Video Hardware and Software required to import Sony 8mm cam corder tapes

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by EdT, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. EdT macrumors 6502a

    EdT

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #1
    I am an extreme beginner here, and don't know exactly what hardware or software I need. I have found earlier threads but in most cases things have changed since they were posted. Either hardware changed or is no longer sold, or software also has changed / is no longer available.

    First off, I know I could send or take in the tapes to have this done. But part of my excuse to my wife about why I needed a new iMac (besides my old one being from 2008) was I wanted to try doing this myself. I am interested in it. Second, I also have some very early Laserdiscs, that I cannot find streaming or on DVD/Blu Ray. I would like to get those converted if I can, but I'm not looking to hack them if it gets me into trouble.

    My equipment : 27 inch 5K iMac, with an I7 processor and 24 GB memory, and an AMD Radeon R9 M395X Video Card with 4096 mb memory. I couldn't afford an all SSD drive after all of the above, so I have a 2 Tb fusion drive.

    My questions are:

    What hardware do I need to get VHS and super 8 tapes, and Laserdisc shows onto my computer? My 8mm camcorder is very old, from the early 90's. My Laserdisc player is older, from the early 80's. Both still work, and would be the input signal source. I don't believe either has an S-Video output. I might be able to borrow a newer Laserdisc player that has S-video. I will have to borrow or buy a VHS player.

    I am NOT looking for the cheapest A to D hardware to import these, I am looking for a good to best way to preserve video/audio quality. Although price IS an object, something in the $200.00 to $500.00 range is what I am hoping to find.

    What software is available?- If I can import the files for use until I can afford better editing software I would probably be willing to temporarily sacrifice features right now, unless there is a good reason not to. I have used iMovie for some family Christmas videos shot on an iPhone, but that's the limit of my knowledge right now.

    Storage- If I buy an external SSD drive what are the problems/considerations I will need to know about to use the disk as my work drive for this project? Does using a USB3/Lightning compatible drive work well or are there problems just because they are external?

    I hope to do this in stages, at least somewhat. Get the A to D converter (whatever it is) and use iMove to load files onto my computers fusion drive. Get better editing software when possible, and create digital files of the home movies for both my side of the family and my wife's. Her father was involved with TV stations in the 60's and 70's and they were very early adopters of video camcorders, so they have quite a few home movie type tapes.

    The Laserdisc titles I am not looking to share, but I would like to be able to play them through an Apple TV, if that is possible.

    I am sure there are some very large problems I am unaware of, and would appreciate any advice.

    Ed T
     
  2. Unami, Jun 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    Austria
    #2
    - input: you can get something like this: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity
    it's still pretty cheap (sorry :) ) but should do the job.

    - software for simple capture is included (or use quicktime). you can use the free lite-version of blackmagic's davinci resolve if you need something a bit more professional for editing than imovie. if it's only about cutting at the beginning and the end, even quicktime (or something like mpeg-streamclip) should be enough.

    - you don't need an external ssd, even most old usb 2.0 harddrives should be fast enough, your internal drive will also have multiple times the speed to handle one track of sd-video. you might run out of space though, if you import uncompressed first (and usb 2.0 will probably be to slow, tb and usb3.0 could work. you can use blackmagics speed test software to find out your drives' speed. unless you're using a fast ssd or a raid system, the limiting factor won't be the interface's speed but the drive's read/write speed). i'd advise you to import compressed (but still visually losless) prores 422 files - they work nicely for editing and have a good but not too high bitrate (about 19 Gigabyte/hour for NTSC - SD Video). the smaller prores LT - codec will likely still be enough for the vhs-videos, maybe even the laserdiscs - but try it first. i'm not sure about the codec imovie uses for capturing - if it's still apple-intermediate codec, i'd avoid that. but it still might be o.k. for sd footage.

    - if you want playback on an an apple-tv, encode your final output to h264 in a .mov, .mp4 or .m4v container with a high enough bitrate (i'd say about 2500 kb/s for sd-video, but it varies, depending on the content, codec implementation, ....). you can use imovie, dedicated encoding software like handbrake, compressor or adobe media encoder for this - they usually come with presets for apple-devices. not sure about the compression capabilities from davinci resolve, as i've yet only output prores 422 hq files from it, but it can probably do this as well (if not, output to prores and use handbrake or compressor)
     
  3. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #3
    iMovie will work fine, just get yourself a AD converter like the $80 elgato unit. The software that comes with it will also work fine for capture.

    The skill comes with how to adjust and manage all the effects and setting to get the best looking video. Thats what you are paying the experts at a video converter shop. Otherwise you can tinker with the setting in iMovie, nothing much better except perhaps FCPX. You can spend just a little time capturing the video but will be spending a lot of time on optimizing.

