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Old February 16th, 2018, 03:50 AM   #1
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How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Hello guys,

I have close to 100 DV cassettes stored in Tupperware aged between 10 and 14 years old.

The two consumer camcorders I used to own have long since died and been disposed of.

My laptop is a 3 month old refurbished, mid 2015 MacBook Pro with no DVD drive or firewire port but do have two thunderbolt ports and two standard USB ports.

I can't afford to send them away as the price would be astronomical but desperately want to digitize these memories onto USB before the tapes inevitably rot.

What is my best option?

Suggestions warmly appreciated.
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Old February 16th, 2018, 06:25 AM   #2
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Hi Cameron,

My advice would be to go on ebay for a camera that will play your tapes, then resell it after you have finished copying. If you can find a camera with USB output, that could work, but most will have audio and video outs which you can take into any one of a number of analogue to digital interfaces that you can get cheaply on line.

If you want to spend more money, I believe that there are still converters available that will take a firewire out and convert to HDMI or USB to input to your computer.

Roger
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Old February 16th, 2018, 08:03 AM   #3
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Thanks Roger, yes I'm more interested to know about the DV converters.

A few years ago I managed to borrow a camcorder then purchased a firewire adapter but there was an import issue due to the fact it is outdated. I can't remember if it was the laptop of Adobe Premier Pro but it wasn't importing at all.

How much am I looking at for a converter and how do I Google one without getting software converters?
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Old February 16th, 2018, 08:33 AM   #4
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

I did a quick search and couldn't find anything that I think will work to go firewire to USB reliably. If you have a desktop, I would look at buying a firewire PCI card. They are easy to install and you can get them for as low as $15 if you look around on Ebay. A mini-DV camera with cost on Ebay around $100 or so depending. DV vtr decks are going for around $400. Firewire is the best quality for sure, but if you can't install a FW card, you might want to think about a composite to USB adapter and use the analog video out of a camera or deck. One thing to think about is the manufacturer. What camera were the tapes shot on? I had trouble with older tapes as I started with a Canon GL-1, moved to Panasonic and then to Sony. The Canon didn't like the tapes shot by the Panasonic and would routinely have artifacts when I used it to digitize. I then bought a cheaper Sharp DV camera just for digitizing, and it didn't like the tapes shot by the Canon. If any of the tapes were shot in LP mode, there is a better chance of problems on playback. Good luck.
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Old February 16th, 2018, 08:33 AM   #5
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

" If you can find a camera with USB output"

No such thing to the best of my knowledge. Some MiniDV cameras may have had a USB port, but it would have been for transfer of still images and not video playing full-quality video off the tape, as USB 2.0 is too slow.

You will either need a computer with a Firewire port, or you could use the analog outputs from camera into a capture card or capture device of some sort. Firewire is best since quality of capture will 100% match what's on the tape - it's just a file copy of digital data really.

If you opt for an analog capture device, the camera must convert digital source to analog, then that comes out of camera over composite or S-video cabling and the cable quality can and will affect video quality with analog. Then the analog signal goes to hardware capture device which is digitizing the analog signal (convert back to digital) and that means some sort of compression being applied, which will be dependent on the capture software being used.

There are cheap analog capture devices out there, but you may not like the results. These little "USB Dongle" devices may over-compress the video directly to H.264 or MPEG-2 at a low bit rate.

For better results, check out the Black Magic Intensity Shuttle with Thunderbolt - I'm assuming your MacBook has Thunderbolt? https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity

This device will accept analog sources and capture to a high-quality 4:2:2 codec. From a MiniDV camera, the S-Video output will provide a better image than the Composite output, so use S-Video if possible.

As for procuring a camera, Ebay is a great source as suggested, always plenty of cameras to choose from. Pick one that shows little or no signs of wear (lots of photos) and includes all accessories from a seller with a very good rating.

I just picked up a top-of-the-line Sony Hi8 camera (1999 vintage) that came from a University that was clearing out old gear. Got the complete kit with Sony bag and all goodies and the camera is absolutely immaculate, got really lucky with that purchase and am capturing a lot of old memories now.

