Good reccomendation on USB video capture.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by godslabrat, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    Hi all.

    I've got the new baseline Mac Mini, which I'm loving, and I thought it might be a good time to start converting my old VHS tapes to DVD. Granted, I know that the mini isn't the powerhouse that the iMac or Mac Pro is, but I'm thinking it should get the job done. I'm not doing much more than trimming a few spare seconds and rendering time doesn't matter much to me (so long as the output looks good).

    What's the best suggestion for a USB video capture device? I know someone who just got the eyeTV hybrid, and he's had very good luck with it. I've been reading up and it seems to get mixed reviews-- some people love it, some seem to curse it. I have a hard time trusting reviews because they're often written by people who never gave the product a fair chance... so I thought I'd ask here. :)

    The biggest complaint I mght have would be if it uses proprietary formats, and if those formats make it difficult for me to create my own DVDs. I don't even really need the TV tuner feature, but since it's already there, it seems a nice package for $100 and change

    OTOH, I've been looking on Apple's store, and they have USB video capture boxes for $300 and up. Are these really that much better? I don't really want to spend that much, but if the end result will be worth it, I'll find a way to make it happen.
  2. Platonist macrumors member


    Nov 3, 2006
    I use the Canopus ADVC 110 and I have had wonderful results so far (used it on two projects so far). I got mine from Newegg for around $240 shipped. It uses firewire, not USB, though. From what I understand Firewire is a better choice than USB for work such as this. I capture and edit the footage with Final Cut Express, and the whole setup is working nicely. I have a Mac Pro and the current 2 gigs of RAM are sufficient, but not ideal. I will most likely double the RAM and get a 750 GB HDD in the near future -- that should make for a nice little setup.
  3. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I think the EyeTV devices will work fine for your uses. However, you might want to consider the 250+ because it uses hardware encoding. That will free up some of the mini's power. Just make sure it encodes in MPEG-2. That way, you can go right from encoding to DVD without an additional step.

    Also, you might want to look at getting Toast to help create the DVDs.

    Finally, if you want to do fancy editing, the Canopus that Platonist mentioned is a good way to go. But a miniDV camcorder will work nicely as well. In fact, you might already have one. Make sure the camcorder does A/D pass-through. For best quality, look for one with s-video inputs (which seems not to be included in the newer models - the old Canon ZR45MC has s-video input).

  4. sandman42 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 23, 2003
    The EyeTV 250 does record in MPEG2, but unless something's changed you cannot go directly from it to DVD without using Toast or something like it, and when you do it that way you can't put in nice menus and chapter markers, etc, like you can in iMovie and iDVD.

    I make DVDs from video I capture with my 250 all the time, and I like to take advantage of what iMovie and iDVD have to offer. Unfortunately, iMovie will only accept MPEG4 or DV (and not MPEG2), so some additional steps are involved. You can 'export to iMovie' from EyeTV2 (the software that runs the 250), but I never got good results with that. I export as an MPEG2 file (with no transcoding), then transcode it to DV using MPEG Streamclip (which is free, check versiontracker). Then I import the DV file to iMovie.

    This works well because you can now use iMovie to edit the video, put in transitions and chapter markers, etc, then import that file to iDVD with an appropriate theme and create menus, etc. I've managed to make some pretty nice looking DVDs this way. I recently converted a buddy's VHS tape of old home movies into a DVD that he and his family were really happy with.

    The process is a little involved, and some of the import/export/transcode steps take a while to run, but I don't think anyone should expect to produce something that looks nice without putting a little work into it. I'm doing it on a 1.42GHz G4 Mini, so the process should go considerably faster on the OP's machine.
  5. godslabrat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2007
    Yeah, I should have mentioned that I have no objection to using firewire. I'll definately look into that Canopus. For an extra C-note, it looks more appropriate for the job.

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