Just say no to HDD and MiniDVD camcorders

Just say no image

Life in the Digital Video space used to be simple. You would buy any Mini DV based camcorder you wanted, pop in a tape, hit record and when you were done, you could hook up that camcorder to your computer via its Firewire (IEEE 1394) port and edit away. Just about every editing app out there supports editing standard DV content from these camcorders. Life isn’t so simple anymore and consumers are paying the price of this new level of confusion. Not only are there standard DV camcorders out there, but there are HDV camcorders. These are still cool. Many pros will argue that HDV is an interim standard and something better is coming. So don’t buy these. I happen to think it’s OK to buy HDV because these camcorders still use regular mini-DV tapes, the video quality is better than DV and they have Firewire ports on them. Most current editing apps can edit in HDV format so life is still good.

If all you want to do is shoot video and then play it on your TV as is, you can stop reading here and have a nice day.

It’s the other two types of camcorders that are driving me insane: HDD and mini DVD. Consumers are getting confused an running out buying HDD camcorders thinking they’re getting HD (high-def). The HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive and that’s where the problem comes in. These consumer camcorders have hard drives built-in which is a REALLY COOL IDEA! However, the problem is the camcorder doesn’t record standard DV or HDV to these drives. It records in some super compressed MPEG format that for the most part is next to impossible to edit in. Most of the popular video editing apps don’t support editing in these formats. So you’re stuck using the lame software that came with the camera or finding a utility that converts the video to something usable. The other format mini DVD actually records the video onto a miniature DVD disc. This is fine for the person that just wants to shoot and watch and do NO EDITING! Again, the format is MPEG2 based which doesn’t lend itself to editing. Most apps don’t edit MPEG2 video. While the concept of having a hard drive built-in to a camcorder is appealing, the thought of recording directly to a DVD disc escapes me. Very rarely do I show people my raw footage. I want the ability to edit it down and spruce it up a bit. So why would I want a camcorder that records directly to a playback media?

Why I’m fried about this at the moment?

I’m working a project for a cousin of mine. Her family is having a rather large family reunion this summer and they had the idea of making a DVD and include videos from the various relatives scattered about the US. I’ll be the one creating this DVD and doing all the video editing. Sounds great right? Well it does until you realize you’re working with people that don’t know the first thing about video (good lighting and audio, let’s not even go there). They asked me to recommend a camcorder to one relative who was going out to buy one for this particular event. I should have been way more specific, but I said any mini DV camcorder they get should be fine. So weeks go by and I get the first package in the mail which was supposed to contain the tape so that I could start the editing process. I open the package and it’s a mini DVD disc. ARGGGH! Luckily I remembered the great app HandBrake and was able to convert the DVD into an MP4 format that I could edit with.

Last weekend the last of the relatives came over for the final shooting and one brought her camcorder that she used to video other relatives while she was traveling. At first glance it looked small and I thought it was a standard mini DV camcorder. Of course it wasn’t. It was a JVC HDD camcorder. The files were in a strange .MOI format. Luckily a quick search on Google lead me to a $40 utility that allowed me to convert the .MOI files into standard DV.

So yeah, I’m a little annoyed at where this industry is going and where consumers are getting caught up in the cross fire. Yes, I’m all for advancements in video and hard drive based camcorders make perfect sense. However, let’s make the hard drives removable (like tapes) and lets make it so that they have the option of recording in standard DV for editing.

OK, that’s the end of my rant. Time to get back to editing.

  • Jack

    Heh. You’ve hit the nail on the head. I was looking at possibly replacing my old Sony camera with one with a built in disk (I use an external disk now instead of tape). But I found out, as you did, that the formats can’t be edited until they’re transcoded into some other format. What a huge step backwards.

  • The trouble with this type of technology is the people buying the cameras think that they are doing us as the editors a favor. They think oh this makes it easier. So they come in my store and expect to spend five to ten bucks for us to make copies. So what I end up doing is connecting my mini dv camera to my DVD player and record the content on to my tapes for easy transferal to my computer. This process takes longer but it gets the job done. It burns me up though, when the customers think they are doing us a favor so it should be cheaper.

