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Old February 1st, 2017, 06:46 PM   #1
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I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

I have a slew of old mini-dv tapes and I want to convert them to digital files. What do I need to do this? What product would you recommend? I have the decks and the tapes, just need the converter...

PS - I am looking for a method that is the LEAST amount of work for me. Sort of run it and leave kind of thing.
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Old February 1st, 2017, 07:20 PM   #2
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

No conversion necessary, and it's best not to convert, just transfer. You just need a computer with a firewire port, and something like Premiere or Vegas or FCP7 to manage the transfer.

Of course these days a firewire port is hard to find on current macs/PCs, but, a desktop PC will accept a card, and a current Mac with Thunderbolt will accept Apple's $30 firewire/thunderbolt dongle.
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Old February 1st, 2017, 09:38 PM   #3
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

As Seth said, a "conversion" is not necessary. The data on the Mini DV is just a digital file, so essentially you are just copying the digital data to your computer via a firewire cable.

You can use a very small free program like WinDV (windows obviously) to control the entire process
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Old February 1st, 2017, 11:29 PM   #4
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Beg, borrow or dig out that old computer so you don't tie up your good one.
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 12:15 AM   #5
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

If you have(or can borrow a DVD recorder, that also works quite well if you are just wanting a backup before you toss the tapes away. You can do a set and forget system there. Most of our "Convert your tapes to DVD" places using DVD recorders....you just plug in the deck and press record. Otherwise if you want to edit and play with your footage, Firewire is the easy option ..Some computer shops might still have PCI firewire capture cards and they are cheap as chips, Otherwise do as Donald says and drag out an old PC that still has a working FW output ...However be very careful with the connection! The inputs on these cards or your deck are easily blown up ..you must start with both devices off ..if you hotplug the cable "POOF" and it will probably blow the deck output too!
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 02:30 AM   #6
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

I agree with Vince and still use WinDV (Windows) to capture. It automatically separates clips and saves as .avi files.

And do heed Chris's warning about making the connections while both ends are off. Then boot the PC, then the device. You might be lucky but you only get one chance with fragile Firewire.
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 07:34 AM   #7
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Well, I am really trying to stay away from the firewire part of it - and I have some high 8 tapes too.
Here is the sketch, I really don't want to have to sit and capture each tape - I have done that for years. It is laborious and not something I would look forward to. I was hoping there was a device that would let me plug in and go without having to run Vegas to capture. Maybe I am asking too much. The long and short is I am doing this as a favour for someone, out of my time and that is why I am looking for the quickest and easiest way. Running back and forth each hour to change tapes, stop capturing, etc is more work than I really want to do. MAybe there isn't a way around it, I dunno.
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 08:12 AM   #8
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

As others have stated, the BEST way to do this is via Firewire, because the transfer is lossless - you are taking the data on the tape and moving it to the hard drive, a perfect copy of your footage. From there, edit and export to a delivery format. That's the "proper" way to handle it, meaning for my OWN footage that is the only way I would approach it.

As you seem to be doing this as a favor for someone else, a DVD Recorder deck is probably the least labor-intensive option. These can still be purchased online for about $200, usually as a DVD-VHS combo machine. Plug analog output of camcorder into DVD recorder, pop in DVD-R blank. Hit PLAY on camera and REC on deck.

Should be able to set recorder for 60 minute mode, to correspond to 60 minute miniDV tapes. One tape per disc, unattended copying. Of course this requires purchase of the deck, but you're going to have to buy something anyway (capture card or whatever) and then that is tying up your edit system! The stand-alone recorder is going to be the simplest option available to you.

Considering that Walmart, Walgreens etc. probably get $20 per tape to do this, the deck will pay for itself if you have a lot of tapes to transfer.

Thanks

Jeff
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 08:59 AM   #9
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

There's no way round having to go back every hour, if they're 60 min tapes, which ever route you take. If you have quite a few and you're not getting paid, I'd be inclined to explain to your friend how to transfer them onto a DVD and get him to do them himself.
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 10:57 AM   #10
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

This was the go to capture program in its day. ScenalyzerLive Page
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Old February 2nd, 2017, 07:01 PM   #11
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Hi David

If you want no hassle and no wasted time why not simply dump the tapes off at a Tape > DVD dealer and tell your friend ..it will cost you $XX per tape ..That way is really the easiest. I was looking at transferring some old 8mm tapes for my neighbour and the simplest solution was to let someone else do them!
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Old February 3rd, 2017, 05:58 AM   #12
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Scenalyzer Live was what I used also. It was very tolerant of problems on the tape and would keep a log of how many dropped frames there were instead of just dumping out of the capture.

Some DVD recorders I used also had a FireWire input, but if there were blank spots on the tape that was problematic.

Hi8 can also be played out of most Digital8 machines, with the advantage of sending out from the FireWire port automatically.

At least you are already familiar with the amount of time and patience this activity needs since you've captured a lot of tapes. A co-worker who was very familiar with up to date video work stared at me like I was speaking Greek when I explained it would take 2 hours to "capture" one of her father's old VHS tapes even though she had a newly purchased digital converter box.
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Old February 3rd, 2017, 06:09 AM   #13
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Yeah the real time capture was very time consuming indeed Jay. We are pretty spoilt nowdays where we can download 2 hours of camera footage in 6 minutes whereas 2 hours of tape would take us ..well 2 hours.

However if you have to capture MiniDV you can only do it in real time I don't remember any shortcut methods like running the tape at 10X normal speed ... it was the long haul or nothing!!
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Old February 11th, 2017, 02:36 PM   #14
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Re: I want to convert all my old mini DV tapes - what do I need?

Scenalyzer is also a program that will capture multiple audio tracks seperately at the same time.
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