Converting HD8 to DVD

This is "related" because two really smart guys -- nobus and garycase -- posted solutions in the original.

I have a HD8 video camera, several years old. I need a list of items I'll need to buy and a recommendation for [hopefully free or inexpensive] software I can load onto my WinXP machine to pull the video from the camera and convert it to a file type that can be burned to a DVD. It won't hurt if editing is a feature, but I'm not that picky.
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Eric AKA NetminderAsked:
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Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
No, he doesn't have to buy a DVD recorder.   He can use a simple capture device like the Dazzle to directly capture the video on the PC, and then burn the DVD there.  (I assume he has a DVD burner on the PC)

If he does buy an external DVD recorder, no PC is even needed.   He can simply record the video directly to a DVD (this will be a "real" DVD).   The only reason a PC would be needed in this case is if he wanted to edit the video -- then he would need to rip the DVD to his PC (easy ... no software purchase needed);  edit it (using Pinnacle or other software ... there are a few reasonable shareware utilities that do this for less => although I'd be more inclined to buy an older bargain-basement copy of Pinnacle Studio); and then burn the editing version to another DVD.

If he buys the Dazzle from my previous link, no additional software or hardware is required => the only requirement is that his PC has a USB port.

Gary CaseConnect With a Mentor RetiredCommented:
Probably the best way to do what you've suggested (unless your camera is a digital model with firewire outputs) is to simply buy a DVD Recorder appliance (something like this: ) and simply record all of your tapes directly to DVD.   This eliminates the audio/video synchronization issues common with video captures to a PC; and once the content is digital, you can easily edit it on a PC (by simply capturing the DVD to the hard drive).   It also doesn't cost much more than a reasonable quality video capture device ... and is actually less than a higher-end capture device (such as a Canopus) => although you CAN get better quality transfers with the high-end capture devices.

If you want to capture to your PC, you need to provide a few more details ...

=>  Do you mean Hi-8 (rather than HD8?)

=>  What output format does the camera support?   Analog (a video output) or digital (firewire ... what Sony calls "i-link")??

=>  Does your computer have a firewire (IEEE-1394) port?

=>  What quality level are you looking for?   You can get reasonable video captures devices for under $100, or professional grade devices for $1000+.   Probably the best reasonably priced capture device is one of the lower-end Canopus units (~ $200).   Clearly whether or not it's worth this depends on just what's on the tapes you want to convert and how many of them you have.   Note that if the camera was a digital model with a firewire output you can get perfect transfers by simply connecting it to a firewire port on the computer => no capture card needed.

The most important part of the process is getting the videos captured to a digital format with reasonably good quality.   Once it's digital, there will be no further degradation in the future ... you can simply burn the captures to DVD's and do any editing you want to at a later time (or never).   That's why the DVD recorders are so attractive ... you can accomplish that in a single easy step directly to DVD; and then do any editing/combining/cutting at a later time with no concern for degradation of the videos.

Software to simply do the capture and save it on a DVD is easy and inexpensive (often bundled with a capture device).   Good editing software costs a bit more ... but there are a few reasonably priced bundles.

When you capture into a PC there it can be very tricky to maintain audio/video synchronization.   You'll want to experiment with the capture software to be sure you understand how to compensate for this ... and to be sure any A/V shifts are corrected before you burn them to DVDs.   I got fairly good at this a few years ago ... but after I converted all my old home movies to DVDs I haven't done it since.   I used Pinnacle Studio, and it worked very well to do this.   The current "ultimate" version is available for $82.22 [ ], or you can find previous versions heavily discounted ($30 to $40).   This would also be a good editor even if you record the video directly to a DVD with a recorder appliance.

So ... pending more details on your exact equipment ... I'd suggest you buy a DVD recorder and a copy of Pinnacle.    But if you have a digital camcorder with firewire outputs you won't need the recorder -- you can simply transfer the recordings directly to your PC (although you'll have to add a firewire card if you don't have a firewire port).

CallandorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
>Once it's digital, there will be no further degradation in the future ... you can simply burn the captures to DVD's and do any editing you want to at a later time (or never).

One caveat about this - if it is recorded to a lossy compression format (mpeg2, for example, which DVDs use), you do not want to recompress it when editing, as this will result in further loss of quality.

I agree with Pinnacle Studio as an easy to use software for editing that does a decent job.
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Eric AKA NetminderAuthor Commented:

"...=>  Do you mean Hi-8 (rather than HD8?)..."

Probably. I'm asking for someone who I talk to regularly, but who is also in Alaska. Since the camera is older -- probably about eight years -- I would guess that you're probably right.

"...=>  What output format does the camera support?   Analog (a video output) or digital (firewire ... what Sony calls "i-link")??..."

I'm guessing analog. It's one of those cameras that you plug into your TV to watch. I was hoping there's a way to either a) go from the camera through the TV to the PC, or b) go from the camera to an input device on the camera (maybe a USB port or the microphone port?)

"...=>  Does your computer have a firewire (IEEE-1394) port?..."

Not that I know of, but I can certainly find out. It will just involve talking to someone in Alaska who will have to follow instructions for a change. Still, he's motivated.

"...=>  What quality level are you looking for?..."

Not terribly high. He wants to make a DVD of his exhibit that he can show on a small TV that sits in the window. It doesn't have to be broadcast in HD.


Thank you for the verification. That's what I love about this place... not only do you get good, complete advice, but you get it verified.

Eric AKA NetminderAuthor Commented:
More information.

Camera is a Sony Handicam Vision, model CCD-PRV 68 NTSC. Analog. Has standard A/V output and an "S-video" output.

He also says (okay, so I fibbed -- it's not MY camera) that he thinks he has an S-Video input on his computer.

He's also cheap; is there any free software (or maybe a trial version?) that does what the Pinnacle app does?

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
It's far more likely that he has an s-video OUTPUT on the PC than an input.  

For a one-off project where the highest quality isn't important, the Dazzle capture devices work very well (they actually have reasonably good quality for the price).   Here's a refurbished one at a very good price ... and it comes with capture/editing software:    Note that although it claims compatibility with both USB v1.1 and USB v2, the captures are much better if the system supports USB v2  (I've known a few folks who've used them over the years).
Eric AKA NetminderAuthor Commented:

"...It's far more likely that he has an s-video OUTPUT..."

Right... I should have realized that when he said it. So from what you're telling me, unless he has some kind of A/V receiver built into his computer... he gets to buy a DVD recorder -- correct? And then he can use the Pinnacle software to copy it to his PC, manipulate it as necessary, and then use his computer to burn a "real" DVD?

Eric AKA NetminderAuthor Commented:
Ahh... okay.

I've sent him the information, so he's now on his own (unless he wants to pay for a service call in Alaska).

Thanks, guys... great work, as always!

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
You're most welcome.
>not only do you get good, complete advice, but you get it verified

Well, in Gary's case (pun intended), usually no verification is necessary - he knows what he's talking about.
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