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Old November 22nd, 2005, 06:36 AM   #1
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Newbie: Poor quality acquiring MiniDV video

Hi all !

Not too long ago I decided to buy a Sony DCR-HC90 to shoot home videos. My decision came to this camera since it was suposed to have a decent quality and the ability to pump video through firewire directly to my desktop, without the need of a capture card.

I have tried extensively capture videos and all of the captures came out with poor quality. The resulting uncompressed video comes out with horizontal lines, easily to spotable on the borders of a light / dark image. I have tried Sony´s software, Adobe Premiere 1.5, Pinnacle´s Studio, and all came out the same.

Also, when I edit the video and export it to DVD, the final result in all of the cases is a "grainy" video. I tried fine tunning the softwares, and always used the best quality available. Most of my video was made inside my house, of my newborn son. the light conditions were not outdors, but it wasn´t in any case dark ...

I captured and produced a DVD at a friends house, using my camera and his capture board, a Pinnacle Bundle, with Studio 9. The result was much better that the one I got. Still not perfect, but MUCH MUCH better.

What should I do ? Buy a capture card ( in this case which one ? ), turn this handicam back, try another combination for capture, etc ???

I just want decent video.. not professional quality, but decent. And I believed and payed a higher price for this camera to have this capture hability and a good quality for my bucks !

Please help !

Tks, Rodrigo
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 06:10 PM   #2
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Help !!!

Doesn't anybody have any ideas ?

Does anybody have this DCR-HC90 Handicam ?

tks, Rodrigo
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Old November 23rd, 2005, 07:12 PM   #3
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Sorry, I just came upon your post and noted no other responses...I don't own this camera myself and haven't heard such reports from others who have it, so I looked at the specs. From what I have seen, this camera should be doing a great job with what you are trying to do, but apparently it is giving you lousy image let me ask a few questions...

#1 - since it is horrible on your system but better on another, what type of firewire system are you running? Personally, I don't think it should matter much since it is just moving data, and the data is just info about the image - either it is a good connection and you get your full image, or it is a bad connection and you get no image. But I guess maybe there is something to it..I don't know. Is your computer stocked with a native firewire port or is it an add on?

#2. Is your monitor properly calibrated? Your friend's success in getting better quality may be related to a properly calibrated monitor that allows you to see the image properly.

#3. I see that the camera has a 'night-shot plus' feature. Make sure that this feature is NOT active when you are trying to get your footage. It can help when it is really dark, but advertised claims that it provides accurate color detail in dark situations are VERY OVERSTATED. If you have this feature active when trying to shoot under normal conditions, you might end up with crappy footage.

#4. If you have shooting options with this camera, such as SP or LP, or manual controls with shutter speed, exposure...etc, make sure you are using SP mode and for the fun of it, try AE or full auto settings and try a well lit scene - then try to capture the footage and see how it comes out.

#5. If #4 solves nothing, there is a good possibiliy that you got a bad camera. The lens should be a good lens, but the circuitry may be poor.

Hope this helps.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 12:51 AM   #4
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Look at the footage directly from the camera on a TV...connect the camera to the TV. How does the footage look? Good? Ok then, capture the footage into your editing system.

How are you capturing? Does the capture process compress the footage? I am from FCP land, and when we capture, it is a simple file transfer via firewire...the footage is EXACTLY the same as is on the tape. In am not sure how the others capture, and if they capture compressed. But if the footage looks horrible after you capture, then that is most likely the culprit.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 04:52 AM   #5
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Thanks for your answers !

Jonathan, I´ll try to answer your questions:

#1 Since my motherboard does not have a Firewire adpater, I bought a firewire Generic PCI Card. I understood that the camera would only pump data, so the quality of the card would not matter much, since digital data would be flowing. I entered a chat with Sony Support last night and the support guy told me that this and the Firewire cable would make a difference....

#2 Monitor is ok, the colors of the video are fine, only the picture itself is rather grainy and not all solid, colors are ok.

#3 No Night Shot. Night Shot footage comes out green...

