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Old January 22nd, 2014, 10:59 PM   #1
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Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

So my dilemma. I have hundreds of MiniDV tapes from more than a decade ago that I want to take down the memory lane but I have no camcorder or deck to play them on or digitize. I have been thinking to buy SONY GV HD700 deck since it was around $1k at B&H, now they sell it for $1400.

My question to you guys; Is there a pro MiniDV/HDV camcorder that has uncompressed 60i HDMI output you can recommend? The reason why I need 60i HDMI output is that I want to connect this camcorder to ATEM Production Studio 4K and capture the playback to the ATOMOS Samurai Blade in pristine ProRes HQ 422. I realize that it will not upconvert SD footage to HD but I can do it in Premiere using Red Giant InstantHD.

Has anyone in the community faced what I am going through? Any input would truly be appreciated!!

Thanks!
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 09:53 AM   #2
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

You are making this utterly difficult and unrealistic on yourself. Your source material is 420 SD DV. Nothing can make it any better. ATEM, Atomos or whatever can NEVER improve what you have got as source material. If you have a glass of orange juice, nothing can restore it to the original oranges. Not even with huge capital spendings.

Your best approach is to capture (digital transfer) your tapes over fire-wire and work from there. Uprezzing is no option, you can't make 420 SD recordings into something 422 apart from adding some zeroes and increasing storage requirements, InstantHD may help somewhat, although very slowly, to uprez to something akin to HD, but you will not get 422 quality if it is not there in the first place.

You realize that ProRes is not suitable for any PC using PR prior to 7.0.1.141 because of the 4 GB and QT32Server limitations?
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 11:10 AM   #3
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Hi Renat,

I must agree with Mr. Millard on this subject. You will gain nothing by recording as ProRes 422, as the NTSC miniDV source has 4:1:1 color and nothing can restore the lost color data. If you capture DV via 1394 Firewire to a computer, the captured file is exactly the same as the tape, being a simple data transfer from tape to hard drive. That's as good as it gets, maintaining the quality as originally shot.

About players - DV is DV. A more expensive camera/deck does not provide any better image when transferring via 1394. It is just data you are moving and that data is the same regardless of hardware used for playback. Pick up a used miniDV camera or two on Ebay. Get a miniDV head cleaning cassette right away also as you may need it.

Capturing miniDV as ProRes will get you one thing - a much larger file, that looks no better than the original. Like orange juice poured into a different container is the same orange juice, and is not any fresher or tastier (thanks Harm). Upon further thought, the footage may actually be degraded slightly because you are decompressing/recompressing the material! Like running the OJ through lots of tubing and strainers.

Regarding upconversion, yes you can spend a lot of time rendering to HD, but in reality, you get the same result letting the playback hardware upconvert SD for HD playback. Case in point, I produce event DVDs which are of course SD resolution. When I play them on a big screen HD plasma, my Blu-ray player upconverts and sends an HD signal via HDMI and it looks very very good, often hard to tell from an HD source.

I don't know your full intentions with your suggested workflow. Maybe you don't care for DVDs or DV .avi files and want to have something you can easily play on modern HD devices? If you are very set on upconverting anyway, then ProRes has no practical application in the workflow, it is overkill for DV footage and what would you play it on, aside from the editing computer? Consider H.264 - a device such as Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX will take an S-video input from a DV camera and will hardware upconvert 480i to 1080i and save direct to H.264 files with Blu-ray quality. This happens live during capture. Note that 4:3 sources will of course be pillarboxed when upconverted to HD with any hardware/software.

So I'm not arguing against upconverting if that is your hearts desire, just saying that there is no reason in the workflow to convert to ProRes at all. If using a software upscaler, the native DV format will upconvert the same as ProRes. Note that the software deinterlacers that I've looked at all require you to start with deinterlaced footage, so to me that says half the resolution is thrown out before even starting, so that doesn't make a lot of sense.

Also, for the purpose of archiving and preserving your material, if that is important, I would definitely make the 1394 capture as a pure archival copy that has not been processed in any way. It gets no better than that. You will have the tape, and an exact backup on the hard drive. Maybe better upconversion techniques will be available in the future, and you'll appreciate having the DV .avi source to work from.

I'll try to do a few experiments tonight from home. Like yourself, I've just started the process of archiving old miniDV tapes (and Hi8 as well). I have a Canon HV20 HDV camcorder which also plays DV tapes and it has an HDMI output. Not sure if DV playback comes out the HDMI port, but if it does I'm confident it would not upconvert to HD, but will check.

Thanks
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 01:48 PM   #4
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Thank you Harm and Jeff for invaluable input.

