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Old January 25th, 2006, 06:14 AM   #1
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VHS to DV and Synchronising picture/audio from two different cameras

The following tip is probably known by most people that regularly edit files in PC or Mac, but I thought that these notes may help someone out there that has had problems matching the visual and audio during editing of two exact films taken with different types of cameras, or are trying to turn old VHS tapes into digital files.

My partner had some video tapes taken with her old Hi-8 camcorder and wanted to edit them on her PC and turn them into DVD discs so that she could give them to friends to watch on TV. I first bought her the Xpert Maker USB 2.0 package that converts the Hi8 to DV files on the computer. This worked OK, but the actual visual footage on both PC and later DVD shown on the television were not good.

I then exchanged this for the Dazzle Digital Video Creator, which again, converted the original Hi8 tape footage into digital Avi files on the computer…but sadly, the results were still crap! The quality of the final DVD was SO much worse (very bad pixel break-up) than simply connecting the Hi8 directly to a television, that I just couldn’t understand it, so tried a different method (I obviously expected some loss in quality from a VHS to digital conversion, but not this much!).

I decided to connect the Hi8 camera via leads direct to the back of a Canon XL1s body, and then copy the Hi8 video tape directly onto the XL’ mini-Dv tape. This was then downloaded directly onto my PC via a firewire.

The resulting visual files from the XL were 100% better than using either the Xpert or Dazzle VHS to DVD converters. But, as always, there was an added problem…even though the converted Dv files direct from the XL1s were very good, the sound quality was terrible (in fact much worse than the original sound in the Hi8 or converted Dazzle files).

So, I decided to split the picture and audio from the XL Avi files and the Dazzle Avi files, and then combine both. This sounds easier than it is! - Trying to match the audio from one file to the visual files of the other exactly, so that lip-sync when people were talking directly towards the camera proved almost impossible – mainly due to the Dazzle file being slightly longer than the XL file.

To save time wasted through trial and error of trying to match both by gradually clipping the audio file, I decided to instead load the XL Avi file onto the editing timeline, and then looked closely at the first frame. The Dazzle Avi file was then clipped so that the first frame matched exactly the picture frame of the XL Avi file.

I then simply dropped the first complete XL Avi file into the normal video timeline track, and then turned the sound down to zero. The Dazzle full Avi file (visual and audio) was then dropped directly into one of the audio timeline tracks. By doing this, the picture is automatically extinguished from the full picture/audio Avi file, but the audio remains.

This resulted in an mpeg2 movie file with good quality picture and sound, with perfect lip sync – ready for final conversion to DVD.
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Old January 25th, 2006, 05:33 PM   #2
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The easiest way of capturing Hi8 is to use a Sony D8 camcorder that has backward compatibilty with Hi8 ( not all have this particularly the lowest cost models) That way you can capture directly to Dv with the IEEE1394 connection on the PC. You will get better conversion of audio and video this way. You can then choose the best way to encode to MPEG2 for DVD. I have a Sony TRV740 that does an excellent job and means that I still have something to play all my old Hi8 tapes.

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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #3
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The Canon XL actually improved the look of the original Hi8 footage, especially the colour.

Chez, my partner, has just been up in the loft and found another huge pile of old Hi8 tapes that she now wants to convert to DVD...and is eyeing up the Xl1s body again in my camera bag - so maybe I'd better take Ron's advice and start looking for an old and cheap Sony TRV740 on Ebay, just to save extra hours of abuse on the tape drives of my Canon!
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Old January 26th, 2006, 06:45 PM   #4
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Can't you just pass the signal thru the Canons firewire without going to tape?
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Old January 27th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #5
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I tried that, with her Hi8 connected to the Canon, but it didn't seem to work and the only way was to copy the Hi8 tape directly on to a MiniDv tape first.
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