#4 Don´t know, will check

#5 when I play back the video on the camera LCD it comes out perfectly, but since this LCD panel is tiny... whe never know. But it sure looks great there.

Now Shane, I´m capturing uncompressed video. The uncompressed has horizontal lines making the borders of a light -> dark image jaggy. When I process to dvd, using either Premiere Pro or Studio 9 I get the lousy grainy, but not jagged images.

I will try to play back to TV and to capture on another system with "native" firewire support. If this solves, I´ll put my Intel D875PBZ in the garbage along with my Firewire card......

I still cannot accept that the quality of the firewire card / cable is the cause of this result. It is just like if you had a slow connection to the internet, and you would only see black and white images... Where is CRC error correction ?!?!?! Maybe that would happen since when we are playing back video, the camera would not be able to retransmit the frames... But in this case I think that I would have dropped frames, something that I do not get.

Thank you very much for your comments. I will post back the results, and in the meantime if somebody has something to add, please do it !

Thanks again, Rodrigo
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Old November 24th, 2005, 09:42 AM   #6
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I can tell you that your Firewire card has NO effect on the quality of your video. Personally, I think the footage is the same all along the path, and you just cannot see it until it is blown up to a reasonable size. The LCD screen is good for framing, and that’s about it. Noise (grain) will most likely not be visible on a small LCD.

If you have a LCD monitor for your computer, the horizontal lines you see are from interlacing. Search the forums for more info about that, but there is not much you can do to solve the problem aside from moving up to a camera that shoots progressive video ($3,000+).

Finally, you must understand that "normal" home lighting conditions are no where near enough light for a little palm-corder type camera. You really do need much more light then you think. This is probably the biggest problem you are having.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 09:54 AM   #7
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To add up on Bennis comment, the interlaced artifacting (your horizontal line) should be less appearent on your monitor when there is movement (when you play the video). And should be completelly not visible at all on a television.

Bennis is right saying you need more light. These littles camcorders are using tiny ccd chips not really sensitive to the light. Try to capture some outdoor footage to see if you get a better quality.

Hope this help,
Jean-Philippe Archibald -
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Old November 24th, 2005, 10:28 AM   #8
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The horizontal banding and jagged edges are (like the previous two posters said) are from the interlaced video. The graininess of the image after burning it has to do with with the HORRIBLE deinterlacing in Premiere 1.5 and Pinnacle. If you want a better picture after capturing the video, get some deinterlacing software like DVFilmmaker (search for it on this forum), works great, makes my video look great. Also you said you are recording uncompressed. Double check that before another go at it, if you are you should be getting good results as long as you only compress the video to burn it to DVD after editing.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 03:57 AM   #9
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Thanks everybody for your answers. Thank you very much. I hope I can learn and contribute to this forum in the near future.

Bennis, the only thing that is still disturbing about this firewire card deal is the fact that I have tried capturing this same footage in a different system, with a Pinnacle Studio Bundle and this footage came out much better that the one I did in my system. And since I have used the same copy of Pinnacle´s software, ( for testing purposes on my system) the only major difference would be my firewire against the one in Pinnacle´s board. . . . .

Noah, I have looked for DVFilmmaker, but I did not see a trial version to download at their home page. I would like to test it before buying it. I will try to send them an email and ask for one... if they have it. Thank you for your great tip.

As I said, I´m in the very early stages of DV. I don´t want to start shooting in every direction before knowing what I´m doing...

Thank you all for the Light conditions insight. I haven´t realized that before, specially when a vendor states that its camera is capable of shooting at 0 Lux... he he he

THANK YOU ALL AGAIN. I will post my definite results, and I´ll be glad to help you wherever I can.

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Old November 25th, 2005, 06:42 AM   #10
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Rodrigo, I am not saying it cannot be other factors, but the Firewire has no effect what so ever. I would say there is a possibility that his monitor is more "flattering" to video then anything else. Firewire is just data; 1's and 0's. You will either have a picture or not. If you do, then the footage is bit for bit what you recorded on tape.

