Is there a cheap way to back-up my Hi8 home movie archive?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by John Pine, May 24, 2004.

  1. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    I am interested in a cheap PC solution that will retain the current quality, such as it is, of the recording. Each Hi8 tape (35 - 40 tape archive) holds up to 120 minutes. Does such an animal exist? I was considering purchasing a LiteOn DVD burner from NewEgg which does both the DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. According to the manual, these formats are what my Denon 2900 prefer. The age of these tapes range from 1 month to 10 years. My PC does have a Gainward GeForce4 Ti4200 which does have an S-video input but I’ve never used. It came bundled with WinCoder/WinProducer software also. The documentation claims to be able to record up to 720x480 resolution with WinCoder. Would this DVD burner, video card and software give me what I’m looking for? Any feedback would be appreciated.
     
  2. Mark Shannon

    Mark Shannon Screenwriter

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    It may not have, but check if your camcorder has an output for IEEE 1294 (Firewire). This is the easiest way to transfer media, primarily with new MiniDV camcorders.

    If you do choose to use the video card's capture settings, I'm sure it would work out as well. Keep in mind that the quality of video does depend on the quality of tapes. The older ones should show their age on the screen.

    Also, depending on what file type you choose to save the videos as, I hope you have a large hard drive. In AVI format from a MiniDV, an hour of tape takes about 10GB. Assuming compression is similar for Hi8, forty 120 minute tapes in AVI would take about 800GB.
     
  3. Michael Toguchi

    Michael Toguchi Stunt Coordinator

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    With a Hi8 camcorder, most likely there isn't going to be a firewire port for transferring your videos. If you have a miniDV camcorder that does analog -> digital conversion for you (or a similar type of device) then you can transfer digitally to your PC. The thing about transferring in 'raw' avi format from the digital source, is that it takes up about 13.1 GB of space per hour!

    I would recommend picking up a video capture card and transferring the video via S-video or composite (of course S-video being the preferred method) The capture card should come with a software bundle that will take care of everything you need.

    I have found that my Hi8 transfers were not up to the quality I would like when creating my final DVD. Most of this is because of the poor MPEG-2 encoder used. I recently did a Hi8->miniDV->firewire->PC transfer and the results were better, as I used a decent encoder found in TMPGenc.
     
  4. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    As long as it is an input and not an output, that all you need to get the signal to computer using the software. Getting an editing software might be a wortwhile investment if the one that you already have doesn't have enough features or isn't easy enough to use. Pinnacle Studio would be my recommendation for a good starter program, it isn't very expensive and is very easy to use.
     
  5. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Sony still makes some Digital8 camcorders and a VCR. Digital8 decks record DV on 8mm tapes, and play old Hi8 and 8mm tapes. At least some of those models should have the ability to encode Hi8 as DV on-the-fly to output through the FireWire (i.Link) connection. In theory, this is better than encoding to DV through another camcorder or conversion box, since the video is being encoded "directly" from the video heads, and not through a cable connection. They're not cheap, though (the camcorders aren't that bad, but the VCR is expensive).

    With WinCoder/WinProducer, the thing to watch out for is "real-time" MPEG2 encoding. Even the latest high-end systems are probably not quite there for good real-time encoding, and real-time hardware encoding at consumer prices isn't good either. Since buying expensive professional encoding hardware isn't an option, you're looking at capturing using a good codec, and then software encoding with something like TMPGEnc, like Michael did.
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    Conversion to a DVD is a multi-step process. Capture , Editing , Conversion to Mpeg2 , Authoring , Burning. Doing this in software is a time consuming CPU intensive process (several hours per tape often needed ; overnight conversion common). I would suggest a capture device with a hardware encoder so much of the work could be done in real time. Videohelp.com (formerly dvdrhelp.com) has many resources and a lot of info on the subject. Checking some forums (like shspvr.com) would give you some idea of the difficulties of conversion. This is why the stand-alone DVD burners are popular despite their limitations. A PC based solution is powerful and flexible but difficult to master. A software solution would be OK if you were converting current recordings but might be unworkable to back up a library of tapes.

