Transferring from Mini-DV to hard drive

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macstatic, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. macstatic macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    I have lots of Mini-DV tapes which are waiting to be edited, but until then take up lots of physical space.
    Since the recordings are digital I assume I'll somehow be able to copy them all over to hard drives and get rid of the tapes, then use them as sources for editing. How would I go about to do this? I also have many Hi-8 tapes and I know I can transfer them by outputting the video signal through a Mini-DV videocamera's video in (as far as I recall), then have it stream the signal digitally over to the Mac, but I'm not sure if it'll retain the "hidden" time and date information or not...

    As I haven't gotten round to editing I haven't bought any software either, but I have grown out of iMovie and assume I need to get something like Final Cut Pro X or similar. They're home/family videos so nothing very sophisticated, but good enough to get the job done without too much hassle.
  2. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    You will need to connect your miniDV camcorder to your Mac using a Firewire cable. If your Mac only has Thunderbolt ports, you'll also need a Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter.

    I'm pretty sure that you can't import the footage using Image Capture, so you'll import using iMovie or FCP or similar.

    Can't say on that I'm afraid.

    Given the cost of FCP, I'd stick with iMovie. Ideal for home movies.
  3. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    Sorry if my question was a little vague; I'm aware of the Firewire connection, but I'm wondering about the software part: how can I transfer video from the Mini-DV tapes as 100% perfect and identical copies on to the Mac's hard drive (so I can ditch the tapes and have the exact same thing on the hard drive)? I was under the impression that the normal method (i.e. using iMovie, FCP or whatever involved re-compression and other things which would alter/degrade the video quality). I basically just want to change media types (just like copying a file over from one hard drive to another).

    I've been using iMovie quite in the bit in the past and it's fine for simple stuff but I've found it to be limiting and cumbersome when doing more than just joining together a couple of clips (e.g. putting audio from one clip on top of another clip and switching over to that clip again later without missing sync wasn't easy).
    And I've never liked the current iMovie, instead preferring iMovie HD (iMovie '08 and onwards was a mess IMHO).
  4. montgomeryr macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2012
    I prefer iMovie HD as well. If you have a Mac that will run it, capture your tape into iMovieHD 6 and select Share, Full Quality.
  5. coldsweat macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2009
    Grimsby, UK
    Just copy them over - you won't be able to notice any drop in quality whatsoever. Transferring to hard drive is what the mini-DV system was designed to do & it has been done many millions of times over the years with (almost) no one complaining about quality loss. Bear in mind though that IIRC an hour of mini-DV will take up 12GB of storage space.

    For the mini-DV tapes, if you use FCPX, the capture process 'should' use the timestamp from the tapes & store each shot as a separate clip - it does with HDV so it should do it with mini-DV. However I'm sure you will lose all timestamps & suffer some quality loss by streaming the Hi-8 tapes through the mini-DV camcorder and also it will all transfer as one single clip!
  6. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    Yes, I stuck with iMovie6HD until iMovie11 came out for the same reason. iMovie11(which is v9) was better than iMovie6HD. The current version has gone backwards agin in my opinion.
  7. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    Try to use a software that has batch capture and that you can skip time code breaks.

    Every time you insert a tape you will find time code brakes and it may stop the capture.

    Regarding the date and time, you have to label that yourself on each tape.

    MiniDV are digital tapes so you will not lose quality if you come from firewire.

    Have a lot of patience when capturing. Set up goals, probably one or two tapes a day because it is a very annoying process. And label and save everything in order.
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Its been years since I copied all my mini-DVT, Hi-8, and VHS video tape to hard drives. I had near 200 tapes, it was a long process. Took me about a year I think.

    When I recorded mini-DVT, I pre-recorded the tape, rewound and then then recorded. That way there was no time code breaks. When imported/captured into iMovie or FCP, they came through with time codes referenced to the beginning of the tape. There were no date/time capabilities with the cameras I was using. Otherwise the tape could have several segments and the time code would be referenced to the beginning of each segment, and you will get individual files for each segment. So your capture needs to be setup to not stop on breaks, if thats not what you want. Your mini-DVT will be saved on the hard drive without loss, the mini-DVT camera or recorder would have compressed the video before laying down the digital track. You will have to manually label the file with date and time information.

    For Hi-8 tapes, I used a hi-8 deck or camera fed into a capture box. There are several inexpensive analog capture devices about which are easier to use than a mini-DV in pass through. Not all mini-DV cameras have pass through capability.

    You may want to store away those mini-DVT as a backup. Decent quality DVT tape seems to last forever. Hi-8 not so much.