    Anyway good post. Your blog is the first place I go when I open my browser. Keep up the good work.

  • Maritza Rivera

    I couldn’t agree with you more Terry. I recently created a video for my sisters b-day and in doing the research about what type of camcorder to purchase (which was a semi-confusing process in itself!) learned very quickly that if I had any intention of editing, to steer clear from the latest technologies ie: HDD and mini DVD based camcorders, because of the incompatible file formats…but really…wouldn’t it make better sense for this industry to make the file formats of these new technologies COMPATIBLE with all editing software???

    Thanks Terry,

    you are the best!

    -Maritza Rivera

  • terrywhite

    Maritza, the reason that no main stream editing apps edit these “new formats” is that they are highly compressed and the technology to decompress them, edit and recompress ion the fly just isn’t there and would require massive system requirements. MPEG was never intended to be an editing format.

  • David Kirlew

    A similar incident happened with. I had a project to do for school and we were going to film it. A teammate said he had a camera to use. I knew about the complexities of editing these miniDVD and HDD formats but figuried (in my ignorance) what are the chances he’ll have a miniDVD or HDD camera. Sure enough the day comes and he has a miniDVD camera. I rushed home to grab some information on editing these formats before a meeting we had days later. Lucky for me he walks in with a regular DVD of the footage, although still in the miniDVD format. I downloaded MPEG Streamclip converted the footage and got it working. Since then I’ve avoided miniDVD and HDD cameras.

  • Dave

    Thanks for the link to the workaround for folks with HDD camcorders. I have at least 3 people a week coming to me for a solution for this problem. I did not know that HandBrake would like me use a mini-disc DVD file but that is a great tip. Now if I could just get people to STOP inserting mini-discs in slot loading drives!

  • Andriy

    What software do use to edit the DV format???

  • terrywhite

    Andriy, I use Adobe Premiere Pro, however just about any editing app out there will edit DV.

    One the Mac:
    iMovie
    Final Cut Express
    Final Cut Pro
    Adobe Premiere Pro CS3

    On Windows
    Adobe Premiere Elements
    Adobe Premiere Pro CS3

  • Aaron Salkeld

    I have a JVC video camera that has a 30Gb HDD. This can hold 7hrs of ultra quality video or 30hrs of standard quality. This is the best way to capture video. I have used a miniDV video camera and got frusted with using a tapes, changing tapes, buying new tapes, cleaning/repairng the camera.

    Uploading the captured videos to the pc is alot quicker than using minidv which takes as long as the video is.

    I now use Ulead Video Studio 11 Plus which can view the .mod files.

    One issue I have is that there is no date/time code stamped onto the .mod files so I have to use titles before burning the video to DVD.

    I will never go back to minidv and recommend everybody to use hdd.

  • DVD cams are just a pain in the neck. No firewire plus you have to go out and look for the discs and you can’t find it everywhere like Mini DV tapes. HDD Videocams are cool, eliminates the necessity for replacing tapes and so on. But what if the HDD crashes or just goes dead (Will it withstand a hard knock?). You wouldn’t want to lose all those precious footage, would you? Tape is still the king!

  • I live in Tokyo, and convenience stores here sell DVD-Rs for cameras, miniDV etc. 24/7, so media availability is pretty universal. It also means we get new models quicker. For reference, walk into a store here and it’s all DVD-R, HDD and blue ray, with about 50/50 standard def / hi def. There are about 3 current miniDV cams available.

    I just bought a HC-48 from Sony, it’s a standard def miniDV. Why did I buy this ‘old’ format? Well, one, I’m not a camcorder fan, I like stills, but we have our little daughter I wanted to get some posterity footage of, and I wanted to be able to send DVD (‘movie’) discs back to my parents in the UK so they could see their grand-daughter.

    I use a Mac (I have Mac, Windows and Linux at home) and so I’ll use iMovie to edit likely (don’t even start on the ’08 vs HD 6). Also, I was on a tight budget.

    I don’t have a problem with any format, as even iMovie (virtually a free app) handles most MPEG*/AVCHD formats now and I guess transcodes to Apple Intermediate codec.

