Help with Sony DVD camcorder?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by blinddog, Dec 27, 2004.

  1. blinddog macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi, I got a nifty little Sony DVD handycam for Christmas, it is the DCR-DVD 101 model, that records to a small DVD. I love it, but I can't seem to find a way to import my raw film onto my G4 laptop for editing. It has a USB 2 connection, and I can play the movies on the laptop in DVD player. I understand that iMovie requires firewire input. I thought of a USB-firewire hub, but I wonder if iMovie will recognize the data.

    I just don't know how to import the data so I can edit? Any suggestions or workarounds would be appreciated.


    Cheers & Happy Holidays,

    Blinddog
     
  2. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #2
    Probably not the answer you want to hear, but I would suggest you return the camcorder and purchase a miniDV camcorder instead.

    Sony does not fully support Macs with the DVD camcorders. You'll be hardpressed to import the DVD footage on a Mac by any means other than through your Mac's DVD drive. Then, you'll have to convert the MPEG2 files to DV files. This will require you to rip the DVD (using something like Mac the Ripper), demux the MPEG2 file, convert the audio to AIFF, combine the file, then convert to DV.

    Pretty torturous.

    Until Sony decides to include Mac software on their DVD camcorders, I would stay away from them. Luckily for you, the DVD camcorders are pretty expensive and if you returned it, you'd have a pretty big credit.
     
  3. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a

    jackieonasses

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    #3
    I agree with the above poster, you are kind of sold out of luck, unless you can somehow get those small cds to import, perhaps a cheap external cd burner. I still doubt it. Take it back and get a Sony mini-Dv you will be pleased with its build quality.

    kyle
     
  4. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #4
    Oh yeah, jackieo's post reminded me. Since you have a G4 laptop, you probably have a slot-loading drive. DO NOT put the mini DVDs into the slot loading drive. It's a surefire way of messing up your Mac.

    Buy an external DVD drive and get the footage that way.
     
  5. blinddog thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Could you tell me the difference between a mini DVD (which I have) and a mini DV recorder? I am a little confused here.

    Thanks for the input guys, its appreciated.

    Scott
     
  6. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #6
    miniDVD burns the disc to an optical mini DVD disc in MPEG2 format. It's generally non reusable media. miniDV writes the video to a magnetic tape as a digital media file. You can dump the 'data' from a miniDV tape to just about any computer with a firewire or usb2 port and some standard software, whereas the miniDVD requires some special proprietary software not available for the Mac.

    The main differences, I s'pose, are DVD optical disc vs magnetic tape, reusable media vs. non-, and Mac compatible vs non-.
     
  7. blinddog thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    I guess I'll be taking it back. Anyone have a recommendation for a good replacement model that is Mac friendly? The one I got is a DCR_DVD 101, and sells for about $ 800. It came from Circuit city, so I will pay a restocking fee, but any advice on a like quality one would be helpful.

    Thanks again for saving me a lot of screwing around. Seems odd to me that I can plug in into my laptop and see the DVD, but can't capture the data.

    Thanks again all.
     
  8. JeDiBoYTJ macrumors 6502a

    JeDiBoYTJ

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    #8
    if you want, you can use this program: DVDxDV, which converts DVD's into Quicktime DV files, which can then be imported to iMovie. :) $25 Shareware, free trial.
     
  9. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #9
    That looks like a pretty cool application. It would certainly cut out many of the steps that I outlined above.

    Personally, I'd still return the camcorder since you'd be losing quality in the conversion from MPEG2 to DV.

    Are you saying that when you plug in the camcorder into the USB port, that it comes up as a DVD drive? That's pretty cool. Before you return it (if that is still your intention), you should see if it will act as a DVD burner. Do you have Toast?
     
  10. blinddog thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    Yep, ftaok, it comes up on the desktop like a regular DVD player, and begins to play the movie in DVD Player. That is why it seemed strange to me that there wasn't a way to capture the data. I like the idea, since it really is a small DVD deck/camera, that I could burn with it too. I will hang on to it a few more days and try it.

    I have since tried the DVDxDV software that JeDiBoYTJ suggested, and it did a fine job, so I am at least happy that I can import the data. Might just keep the camera, it is very nice and this shareware lets me import the data, so not too many steps to iMovie.

    Thanks for all the replys and suggestions, all!