The Pinnacle board does nothing to the footage to make it look different. I actually have one, as I used to use Pinnacle Studio 9.0 (now Vegas 5) but the footage looks the same as any other Firewire port on my computer.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 07:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Rodrigo Moura
Noah, I have looked for DVFilmmaker, but I did not see a trial version to download at their home page.
Download the Windows version here:

Downlaod the Mac version here:

General info about the program here:

However, this is sort of specialized software for deinterlacing and creating film motion. It might be of interest to you, but based on what you've said it sounds like you may have some other software issues. Sorry, I work on the Mac so I can't help there.

Play around with DVfilm Maker if you like, but I doubt that you will want to use it on all your footage. It's a standalone program, so you first need to capture the footage from your camera in another application. Then you feed those files to DVfilm Maker which outputs them into new files. Depending on the speed of your machine and the size of the files, this can take awhile. In the end you will have doubled the storage space needed for your video, and you'll then have to drop the DVfilm files back into your editing program to use them.

Since you're new to all of this you might want to wait until you've gained more experience before getting into this added level of complexity. Perhaps you should try some other applications for editing/capturing your video. Like I said, I don't use Windows, but I suspect there are demo versions available of some of the mainstream programs like Vegas which might be worth looking into.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 08:57 AM   #12
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Hi Bennis, I totally agree with you. And that what makes me disturbed... I have two different DVDs with same footage, and the only difference was the Pinnacle´s board... But I´ll double check that and make all the tests again. Thanks a lot.

Boyd, Thanks for the links. I will definitely try to find some other good apps. I´ll browse the forum for them. I thought Adobe Premiere was THE ONE...

Thank you all again, Rodrigo
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Old December 16th, 2005, 07:42 AM   #13
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Hi Rodrigo, I have 2 consumer level DV camcorders, and experience the grainy results too when watching my DV footage after authoring a DVD, and watching it on a TV, especially footage that was shot indoors. I have through much research learned how to filter out that problem with the use of denoisers. Doing this is very time consuming, about 11 minutes for every minute of video, but provides a much-improved result. The method I use is to first edit my video on the timeline in Ulead VideoStudio, and then frameserve it to TMPGEnc Plus using the Debugmode frameserver. The file I’m loading into TMPGEnc is not the AVI file Debugmode outputs, but an AVS script that I have made that does the filtering (denoising) using the free program Avisynth. This, as it sounds, is a complex method with a strong learning curve, but after you master it will give you the results you want. Below is the Avisynth script I use for this purpose. A good resource for learning about using Avisynth is the Doom9’s forum. There are also other tools (programs) that have denoiser filters that you might want to try like Virtualdub (also free) that does not require frameserving. By the way DV AVI files are not uncompressed, just less compressed than say MPEG2 files, and remember to leave your video files interlaced if your goal is to view them on a TV (unless your cam can shoot in progressive mode).

LoadPlugin("E:\Program Files\AviSynth 2.5\plugins\ReInterpolate411.dll")
LoadPlugin("E:\Program Files\AviSynth 2.5\plugins\UnDot.dll")
LoadPlugin("E:\Program Files\AviSynth 2.5\plugins\Convolution3D.dll")
LoadPlugin("E:\Program Files\AviSynth 2.5\plugins\LeakKernelDeint.dll")
AVISource("H:\Video Tests 2\Julie project\debugmode.avi")
LeakKernelBob(order=0, threshold=7)
Convolution3D(0, 12, 20, 12, 16, 6, 0)
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Old December 17th, 2005, 06:58 PM   #14
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Sorry, but I am not familar with your camera.

However, if you are obtaining "Grainy" results, the first thing I would check is the lighting.

Record a scene, outdoors in bright sunlight, then go through the process of creating a DVD. If this is better, then you have a lighting problem.

Your camera may be automatically increasing the gain in order to compensate for low light levels. This gain (amplification), at high levels, produces the "Grainy" results you are experiencing.

You may be suprised how much light that you need to properly record good video indoors. The amount you need for low noise video is far more than any normal home lighting.
Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
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