    My going miniDV was purely because in my low price range, it had the best picture quality, good battery life, was light, was wifey usable šŸ™‚ and I felt after all this time, it was likely pretty bullet proof. We’re planning to use it on some snowboarding trips too, it’s small enough.

    I also know I’d HAVE to edit/play with it as one set of grandparents are on HDTV/NTSC, and the other are on SD/PAL so I’m looking at a few hours in iDVD too. I am one of these people who HATES most home movies. I’ve sat through enough ‘shown as shot’ rubbish with pans all over, and all that to know I have to edit to stay sane. So my plan is to edit four fifteen minute segments , and put them on a DVD.

    I have lots of friends and they love DVD-R and never want to edit, just burn and watch, so that’s fine. Each to their own. I will say though that my Mac mini or macbook wont take the 8cm DVD-Rs . Been there, tried that! Also, I see iMovie will automatically rewind the tape import, seperate each ‘take’ and save a .dv based on time code, which is great!

  • Clea

    I’m editing a friend’s wedding video – luckily i filmed it on mini dv – but her second reception in a different city was filmed by a relative onto a 8cm dvd! yes my macbook pro won’t accept this!? right? i don’t want to just stick it in and find out! and teh dvd i have – the video files are vob files. fine – mpeg stream clip or one of those will convert that. the weird thing is exploring the dvd only reveals SOME of the media…i searched throught he 8 or so vob files and it only contained a small part of what you can view when watching the dvd in quicktime! any thoughts on why i actually can’t access these other files? i thought about getting quicktime pro since quicktime seems to be able to read te dvd properly and reveal all footage – and thus export it out of quicktime pro into the reqired format for FCP – but it seems a real mission to upgrade to QT Pro in South Africa – any ideas?

  • Stephen

    I have a question. I am extremly new to camcorders and I wanted to film a little movie with a few friends. Nothing special just a little monster movie with like a 2000 dollar budget. Now I keep hearing that miniDVD is hard to edit so i was looking into miniDV. Now how do you edit it? You plug it into a computer it allows ytou to edit it? So could you add music,lighting,get rid of bad takes the works?

  • terrywhite

    Stephen,
    MiniDV camcorders have Firewire (IEEE 1394) ports on them. This is how they connect to your computer. Your editing software will then download the digital footage from the camera to your hard drive. From there you can edit to your heart’s content and even put an edited version back to miniDV tape if you like. I would suggest Adobe Premiere Elements on the PC and iMovie on the Mac for your “getting started” editing needs.

  • I was doing a little searching on HDD info and stumbled upon this. I don’t have an opinion yet, but just want to say that there’s my use case. I am a person who has ZERO time in my hectic life style. I’m researching if HDD based can save me time of dumping video onto my main server, and to burn it to DVD later. I have absolutely no interest in actually editing video…those are for people who don’t work in I.T and/or don’t live on the West Coast and/or don’t have little kids (aka you have too much time on your hands!). šŸ™‚

    An hour to transfer an hour of video tape is super time consuming (a la minidv), there’s no good technical reason as to why you have to transfer video at real-time play speed. They should have spec’d a high speed play transfer mode.

    Anyhoo, so the thought of plugging in the camcorder and it showing up like a plug ‘n play drive is very appealing, copy those files over at 10X the speed already compressed in Mpeg2… can save quite a bit of time.

    The main drawback I’m hearing though is the quality isn’t as good as miniDV.

  • As a parent and one who edits video, I will NEVER go back to tape. Our mini-DVD camcorder is awesome.

    As we’ve matured from Super 8 (film), to mini-vhs (JVC), to HI-8 (Sony), to Digital8 (Sony) to the Mini-DVD (Sony 403) two things happened: We became better videographers and we found our favorite.

    We can take the DVD out and put in the player and watch it. Recorded in HQ mode/widescreen it is NOT high definition, but it sure looks great. The automatic chapters, and random access of a DVD make it a real hit. 90% of the time, the disk doesn’t need editing… but the 10% can be skipped by going to the next chapter. Easy.