    Scott
     
  11. jackieonasses macrumors 6502a

    jackieonasses

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    #11
    That was what i was thinking you could do the whole time. I couldn't however, considering i have a slot loading drive everywhere.... But quick question - How long does it take to rip it to the hard drive in dv. format?

    kyle
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #12

    Glad you found a work around, but, IMO you should still take the camera back and get a MiniDV camera. Not only will a MiniDV "play" w/yer Mac
    w/o the need for a work around, but you are also taking a significant quality hit going to the mini-DVD. MiniDV is a much higher quality format than DVD quality MPEG-2.


    Lethal
     
  13. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #13
    Most consumer cameras don't have powerful enough imaging sensors to really push the limits of mpeg2 in an obvious manner — it would only become an issue with 3CCD, or very good single CCD cameras over about $1000.
     
  14. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

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    #14
    You're probably right about that, but you'll end up taking a hit with the conversion from MPEG2 to DV. I did a test with my Caddyshack DVD using DVDxDV. While the program worked in converting MPEG2 to DV, the quality was definately lacking. There was quite a significant amount of noise and audio dropout. For the record, I am on a 500 mhz G3 iBook.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    I have to disagree. DVD quality MPEG2 is about 1/3 to 1/4 the data rate of MiniDV and it shows. Take a low-end mini-DVD camera and a low-end MiniDV camera w/similar<sp?> specs and the MiniDV footage will look much better (at least to my eye). And if you take the footage, manipulate it in iMovie (or whatever) and burn it onto a DVD the difference will be even greater. The mini-DVD footage is much lower res and the lower resolution the footage the worse it looks when you add effects. Plus, when you burn your movie to DVD you are putting the mini-DVD footage through another round of DVD compression.

    So, in short:
    mini-DVD->DV->iMovie(editing & fx)->iDVD(MPEG2 compression for DVD)->DVD
    looks much worse than
    MiniDV->iMovie (editing & fx)->iDVD(MPEG compressiong for DVD)->DVD.

    DVD quality MPEG-2 is fine for finished products but it is horrible as a starting point (better than VHS but that's not saying much).

    As a favor to a client at the last place I worked at we tossed together a b-day video and the footage came from middle of the road consumer cameras. One MiniDV and one mini-DVD. There was a pretty obvious difference it quality between the MiniDV and mini-DVD


    Lethal
     
  16. jtown macrumors 6502

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    #16
    But you have very little control over the quality of the encoding when you record direct to MPEG-2. In a camera, the encoder is optimized for high speed (real-time, obviously) and low power consumption. Given identical optics and sensors, you'll be able to get a better final product from the DV camera because you can tailor the encoding process to provide the best quality output based on the source material and space available on the output media.

    OTOH, that takes longer and requires that the user understand what they're doing. :)
     
  17. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #17
    A fundamental problem with mini-DVD is that MPEG-2 is an output format whereas miniDV is an input format. Mini-DVD is intended to record your daughter's dance recital or your son's graduation, which is then replayed unedited. It is not intended to be a starting point for editing videos. On the other hand, miniDV can replace film in professional applications.
     
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #18
    Isn't that what I said? I'm sure people are saying "MPEG-2" when they mean specifically DVD quality MPEG-2, but just so everyone is clear MPEG-2, as a codec, can go way, way above what it's limited to in terms of DVD.

    MiniDV is in no way, shape or form a replacement for film. HD in some applications might be a viable alternative, but that's about as close as it gets right now.


    Lethal
     
  19. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #19
    Yes, that is what you said. I was agreeing with you and supporting your point. As for your point about MPEG-2, you are correct about that, as well. MPEG-2 is part of the HDTV standard. Lest there be any confusion, HDTV has resolutions of 720p and 1080i, both of which have significatly higher resolutions than the 480p of DVD.
    Here, you are incorrect. MiniDV is most certainly used as a replacement for film. Digital video has been used to film movies since The Blair Witch Project. Spike Lee shot his film Bamboozled on digital video. Both were done using consumer-level equipment that is less advanced than miniDV. If you want to see where miniDV is, watch closely the new movie Ocean's 12.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #20