    Composite and sVideo are not going to look great regardless.
     
  4. EdT thread starter macrumors 6502a

    EdT

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #4
    Thanks for the responses. I've seen the Elgato unit, but have read about a couple of companies called Canopus and another called BlackMagic that make A to D. units for video transcribing. Are there any advantages to those manufacturers, or am I spending money to obtain video clarity that isn't going to be there anyway? If there is, what units are still available. From researching online I know there was a popular (with Macs) Canopus unit that evidently is no longer sold, and there are still products from the company that will output to Firewire. I assume there is some form of Firewire adapter to get that output into an iMac. BlackmagicI haven't found specific models that people used or recommended, just a reference to the company. This is some of the information that was at least 2 to 6 years old when I did web searches.

    Does anyone know what the best resolution of a 8mm video camcorder is, given that it is an early 90's model? I can get the exact model number if it helps but it's buried in boxes from 2 moves ago, and I haven't dug it out since 2004. I know that for most VHS camcorders the resolution was really low, around 240 lines as compared to laserdisc at 425, and at those rates (and because the 8mm is composite output) an Elgato would probably work fine.
     
  5. ColdCase, Jun 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #5
    8mm cameras are low resolution, similar to VHS. So Called High 8 was a little better, something like S-VHS and laser disk. Neither compares well with DVT.

    Apple sells an inexpensive FW to TB converter that works well.

    According to wiki, common resolutions are as follows. All values are approximate, because the actual quality can vary machine-to-machine or tape-to-tape:

    • Analog and early digital[3]
    • Digital
      • 500×480 : Digital8
      • 720×480 : D-VHS, DVD, miniDV, Digital Betacam (NTSC)
      • 720×480 : Widescreen DVD (anamorphic) (NTSC)
      • 720x576 : D-VHS, DVD, miniDV, Digital8, Digital Betacam (PAL/SECAM)
      • 720x576 : Widescreen DVD (anamorphic) (PAL/SECAM)
      • 1280×720 : D-VHS, HD DVD, Blu-ray, HDV (miniDV)
      • 1440×1080 : HDV (miniDV)
      • 1920×1080 : HDV (miniDV), AVCHD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, HDCAM SR
      • 1998x1080 : 2K Flat (1.85:1)
      • 2048×1080 : 2K Digital Cinema
      • 3840x2160 : 4K UHDTV
      • 4096×2160 : 4K Digital Cinema
      • 7680×4320 : 8K UHDTV
      • 15360x8640 : 16K Digital Cinema
    --- Post Merged, Jun 19, 2016 ---
    You may want to check the condition of those tapes before investing $$ as they are known to degrade over time. Most of my old VHS and 8MM tapes are full of drop outs and corruption.

    I don't think any brand capture device works better than others, especially with older VHS and 8mm tapes. The difference may be in ease of use. The basic analog to digital conversion is straightforward.

    In order to get the best out of those tapes you need to use studio quality tape decks that may be able to better pick video out of the noise (i.e. $$$) and then post capture experimentation. It would probably cost you a lot less to use a conversion service.
     
  6. kohlson macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    #6
    A few years ago I started off to do something similar. I have about 30 mini-cassette tapes. When I went to use my camera to play it back, it no longer produced a usable picture. I fiddled with tracking and whatever else I could adjust - nothing. In succession I went to three friends, each of whom told me their cameras had worked the last time they checked. None did. In the end I ended up taking them to a service provider, along with a 1TB disk. So my recommendation is: first, make sure you can play them back.
     
  7. Unami, Jun 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2010
    Location:
    Austria
    #7
    i recommended a specific model in my last post...

    the problem with the elgato is, that it compresses to 1.4-2.4 mbit h.264 which is pretty low, even for vhs. it's a live (1-pass) compression - so even less quality than a two-pass compression at the same bitrate (as you'd do with handbrake, comoressor, etc...). it's fine for just digitizing vhs and not touching the files afterwards, but if you want to apply a filter (e.g. repair the contrast), or maybe recut and then recompress it, you've got pretty little headroom, and you will see compression artifacts in complex/fast moving scenes, even at that low resolution. you were also talking about digitizing your laserdiscs - even less bitrate/resolution there. also the h.264 should need more cpu power to edit, than, say, prores, but that won't matter with your fast machine anyway.
     
  8. EdT thread starter macrumors 6502a

    EdT

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2007
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    #8

    I don't know how I missed it, but I didn't see the link the first time. Thanks, and sorry.
     

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