I have just purchased the Sony HD700 tape deck while it's still possible to buy new.
So you're saying there's no quality gain if exporting out of HDMI from tape deck/camcorder to ATEM to Samurai Blade?

Basically for me the priority is to capture SD DV, de-interlace it and use InstantHD to turn it to 4x3 HD.

I use Premiere CS6, any thoughts how to de-interlace the footage without quality loss?

Thanks again guys!
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 04:13 PM   #5
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

"I have just purchased the Sony HD700 tape deck while it's still possible to buy new."

Ouch, $1400? $200 will get you a lightly-used HDV camcorder with the exact same capabilities of playing DV or HDV tapes with component, HDMI, and Firewire outputs. Talking about very common Canon HV 20/30/40 units, which cost just $500-600 new. And actually, as your tapes are DV and not HDV, you can get miniDV camcorders for almost nothing used. Because you don't need HDMI which takes an HDV player out of the equation altogether.

"So you're saying there's no quality gain if exporting out of HDMI from tape deck/camcorder to ATEM to Samurai Blade?"

That is correct. Think about it. If you had a nasty old VHS tape, and transferred it to ProRes, the video will still look like nasty old VHS. DV is no different, you can't "create" quality that was not recorded to start with. What is the purpose of ATEM - is that to convert from HDMI input to HD-SDI output? Just curious how that fits into the proposed workflow.

"Basically for me the priority is to capture SD DV, de-interlace it and use InstantHD to turn it to 4x3 HD."

Deinterlacing your SD video will cut the resolution in HALF, before you even begin the "upres" process. Each interlaced video frame consists of two fields combined. Deinterlacing effectively removes one field from the frame.

"I use Premiere CS6, any thoughts how to de-interlace the footage without quality loss?"

See previous answer, deinterlacing is automatically reducing quality, losing half the resolution. If you want the "ultimate" deinterlacing process, then you would install VirtualDub and there are many good plug-ins and workflows for deinterlacing, but that is very involved and beyond the scope of trying to explain that whole process here (freeware). But that may preserve more info from both fields in the resulting progressive video.

Within Premiere workflow, right-click clip on timeline and change fields to deinterlace, then export to a lossless codec such as Lagarith I suppose.

As I mentioned earlier, I can try a few things tonight and get back to you.

PS - you have not stated yet what you want to do with the footage once it is made into HD. Blu-ray? Computer viewing? Archiving best possible format for future generations to enjoy? This can make a difference in suggested workflow, please advise what end result you are seeking.

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Old January 23rd, 2014, 04:38 PM   #6
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Interlaced video for NTSC is 59.94 fields a sec. By their very nature they are half the vertical resolution of the full picture. The timecode for NTSC is 29.97 frames a second. Timecode increments every 2 fields ( 2 fields is a frame ). NTSC is 59.94 exposures a second not 29.97, this is just timecode and has the temporal motion the same as 59.94 progressive but with half the vertical ressolution. If you deinterlace to 59.94fps then of course you will stay at half the vertical resolution of the original image being shot. High end deinterlacers will create the missing information by looking at the fields before and after to interpolate the missing information and create a full progressive image at 59.94fps. Lots of high refresh rate TV's do this in their deinterlacers. Personally I would stay interlaced as the original and let the playback system deinterlace. Lots of present Bluray players will do a good job of deinterlacing and upscaling when playing SD DVD's. This what I have done with all my old VHS, HI8 and DV tapes.

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Old January 23rd, 2014, 06:15 PM   #7
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

I mix my old SD DV material with new HD material all the time - in fact much of what I produce is edited on a 720 timeline, and in CS5 I just scaled to frame size with the SD and the 1080 material, and Premiere does pretty well without trying anything clever. I too cannot see where apart from the actual file format changing much happens.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 06:21 PM   #8
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

I know buying the Sony HD700 tape deck is an overkill, but I figured it is professional grade and should last way into the future because it has 7" screen. So even if there'll be no possible way to digitize the dv footage in the future, at least my descendants will be able to play it on that 7" screen.

To answer Jeff about the intention of upconverting and de-interlacing SD dv footage to HD; I want to simply put the resulting HD videos on youtube.

I have played around with VirtualDub in the past, some 5 or more years ago.. Though I found it useful to convert/de-interlace footage the complexity and not being user-friendly threw me off.. I haven't used it ever since.

"What is the purpose of ATEM - is that to convert from HDMI input to HD-SDI output? Just curious how that fits into the proposed workflow."

