The Oxford definition of capture is: Cause (data) to be stored in a computer. That basic definition applies to audio and video, where they are the “data” being stored. Usually it is stored on a hard drive or flash drive.
While captured content (audio or video) is stored digitally on a computer, the source can be analogue. This includes video cameras and microphone sources.
There are many devices that can be used to capture video (and audio). The people are most familiar with is their smartphone. Millions of people capture video on their phones each day and upload them to the web or download them to their computers. Web cams, video cameras, and even digital cameras can capture video too. Digital sources, such as a computer display or monitor can also be captured.
To capture the display of a computer, special software is required that reads and records the digital signal on its way to the monitor. One example of this is the video game streamers that populate YouTube, Twitch and Facebook. In order to stream gameplay, it first needs to be captured. After that it is encoded and sent over the Internet to the streaming service being used.
There are various software choices for capturing video (gameplay or anything displayed on a monitor). The most popular is Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS. It is free and open source but offers functionality you would expect in a professional software suite.
Some professionals though, need to have dedicated capture hardware. This can be a computer with a capture card, or a standalone piece of hardware. Video production companies often use dedicated systems that allow them to capture multiple sources (video cameras, microphones, computer graphics) all at the same time. They can record them for processing later, or mix them together in real-time for a live stream.« Back to Glossary Index