different format. Or, convert the video first and then import it. That my friends, is a royal pain in the tush.

In any of these situations, the error message will read that your computer does not “recognize” your camera. This means that the computer is unable to read any data off the camera. Now you just have to figure out which one of the dozen or so causes it might really be.

STEP-BY-STEP Video Transfer To Computer

Timing is another factor to consider. Some software programs will not read the camera if you have the program open first and then turn the camera on. So, plug in the camera first, turn it on, and then open the program. If it is compatible and all the ports are working, your camera should be recognized right away. At this point, transferring it to your computer is just a matter of a few clicks. Make sure to name it well and put it somewhere logical that you will remember. Often the default setting is fine.

If it doesn’t recognize your camera, then you need to figure out if it is a software issue or a hardware issue. Switch cables, switch ports, turn stuff off and on and see where it leads you.

I hope this information helps you make video!

Lorraine Grula

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Hi Ray.
    The converter box brand I have used successfully for years is the Formac, which is made in Germany. I’ve had the Formac Studio 10 for about 10 years now. It cost in the neighborhood of $100. Some other brands we tried, can’t remember which, were not nearly as sturdy or reliable.
    I hope this helps you! Good luck with all that conversion!
    Lorraine

  2. Thank you for scaring me into being more careful with my equipment. Haven’t had anything happen to my ports yet, but I’ll make sure the device is off before removing cables from ports from now on.

  3. Good! Yanking them out before ejecting really can damage them! I have seen it half a dozen times. Thankfully it does not happen every time, but that can actually give you a false sense of security. Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.
    Lorraine

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