Yep, ATEM is pretty flexible device I have in tandem with Samurai Blade. So I initially thought I would gain some quality - going 422 ProRes. I decided to simply capture the footage from the Sony tape deck using firewire into Premiere CS6. Once in Premiere timeline, I will follow your steps (right-click clip on timeline and change fields to deinterlace, then export to a lossless codec such as Lagarith).. After the edit of footage I will use InstantHD to upscale the footage before exporting via AME using H.264 HD for Youtube.

What's the advantage of using the Lagarith codec compared to AVI (uncompressed) in AME? By the way, I downloaded and installed the Lagarith codec (Lagarith Lossless Video Codec) but it does not show up in AVI (uncompressed) "custom" settings. Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks again guys!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Pulera View Post
"I have just purchased the Sony HD700 tape deck while it's still possible to buy new."

Ouch, $1400? $200 will get you a lightly-used HDV camcorder with the exact same capabilities of playing DV or HDV tapes with component, HDMI, and Firewire outputs. Talking about very common Canon HV 20/30/40 units, which cost just $500-600 new. And actually, as your tapes are DV and not HDV, you can get miniDV camcorders for almost nothing used. Because you don't need HDMI which takes an HDV player out of the equation altogether.

"So you're saying there's no quality gain if exporting out of HDMI from tape deck/camcorder to ATEM to Samurai Blade?"

That is correct. Think about it. If you had a nasty old VHS tape, and transferred it to ProRes, the video will still look like nasty old VHS. DV is no different, you can't "create" quality that was not recorded to start with. What is the purpose of ATEM - is that to convert from HDMI input to HD-SDI output? Just curious how that fits into the proposed workflow.

"Basically for me the priority is to capture SD DV, de-interlace it and use InstantHD to turn it to 4x3 HD."

Deinterlacing your SD video will cut the resolution in HALF, before you even begin the "upres" process. Each interlaced video frame consists of two fields combined. Deinterlacing effectively removes one field from the frame.

"I use Premiere CS6, any thoughts how to de-interlace the footage without quality loss?"

See previous answer, deinterlacing is automatically reducing quality, losing half the resolution. If you want the "ultimate" deinterlacing process, then you would install VirtualDub and there are many good plug-ins and workflows for deinterlacing, but that is very involved and beyond the scope of trying to explain that whole process here (freeware). But that may preserve more info from both fields in the resulting progressive video.

Within Premiere workflow, right-click clip on timeline and change fields to deinterlace, then export to a lossless codec such as Lagarith I suppose.

As I mentioned earlier, I can try a few things tonight and get back to you.

PS - you have not stated yet what you want to do with the footage once it is made into HD. Blu-ray? Computer viewing? Archiving best possible format for future generations to enjoy? This can make a difference in suggested workflow, please advise what end result you are seeking.

Regards,
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Old January 24th, 2014, 04:56 AM   #9
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Just to show you what you can expect, see the pictures below.

Remember, if you are using DV NTSC material, you start out - after capturing - with the EXACT same material as you have on tape without any quality loss. 4:1:1 720 x 480. If you de-interlace that, you effectively reduce that to 4:1:1 720 x 240. Then you want to increase that resolution to 1080 vertical.

The first screen shot is 4:2:0 720 x 576 DV PAL with FIT, the second is with 100% size and the third one is with 400% size, but only 200% in the vertical dimension. You can imagine what would happen is you start off with throwing away half your vertical resolution and then increasing the vertical size from 240 to 1080, that is 450% increase in the vertical. InstantHD is pretty good, but not that good that it can make up things that are not there to start with. The fourth image is comparable to 800%, about what you can expect in terms of quality with your intended workflow.

You may be better off with SD, without uprezzing, but using a PIP approach in a HD sequence, like I did here:
Attached Thumbnails
Capturing Old MiniDV tapes-dv-fit.png   Capturing Old MiniDV tapes-dv-100.png  

Capturing Old MiniDV tapes-dv-400.png   Capturing Old MiniDV tapes-dv-800.png  


Last edited by Harm Millaard; January 24th, 2014 at 10:43 AM.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 10:23 AM   #10
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Hi Renat,

I understand better now what you wish to accomplish. My grandfather's 8mm family movie collection came with a vintage Kodak projector which allowed us to view the films. While your digital tapes can be "backed up" on hard drives now, data CAN be wiped out easily, so the physical tapes, with a player, do provide a solid archive for as long as the tapes remain readable. I have plenty of digital DV tapes that are 16 years old and play perfectly, unlike VHS tapes from that era that are analog and have thus degraded.