    Of course these are just my opinions but I chose a tuner card with video input and hardware encoder as the only solution that worked for me to back up my tapes.
     
  7. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    Sorry for the slow response guys, but I’ve been out of the office.
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    Mark: Michael is right; my old Sony Hi8 camcorder certainly does not have Firewire. I do have two 80G hard drives, each with about 60G available. By the way, my PC m/b does have a Firewire connection, which I have never used. I primarily use USB 2.0.

    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________
    Let me clarify something. I have no intention of leaving the video data on the HD. I just want to transfer them to DVD-R format, clear the HD and move on to the next tape.
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    Michael: Wouldn’t WinCoder or WinProducer be able to fill that need? Those are the two utilities that came with the video card. It’s unlikely a miniDV is in the cards at this time.

    Sami: “As long as it is an input and not an output, that all you need to get the signal to computer using the software.” That’s what I was thinking as well. I just wasn’t sure of what kind of video quality I would be preserving. I really didn’t want to by the PC DVD burner just to find out that the conversion format is the weak link. I’ll check into Pinnacle software

    Ken: I don’t think a Digital8 deck or camcorder is not an option at this time. Does “real-time” MPEG2 encoding include transferring from HD to DVD-R?

    Steve: “Conversion to a DVD is a multi-step process. Capture , Editing , Conversion to Mpeg2 , Authoring , Burning.” Unfortunately, I am just now beginning to understand the complexity of this project. It’s not as simple as I had hoped. Course, it rarely is, right? Thanks for the website and forum suggestions.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________
    Also, this is not an emergency. Just something I need to do before the quality of the original Hi8 tapes degrade too much to worth anything. Thanks for the great feedback guys! You’ve all been very helpful.
     
  8. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Since you're using Hi8 and not DV, I don't think video quality is going to be that good anyway. Hook it up and try if you're losing any quality over the tape. I think you have all the necessary equipment there once you get the DVD burner. You'll need it anyway if you're into home videos. Just pick up a DV camcorder for future captures.

    It is not a complex project unless you want to edit. It still takes time but most of it can be left running overnight.
     
  9. Michael Toguchi

    Michael Toguchi Stunt Coordinator

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    WinCoder and WinProducer should do everything you need. Use WinCoder to capture your Hi8 audio/video. Depending on how you capture your video, you will need to encode it into MPEG-2 format. I am not familiar with WinCoder, but it probably has a way to capture directly to MPEG-2 format (720x480 is standard DVD NTSC resolution). Use WinProducer to edit your videos as needed and create your final DVD.

    I have a cheap WinFast TV Deluxe capture card in my system that I used to capture my Hi8 videos directly to MPEG-2 before I got my miniDV camcorder. Somewhat limited software, but it got the job done.
     
  10. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Real-time MPEG2 encoding means storing the video as MPEG2 on the hard disk, as you capture (the "real-time" part). Again, this is convenient, but you may be sacrificing some quality.

    If you don't do that, and capture to DV or some other AVI format, at some point you need to convert that video into MPEG2. You get the most flexibility by doing this as a separate step, and then the DVD authoring stage is mostly picking the chapter stops and setting up the menus. But most DVD programs will take DV/AVI files, and then convert to MPEG2 for you. You tend to have less control over it, but it is slightly more convenient.

    If you want completely real-time DVD creation, you need to get a set-top DVD recorder. The picture quality should be decent, but you don't have much control over the menus.
     
  11. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Be aware that most of the entry-level-priced Digital8 camcorders CANNOT play back Hi8 tapes. Which is sort of ironic since that ability was Digital8's big claim to fame for a long while.
     
  12. Mike_G

    Mike_G Screenwriter

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    I got a Sony TRV-315 DV camcorder (I think that's the right model #) which takes old Hi8 tapes and does the analog->digital conversion inside the unit. Plug the Firewire port into my Mac, fire up iMovie or Final Cut Pro (depending on the kind of project), edit, burn, done.

    Mike
     

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