    For me, the editor, it’s a piece of cake. Put the DVD in the drive and copy the MPG files to the hard drive and load them in Premiere Elements. Much faster than capturing from tape! And it always works. (And I don’t need the camera to do it, just the disk.)

    And a side-benefit we notices is that once the videos are on the hard drive, the we can watch them through Media Center without finding the DVD. Even better.

    I HIGHLY recommend the mini-DVD format. I have no experience with hard-drive camcorders but I steered clear of them because one MUST copy the movies off to make room for more. Sounds a lot more painful than putting in a new DVD.

    -Jack

  • Skitzy

    Hey,
    Ok i have a video camera that records to mini tape. well i’ve lost the software. is there something out there that will let me hook the tape up and let me put straight to the computer without the use of my camera? I also have a video dinosaur that tapes straight to VHS. Is there a something out there for that too? could you please recommend something.

  • terrywhite

    Skitzy,
    Adobe Premiere Elements on the PC
    Apple iMovie on the Mac

    You will need your video camera to do the transfer unless you have a mini-DV deck to put the tape in.

  • Evelyn Luecke

    Not a terribly sophisticated techy type person – I do enjoy learning new things. Love your blog Terry – thanks for sharing all those “favorite things.”
    I am going to purchase an iMac in Oct. when Leopard comes out – from what I have read iMovie would be perfect for a newcomer to video editing. Also understand with iLife 08 you can easily download/edit video from a hard drive camcorder.

    Would your opinion change on the hard drive camcorder using it with 08 iMovie?
    If so would you have an opinion/recommendation on a mid-level camcorder. I plan to video birds and butterflies so I can play the video to identify or remember what I have seen. I would also like to edit and prepare a DVD.

    I am brand new to camcorders.
    Can’t wait to get the iMac – never had one before. All in all lots to learn.

    Thanks. Ev Luecke (near St.Louis, MO.)

  • terrywhite

    Hi Evelyn,
    Yes my opinion changes slightly now that iMovie ’08 can handle these formats directly. However, what remains to be seen is how long it takes iMovie to transcode (convert) this footage into something editable. This is the whole problem to begin with is that these formats are not “easily” edited. So if iMovie can convert the native MPEG format into something editable relatively quickly, then yes go for it! However, if it’s slow at converting then it negates the advantage of recording directly to a hard drive. Since I have some .MOI files left over from the project mentioned above, I’ll try importing them into iMovie and see what happens. I’ll report my results back here or make a new blog entry about it.

  • Wendy

    I bought my first imac last week and reveived it on Friday. On Sunday, I hooked up my mini-dvd camcorder via usb. What a nightmare!! After 3 day, and minimum 6 hours on the phone with Panasonic and Apple; found out that my camcorder is NOT compatible with OS X, even though it is stated on the box that it is. And, of course, this camcorder does not have a port for FireWire. To top it all off, I learned that the 3 DVD players that I have at home do not play the DVD-Rams that I used to record with my camcorder.

    All of this is probably common knowledge to all of you. But as a stay-at-home Mom and college student, I don’t have time for this @!#$.

    Needless to say, I took my camcorder back to Costco and they gave me my money back even though it has been 7 months since I purchased it. What I learned: make sure the camcorder has Firewire, make sure I use DVD-R for recording (not DVD-ram), double check my camcorder right after I purchase it to make sure it is compatible with my imac and dvd players.

    I hope to spare someone else this headache. If anyone has more tips for me…please let me know. Thanks.

  • Hey there, Just thought i would drop a quick note on the HDD cam. I too have a JVC Everio 30GB HDD cam and was quite upset to see the .MOD files when i plugged it in the first time. Using Adobe Premier Pro, I was further upset when I found that Premier had no idea what to do with it. After searching I stopped by Adobe and found that Premier Elements would recognize the .MOD files. After purchasing Premier Elements (which i was pleasantly pleased with) I was still searching for a way to run my files directly through Premier Pro. Having everything backed up, I went about experimenting. Finally after trying several things, I simply changed the extention from .MOD to .avi, and to my supprise IT WORKED. I dont use my cam very often but since it has been hacked to run a remote camera for a Helmet cam setup I have ruined my chances of a warranty return, so for now this workaround is working for me. I have not noticed any image degredation due to the process as of yet. Definatly next time steering way clear of the HDD though….

