Converting MiniDV tapes to DVD without degradation?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by ttown, May 11, 2005.

  1. ttown

    ttown Guest

    Is it possible to convert my MiniDV tapes (from a camcorder) to DVD
    without loss in quality? What is the best method?

    I have a computer with firewire and a DVD burner, but I am not
    impressed with the MiniDV to DVD process. My understanding is that I
    have to capture the footage then generate an uncompressed file (like
    ..avi) and burn that to DVD, at which time it is compressed (using, mpeg
    2 or something) by almost a 1/3 (therefore loss in quality).

    However, if I record the video back to the MiniDV tape using the
    camcorder, there will be no loss in quality. As such, I am considering
    doing this and then buying a standalone DVD recorder (Sony, Pioneer,
    Panasonic, etc.) and using the firewire input on it to create DVDs.

    Am I totally off here?

    ttown, May 11, 2005
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  2. Unfortunately the stand-alone DVD burner will just do the transcoding
    instead of the computer and you'll end up with roughly the same results.

    DVD format is MPEG2.. That's it. No matter where it gets burned, if it's
    for set-top play it'll be MPEG2.

    Depending on the tools you have available you may be able to get better
    quality MPEG2. That's why I say the set-top burner would be roughly the
    same. It has hardware compression and can do a better/worse job than some
    software encoders. Of course the hardware is optimized to run at real-time
    speeds but that also means it can only take a limited sample into account
    when compressing.

    What tools are you using to make this DVD? That's what has the biggest

    Tom P.
    Henry Padilla, May 11, 2005
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  3. Burn to DVD is to compress your vid. With a high datarate and a good
    MPEG2 renderer, it might still look good, but the more you muck
    around, the greater the risk something can go wrong.
    Better is it to cut up your material in 4GB blocks (about 20 minutes),
    and use your DVD as data back-up medium to store the raw mini-DV data.
    You have to work out for yourself, if it is cheaper to use 1 tape, or
    3 DVD-discs.


    Martin Heffels, May 11, 2005
  4. ttown

    ttown Guest

    Thanks Tom,

    That really clarifies things for me. As far as tools, I'm using Windows
    Movie Maker (I know... barf, barf - but it's quick, easy, & free) to
    capture, edit, and in this case, create the DV-AVI.

    I own a Plextor 708A DVD burner, which came with Roxio Easy CD/DVD
    Creator 6, so I'd probably use it to burn the DVD.

    My purchasing decision was to either upgrade my DVD authoring software
    (Roxio version 7 or something) or buy the standalone DVD recorder (with
    firewire input). I tend to favor the DVD recorder option, only because
    I feel like there is less of a learning curve, I won't screw something
    up, and I won't be hassled to upgrade software again in 3 months.

    ttown, May 11, 2005
  5. If you mean a regulation DVD that anyone can play on their set-top
    DVD player, then no. miniDV is already compressed 5:1 and
    transcoding to MPEG2 for DVD is something roughly 20:1
    compression. As Mr. Heffels said, the better the source, the
    less you muck with it, and the better your MPEG2 renderer, the
    better the DVDs will look.

    Your DVDs may look very good, even indistinguishable to the
    casual viewer, but it can never be the same. DVD discs hold
    only 4.7GB (for 2 hours) and miniDV tapes hold 13.7GB (for
    1 hour). You can see the difference in the size of the data.

    If you mean to burn your (assumed) AVI files (captured from
    your miniDV camcorder) on *data* DVDs, then yes, you can
    record ~20 minutes worth of DV on each DVD disc. The AVI
    file will be identical in content and quality to the data transfered
    from the miniDV tape.
    Dunno. What are you trying to do?
    Richard Crowley, May 11, 2005
  6. I wouldn't go too fast on the standalone DVD burner, the one you have really
    is a great burner.

    Try looking around for a free DVD authoring tool (jahshaka is a toolset
    that's OpenSource, I'm going to try it out as soon as I get a minute).
    There are others as well that may do better jobs rendering your clips.

    Note: it may not be the authoring tool that's the problem, you may be
    capturing to (or editing in) a lossy format.

