Can't find a way to make lossless backups of miniDV tapes using my Mac...

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jrmyeh, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. jrmyeh macrumors newbie

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    Nov 13, 2009
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    NC
    #1
    I'm a little frustrated with home video on my MBP, and was hoping for some sage advice from the readers here. I apologize if this has been answered elsewhere, but I've Googled pretty hard, and couldn't find, so I doubt it.

    I have a miniDV format camcorder with ~20 x 1 hour tapes of home movies…important stuff…..birth of 3 children, etc. So far they are not backed up, which I'm trying to remediate before something horrible happens.

    I want to rip each one onto my MBP (17", early 2009, running Snow Leopard), then copy the resulting .dv file back to a blank tape…..repeated x 20 (I'm very patient).

    The hitch is that I want to do this losslessly - a bit for bit identical copy from tape A to tape B.

    My searches of this subject have shown that iMovie '09 is not the way to go, that it drops every other line, or frame (can't remember which), the end result being that many users have found their .dv backups unacceptably flawed.

    So, I thought about trying to use the DV-NTSC format in Windows Movie Maker 2 to do the job (either on another laptop, or from Boot Camp on mine), but I understand that WMM doesn't do a perfect copy, either.

    I've considered Final Cut Express, and other software solutions, but would prefer not to pony up $100-$200 just to make backups of my movies (I'd probably never use the high end video software for anything else - what a waste).

    I've also heard it suggested that if one goes back to iMovie 6 (apparently a free downgrade for iMovie '09 users), that lossless copies are possible, and that exporting back to the camcorder is much easier.

    Another option would be buying a miniDV player and doing a directly connected copy operation, but the price tags I have seen for those range in the many $100's to $1000's range, so that's a no go.

    I know the perfect copy routine sounds picky, but these are all my family memories, and getting a straightforward backup just shouldn't be this hard!

    Does anyone know of software for OS X which can just do a perfect tape --> .dv --> tape, and/or has anyone intentionally downgraded from iMovie '08 or '09 to iMovie 6, and could they tell me what disasters I can expect as a result of the downgrade (i.e., will I be able to erase 6 and get '09 back, or will the competing installations hopelessly confuse OS X) before I tell the installer to go ahead?

    Thanks for any help anyone can provide!!
     
  2. huntercr macrumors 65816

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    Jun 6, 2006
    #2
    I feel your pain. I have a massive stack of DV family memories and wonder what will happen to them some day.

    Don't try to make a copy of DV tape. far too many things can go wrong... first of all being a linear device, if somethign happens to part of the tape, you will be screwed, ( or have to pay alot of money for repair ). It also ties you to your camera incase your heads become misaligned in the future.

    What I do is put the DV files on an external harddrive that I use exclusively for backups ( actually I have 2 ). a 1TB drive can hold 80 DV tapes worth, and only costs around $80-90. ( thats cheaper than DV tape, when you think about it )

    Buy a pair of internal harddrives, and use this device (thermaltake BlacX) to mount them. Once you've copied all the tapes to the drive ( which will take all night on a USB2 port ) you take the original tapes and put them in a safe deposit box. And you take the haddrive and put it somewhere else safe, not connected to the computer. ( personally I would buy 2 drives if I were you )

    There is no such thing as a permanent archive... tape will degenerate, harddrives will fail, DVD-R will have bitrot. But your harddrive is going to last the longest if not used, and will be most resistant to heat of the 3 and can take heavy shock ( fall, jostling ) if the device is powered off. Many ff the shelf drives can take more than 200G's at rest. ( try that with a DVD! )

    I would take the drive out every year or so and run a disk integrity check on it. ( one assumes you'll also be adding more data to it )

    In a couple of years bandwidth may be cheap enough that there will be cheap "cloud" storage in the TB range that you could put this up on.

    The most important thing after that is to actually create something with your tapes, so that your family can enjoy it! ( something I end up having a hard time making the time for!!! )
     
  3. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #3
    AFAIK, iMovie does work in lossless quality for DV footage. Its HD footage that it transcodes and, depending on your settings, will leave out half the resolution.

