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Old March 8th, 2004, 09:30 PM   #1
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Best format for importing old film

I'm purchasing some old film footage shot during the Vietnam era from the Defense Visual Information Center. They output the footage in my choice of one of the following: Betacam, Betacam SP, Betacam SX, DVCPro as well as VHS. Which one to choose?

Of course VHS is easiest to get into my MiniDV camera, but for quality I think anything other than VHS. I'd prefer it to stay digital, but then there's the issue of finding someone to do the conversion. Any suggestions? Too bad they won't output to MiniDV.
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Old March 10th, 2004, 12:46 PM   #2
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You should see if they offer DV-Cam on the small cassettes. Most MiniDV players and cameras can also playback DVCam as long as it's on the small cassettes.
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Old March 10th, 2004, 04:00 PM   #3
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Before posting the question, I asked them if they have other choices (digital), their answer was friendly "choose from this list" (it's a government 'service'). Found a place nearby that will transfer the DVCPRO to MiniDV for a fairly reasonable price. By going DVCPRO, at least it will stay digital throughout the converstion.
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Old March 18th, 2004, 09:23 PM   #4
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But is it a digital transfer between the two digital formats?

I had a DVC-Pro 2 hour plus master that was supposed to be cloned. I asked to supervise the session and they wouldn't allow it. The two hour plus program aired 4 times over the easter weekend and I can tell you it WAS NOT a digital clone from the DVC PRO master tape.

Everytime the audio hit a loud spot I saw ripples in the picture. I think they ran my dub through their switcher and in the process went digital to analog to digital and of course the system was probably not properly balanced throughout. Does DVC Pro and Mini-Dv use the same firewire port for dubbing from one format to the other?
Also DVC-PRO has a "25" version and a "50" version. Suddenly the compatibility between these two formats and Mini-DV must be considered.

You may find having a BetaCam SP master dubbed to Mini-Dv is easier for the post house to figure out, and if the output is done in either S-Video or Component BetaCam to Mini-DV (the DSR-45 I think can handle BetaCam SP component in), you should be fine.

How come certain groups only have DVC Pro???? It's so annoying to have deal with groups that don't acknowledge more than one type of digital format.
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Old March 18th, 2004, 09:34 PM   #5
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"Most MiniDV players and cameras can also playback DVCam as long as it's on the small cassettes."

Not true. It will play back on most SONY gear (but not the DCR-VX700 and DCR-VX1000). Other manufacturers' gear won't play DVCAM tapes. I once unwittingly played a DVCAM tape in my XL1S. It played back in stuttery slow motion sans audio.

But I agree, DV is a good format to ask for, simply for playability, unless you happen to have your own Beta deck.
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Old March 19th, 2004, 09:47 AM   #6
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I would go with Betacam SP. You can go to a dub house and get the stuff transferred to miniDV. The only hangup might be if the dub house has one of the professional Sony decks that only records DVCAM. In that case you could take them your camera and let them use it as the record deck. Or if they do transfer it to DVCAM, you can play it back OK if you have a Sony camcorder. Most Sonys, even if they're miniDV, will play back DVCAM OK (except for the old VX1000). I would not go with the DVCPRO because it will be more difficult for you to find somebody to transfer it for you, unless you know have a connection at a TV station. If you do have a TV station connection, and if they do have a DVCPRO deck with firewire out, then you could go that route.

I have two DSR1800 DVCAM decks and two BetacamSP 1800 deck. All the decks have component in and out, so I transfer from Betacam SP to DVCAM all the time. The component transfer looks just about as good as the original. In fact, nobody else seems to be able to tell the difference. Your second best quality is to go from S-video to S in the transfer. It's not as good as the component, but still excellent quality. Worst case quality is the standard composite transfer.
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Old March 19th, 2004, 10:06 AM   #7
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Hey Bill, Which is less lossless in your opinion, going from BetaCam SP to DV-CAM, or going from DV-Cam to BetaCam SP, or is it identical?
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Old March 19th, 2004, 10:15 AM   #8
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I go both ways all the time and can't tell any difference, really. The DVCAM deck seems to record component as well as the Betacam SP deck does. First generation Betacam SP, if done in component, is always good; and the same seems to hold true for the DVCAM deck. I think the dub, regardless of which whether it's DVCAM or Betacam SP, is always just a bit softer than the original, but it's very difficult to see the difference.

By the way, this original post mentioned Betacam in addition to Betacam SP. I didn't know anybody was using standard Betacam anymore. If you ever end up with a non-SP Betacam tape in your possession, do NOT try to use it in a Betacam SP deck or camcorder, which means just about anything manufactured after about 1989 or so. Betacam SP decks will PLAY Betacam tapes with no trouble, although those old tapes usually flake off some, and you should clean your heads after playing them. You can not record on a standard Betacam tape with a Betacam SP deck. I wasn't even aware the tape was still being made. Leave it to our illustrious government to offer it. I'm surprised they didn't ask if you wanted 3/4.
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Old March 19th, 2004, 12:32 PM   #9
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When BetaCam SP first hit the market some videotape editing facilities were in fact using their regular Betacam decks to source the 20minute BetaCam SP camera tapes. (a short while later Sony came out with 30 minute tapes)

The explanation that I was given was the difference in picture quality was not that great but the metal tape did wear out the betacam deck's video heads quicker.
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Old March 19th, 2004, 12:41 PM   #10
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Several of the TV stations around here used the standard Betacam tapes for several years after the decks were obsolete, until they replaced the backs on their dockables. The last ones I saw were about 8 or 9 years ago; they were tapes that had been shot in the Philippenes. The quality was good, but dropouts were plentiful.
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