Thanks
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Old February 16th, 2018, 09:08 AM   #6
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Quote:
No such thing to the best of my knowledge. Some MiniDV cameras may have had a USB port, but it would have been for transfer of still images and not video
Not quite true Jeff. I had a Panny NV-GS250 and I regularly used to transfer video over USB to Motion DV Studio, I didn't have a Firewire card. AFAIK it was the only model that could do it.
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Old February 16th, 2018, 09:55 AM   #7
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

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Originally Posted by Dave Baker View Post
Not quite true Jeff. I had a Panny NV-GS250 and I regularly used to transfer video over USB to Motion DV Studio, I didn't have a Firewire card. AFAIK it was the only model that could do it.
Yes I also had a Panny camera that did the same but I can't remember the model number as it was a few years ago.

Roger
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Old February 16th, 2018, 10:30 AM   #8
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

You need:

Camcorder or deck with firewire output. Usually this will be a 4-pin connector. Occasionally 6-pin. AFAIK it will always be FW400.

A cable that is (probably) male FW400 on one end, and male FW800 on the other end.

Apple’s own FW800 to Thunderbolt adapter:
https://www.apple.com/shop/product/M...rewire-adapter
That would run you $30 USD on this side of the pond.

And your capture software. Premiere should work, though I’ve not done so for a few years.

This replicates the classic setup for transferring DV to a computer. It’s not capture, as the digital file on tape is just transferred to a digital file on disk. This was how we did it back in the day, and is still the best way!

Plug it all in with power off on all devices! Some will quibble that this isn’t always necessary, but there are a lot of camcorders out there with dead FW ports that say safe is better than sorry.
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Old February 16th, 2018, 11:01 AM   #9
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

https://support.apple.com/kb/PH22887?locale=en_US

iMovie > thunderbolt to firewire adapter > minidv camcorder (preferably the same brand you filmed them on)

There is also stand alone analog to dvd recorded by Sony VRMDC

There are many usb analog adapters that would most likely only work on a pc.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; February 16th, 2018 at 11:56 AM.
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Old February 16th, 2018, 11:44 AM   #10
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron Poole View Post
Thanks Roger, yes I'm more interested to know about the DV converters.

A few years ago I managed to borrow a camcorder then purchased a firewire adapter but there was an import issue due to the fact it is outdated. I can't remember if it was the laptop of Adobe Premier Pro but it wasn't importing at all.

How much am I looking at for a converter and how do I Google one without getting software converters?
I just recently converted about 150 of my own DV tapes
+1 on the advice for a used DV Camera
+1 on the advice for a firewire PCI card (or look for an old Laptop with Firewire input)

Capturing the data is best done with the free WinDV utility.
Since it is so bare-bones, any Desktop or Laptop will work.
Just set it up in a corner of your flat, press Record on WinDV, and check back 60 minutes later
Repeat 99 times
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Old February 17th, 2018, 12:52 PM   #11
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

I strongly recommend against USB converters in this application.

You have a digital file on tape. To use a USB converter, or a Blackmagic Intensity involves analog playback, then a conversion from analog to digital. That means generation loss, for no good reason.

You have a digital file on tape. You have a Thunderbolt Mac. Apple has maintained Firewire compatibility, all it needs is a $30 USD dongle. You can transfer the digital file, with no generation loss! That's best, and, the least expensive! It's what DV is for - that was the great quality advantage it had over competing formats. Keep the quality.
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Old February 17th, 2018, 07:39 PM   #12
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

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Originally Posted by Vince Pachiano View Post
Capturing the data is best done with the free WinDV utility.
... or Scenalyzer which is now free and is a great little DV capture utility. You can rename and split flies on the fly as they are being ingested if you wish.

ScenalyzerLive Page

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Old February 17th, 2018, 08:04 PM   #13
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

The OP is on a mac...

No scenealyzer, no WinDV.
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Old February 18th, 2018, 03:01 AM   #14
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

I would beg, borrow or steal an old computer. (Ask your friends as there are plenty in the back of the cupboard, preferably with firewire. Many were built in.) Do the same for an old DV camera. And I second Sceneanalyzer, but it only runs on Windows XP and under.
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Old February 18th, 2018, 11:25 AM   #15
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Re: How can I digitize DV tape without camcorder??

Um, being on mac isnít a problem. Firewire support is still there with a $30 dongle. I use both PC and Mac, no need to defend either. But the OP has a recent mac and the software he needs, and is trying to hold costs down.

I donít understand why there are suggestions to buy an old or new PC. Macs work for this too. Arguably, better. WinXP? Ugh. And yes, I do have a PC running it.
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