    I've never heard of any software on any platform transcoding DV footage, it wouldn't make any sense.

    Note the captured video file will be a .mov file and not a .dv file, but it is the exact same stream as is stored on your tape.
     
  4. jrmyeh thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    thank you....

    Huntercr,

    Thanks for your reply!

    I had considered HD, but found a few websites where they said the long term storage durability of HD was less than mag tape. However....going tape to tape seems to be getting unnecessarily difficult, so HD is beginning to look good.

    Either way, I'm still up the creek as far as the perfect .dv rip and export (whether I do it to tape or HD), as iMovie botches it in the export/render process. I've noticed where iMovie keeps the source .dv data, and several websites have suggetsed that these are unadulterated copies of the miniDV tapes, however, it breaks them into a gazillion segments.

    Amazing that with the most expensive, supposedly most user friendly laptop alive, this is so difficult...
     
  5. jrmyeh thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    thanks

    Heb1228,

    Thanks.

    A few websites I found mentioned that it screwed up .dv exports, but I will double check.
     
  6. Heb1228 macrumors 68020

    Heb1228

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    #6
    Make sure you deselect the "stabilize footage" option... that certainly could make the footage act funny.

    Looking through the menu options for iMovie '09 I don't really see an option to export back to tape, so there may not be a way to do it.

    I think you'd be better off storing backups on a hard drive anyway - if you can import them in a way you are happy with the quality. (Keep in mind DV footage will never look very good on a computer screen, but when you watch it on a tv it will be just fine.) You can keep the hard drive off site. It will last longer than tapes would. You wouldn't have to re-capture footage. I think there would be lots of advantages.
     
  7. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    Jul 25, 2003
    #7
    +1

    This seems to me to be the best way. Except that I would keep the original tapes off-site and keep the drive at home. That way you can edit your footage any time you want.
     
  8. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    #8
    You are right about iMovie 08 and 09 botching the DV video export. It deinterlaces the video, and you lose half the resolution.

    Like you mention, you could try to find an old copy of iMovie HD and use that for exporting ( ebay seems to have a few right now )

    or... you could export the files in the Apple Intermediate Codec. ( AIC ), which is what iMovie uses internally. It's a very high quality codec as well.

    It won't be bit for bit of course, but it kind of has the net effect of being the same since you'll be using iMovie to edit them.

    Personally, I would prefer finding a copy of iMovie HD since that will give you the bit-for-bit identical video you were wanting.
    Surely you can find some poor soul who will sell you iLife 06

    Good luck!!!
     
  9. jrmyeh thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Arrrghhh

    Thanks all for your advice.

    I'm nervous about putting IM 6 on my box and confusing the machine with the IM 9 --> IM 6 --> IM 9 process, winding up creating more problems than I'm solving. (I'm a former WinXP person, which probably explains why I'm convinced that installing different versions of the same program in a leapfrog fashion is doomed to cause meltdown.)

    I can't take it any more - in this instance Apple and my Mac blow. I'm going to go to WMM2 in Bootcamp and take my chances there with the DV-NTSC (or is it DV-AVI) export option.
     
  10. jrmyeh thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    Ok....

    I found a user on the Apple Discussions forum (http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2232788) who has actually got IM6 and iLife '09 both cohabitating under Snow Leopard, without incident it seems.

    Now I'm off to see if I can downgrade to an earlier version of my iLife software for less than $80. (I love the irony....the Mac commercials used to ride Windows for its users purposely downgrading from Vista back to XP. While the scope of this problem is somewhat less than a whole OS issue, I find the parallel fascinating...)
     
  11. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #11
    Harddrives aren't designed for prolonged periods of inactivity though (you'll want to spin the drives up every month or two). Having a copy on DV tape (your master) and a copy on HDD should be good though. As long as you store the tape properly, and it was a good brand, it'll last for a long time.