    The choice of capture software may be more based on media management, the reason I went for FCP. Its media management is far superior to any iMove version if you have many tapes. But just about anything will get the video onto the HD in good or original quality. You can then import into your favorite media manager whenever you figure out what that is. The import is painless, but labeling the video files with easily recognized catalog names makes it go smoother.
  9. jlb13 macrumors newbie

    Apr 15, 2015

    Do you know of any other third party capturing softwares (outside of FCP and imovie) for macs? I'm currently using lightworks and I've got some DV tapes that were shot on formats that require proper capture settings (like 24p for instance).
  10. DemonMF777, Apr 16, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015

    DemonMF777 macrumors member


    Feb 27, 2014
    S. Florida
    I would recommend the same. Where I work we have walls full of Beta SP, DV & HDV tapes containing decades worth of RAW footage. Now that we shoot digitally there's no simple, safe & easy method of long term backup. When a HDD crashes (and it will) those tapes can save your ass.
  11. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    Thanks for all your suggestions and comments.

    So the "data code" isn't transferred as part of the digital stream?
    I've always liked this feature of both my Sony Hi-8 and Mini-DV camcorders where the date/time is continously recorded, but during playback you can at any time choose if you want it displayed or not!

    But I understand it's not possible to retain this functionality after having transferred the clips over to the computer?
  12. AVR2, Apr 17, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015

    AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    My only experience is with FCP7 (which is still in wide use), and when you capture DV via Firewire, there is no recompression. What you get on the hard drive is a QuickTime file that is a bit-for-bit clone of what's on the tape.

    It is, but not all editing apps will recognise it. FCP7 won't, FCPX will.
  13. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    Will those clips be in the MP4 format or another, lossless format?

    For those who want to install iMovie 6 HD on their Macs but already have a later version, you can first download iMovie HD 6.0.3 (I couldn't find 6.0.4. at the Apple site even though I know it exists), then follow the instructions in this thread which will result in iMovie HD being installed in addition to keeping the existing iMovie.
  14. Synchro3 macrumors 65816


    Jan 12, 2014
  15. macstatic thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2005
    This is what I'm looking for, so I re-edit at any time if I wish, without having to import everything from the tapes. Which format will the imported Mini-DV videos be saved as?

    I seemed to recall Final Cut Pro's price being drastically lowered a few years back to "consumer prices", but it seems like the price has been raised again with Final Cut Pro X. FCP isn't available any longer, is it? Are there other alternatives which are worth looking into apart from FCPX with a not too steep learning curve?

    So once the Mini-DV (and possibly Hi-8?) tapes have been imported into an appropriate capturing/editing app (which sees and understands the "data code"), how is it used when editing and exporting the final new video?
    When I watch my home videos (played back from the camcorders) I might want to know the date and time for a specific event and can press the "data code" button and see, but is there a way I can continue to do this on the Mac, or when exported to a DVD (or as an edited file which I can stream to my TV etc.)?
    Or... when importing to FCPX (or similar software) the files are just date/time stamped (i.e. the OSX Finder "created" date) with the starting time and date of that clip, but you won't be able to check what the actual time in the middle of the clip is?
  16. kohlson macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2010
    Before getting too far along on this, try it out on one tape. I did this a couple of years ago and learned two things. First, video quality from that period is pales in comparison to what you've probably been using for the last few years. I've been living in an HD world for too long. And second, my camera, and the cameras from 4 friends, failed to work any more. Each time I borrowed one it came with the line: "it worked the last time I used it." While my camera was able to do the transfer at one time, it no longer did the job. In the end I just took the 30 tapes to a transfer service, along with a blank HDD. It came as mp4.
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    FCPX will import the data bib per bit and keep in as a file. You can also set up FCPX to transcode the data files and keep a second transcoded file. This file can be much smaller and faster to edit and is used as a working files but the final rendering do from the originals. Or FCP can expand the imported data to "Pro Res" format. The are a LOT of options.

    As for time codes. Yes FCP keeps them but only if the video format sports it. Some camera formats do (like your HV) but many output formats (like DVD discs) do not. Some camera record only relative time from the start of the tape, others record real time. FCP has can only deal with what it is given and with the limits of the output format.

    FCP does have a feature where after import yo can cut the footage up into possibly overlapping clips and assign keywords and names, locations and notes. This info is kept and you can search on it. It is really important to take the time and catalog your footage and enter good metadata or you will never find anything. That is better than depending on the camera's time stamps.
  18. markfc macrumors 6502a


    Sep 18, 2006
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    If you have bootcamp Windows 7 installed you can try Pinnacle Studio. I've just used it to transfer 48 DV Tapes.
  19. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    in iMovie6HD, the imported footage from miniDV tapes will be DV video. For export, you have the full choice of formats.

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