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Old November 24th, 2003, 08:42 AM   #1
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To Boyd Ostroff and anyone else w/a standalone DVD recorder.

I am looking to buy a standalone DVD recorder that would enable me to record directly from my Mac's NLE system thru firewire. It would be greatly appreciated if you tell me what DVD recorder you have and share your experience/suggestions.

Boyd, I think you must be the only one in this forum that owns the Sony RDR-GX7 recorder, and it sounds that you are happy with it. Have you used it to recorder directly from your Mac? Any problems? Any drawbacks? I' d appreciate it if you could share any info about this machine since I will be purchasing a DVD recorder in the next three days.

Thank you.
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Old November 24th, 2003, 10:15 AM   #2
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Yes, it works fine with FCP on my Mac. In fact, that's the only way I've used it so far, recording directly from timeline playback. The recorder has a lot of features geared to importing video directly from a camcorder. It will break it into separate scenes, let you label them, create thumbnails, etc. This all looks complicated, and I haven't tried any of it. I just select DV as the input source, start playback from the timeline in FCP and hit the record button on the DVD deck. It creates a generic menu for your DVD. I guess you can edit this somehow, but it's sort of awkward entering text with the joystick. I really just wanted a better way to distribute and archive stuff, and don't need to make any custom DVD's. When I record in HQ mode (1 hour per disk) it looks really good, hard to tell apart from the original DV footage.

But another major reason I wanted to go this way was that I wanted to go from firewire to component video in order to get a better image on my 16:9 LCD screen. The Sony deck does a terrific job of this, especially when set for progressive scan and fed deinterlaced video. If you A/B this with s-video the difference is quite striking. From the searching I did a few months ago, it would cost in the neighborhood of $500 just to get a box that converts 1394 to component, so the DVD recorder is almost like a bonus to this.

There are some less expensive models which you might look at. Panasonic makes one that got good reviews in DV magazine, but I don't believe it features progressive scan. The ones with builtin hard drives look nice also, but for the most part I would have been paying for features I don't need. Most of these are oriented towards TiVo-type use. But if you needed to make a bunch of copies of something it would be handy to dump it on the recorder's hard drive first, then copy direct to disk, which evidently can be done relatively quickly.

Just be sure to get a model with 1394 input (Sony calls it iLink, Panasonic calls it DV in). None of the models I looked at had 1394 output. I did see specs somewhere for a model with this, but it was really expensive.

I looked at about 4 different models; don't have my notes here anymore, but a couple panasonics, a Sony and I think the other was from Sharp. I went to Best Buy, Circuit City and Tweeter and the prices were the same everywhere. You may be able to do a little better if you find something on sale online. But in the end I went with the Sony for the prog scan, and just a general preference for Sony gear (which is probably completely irrational ;-) It was not the cheapest model, but I figured it was better to spend $100 more and not suffer from "buyer's remorse" later...
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Old November 24th, 2003, 01:17 PM   #3
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Just curious, Boyd. Does the recorder have component IN for recording from analog?

Wayne
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Old November 24th, 2003, 02:08 PM   #4
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Wayne:
No unfortunately it only has s-video, composite and iLink input... component is only for output. I don't think any of the consumer quality decks accept component input, at least not in this price range. Here are the specs: http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTE...ntentItemPage=
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Old November 24th, 2003, 06:27 PM   #5
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Hey, thanks Boyd. Actually, the S-video just might do the trick.

Wayne

PS. Did you happen to see any of the Disney Concert Hall Opening Gala on Great Performances? I thought the director, Gary Halvorson, did a great job on "Rite of Spring." I'm looking forward to going back just to hear a concert in the Hall. Quite a spectacular venue.
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Old November 25th, 2003, 04:50 PM   #6
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You might want to mouse over to this link:

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/review_pana_3040_dvdburner.html
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Old November 25th, 2003, 07:38 PM   #7
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Boyd, thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I am very close to purchasing a recorder and so, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask a few more questions.

1. You said, "The recorder has a lot of features geared to importing video directly from a camcorder."

Does that mean that those features are not available when you record straight from the timeline?

2. You said, "It creates a generic menu for your DVD."

Is there a way to get rid of that menu; to have no menu at all?

3. You said, "When I record in HQ mode (1 hour per disk) it looks really good, hard to tell apart from the original DV footage."

Have you tried XSP and SP? Would you say the picture/sound quality is better than a VHS dub?

4. According to the specs, neither Dolby Digital nor DTS decoder is available. That said, how is the audio?

5. Also, according to the specs, "• Video Outputs --- TV Output (RF Type) S-Video Output x 2 Composite Video Output x 2 i.LINK™ Control Output (DV Type) Component Video Output."
Does the iLink Control Output mean, that there is actually an Output for DV?

Again, I appreciate your help.


Vic, thank you too. I just read that link and it actually made me more confused in terms of making a decision.
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Old November 25th, 2003, 08:19 PM   #8
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<<<-- Originally posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis :1. You said, "The recorder has a lot of features geared to importing video directly from a camcorder." Does that mean that those features are not available when you record straight from the timeline?

Don't know. Haven't really read through the typically cryptic Sony manual on this topic since it wasn't of great interest. But the recorder does start/stop scene detection to create separate chapters on the DVD. Also there's a way to (I think) burn all your custom scene titles, etc to a DVD, then use that DVD later along with your DV tape master to make additional copies of the DVD. Sounds like a lot of trouble to me. I don't know if it would detect short pauses in the timeline as separate scenes, perhaps it would?

<<<-- Originally posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis : 2. You said, "It creates a generic menu for your DVD." Is there a way to get rid of that menu; to have no menu at all?

As far as I can tell, no. Or at least it doesn't seem to be covered in the manual. You get sort of a gray screen with one item on it when you manually record a DVD.

Is there a way to get rid of that menu; to have no menu at all?

<<<-- Originally posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis : Have you tried XSP and SP? Would you say the picture/sound quality is better than a VHS dub?

Haven't tried those modes yet. I've gotta believe they would be better than VHS though, which looks terrible, especially when recorded with consumer decks.

<<<-- Originally posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis : 4. According to the specs, neither Dolby Digital nor DTS decoder is available. That said, how is the audio?

Sounds pretty much the same as the original when I listened to one of our operas on my studio headphones.


<<<-- Originally posted by Stylianos Moschapidakis :Does the iLink Control Output mean, that there is actually an Output for DV?

There is no DV out. My guess is that "control output" is related to those features for hooking up your camcorder and making DVD's. It can rewind the tape, cue it up to predetermined points, etc. Like I said, this all looked to complicated and confusing to me so I haven't tried to figure it out. Sort of like programming a VCR from hell ;-)

Hope this helps. But I think the bottom line is that these recorders just offer a nice, simple no-brain way to burn a DVD that doesn't tie up your computer. If you're trying to do anything custom with the DVD's you may be disappointed. If you just want a quick and easy way to distribute stuff at higher quality than VHS they're pretty nice IMO.
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Old November 28th, 2003, 06:45 PM   #9
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Boyd, thank you very much for your response. I really appreciate it.

Two more questions:
1. what brand of blank DVDs do you use (or have you experimented with)?
2. Is it possible to pause recording? In other words, say you want to have three different 10-minute projects on one DVD and yet maintain the HQ recording mode for all three projects, is this possible?
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Old November 28th, 2003, 06:57 PM   #10
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I bought a package of TDK DVD-R disks and have only burned about 4 or 5 so far, but no problems. Really don't have enough experience for this to be significant however...
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