  • I’m sorry, but 40$ for at program that can change the files from the JVC camera? Seriously.. you just need to rename the files.

  • Evelyn

    I’ve managed to get totally confused – and seem to be in analysis paralysis mode in regard to purchasing a camcorder.

    Suggestions please:
    I am purchasing a new iMac when Leopard comes out. Assuming I can do what I want with iLife-08

    I want to purchase a camcorder, I figured hard drive version would be best, but now not sure. With the camcorder I want to film birds and closeup of butterflies. I want to do simple video editing and make a DVD of my efforts.

    I’m interested in purchasing camcorder soon as I want to take it with me on a trip end of Oct.

    Thanks so much.

  • terrywhite

    Evelyn,
    Don’t feel bad. It is confusing.
    My recommendation for your needs would be:
    Canon’s ZR850
    However, if you really want to get a hard drive based camera (and yes I do recognize the benefits) then I would check Apple’s page here for compatible tapeless camcorders and you should be all set:
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=306171#2

  • Evelyn

    Thanks very much Terry – the Apple page was helpful and I ordered a Sony HD.
    I ordered it at B&H Photo as a result noticing it on your blog – the sales rep. was very patient with me and gave excellent explanation – it shipped promptly the next day.

    Talking about favorite things – here’s one
    Maui Jim Sunglasses – really excellent quality sunglasses – outstanding warranty service – mine were replaced free of charge.
    Evelyn

  • Davy G.

    Terry,

    I just completed my first pre-wedding documentary using iMovie HD. It came off really well despite using two different Sony Cybershots to get the video portions done. I think I’ve pretty much maximized what I can do in iMovie and have purchased Final Cut Express. My buddy and I looking to collaborate and start a small video business (putting together small dvd’s for Christmas, birthdays, etc…) He wants us to both buy Canon XH-A1’s, which I’ve done research on and have received top reviews…. but I am in the process of buying a house and can’t afford 3500 bucks right now.

    My idea was for him to buy the Canon XH-A1 and I buy something smaller for us to keep in our back pocket if we’re doing something where using a bigger camera wouldn’t be feasible. I was looking at the Canon HV20. Do you have any opinions on this camera and do you know of any compability issues that it may have with Final Cut Express?

  • Landon

    Hey, I bought the sony DCRS 82 HDD camcorder and have just discovered how hard it is to attempt to edit videos with it. It does record in that rediculous MPEG format and I was just wondering if anyone knows of editing software that reads it because even sony’s own video editing software is not compatible with the format, how idiotic is that.

  • Roger

    I bought a Panasonic camcorder that records the AVHCD format onto a SD card. Picture quality is great, editing is easy and the the download to my laptop is supreme. no cables or stuff, just copy from the SD card. It only takes a couple of minutes to move 4 gigs.
    Playback is HD 1080i with 5.1 sound
    No motor sounds on the sound track
    No complaints other than I found it on sale after buying mine.

  • Mike

    My wife bought the Sony DCR DVD108 which uses mini DVD’s. The key to making it work with a Mac seems to be to finalize the DVD (even -R) via the control panel of the camera. When I connect it to my Mac using the supplied USB cable I get a VIDEO_TS folder. I then use Visual Hub to turn that into a H.264 optimized mp4 file, which I can play on Apple TV, Iphone and Ipods; and further edit. I can also burn the VIDEO_TS folder to a full size DVD using Popcorn 3.

    My wife and kids love the camera because it is so easy to use, so I had to find a way to make it work with a Mac. Turns out it is very easy, but does require 2 pieces of software that will cost about $80 total I think. There are freeware and shareware programs that do this but I have found Visual Hub and Popcorn 3 to be simple, fast and reliable.

  • debi

    You may have covered this a million years ago, but I can’t find anything on your blogs about converting all those old vhs tapes I have to dvd’s. Someone at Staples suggested something called “Dazzle”, it’s supposed to be a simple kit to do this. Any suggestions or comments?

