The process of downloading a video from a camcorder to a computer depends on whether the camcorder is digital or analog (old-style camcorder that uses tapes).
For an analog camcorder, install a signal digitizer card in the computer, which is fairly common with today’s readily available off-the-shelf TV tuner cards.
This card converts the analog camcorder signal to a digital one, and can be purchases for under $100.
However, try to bear in mind the availability of space on the hard drive, due to the fact that even short video clips can quickly reach 100 to 200 MB per minute of video, depending on the desired resolution.
In the final compressing stage, however, the video compression software drastically reduces the size.
When transferring footage from a digital camcorder, either the USB 2.0 (which allows transfer speeds of several dozens of Mbs per second) or the relatively new IEEE1394 (Firewire) is the preferred option.
The best option is Firewire as it is the most efficient, as opposed to a USB (especially the old USB 1.0 standard- only 1.5Mbps, and very low bandwidth).
If the computer does not already have a Firewire card, one can be typically purchased for below $100. Also, they are already bundled with some type of video viewing and editing software.
The latest Firewire (version 1394b) boasts transfer speeds as fast as 800Mbps, which is over 500 times faster than USB 1.0. It can easily meet the demands of even the most resolution intensive video transfers.
Though a camcorder may, in fact, have either a USB or Firewire output port, it is common for the proper cable NOT to be included. Therefore, one may have to separately obtain the proper cable.