    With the nature of technology though (especially consumer tech that's not designed to stand the test of time) you'll want to migrate your data every to a new storage medium every five years. W/the way things are headed now I'd assume in five years either flash or SSD's will be what that next medium will be.


    Lethal
     
  12. dhd macrumors member

    dhd

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    #12
    It is more than possible to have both version of IMovie on your system, it won't get "confused", even when IMovie '08 was released apple gave IMovie 6 as a free download due to the customers outcry.
     
  13. huntercr macrumors 65816

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    #13
    dhd is right. You don't need to reinstall all of iLife, just install iMovieHD again. They will coexist just fine. ( I'm doing that right now, albeit under Leopard )

    If you're nervous about how to install only iMovieHD 6 instead of the whole iLife suite ), buy iLife and don't install it. Now that you have a legitimate license, download iMovie HD 6 from one of the many places it exists on the internet.

    ( understand, I am not advocating pirating the software )
     
  14. rjphoto macrumors 6502a

    rjphoto

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    #14
    OP, I have both iMovie 6 & 8 on the same machine and switch back and forth depending on what I'm working on and how it will be exported.

    They are actually 2 separate programs.

    I keep seeing the threads about the issues with iMovie 9 not doing some of the things ver.6 did and have not upgraded yet.

    As one of the other poster stated above about machine failure, even if you store all of your old tapes in a safe, cool, dry place, the camcorder will not last forever. Batteries and heads wear out. I started out with a Hi8mm. When it died I bought a Digital8 so that I could edit all of the old tapes. When it died I bought a MiniDV. Now it is dead... I'm now shopping for a Flash Drive camera (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/597422-REG/Canon_3424B001_FS200_Flash_Memory_Camcorder.html).

    How long will it last???

    It's tough keeping up with technology.

    Good Luck.
     
  15. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #15
    I have the same situation.

    I use a program called FootTrack to copy the data from miniDV tape to Hard Drive. Its then a .dv or .mov file. IT catalogs the movies for easy searching.
    There are other programs that do this too.

    MiniDV tapes may last a long time, but if you don't have a camera or deck to play it back ... then tape doesn't look so good.

    I like the hard drive route and move it to new hard drives and offsite.

    I've recently had to use an outside vendor to convert Hi8 tapes to dv (.avi) because my camera lost tracking.

    I've also been looking at converting to h.264 format to safe space. But haven't found any good enough settings.
    Basically hard drives are cheap. Especially considering family footage is priceless.
     
  16. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #16
    I have both imovie 6 and 9 on my macbook. They co-exist perfectly happily.

    iMovie 9 sits in my Applications folder, and installing iMovie 6 created a folder in Applications labelled "iMovie (previous version)" which contains the iMovie 6 application.

    I can have both open at the same time, and I can drag and drop clips between the two no problem.

    If you already own iMovie 9, then you have a valid licence to own a previous version. Apple themselves offered a full version of iMovie 6 for free download a while back to iMovie 9 owners.

    To be honest, I still use iMovie 6 for much of my work - I'd rather put my time into learning FCE than learning iMovie 9.

    Import from your camera into iMovie 6, then select export / quicktime / full quality. (or pick Expert Settings if you want to fiddle with settings). Practice with a 2 minute clip, save it in several different versions and see which you prefer.

    As for archiving, some people here have said save it on a HD. I disagree.

    Save it on several different HDs. If it's priceless and irreplaceable footage, treat it as such. As a minimum, you want 3 separate backups, stored in two different places.

    Your tapes count as one copy, and I would save it on 2 or 3 different HDs, plus make 2 sets of DVDs of the most valuable stuff. Keep one HD plus a set of DVDs at a stable location away from your house - e.g your parent's place.

    Don't use naked HDs as one guy said above. Buy HDs in a proper enclosure, USB is fine, and as Lethal said, be prepared to migrate to new data storage mediums every few years. Stuff that can read DV tapes is on the way out already, and under your original plan, of recording onto more tapes, you could be left in 10 years time with a bunch of tapes and no way to read them.

