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capture miniDV and store clips on HD with higest quality

3750 Views 7 Replies Latest reply: Apr 26, 2012 11:52 AM by David Harbsmeier RSS
Zampus Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Feb 29, 2012 8:44 AM


I’m sure many of you have already had occasion to discuss of this topic and find the best solution.

it's my turn.


I have many MiniDV video tapes that I would acquire (on my MacBook Pro).


My goal is:

- Avoid that the miniDV tape can be damaged (demagnetized), causing the loss of recorded data.

- Maintain the highest quality even after the acquisition process (I don’t like at all "compression" issues that leads to an impoverishment of the original video/audio quality).


I have Final Cut Express 4

Is Final Cut Express 4 SW for MAC suitable for this scope?

If so, which are the correct SW configuration that I have to use (QuickTime format, dv file format, ...)?


Thanks in advance

Final Cut Express 4, Mac OS X (10.6.8), MAC Book PRO
  • MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,560 points)

    Just capture your miniDV tapes in Final Cut Express.  The resulting clips will be identical in quality to your original tapes.


    Assuming you are in North America, using an NTSC miniDV camcorder,  select the DV NTSC Easy Setup in FCE before capturing any video from your  camcorder.  The captured clips will be saved in your /users/yourusername/Documents/Final Cut Express Documents/Capture Scratch folder.


    The captured clips will be QuickTime/DV-NTSC files.  All that  really happens during capture is that FCE copies the data from the tape into the QuickTime file without doing anything to the video data itself.   That's why the contents of the QuickTime files will be identical in  quality to what's on your original tapes.  This is the BEST way to capture DV (miniDV) video.


    DO NOT capture the video in iMovie if you plan to do your editing in Final Cut Express.  iMovie creates .dv files and although they can be used in FCE there can also be problems with them.


    One piece of advice, to help keep your clips organized, take the time to develop a naming scheme ahead of time and be sure to give each clip a Name & Reel number in the FCE capture dialog box before clicking 'Capture'.   Also label each tape with the Reel number; this may come in handy at a later date.

  • MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,560 points)

    One thing to watch out for - nearly all miniDV camcorders can record audio as either 12-bit or 16-bit audio.  Unfortunately most manufacturers' default setting is 12-bit audio.  You can change this in the camera menus but a lot of people don't realize they should change it to 16-bit audio before filming.


    If you filmed using the 12-bit audio setting in your camcorder, then in FCE you need to use the DV NTSC 32KHz easy setup instead of the DV NTSC easy setup.


    Notes: 12-bit = 32KHz, 16-bit = 48KHz, the "DV-NTSC" easy setup is 48KHz.


    This is not a big deal unless you put 12-bit clips in a 16-bit FCE sequence or vice-versa.  You will know if this is the case if you get a warning message in FCE that the audio settings do not match.


    So, do some short test captures first to make sure the easy setup matches your miniDV video..

  • MilkyWhite Calculating status...



    Very very very new here.


    This is a little off topic, but similar to the OP I have mini DV disks and an old camera (Sony DCR TRV27E) and a shiny new Mac (running Mac OS X 10.7.3). I've used imovie11 to make a home movie and burnt it to DVD using iDVD. The quality of the footage from the mini DV disks ended up very poor - much worse than it ever was when I used the ol' PC. Audio was OK.


    It is my understanding that iMovie11  only "takes" half the lines when it imports a .dv format file off a DV tape, making for a poor quality result. (Sorry I'm not technical so I don't fully understand what i just said). Old versions of iMovie (esp. iMovie6) did not do that according to all reports.


    MartinR, I'm not stalking you, I promise, I just googled the topic and other threads on this board came up where you said:


    "Note: If you use iMovie 08/09/11, just archive the .dv files that it creates. Do not exportDV from iMovie - when you export DV from iMovie, it does single-field processing, halving the resolution of the output."


    Are you trying to say that iMovie11 will import DV tapes and make nice quality .dv files from them, but when you use them in iMovie11 (even just to export them back out) the low resolution problem occurs? Or am I incorrect in my understanding?


    Is there anyway I can import some .dv files that are as good as they should be without buying FinalCut or similar?


    This is the second time the all-mighty "Mac is so good for video editing" claim has left me feeling cross. I had to beg, bargain and plead for a copy of iDVD because new Macs don't come with it. Obviously burning movies on DVD is "old technology" to Apple. (Insert eye rolling icon!).


    Would appreciate any help you can give.


  • MartinR Level 6 Level 6 (14,560 points)

    iMovie imports DV video just fine and saves it in .dv files.  There is no loss of quality during the import or save processes.  The problem is that when you export DV video from iMovie (Share menu),  iMovie reduces the resolution in the output file.   That's why your DVD looked poor.


    I have not found any way to directly fix how iMovie handles DV video.  However, Karsten Schluter has documented a workaround in his iMovie Output Project ... it involves deinterlacing each DV clip with JES Deinterlacer and then saving the clips as QT/Apple Intermediate Codec.   You will probably not notice any difference in quality between your original DV clips and the processed QT/AIC clips; just understand that using this workaround your editing will be done with the converted QT/AIC clips, not your original DV clips.  It's extra effort, yes, but the procedure works - if your interest is piqued, give it a try.


    Other than that, my recommendation is Final Cut Pro X.


    We all have to accept that the consumer/prosumer market has capitulated to AVCHD & H.264 video formats over the past 3-4 years.  DV  is for all intents & purposes obsolete, even if we still happen to own usable miniDV camcorders.  No vendor can indefinitely support obsolete technologies.  I still want to burn DVDs but the market is into streaming video & media servers.  From the market's perspective DVDs are also on the way out.  Heck, I even believe BluRay is going nowhere.  Who needs all the expense & trouble of burning BluRay disks when you can just save the video to a hard drive or the cloud?

  • granzow1 Calculating status...

    Thanks for these answers Martin!  I have been searching the internet for these simple important bits and your posts are full of really great points.

  • Lexigato Calculating status...

    I had a question in my own mind about trying to use FCE to work on some .dv files that had been captured from a miniDV camera by iMovie '09. So I just made a duplicate of the .dv (which iMovie puts in

    ~/Movies/iMovie Events/nameofproject/

    I then imported it into FCE (File > Import > Files...) and it seems to be working OK, just as if I had captured it.

    Of course, by duplicating the .dv footage, you're using a lot of extra storage space. But it seems to be doing the job, so far.

  • David Harbsmeier Level 7 Level 7 (29,570 points)

    The problem with .dv files (DV Stream files) is that they don't work natively in FCE or FCP.  It's a variation of the DV-25 codec that multiplexes the audio and video.  Using .dv files in FCE will usually mean a lot of rendering.


    FCE and FCP work natively with the QuickTime DV codec, with audio at 48khz, 16 bit ... or 32khz, 12 bit, if you use the proper settings.  QuickTime DV files in FCE/FCP will not require rendering if you've chosen the proper Sequence settings.




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