Transfering VHS to DVD with iMovie?

KARROT

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
12
0
Little Rhode Island
Need some advice on transfering my home VHS videos to DVD. I understand I have to convert the signal from analog to digital, but what is the best way to do that? I am using an iMac with iMovie. After some research it seems like I have 3 options. Please add any info you can. I am not sure if these are corrrect and what will produce the best quality video in the end.
1. Analog to digital converter like a Canopus ADVC-110 - 239.00
Connect VCR or old camcorder to converter - then converter to Mac using a firwire - download into iMovie

2. VHS to DVD dual deck recorder
Use a dual format to recorder to record the VHS directly to DVD> Then download DVD into iMovie

3. Use a camcorder as a "passthrough"
[Use a camcorder equipped with an "analog in" feature as the converter. These are not easy to find at a reassonable cost either. I found a Hitachi DZGX20MA for 349.00. (After that the prices were considerably higher. Canon HV20 for 1000.00 and the Sony DCR-HC96 for 650.00 Connect VCR to new camcorder through analaog input - then to computer or to a disk then the computer through a firewire./I]

My questions: Which will produce the best quality video in DVD and are these steps correct. THANKS
 

ppc_michael

Guest
Apr 26, 2005
1,498
2
Los Angeles, CA
It is really nice to see someone who has done research. :)

The three options you listed are absolutely correct.

If you're going for quality, the ADVC might be the best option, because since those things are built specifically for what you want to do, they sometimes include filters to "enhance" your analog signal.

Of course, your video will not look good no matter what since it's coming from VHS, but I think ADVC would make it look as good as it could.
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,021
96
Canada's South Coast
No Wrong Answer...

I have transferred VHS to iMovie many times using the A->D converter built into my Canon Optura-20 camcorder. Works very well, no complaints at all. Any of these three options would be a good choice; I can't see any of them being better or worse than the others. After all when VHS is your "master" source material you're pretty much ghetto to start with. If you were starting with Betacam SP converter quality might become more of an issue.

Actually I like the idea of the VHS -> DVD deck. That way you can keep (or give to the client) a DVD copy of the original on VHS. Either as a nice freebie or charge him a few more $$$ for the service; he'd gladly pay it. Although doing it this way does add another step to the process, consequently taking a little more time than going directly into iMovie.
 

KARROT

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
12
0
Little Rhode Island
Would the type of DVD used matter if I chose the VHS to Dvd through a recording deck method? Also, will iMovie read and import the video data? Thanks
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,021
96
Canada's South Coast
Would the type of DVD used matter if I chose the VHS to Dvd through a recording deck method? Also, will iMovie read and import the video data? Thanks
Unless iMovie 8 offers some new features, you'll have to convert the DVD's VIDEO_TS into a Quicktime-readable file. So I guess that's one more step. Handbrake would do a nice job of it. It is also possible that some VHS->DVD decks may automatically convert into a .mov or .avi, not sure about that though. Regardless, you should experience virtually no degradation in quality.
 

julianps

macrumors member
Aug 6, 2006
75
2
Wales, UK
Why?

For me iMovie 4,5 & 6 is a pain largely because of the DV format, the demands the software places on the system and all of the voodoo needed (ie Tiger Cache Cleaner and the likes) needed to get a result.

Do you really need to use iMovie? There's other tools and you might start by taking a look at Quicktime Pro, anything from Telestream or Foottrack and maybe reconsidering your work-flow.

The only time I've had success with a VHS to iMovie project I used a PackardBell DVR80 (basically a DVD recorder with 80gbHDD built-in). I used the PVR to convert/capture to DV on the PVR's HDD and did a review, cut, slice and primary edit there before burning the results to a one-shot DVD/R.

There are more steps in this process but each proved reliable and the results guaranteed. Trying to port AV through a converter directly to iMovie has never worked for me.

One observation. I was reading a piece on encoding for AppleTV and came up with a tidbit about higher resolutions (HD/1080) not being available if the frame-rate is over 25fps. As NTSC uses a higher frame-rate (29.97fps?) that would suggest you might want to create a iMovie project in PAL (24fps?).
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,021
96
Canada's South Coast
Let's not make this unnecessarily complicated. Ripping VHS to iMovie is very simple. I've done it with hours and hours of VHS tape, thru a cheap camcorder's built-in A->D converter. Plug & play. Ended up with a 20GB iMovie file, which my 4-year-old iBook G4 quite happily worked with. So don't try to overanalyze things -- get a VHS player, a camcorder, and a couple of patchcords and you're done.
 