    Storage gets cheaper over time. But always keep 3 valid copies, stored in two places.
     
  17. LizB from MT macrumors newbie

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    Nov 16, 2009
    #17
    Have you got the answer you want?...what about this thread I posted a few minutes ago

    Has anyone backed up their video8 tapes onto DVD or iMovie using Roxio or Elgato?
    I am starting on my New Year's Resolution of 2008, trying to save my precious home videos made on Video 8, Video Hi8, some mini-dvd, and even a few VHS tapes. I have been reading about Roxio Easy VHS to DVD (macworld.com/5287) and Elgato Video Capture )macworld.com/5288) and can't find any non-commercial reviews of either. Which one gives the best DVD of these old cassettes?
    Then I read the thread started by jrmyeh "Can't find a way to make lossless backups of miniDV tapes using my Mac..." I read through it and got more discouraged. No one makes any mention of these two analog to digital to USB hardware/software.

    So, Can anyone give me advice on how to make the best quality copies of "baby first steps" types of old home video X 5?
    Thank you,
    Liz from Montana
     
  18. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

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    #18
    Hi Liz.

    I'm doing this for Hi8 tapes and my miniDV.
    Basically all going to hard drive in DV format.

    My Hi8 camcorder has tracking that doesn't match all the tapes, so I'm having them professionally converted into dv format. In an AVI wrapper.
     
  19. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #19
    1. There are strong questions over how long DVDs last, especially home-made / short run ones, which have lifespans far shorter than commercially pressed large-run DVDs. Save a copy on two or more HDs as well as DVDs.

    2 DVD is a lossy compressed format. If you need to extract the video from the DVD to save in a different format in the future, you will end up with something that looks worse than the DVD. Save a full quality DV format copy on two or more HDs, then when you need to make new copies 5 or 10 years in the future, or convert to different formats you'll be able to just easily drag and drop for an identical quality copy.

    3. I've never used it but have heard many good things about the Canopus ADVC 110 video convertor. It's expensive, over £100, but still in high demand on eBay, which shows people still like it. Buy it on eBay, and sell it when you're done. Or, if you only have a few tapes, get them converted professionally and given to you in a file in DV format as well as on DVD.
     
  20. WhoPhD macrumors member

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    Feb 4, 2004
    #20
    BTV Pro will import the DV tapes to a ".dv" file that is a direct identical copy of the DV data on the tape. (Then keep it on your hard disk).

    This sounds by far to be the answer that the OP was looking for.

    CK.

    PS, QuickTime Player will happily play the ".dv" files ... and therefore every other QT app will handle it too.
     
  21. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    Canada, eh?
    #21
    I've been watching this thread with interest as I am finding myself with a pile of DV tapes and not enough time (or interest, frankly) to edit them all. Therefore most of it is "archive footage" but I don't want to lose it. As I have recently discovered while participating in some of the "MacBooks don't have Firewire" threads, DV cameras really do seem to be on their way out (only a handful of models -- if any -- are being sold at stores like Best Buy).

    I think recording to hard drives is the best way to go, given how cheap they've become. One hour of DV (e.g. one videotape) takes about 13 gigs of space. So a 1 TB hard drive, which you could easily buy for under $100, can store the equivalent of about 77 DV tapes.
     
  22. jrmyeh thread starter macrumors newbie

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    NC
    #22
    reply to Liz

    Liz,

    Here are my thoughts, accumulated during my search to get my DV and VHS tapes backed up.

    - Realizing that magnetic tape is a more durable storage medium (there are lots of refs to that fact across the net), I nonetheless agree with the "save it to HD" crowd. HD is cheap - one can afford to have 2 external HD's with duplicate backups if you're really paranoid. HD is much easier to work with - in the future, pulling the DV video off of HD for editing is much more fun than having to re-stream it all from your tapes (which occurs in real time, so pack a lunch). As for me, I'm going to have 3 copies of all my home movies: one set on miniDV tape, one set on external HD A, and another set on external HD B (I was getting another external HD anyway, and keeping a 3rd set is no burden to me). So, if one of my HD's fries, I'm still set. The odds of 2 HD's frying at the same time must be pretty astronomical.

