Help newbie MiniDV owner make DVDs -- or backup MiniDV tapes

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Al, Feb 1, 2004.

  1. Al

    Al Guest

    Hi, y'all. I've been reading this group's archives with Google and
    though I'm probably above average as far as technical/computer
    abilities go, a lot of your discussions have me realizing how in-
    depth this topic can be. So, sorry this is a very newbie question,
    but if you do have the patience to help out, please fire me an answer.

    In short, I've got a one year-old kid and one year's worth of MiniDV
    tapes that I need to back up. They were taken with a Sony DCR-TRV33
    Handycam, and I LOVE the quality when I playback on my TV, etc. But
    a few threads I've read here lead me to believe that I can't easily
    duplicate the MiniDV quality. Questions are:

    Is there simply such a think as a MiniDV "deck" (like a VCR) or
    MiniDV drive for a PC that would allow me to easily make backups?

    If not, then what about making DVD backups? FYI, I am in the market
    for a new PC, so I am willing to buy one that will fit the bill,
    including DVD burner (and what other hardware would I need?). What
    is the best easy-to-use software for somebody who just wants to
    backup DV tapes? Again, I am no slouch when it comes to learning
    new software, but with a 1-yr-old running around I simply do NOT
    have time for a new hobby. I don't need or want to do lots of
    editing, I just want to transfer these videos as-is to DVDs as
    easily as possible, but with as little quality loss as possible
    as well, so I have backups in the safe-deposit box.

    Also, do I understand correctly that the USB output is not nearly
    as good as the output on the handycam for transferring
    video? I've only ever used USB, but assume I can buy some sort
    of card for the PC that will let me plug in via an cable.

    Please, throw any info at me that you can, and in layman's terms,
    if you have the patience. Again, main objective here for software
    would be ease of use without losing quality. Maybe someday I'll
    have time to edit them, add music, etc. etc. when the kid is in
    college. Right now it's all I can do to find time to take a pee!

    Al, Feb 1, 2004
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  2. Al

    Jim Gunn Guest

    Your mini-DV tapes contain your source material and they ARE the
    backup of your finished product whether it is a home video or a
    professional edited movie. If you are using digital video they can
    hold 13 Gb - approx one hour of uncompressed footage on a sixty minute
    tape. If you want to be extra-safe by having another copy of the
    footage just copy from a mini-DV tape in your camcorder to another
    mini-DV tape in another camcorder or deck thru a firewire connection.
    By contrast DVD-R's only hold about 4.3 Gb, or soon about 8 Gb so they
    don't make a great backup medium.
    Jim Gunn, Feb 1, 2004
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  3. Al

    luminos Guest

    Thre is this. Exactly like a VCR (not for a PC). Sony makes these...they
    run about $500-800.
    luminos, Feb 2, 2004
  4. Al

    ctrl-z Guest

    What is the best easy-to-use software for somebody who just wants to

    No, the miniDV tape is his *raw footage*. He can make backup copies of
    that footage in a variety of ways. DVDs will involve more compression,
    but at better quality settings can work nicely. But yes, miniDV tape
    is probably the _best_ format you could afford to make copies on at
    this point.
    ctrl-z, Feb 2, 2004
  5. As in the responses so far, I agree that transferring to another
    miniDV tape is the best quality backup, and quite affordable. I just
    bought 25 tapes from B&H for under $4 each.

    BTW, beware of mixing different brand tapes in your camera. While the
    incompatibilities between brands that were causing cameras to jam may
    be behind us, they also may not. I, for one, don't want to be the
    guinea pig to find out.

    But, aside from the question of quality is utility. I have transferred
    both my older Hi-8 and my newer minDV tapes to DVD-R's and the kids
    watch them all the time. Try that with a miniDV, unless your kids are
    old enough and responsible enough that you're willing to let them use
    your camcorder to play back the tapes. And, they're not bad as 2nd
    generation backups. Not as good as the original digital out of the
    camcorder, but still damn good by recent standards. Especially if you
    record at one hour per DVD. Don't be fooled, as I was at first, by the
    fact that high quality movies often go 2 hours or more on a DVD. They
    use very expensive, time consuming video compression techniques and
    multilayered discs that store more than 4.7 GB.

    As to USB connections, beware. You can connect a miniDV camcorder to
    some editing programs via a USB port, but certainly with USB 1, you'll
    get cruddy quality. I don't know about USB 2 since I use a Mac for all
    my video editing and that's all via FW.

    Martin Hellman, Feb 3, 2004
  6. Al

    Al Guest

    Hey, thanks for all of the replies so far. Great advice.
    Affordable for the media, yes, but not as far as the extra equipment
    needed, it seems.
    Ok, fair enough. And it would be nice to do a bit of very simple
    editing before burning to a DVD-R, so that I can make "highlights"
    to send to the Grandparents. I'm just really paranoid about losing my
    stock footage because I work overseas and move every couple years. Last
    move (from Africa) we lost all of our houshold possessions. Of course
    we travel with all of our family photos, etc. as carry-ons, but the last
    thing I need is even MORE carry-ons to lug around, worry about getting
    stolen, etc.

    I guess I will burn lots of cheap DVDs for self and g'parents, then
    FedEx the original tapes back to civilization to go in a safe deposit

    So hardware-wise, I need a DVD burner and i.Link card in my new PC.

    Any favorite (easy to use, but good quality compression) software?

    Al, Feb 3, 2004
  7. Al

    Al Guest

    Your mini-DV tapes contain your source material and they ARE the
    Yes, good point.
    Question is if I really can afford it. :) Short of buying another
    Handicam or a ~$500+ MiniDV deck as somebody advised (couldn't find
    that on Sony's website BTW), it's looking like I will have to "settle"
    for DVD.

    Al, Feb 3, 2004
  8. (Al) wrote in
    One thing I haven't seen on this thread is this idea: capture your
    tape to DV-AVI on your computer, then write it back to a new tape,
    from the computer to the camcorder. Then you can erase the AVI file.

    Advantages: It's a bit-for-bit copy of the original, and it doesn't
    require a second camcorder, if you already have the computer and
    FireWire connection.

    Disadvantages: It takes twice as long as real time, and consequently
    doubles the wear on the camera. It also requires you to not mix up
    your tapes :) You should set the write protection on all the

    Gene E. Bloch, Feb 3, 2004
  9. THANK you. I've been reading through this thread wondering when someone
    would point out the obvious. But why didn't you tell him that he can buy
    a perfectl good firewire card for $5, and that installation is a breeze!
    Ok, there will be a little shipping, but mine came with the cable to
    connect to the cam, too.
    James Messick, Feb 5, 2004
  10. Al

    Al Guest

    Brilliant. Thank you both.


    Al, Feb 5, 2004
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