KARROT

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
12
0
Little Rhode Island
Simple sounds better to me. I am becoming a little overwhelmed. SO I would connect the VCR (or old analog camcorder) to a digital camcorder with an analog in feature - and then connect via a firewire from digital camcorder to Mac. The Mac should recognize the video - then I import into imovie. One other question - the only camcorder I found was a Hitachi DZGX20MA. It is a DVD, not a DV tape. Will that be O.K.? Thanks so much for all the help.
 

gauchogolfer

macrumors 603
Jan 28, 2005
5,556
5
American Riviera
One other question - the only camcorder I found was a Hitachi DZGX20MA. It is a DVD, not a DV tape. Will that be O.K.? Thanks so much for all the help.
All you are looking for is a camcorder with 'analog passthrough'. I'd imagine that DV cams would tend to have this as an option more often than DVD camcorders. I've got a Canon Optura 60 that I got several years ago with this feature, you might want to check out eBay for similar cameras, which wouldn't be too expensive.
 

prs986

macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2007
105
1
Central CA, USA
You might also want to try the Canon ZR series camcorders. Check them out here at B&H Video. They're cameras alone are all under $300. The ones about $300 are kits. They don't say if they have an analog input, but I know they do because I have one. lol.
 

pavelbure

macrumors 6502a
Feb 22, 2007
737
404
i use my canon as a passthrough. it works out nice. the only complaint i have is that i movie will sometimes stop importing if there is a big lapse in video input.
 

KARROT

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 28, 2007
12
0
Little Rhode Island
What Canon model #are you using? My understanding is that Canon is now only making the hv20 with the analog input. That camcorder is a bit pricey.
 

ftaok

macrumors 603
Jan 23, 2002
6,146
1,165
East Coast
What Canon model #are you using? My understanding is that Canon is now only making the hv20 with the analog input. That camcorder is a bit pricey.
The HV20 is a HiDef camcorder, so it really is overkill to use just as a A/D converter.

Look at the Canon ZR series or if you can find it, the Canon Elura 100. The mid/upper end ZRs should have A/D and the Elura100 definately does. Plus, you'll get a decent camcorder as well.

The DVD camcorder you mentioned will probably not have A/D pass-thru. And it definately doesn't have Firewire. You're better off finding a miniDV unit.

Lastly, what type of outputs does your VHS unit have? If it has s-video, then you might want to look for something that can accept s-video. You'll get better color using s-video over composite. I know the Elura100 does not accept s-video input (and probably the ZRs as well). I think they used to make miniDV camcorders with s-video inputs a few years ago, but it's a feature that has been eliminated. This is where a unit like the Canopus may be better.

ft
 

dolphin842

macrumors 65816
Jul 14, 2004
1,170
27
Does Canopus still make the ADVC-55? If the OP doesn't need to go from iMovie back to VHS, the 55 is cheaper and does the same thing as the 110. I have one myself and use it with iMovie all the time :).
 

millap

macrumors regular
Aug 10, 2007
127
0
United Kingdom
I use a Canopus ADVC300 for this type of work, which although is more expensive than the other products mentioned here, it does produce the best results. This unit includes a built in line timebase corrector, which makes a big difference if the VHS tapes are quite old, or starting to flicker into B&W. You also get a control panel which allows you to adjust various settings including video noise reduction. In some cases, I've managed to produce a better quality output, than you can get from the original tape.

Whichever option you go for, you will probably need to apply a small letterbox effect to the imported footage afterwards to mask out the thin strip of garbage that will appear at the top of the screen.

Edit: One thing I forgot to mention, was that in my experience with some of the cheaper A/D convertors, iMovie will sometimes stop importing if the source tape has a patch of noise or a bad tracking signal. This is particularly annoying as it means that you have to babysit the entire import process. I have not had this problem with the ADVC300.
 

Platonist

macrumors member
Nov 3, 2006
78
2
As I wrote in the thread that I started, I recently purchased an ADVC-110 for converting VHS to DVD. I have only worked on one project thus far, but it has done very well with a source tape that was "less than stellar". After doing some editing in FCE the picture on the resulting DVD looks better than the original VHS.