    Anyone can choose to shoot on whatever format they want, and a few known filmmakers have experimented w/it, but that's about it in terms of theatrical films w/a budget. How many of Spike Lee's movies are on MiniDV? And I'm not sure what you mean by "Both were done using consumer-level equipment that is less advanced than miniDV." "Bamboozled" was shot on a Sony VX-1000 and a Sony TRV-900 (at the time two of the best prosumer MiniDV cameras around).
    Most of the "Blair Witch Project" was 16mm film. "Full Frontal" was MiniDV and it looked like crap (of course it was meant to look like crap). "28 Days Later" is probably the most successful, and best looking, MiniDV movie to hit theaters (although it still pales in comparison to 35mm), but it was an absolute PITA to shoot and they had to spend a lot of time and money in post to keep the image quality at an acceptible level. The only reason they shot on MiniDV was because they couldn't afford to shoot on film (some of their set-ups called for 6 cameras).
    "Open Water" was MiniDV and, from what I heard, didn't look too stellar on the big screen.

    Which part of Ocean's 12 do you think was shot on MiniDV?

    Saying MiniDV is a replacement for film is like saying iMovie is a replacement for FCP. Sure they both edit DV but they are in no way, shape, or form anywhere close to being equals. MiniDV is the no-budget alternative to film.


    Lethal
     
  21. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #21
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    IMO, it means equipment that sits between consumer and professional. It's a market that has exploded thanks to MiniDV and it's towards that market that cameras like the VX-1000 and DVX-100 were/are aimed. I'd bet money that the number of people who buy prosumer gear and use it for a living greatly out number the number of people who buy prosumer gear to shoot their kid's b-day.

    Obviously some cameras today are better than those used for "Bamboozaled." I assume that is what you ment in your original post.

    I think MiniDV has had the biggest impact, in terms of replacing what was traditionally shot on film, in the documentary world. I agree it has also had a huge impact in the event, industrial, and corporate/government fields although there it has most likely replaced analog video (BetaSP probably) instead of film.

    I agree that filmmakers base their equipment choices on a number of things, but according to the DP of "28 Days Later" they went w/MiniDV because, basically, they didn't have the funds for 35mm. If someone could have come up with the cash for 35mm it would have been shot in 35mm. It was shoot on DV or loose some scenes. They chose to shoot on DV. I think that was the right choice. The wide shots of an emptly London were chilling and effective.

    The filmmakers created a story that was w/in their means to shoot. It's basic pre-production (what can/can't I do w/the equipment availble to me). If they had the funds for better production gear they would have used better production gear.

    Agreed, unless, of course, there is a special need for more cameras (i.e. stunts, SFX shots, etc.).

    If you were using six cameras throughout I would agree. But for only 2 or 3 setups it wouldn't be a big hiccup for a typical production (I think the average production/post budget for a studio flick is either something like 70-80mil). "28 Days Later" was shot for 8mil, IIRC.

    That'll be a while. I liked "Ocean's 11", but I've seen enough of "12" over the past 6 or so months to keep me from paying $9 to see it in a theater. If I remember I'll revist this thread after I borrow it from a friend when it comes out on DVD. ;)


    Usually when people talk about replacing X with Y, it is assumed that Y is a good replacement for X if not better, and at the very least "good enough." Also, sense film is a visual medium doesn't visual quality of the media used factor into the equation of what is a good replacement? I mean, you could replace film w/VHS but that wouldn't be a good idea. ;)


    Generally speaking of course there is a connection between the budget and the quality of the image. 99.999% of the time people will choose the highest quality format they can afford. If they can afford 35mm they'll shoot 35mm. If they can only afford HD they'll shoot HD. So on and so forth. Comparing "Sky Captain" w/ "28 Days Later" is apples to organes considering, sans the lead actors, "Sky Captain" is completely animated not to mention heavily stylized.

    And, in terms of theatrical movies (which is the center of the discussion), obviously MiniDV does not "achieve that result" otherwise we'd see MiniDV movies being funded by the major studio's sense, by and large, they care about the bottom line above all else.

    I'm not trying to dog the format. Like everything else it has pro's and con's, but being a good 35mm film substitute isn't one of it's pro's. Like I said before, if you are shooting something that won't be projected on the big screen that makes MiniDV a more viable option, but if you are making something that is intended to be projected MiniDV is the low man on the totem pole. From my understanding of it shooting on Super 16mm will not cost much more in the end, you'll have the asthetic<sp?> bennifets of film, and the blow-up to 35mm will look better. Of course this is all generally speaking.


    Lethal
     

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