How long before Hi8 camcorder videocassettes start to deteriorate?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by John Pine, Mar 9, 2005.

  1. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    I have a library (40) of Sony and Maxell Hi8 home video cassettes that I need to transfer to DVD-R sooner or later. The tapes range in age from 1994 to 2005. Unbelievably, my old Sony Hi8 camcorder is still going strong. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been putting it off. I was considering buying a stand alone DVD burner that accepts an S-Video input. This old camcorder does not have a USB or FireWire connection. It only has an S-Video out and the standard A/V three wire input/outputs. Any feedback?
     
  2. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    First, this thread might get better response over in the Personal Video and DVD Recorder forum although I could be wrong:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...?s=&forumid=96

    I forget the details now, but I seem to recall that Hi8 tapes tend to be susceptible to dropouts even when left in storage. It's supposed to be good practice to at least run the tapes through once in a while even though there's a certain amount of wear-and-tear when doing so. And it's probably best to archive to a digital format instead of relying on the old analog originals alone.

    Not sure how good standalone DVD burners are nowadays, but you may want to consider the alternative of buying a new digital camcorder for double duty instead, if you haven't considered it already.

    I forget the details of it all, but I'm pretty sure that the miniDV format would serve better for archival purposes than plain old DVD format. And pretty much all miniDV camcorders can convert analog video to miniDV format nowadays although I'd expect better quality from the better ones.

    You may still want a standalone DVD burner for the final edited programs, but you can save that for later. Of course, I guess you might also want the burner for other things like being a VCR replacement -- and miniDV decks seem hard to come by and/or are quite expensive.

    Hope this helps some...

    _Man_
     
  3. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    John, I have a Sony Hi8 Camcorder my wife and I bought in 1994 and it is still going strong and looks like brand new. I have recently archived 6 tapes of my rock and roll band that were shot in 1989 - 1991 and they all looked and sounded great after I transfered them to DVD via the S-Video output to my Gateway DVDR. Those tapes were pretty old and they held up well despite being kept in a shoebox in a closet for over a decade.[​IMG]
     
  4. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    Man: Hmmm.....never thought of playing the old tapes. Going with a miniDV to replace my old Hi8 is a good suggestion. But, the Sony models I looked at do not have a S-Video IN to transfer movies. How long can a MiniDV record anyway? All my Hi8 tapes are one hour each.


    Chuck: Thanks for the feedback, that’s reassuring to know. I keep my tapes in a cool dark place. Hopefully mine hold up as well as yours.
     
  5. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hmmm... Overlooked the s-video issue I did. [​IMG] A little surprising that none of the Sony prosumer models offer s-video input. But then again, I guess they want you to buy something else for transfering high quality s-video (vs composite video from VHS/8mm) and/or figured most people who'd care would probably do that anyway -- they do offer it in the top end models like the VX2100, but I don't suppose you'd want to spend >$2K on one. Canon offers s-video input in their Optura Xi for something more w/in prosumer range.

    I switched to miniDV a while ago from plain old 8mm -- it was a nice Sony 8mm from circa 1996 just before miniDV came out, IIRC -- so I don't have the same problem, which is probably why I overlooked the s-video issue.

    If miniDV decks were more widely available, I guess that would be the way to go. Just checking B&H's site, I see they carry 2 options from JVC in the $700-900 range. They are miniDV+SVHS combo VCRs. But at the price, you might be better off looking into DVHS decks instead.

    As for format tape length, most miniDV tapes run 60 or 90min.

    Another alternative would be going deeper into the tech side and go w/ a computer-based solution. Check this online dealer for a fairly comprehensive list of such products (along w/ pretty good info about them and other video editing solutions):

    http://www.videoguys.com/vidcap.htm

    These guys have been around for a long time and seem to offer some of the best info and service around along w/ good pricing.

    With most of those solutions, you can probably just archive the converted DV format video onto DVD (or whatever else). And then, when you're ready to edit down to a viewable program or simply transfer to some consumer friendly format like regular DVD-Video, you can convert the DV format accordingly. This latter part may or may not require additional hardware/software depending on which solution you start out w/ and whether you need realtime non-linear editing, etc.

    _Man_
     
  6. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    Just as a point of reference, I recently picked up an All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro for around $230 at Newegg, and began transferring my oldest Hi8 tapes from 1993, playing them back on the original Sony camcorder that recording them, and they all looked great. I was really worried that they were going to be a blurry mess.
     
  7. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    Man: Thanks for the feedback! But...I recently purchased a SVS PC-Ultra for my HT. That’s why I was considering a cheap, “PC solution”, as opposed to buying a new camcorder. A stand-alone DVD-R burner might be another option, since they can now be had for less than $300.