  • terrywhite

    Debi,
    Actually I haven’t covered VHS to DVD here yet. It really depends on what you want. If you just want a straight transfer, then I would go with a combo unit that has a VHS deck on one side and a DVD recorder on the other side. If you want to do some editing then I would get a camcorder that allows for DV passthrough and connect my VHS deck to it so that I bring the video into my computer. I haven’t used Dazzle.

  • Price Taylor

    Bingo! I bought a Sony direct to DCR DVD-403 2 Xmases ago. It takes decent video and has very good audio. BUT…you hit the nail on the dead, it records to an obscure format that needs to be converted to MPEG4 before doing anything with it (like posting to Google video). None of the reviews I read covered this before I bought. I can live with it but it is a pain.

  • Ben

    Confusion with the file formats on HDD and DVD Cameras made me get a Sony DCR-HC96E 3 Megapixel DV Camcorder. Great image quality and works perfect when editing in Premiere Pro 1.5, 2.0, and CS3. Just need to switch on the Camcorder and import (via firewire) the DV-footage with or without scene detection without touching the camcorder. When ready I can choose to print to tape back to the camcorder or export the movie to my PC in many different formats.
    The camcorder may also be used for video pass through for conversion of video material.
    One risk with the HDD camcorders is that people store lots of footage without exporting it from the camera, a friend of mine had a bad experience when his camera was stolen.

  • Eric

    Hi Terry,

    Just discovered your blog a while ago and came across this post. Really enjoy your writing but wanted to correct a couple of false impressions here. Most importantly – HDV is also MPEG! In fact there are a number of MPEG based codecs out there and many of them can be edited natively in the major video editing software apps, including FCP.

    The problems is that there is always a lag between the appearance of a new codec and support in updated versions of the editing software. This was the biggest knock against HDV when it first appeared on the scene four or five years ago. Many thought the product was dead on arrival, underestimating both the growing demand for affordable HD resolution systems and the manufacturers ability and readiness to improve the format. Within a short time the editing platforms all supported HDV natively and the format exploded.

    While I’m not saying that the same is inevitably true with the HDD and miniDVD camcorders, they are still very new on the market and the software is only now beginning to catch up. I would expect innovations to make the conversion or editing of such material relatively painless in the near future. This is particularly true of the HDD camcorders as they need to interface with a computer for backups etc.

    As for MOI files, unnecessary for your computer. Only the MOD files should be required and they are actually, or should be, MPEG files as well. I do hate the extension and naming chaos of the various file formats and that brings me to the last issue here. The really problem is that these formats are coming directly to the consumer landscape without the normal maturation through the pro and semi pro world. In the past, many of the innovations in video filtered down from the professional universe but that’s reversed to some degree in recent years. The start was with DV where consumer camcorders appeared prior to pro units. It continued with HDV and hasn’t ceased since. There are reasons for this but the downside of this rapid innovation is consumers left with immature and non-standardized equipment and software.

    it’s not all bad though. . . we do get shiny new toys to play with that we couldn’t even imagine just a year or two earlier!

    Have fun.

  • Paul

    ARrrrrg.
    Bought the Sony HDD with 40 gig drive,…. not happy with the video output AFter 10 days I went back to Future Shop and upgraded to the Canon HG10 … not happy with the file format issues but did like the output. However, cannot play the HD files on any of my DVD players (the video is in AVCHD format) only on my computer.

    But now I know why the stupid software included a Backup Tool (version1.0) that allows you to move the files back and forth on the hard drive so you can play the videos via the camera.

    The other issue regading the HDD camcorders is the drive reliablity – the extra warranty is another $200 for 2 years. Not sure what I am going to do, but will research more cameras with a focus on the file formats!

  • Ian

    Hi..Thanks Terry, should have read this before present time. Got Sally a new camcorder for Christmas mini dvd. Of course her MacBook will not take the mini-dvd’s. GGRRRHHHH I think she could handle the file requirements Ok, are you aware of a USB reader for a MacBook that can handle the discs?

    Thanks.

