MiniDV to DVD transfer via iMovie and iDVD

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by marklachance, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. marklachance macrumors member

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    #1
    I own a Sony DCR-PC9, which is a digital tape video recorder (MiniDV) circa 2001. (yes I know, time to upgrade) I have about 20 tapes to transfer to DVD. I am using iMovie to import and edit the video and iDVD to burn the DVD. Digital tape is not HD of course and I really do not know what resolution it is. All the tapes were shot in 4:3 (vs. 16:9) so I know I will have some issues with bars on the sides. My real questions are:

    1. How do I make sure that I import the highest quality image I can from the recorder into iMovie? I do not care about the size of the file.

    2. I have no problem actually importing and editing but the DVD I create is very poor quality when played on a new LCD HD TV. Is that just the way it is? A “bad” source (digital video tape) being played on a brand new TV? Is there something I can do either in iMovie (editing) or iDVD (compress, not compress, upconvert, etc.) to make the DVD quality better? I really have no knowledge of what “compress, not compress, upconvert, etc.” mean and I threw those in there as I see those words all the time. It seems as though there is some choice in how the DVD is burned in iDVD. Are there other products that can improve the video quality before it is burned to the DVD?

    I am not interested in making any fancy edits, adding titles, etc. I just want simply to get the digital video tape on a DVD but with good quality. I did plug the video recorder directly into my new TV and as expected, the quality was not good. Am I just doomed because I have a “bad” source (digital video tape) being played on a brand new TV?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    #2
    (mini)DV, short for Digital Video, has a resolution of 720 x 480 when recorded in NTSC, or 720 x 576 in PAL.
    Video DVDs have the same resolution.

    Just check your iMovie Preferences, that you set the right video standard, PAL or NTSC, and the same goes for iMovie.

    The image quality might also be abysmal due to the size of the lens and chip inside the DV camera, and it only comes apparent on a bigger screen (or if you would watch the footage in full screen on your Mac).
     
  3. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Thanks spinnerlys. Yes, it records in NTSC so thanks for the resolution info and I will check the iMovie settings.

    And the lens:
    Carl Zeiss combined power zoom lens
    Filter diameter 30 mm. (1 3/16 in.)
    10´ (Optical), 120´ (Digital)
    Focal length: 3.3 - 33 mm (5/32 - 1 5/16 in.)

    And I am using a firewire connection.
     
  4. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #4
    Also consider that newer TVs are fixed-pixel displays, meaning that if they're fed anything other than native panel resolution (presumably 1920x1080 or 1366x768 in your case), they have to upscale the lower-res video to fit the screen. While some TVs do this scaling better than others, it's never perfect and you will see jaggies and artifacts in the picture. And it only gets worse on bigger screens.
     
  5. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    Thanks Captain. One quick question: where did you come up with 1366x768? Thanks.
     
  6. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    #6
  7. huntercr macrumors 65816

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    #7
    There' already been some good advice in this thread, but I would also add that you should import your video with iMovieHD instead of iMovie 08/09 if you want the highest quality capture on your source footage. 08/09 does not handle DV properly.

    Capture with iMovie HD and do not de-interlace it.

    If you want to use iMovie 08 or 09 for its features after, you capture with iMovie HD you can export the raw footage to the Apple Intermediate codec and import it into 08/09.

    And for iDVD if your video is < 60 minutes, use the "Best performance" project setting. if it's longer than 60 minutes, use the "Professional Quality" setting.

    Also, how are you importing your assets into iDVD? Are you using the media browser?


    Good luck!
     
  8. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    Thank Huntercr, very valuable info, thank you.

    As far as importing the assets I am using "Share / Media Browser". I also see "Share / iDVD". Everything I read tells me to use "Share / Media Browser" but what is the "Share / iDVD" option all about?

    Also, any thoughts on the right version of iMovie HD? 5.0.2, 6.0.2, 6.0.3 or 6.0.2 combo?

    Again, thanks very much for the info.
     
  9. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #9
    I use iMovie 9 to capture all my MiniDV video and I have had no issues with the results. The resulting files seems to be equivalent to the video information on the tapes.

    In fact, I am actually archiving all of my MiniDV tapes onto a 1.5TB external.

    What DV issues are you talking about huntercr? I want to be on the lookout for it. If I am having issues, I surely haven't seen it yet after several hours of imported video.
     
  10. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #10
    Well, I prefer using the older iMovie HD to capture primarily because I want to know where the captured file is (e.g. the iMovie project file I create). Usually because I don't intend to keep it on the hard drive, e.g. I'll move the captured video file to an external hard drive, or convert it to an iDVD project and then, indeed, delete the raw video files. The newer versions of iMovie organize things differently including setting up all your imported files and projects in separate libraries, rather iPhoto-like. It makes sense for videos you plan to capture and keep on your drive, or video clips that came by-the-by from importing your digital camera photos, but it doesn't make a lot of sense for what I want to do.

