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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old October 2nd, 2007, 06:07 PM   #1
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MiniDV to PC

[Didn't know exactly where to post this, Moderators please move it to the correct section if needed.]

What do you guys use to get your MiniDV tape data to your PC? Currently I use an ATI All-In-Wonder RADEON 7500, and I am nowhere near happy with the quality I get (probably because I am not optimized for capture). I saw someone in a private studio using a MiniDV deck hooked to their computer, but I don't know how those work, so, what do you guys use?
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 10:31 AM   #2
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Which camera?

Most will be a firewire (IEEE 1394) cable into the computer, with a capture app running.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 11:35 AM   #3
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I use any of my MiniDV camcorders. They all have a FireWire connection that can be hooked up to the FireWire interface on the PC with an inexpensive cable. It gives you a perfect bit-for-bit copy of the original.

FireWire interfaces are very cheap ($30) and, if you have a fairly modern PC, they are usually already provided.

There are many applications available to help get the video from the camcorder to the computer including software that comes with Windows (XP or Vista).

In addition to camcorders, I have a DV deck that I use, too. But it is quite expensive compared to most MiniDV camcorders.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 08:00 PM   #4
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Is there any diffrence in quality when capturing from the DV deck? I've done capture from a Sony Handicam through USB and the picture was alright, I guess the program makes more diffrence than the hardware?
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 08:55 PM   #5
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What model is your Sony?

Except for a very few models, the quality of the signal via USB is much lower than th e FireWire connection. Your Handicam should have FireWire as well as the USB you are using. If it does and you use that then it will be identical to the quality from a dedicated deck.

John.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 09:00 PM   #6
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I don't remember, it was a school's camera and I didn't manage to keep it, alas. The package when I borrowed it did not contain the firewire cables either, I am becoming suspicious of the prior A/V guys. Is there any specific software that gets a clearer or better quality capture?
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 09:12 PM   #7
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Firewire transfers the full signal. USB in most programs compresses it.
That's it.

Firewire transfer will always be DV format [or HDV], and any program will get the same signal. Only a really bad one would lower the quality/change the format.
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 09:20 PM   #8
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Thanks, I had sneaking suspicions about firewire. All I need now is the proper encoding format. Any prefrences?
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Old October 3rd, 2007, 09:56 PM   #9
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Save uncompressed (yes, big files-- deal with it-- it's worth it) until the final. Then export to whatever distribution(s) you want, such as avi/mov for the web or mpeg2 for dvd.
There is no encoding involved in the capture process. That is and will be in every program DV, be it avi on a pc or mov on a mac. This is what travels through firewire and what all DV camcorders use. It's 4:1:1 slightly*-compressed PAL or NTSC format data. That's it.

(*slightly compared to compression in general but it's got its fair share of issues with artifacting, etc.)
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