Regarding YouTube, please consider this. When I watch YouTube videos, they always start out in a smaller window and typically look good regardless of the source. Then I'll think, "Hey, I would enjoy this more full screen" and I will expand the view. If the video is from an HD source and nicely encoded, it often looks very good on the 24" HD display. Other times, I will expand a video only to find that it looks terrible full-screen, so then I go back to watching the original-sized window and the video looks acceptable again, since I'm viewing the original size without "blowing it up".

So here's your options. Put the original 720x480 video on YouTube, and it will look sharp when viewed in a window and NOT blown up full screen. It may not even look that bad blown up, IF the original footage is clean and well-lit and encoded properly. However, if you "upres" the footage first before uploading, now it is softened. It's just the nature of upconverting. The upres software will try to do it's best, but the result can never equal a video that began life in HD already. So now, the viewer will see a softened image, even BEFORE expanding to full screen! You've made the experience worse from the start in my opinion.

Upload at original quality at it will look good in the default player window, and if the viewer wants to expand that and see a larger image which will obviously be pixelated/softened to some degree, then that is their choice and option. Folks are used to that on YT.

If you are still intent on upconverting...please consider 720p rather than 1080p, as the latter is just pushing the SD source too far. And don't forget any upconvert will be 16:9, so the viewer is always going to have black pillarboxing on the sides of the 4:3 source material. Another negative in the viewing experience.

I did have very limited time to experiment last night and grabbed an old miniDV cassette. I captured a segment via Firewire as native DV, then captured the same segment again using component out from the camera into Matrox MXO2 Mini, letting MXO2 upconvert to 1080i during capture. The result is soft compared to the original unfortunately. I wanted to go further and post images and had no time.

I can report that the Canon HV20 camera (HDV and DV) has HDMI output, which I fed to my HDTV and was reported as 480p. So the HDV player is NOT upconverting DV footage for playback, and also must be deinterlacing the footage for 480p delivery. I did see a lot of jaggies/aliasing when viewing, so definitely NOT how I would capture, stick with Firewire and get all the original quality into the computer. Note that MXO2 does not accept SD via HDMI anyway, not sure about other capture devices.

When someone is creating an HD movie, and they have mostly HD source footage, and by necessity must include some legacy SD video into that production, that is where Instant HD would be used in an attempt to get the most quality from the SD upconversion. I just don't see the practicality of forcing an entire collection of DV movies into HD just for the sake of saying the clips are now HD.

But this is after all your project and you can proceed as you wish. The other contributors and myself are just trying to help with practical wisdom taken from many years of experience.

One last thing, and I'm as guilty of this as the next video person - we all strive for the Holy Grail of perfect video to show our viewers, and that is not always an achievable goal. Consider that YouTube has in fact LOWERED peoples expectations of quality. Videos are popular due to the CONTENT and not the quality. Some of the most popular videos are shaky, poorly lit, grainy, with bad audio, but people don't care, they want to see whatever is IN that video clip because it interests them. Cell phone video is the new normal!

I uploaded some old 8mm/Hi8 video clips of auto races to YouTube. The quality is not up to my standards, but it's the only visual record of those events, and the drivers and fans (the viewers) are just so thankful to be able to even see that footage and relive those moments again, they are not looking at the quality but the content.

Thank you for your consideration
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Old January 27th, 2014, 03:11 PM   #11
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Reading this with interest.
Not wishing to hijack.... but a related question.
I have a Dire Straits Blu ray disc which has content captured in the early 70's, obviously not HD originally and Id be thinking not laying around on any well preserved film stock. Its just interviews and some rehearsal footage probably made with an average SD cam at the time.

So, how do they turn this into 1080p footage that quite simply looks amazing?
I know there is money involved, but what process lets you achieve this?
Is it a lot of time with tools available to the average person, or, very expensive tool sets out of the average mans reach?
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Old January 27th, 2014, 03:18 PM   #12
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

Back in the 70's they most likely filmed NOT on video but on either 16 or 35mm film. Film is way higher resolution than video. So they simply digitized the film to HD resolution for Blue ray.
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Old January 27th, 2014, 03:19 PM   #13
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

If the "early 70s" Dire Straits footage looks "amazing" at 1080p, then I would guess they scanned this from FILM, and did not convert from an SD video source. But we're all just guessing, aren't we, since we don't know the source of the content.

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Old May 15th, 2014, 11:04 AM   #14
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Re: Capturing Old MiniDV tapes

I agree with the top posts. However, Neat is a plugin which you can try. This removes some of the finer artifacts and makes old footage a little smoother.
I had about 50hrs of VHS/Hi8/DV tapes of my family. I captured these to avi files over a firewire connection.
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