    As for the OP's question about quality settings, the nice thing about transferring DV over Firewire is that there are no quality settings to worry about. DV is DV. :)
     
  11. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    Thanks notjustjay and mstrze. Do either of you have issues when you play the DVD (created in iDVD) on a large screen TV? I have a brand new 55" LCD and the picture quality is not very good. I know DV is not HD but it doesn't even seem to have the same quality of just hooking up the video camera (with RCA plugs) to my old standard definition TV. Thoughts?
     
  12. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #12
    I don't recall having video issues and I think I have done this at least once with my 42" HDTV.

    I usually transfer the movies to my AppleTV and view them that way though.

    How is your DVD player hooked up to your TV? I have an older model and it's hoooked up through S-Video so my rips into AppleTV looks tons better than the original DVD. I assume you normal DVDs look fine?

    And you are assuming, but DID you hook up your MiniDV cam to THIS TV and see how the quality compares? At 55" you might be surprised/disappointed.
     
  13. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    #13
    And this is the main reason why I love the newer iMovie. I like having everything available for every project...and easy to find.
     
  14. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #14
    I do not use Apple TV. My DVD player is new, nothing fancy at all but it's hooked up via HDMI. My normal DVDs do look fine. And yes, I did hook up my MiniDV to the TV and it looks "ok". The DVD still seems to be of lower quality.

    Maybe it's simply that my new TV is an HD TV and I am playing a DVD or MiniDV that is not HD and I am going to see that lower quality?

    I'll be interested to hear from huntercr about how iMovie 08/09 does not handle DV well.
     
  15. notjustjay macrumors 603

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    #15
    I think it works great for certain applications. When they intro'd it in the keynote, they talked about bringing in a video from your digital camera or camcorder, trimming up the ends a bit, adding a title, and throwing it on YouTube. For that sort of application, it's great, I like it.

    What I was doing before was different: importing clips from say 3 different tapes at a time, capturing 20 minutes of footage and trimming it down to the 10 seconds of "good stuff", bringing in those clips with A- and B-roll, soundtracks, transition effects, and pretty much frame-accurate timing. In that sort of a workflow, which was workable with iMovie HD (though granted I really should have been using FCE) fell down pretty badly with the new iMovie, particularly in trying to clean up the mess afterward, e.g. get rid of the unused footage so it's not taking up disk space.

    Two different approaches, both have their strengths. I still use both.
     
  16. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

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    #16
    I can't really say that I have, no. I've always found iDVD to be pretty faithful to the original quality (sure, there might be a tiny bit of degradation due to the encoding to MPEG2 for the DVD, but I never noticed).

    Have you tried playing with the different compression settings in iDVD? "Better Quality" versus "Better Performance" etc.
     
  17. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    Thanks for the response notjustjay. I have looked at the compression but I guess I need to really focus on that and see if I can get better quality even if it takes a lot longer to burn the DVD. Thanks again, much appreciated!
     
  18. spinnerlys Guest

    spinnerlys

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    #18
    How many minutes of video do you burn on what kind of DVD medium?
    Single Layer (SL) DVD with 4.7GB (4.37GiB) or Double Layer (DL) DVD with 8.5GB (7.92GiB)?
     
  19. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #19

    I use a single layer discs. My minidv tapes are 1 hour long so the "to be burned" DVD is an hour or less.
     
  20. spinnerlys Guest

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    #20
    Ah, now I understand. I thought you may try to burn 2 hours or more onto an SL-DVD, which could explain the visible quality difference.
     
  21. huntercr macrumors 65816

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    #21
    iMovie 08 and 09 only use "single field processing" for DV video ( it throws away the interlacing )
    Google for that especially on the Apple forums... people have gone crazy about it for years, and Apple basically has said DV and Standard Def are on their way out so... "meh"

    I have found I am wrong about it being on capture where the single field thing happens. It is on export that it happens,both when saved to a file or when exported to iDVD. There are lots of people who have posted work around. I haven't found any that are ideal.

    Marklachance, I am told my workflow using iMovie HD 6.0.3 will work if you convert to AIC, but I'm still not convinced. Try sending your project straight from iMovie HD 6.03 to iDVD and see if it's any better quality than through iMovie 08 first.
     
  22. marklachance thread starter macrumors member

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    #22

    Thanks so much for your help with this. I have some work to do to figure this all out. Again, thank you.
     
  23. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #23
    Most LCD TVs marketed as "720p" displays actually use 1366x768 panels. I don't pretend to understand why that is other than to establish a compromise between scaling 720p (1280x720) and 1080i/p (1920x1080) signals for viewing. But it isn't really a significant enough difference to matter; we're talking about a 13% difference in pixel count.
     

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