    Perry: You transferred video and sound? How did you get the sound to sync up? Does the 9800 have video and sound inputs? What software did you use?
     
  8. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    I'm hardly an expert, but, yes, I have video and sound. The wiring on the card was a little confusing, the camcorder outputs goes into some weird ATI box, I think the audio may be connected into the mic input on the PC. I can't say I remember exactly how I have it connected.

    ATI comes with software to capture and edit. I've only done the capturing part of it, just sucking up a few Hi-8 tapes. Playing back on my PC, the videos look great, hopefully after compressing an hour or so per DVD+R, the video will still look good. I was planning on waiting until I get a new computer (hopefully in the next couple months) before doing the actual video editting.
     
  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    John, I have both 8mm and Hi8mm tapes in my home video library. The 8mm tapes date back to around 1990, and the Hi8mm ones go back to around 1993/94. I recently archived everything to DVD-R, and every tape played back perfectly. FYI, these tapes were probably only played a couple of times, since I usually dubbed them to either VHS or SVHS for regular viewing (not wanting to wear out my "master tape").

    I upgraded to a Sony MiniDV camcorder about 18 months ago. The model I purchased has analog a/v inputs (both composite and s-video) and will convert the incoming analog a/v signals to output via the camcorder's firewire connection to a PC.

    My initial archiving of the 8mm and Hi8mm tapes were to a standalone Panasonic E80 DVD recorder, which accepts both composite and s-video inputs. I dubbed the entire contents of my tapes to individual DVD-R's, and the image quality of the discs were virtually identical to the original source tape.

    More recently, in my spare time I've been importing the camcorder tapes to my PC (using my MiniDV camcorder for the analog to digital a/v conversion), so that I can edit the content. In my early days video taping, I recorded way too much -- resulting in some vacation video content that's 5-6 hours long. So, I'm trying to edit the content down to 2 hours or less, so that it's short enough to actually watch without putting us to sleep. [​IMG]
     
  10. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    Perry and Scott, thanks for the great feedback guys! Hmm...A stand-alone DVD-R burner is looking increasingly more attractive.

    Scott: So you found that the 8mm & Hi8 tapes had deteriorated little, if any?
     
  11. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I did not notice any deterioration in image quality of my tapes when playing them back for transfer. As I stated earlier, these tapes have very little wear on them, having been played only a few times. The only issue I had was with one of my last 8mm tapes -- there was a tracking error, but that was due to the original camcorder having a problem when the video was recorded (which is what prompted me to upgrade to Hi8mm way back then). I used my Sony Hi8mm camcorder for playback of both 8mm and Hi8mm source tapes when dubbing to DVD-R -- the 8mm camcorder bit the dust many years ago.
     
  12. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    I got a DVD recorder (ILO from Wallymart) for christmas and have now transferred 25 8MM and Hi8 tapes to DVD+R. I also made a copy to a DVD-R also just to make back ups of each disc. I do not care what others say about durability of a cassette tape but one nice scratch of a DVD completely destroys a DVD. My kids have carried around VHS tapes for years and the all still play fine, I highly doubt if they were carrying a DVD around it would still play!

    I love having the tapes now on DVD, it makes them so much easier to play.
     
  13. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Wes,

    I agree that the reliability/durability of optical media is overhyped. If I'm not mistaken, data centers still use tape to archive data. And I've heard enough bad reports about reliability of CD burns to not rely on single backups to optical media. Still, some of that is more of a concern for archiving still photography (and certain documents/data) than video. Digital video typically uses some sort of error correction scheme to help out *plus* small quantity losses do not impact video as much as other kinds of content like still photos.

    Still, at the end of the day, it's best to have extra backups and preferably across more than one media type stored in multiple physical locations, if the content is important to you.

    One other thing about DVD burns. It seems that there's still enough compatibility issues between players/recorders and/or brands to be an issue. For instance, both times I've received content burned to DVD by other people -- once for paid recorded program of my little girl's first dance recital and another for LD transfers of my Star Wars Trilogy LDs -- the discs had skipping problems when played back on my Philips 963sa player. There is nothing visibly wrong w/ the discs -- no scratches, dirt, etc -- but they skip around certain parts of the programs anyway. And I'm reasonably sure they played fine on the particular recorders and/or players of the people who burned the discs. Compatibility issues just seem to be a fact of life w/ DVD. That's not to say, of course, that you won't be able to buy a future replacement player that works 100% w/ the discs you burn now. Just that it's not quite as easy as the manufacturers want us to think.

    _Man_
     

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