    - I using my miniDV camcorder to stream my VHS tapes through. It's a Sony DCR-PC120, and it has a composite video input. So....hook VCR to camcorder....camcorder to MBP via Firewire, and voila....laptop recognizes the VCR output as a DV stream, and I "rip" it and treat it as I would any of my home movies on actual miniDV tape.

    - As for my personal search to find ways to just get the purest, most unadulterated copies of my tapes possible, I've found 2. Someone else (can't remember if it was this forum or the Apple user forum) suggested FootTrack (for OS X), which I've tried, and it seems like a very user friendly and straight forward program. It ran $40-$50. The other option (and the one I'm going with) is something called WinDV, which I run on XP, under Bootcamp. It's incredibly simple, free, has a lot of good press on the net, and it breaks up your DV import into segments, and can actually make each dv-avi filename the date the segment was shot, which I find useful. Both these programs simply import the DV and write it to disk....there's no funky editing or processing going on, as there is with iMovie '09.

    Hope some of this is useful to you...

    J
     
  23. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #23
    I haven't checked out WinDV, but that sounds like the program I used to use when I edited on a PC, which was ScenalyzerLive. Very lightweight, easy to use, and useful utility. That was back in 2003 though, I don't know if there have been updates or improvements.
     
  24. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

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    #24
    Thanks for your contribution, most of which I agree with, except for the bit above.

    I strongly disagree that keeping a copy on 2 HDs is only for the 'really paranoid'. HDs fail. Fact. If the sole copy of something you personally created, something that is unique in the world, is on a single HD, then you are an insane fool. I work in IT, and HD failure is a daily fact of life.

    It's no big deal - restore from a backup and get on with life. But it would be a big deal if our only copy of people's work was on that single HD that failed.

    The reason why I like to use 3 HDs is that with 2 HDs, when one fails, you are down to a single one, and it takes time to sort out getting a new second HD.

    It may take you several weeks or months to notice that one HD has failed if you don't use them regularly, then there's the time to research a new one, get the money to buy it, get it delivered, hook it up, and transfer the material over. That's quite a long timespan in which you're vulnerable to failure of your last HD.

    All my personal stuff, home-made films, scripts, etc is stored on 3 different HDs. Stuff I'd like to keep but don't personally care all that much about is stored on only 2 HDs e.g. backup of my current work project etc. If you're happy with 2 HDs, then fine.

    But please don't let the only copy of your precious work sit on a single HD. The second copy doesn't need to be on another HD - Flash drives are getting big and cheap nowadays.

    And I guarantee that once you've gone through the pain of transferring 30 or more hours of tape to HD, you'll never want to do it again.
     
  25. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 26, 2008
    #25
    I was in the same boat as well. I have been taping in high definition with my Sony camcorder since 2006. I ran into the same issue with backing up the tapes in a lossless format. Here is what I did.

    I dowloaded SDK22 which contains a program call DVHSCAP. What it does is capture HDV video directly from the tape and stores it as a mpeg transport stream (.m2t). These streams are lossless and look exactly like the original. I store all of my video on a Western Digital Mybook and keep it in a safe deposit box. I also have transferred the files to my PS3 which plays them back beautifully in full high definition.

    When I need them for editing on my Mac, I simply use MPEG Streamclip to covert them to whatever format I need.

    Toast 10 will also read m2t files. When I want to throw something on a DVD or Blu-Ray, I drag and drop the files into Toast and the program does the rest.

    So, put simply, you don't need to backup the tapes. Just use DVHSCAP and place the m2t files on a hard drive and store it some place safe. A second local backup would help if you need quick access to the files.

    DVHSCAP works fine with Snow Leopard.

    Hope this helps.
     

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