    I remember a couple of apps, VideoDub was one but I forget the others, that
    do decent capture and are free.

    Put a post requesting free capture and/or authoring software and see what
    turns up.

    Tom P.
    Henry Padilla, May 11, 2005
  7. ttown

    PTravel Guest

    A video DVD, by definition, uses mpeg-compressed video. Mpeg is a lossy
    format, so there's not getting around image degradation. However, DVD is
    merely a physical storage medium -- you can save video as data to a DVD. It
    won't be playable on a DVD player, but your computer will be able to read
    it. The problem, however, is storage space. MiniDV uses the DV-25 spec,
    and requires approximately 13 gigabytes per hour of video. A single-layer
    DVD holds 4.7 gigabytes of data, which will accomodate roughly 22 minutes of
    miniDV video. A double-layer DVD holds approximately twice as much.

    If you're talking about using DVD as an archiving medium, it doesn't make
    much sense. MiniDV tapes will be just as durable, if taken care of, and may
    even outlast a burned DVD-R or +R.

    If you're simply interested in putting your miniDV video on a playable DVD
    format (to give to friends and relatives, etc.) and you won't be needing to
    do significant editing, titleing, transititions or effects, don't need more
    than the most basic of menus, and don't require the highest-quality video
    possible, a standalone DVD recorder will work fine.
    PTravel, May 11, 2005
  8. ttown

    Rick Merrill Guest

    In satisfying my own curiosity about the question I found that
    DVD cameras produce VOB files and ...

    "A VOB file (short for Versioned Object Base) is a DVD file that
    contains the actual Video, Audio, Subtitle and Menu content in stream form.

    "Other files on a DVD are IFO files and BUP files.

    "VOB files are encoded as MPEG-2 files. When the extension is renamed
    from .vob to .mpg or .mpeg the file will still be readable and will
    continue to hold all the same information, although most players
    supporting MPEG-2 do not support subtitles."

    VOB - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Rick Merrill, May 11, 2005
  9. ttown

    Mr. Tapeguy Guest

    I'd agree with everything stated but I'll have to take issue with you
    here. In theory, optical media will outlast tape by a longshot.

    Mr. Tapeguy, May 12, 2005
  10. How does that theory go?

    I have video tape that's 20 years old, furthermore much of it's Video 8,
    perhaps the least durable tape ever with exception of the great Hi8
    evaporated tape scandal, of which I have 12 year old samples that are as
    tetchy as they day they were bought. I wouldn't trust CD's or DVD's to
    be any better. Certainly it's true that early optical discs 'rotted'
    form the inks used to print on them, no doubt that issue has been
    resolved. I expect my Betacam archives to out last me.
    Moving Vision, May 12, 2005
  11. "Mr. Tapeguy" wrote ...
    My first-hand experience disputes your theory. I have tapes that
    are decades old that sound even better than when they were made
    (because of improvements to playback equipment). OTOH, I have
    CDR discs that are not even 5 years old that can no longer be read.

    The moulded, commercial optical discs (CDs, DVDs) may have
    a long expected lifetime, but I have no expectations that any field-
    writable optical medium has any significant archival potential.
    Richard Crowley, May 12, 2005
  12. ttown

    Mike Fields Guest

    The problem with that "theory" is it is based on the advertising claims.
    There have been quite a few reports of people finding media they have
    burned 6 months ago are now unreadable. And it is a moving target -
    Ritek was great, now there are lots of reports of how bad they have
    gotten. Others also. I do have older CD-R's that I have been able to
    read (6 years) with no problem, but I have also seen quite a number of
    people who have had problems 6 months later on media that burned and
    verified without error originally. I think for the time being I am going to
    buy a 160 gig disk or so when it is on sale, copy my DV files onto it
    and put the drive away (still keep the tapes also).

    Mike Fields, May 12, 2005
  13. ttown

    PTravel Guest

    But will DVD-/+R? There are still horror stories about early CD-R burns
    disintegrating after several years. I have 30 year-old analog tapes that
    were stored properly and look as pristine as the day they were recorded.
    PTravel, May 12, 2005
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