  • MIKE

    Hi, Terry…love the review on the iPhone. Just to let you and everyone else know that I had bought the JVC Everio HDD months ago and overall am pleased with it. My main reason for purchasing this item was that I was getting tired of buying tapes for an analog camcorder that I have and having various events on the same tape. I’m not big into editing, which is why I chose this type of recorder having 30 GB of HD that I can record, download, organize, and then burn DVDs. Like I said, I’m not big into editing, so according to what you and everyone else are saying about these types of recorders, this might not be an appropriate one to have, but it works great for me, the simple shoot, organise, and burn DVD type-of-guy:)

    Keep up the great product reviews!

    MIKE

  • MILT R SMITH

    HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER to view & edit short home hi-def(720p) video clips? My desktop has Intel 2.66GHz processor, 256kb GeForce graphics card, 2Gigs main memory, and I either get good audio with herky-jerky video, or video displaying every 3rd or 4th frame with fair audio. I have the latest Quicktime software for Windows with all options. Why am I having this problem? Motherboard manufacturer & Quicktime support say hardware should run this fine. What is the problem?

  • Ben-Jammin

    Question:

    Is it at all possible for hard drive camcorders to offer a live feed to a computer?

    My situation is I’m trying to do some stop-motion animation, and I have this frame-grabbing program, but in my research I’ve discovered that it will only work with a DV stream, since it just grabs a frame of what the camcorder sees at the moment. I fear more and more that this is impossible with my new hard drive camcorder that I got for Christmas. It’s a Sony HDR-SR7, but you can only connect it through USB, no FireWire. Are there any solutions other than to buy a new camcorder?

    (I realize that this blog may not be the best place for this question, but thanks anyway!!!)

  • I agree with Terry. I try to convince everyone I know that plans on editing their footage to steer clear of mini-DVD camcorders.

    MPEG Streamclip has been a life saver for situations where a client hands me a miniDVD or DVD to edit. Demuxing to mpeg2 (finalcut will edit m2v) or transcoding it to DV has worked great.

  • Julian

    I too was gutted to find that I have to muck about with the files to import into iMovie, but I have a question on a slightly different angle. I bought a JVC 40gb HDD camera before I went skiing last week and was gutted to find the picture quality, in my opinion, absolutely awful. I had it on the highest setting and still the edges of objects are blurred by loads of horizontal lines. Does anybody else find this a problem? And if not, do you want to buy a JVC 40gb camera?

  • Thanks for the tip on Handbrake. I, silly moi, just bought a minidvd camcorder. But thanks to your tip, it won’t be much of a problem converting to mp4 format. Cheers and thanks.

  • Appleman

    Hi Terry. I am just looking to purchase a new camcorder and was eyeing the new JVC Everio 60GB HDD model (With the dock). I recently had to use a mini DVD cam for editing and was extremely frustrated with importing it into Premiere Pro 2 (my primary video editor). I fully understand the quality reduction with the MOD (mpeg2) file format that this camera uses and can live with that. This camera comes with a dock which has USB 2.0 AND Firewire outputs on it. Do you think that i will be able to play in the footage over the firewire using premiere’s built in capture utility just like a miniDV camcorder. This would hopefully circumvent the conversion process that may be required if I take the traditional “Copy from the Hard Drive” approach. I am using Windows in case it matters. Thanks for your time, great blog, have a good one.

  • Ben-Jammin

    Can a hard drive camcorder with USB and HDMI but no FireWire deliver a live feed to a computer?

  • Francis Metivier

    All i want to do is transfert my mini-DVD into Final Cut Pro to make a little movie….
    i tried to change the DVD (.VRO) to MP4 with hand brake and most of the time i don t get all the scenes and anyway Final Cut Pro cannot read it….
    i could definitly used some advise…. thanks… francis

  • Hi Terry, Help!!

    Terry, I have just completed transferring my VHS tapes to DVD-R discs using a Panasonic DMR-ES35V DVD recorder. My old RCA VHSC camcorder has completely quit on me and I am looking for a hybrid digital camcorder. Please suggest a camcorder that is user friendly and will transfer to my Pansonic DMR. My DMR has a 4-pin 1EEE 1394 port. Will the 3 inch disc transfer to the 5 inch DVD-R or DVD-RW directly from a digital camcorder to the DMR? What format will I need? The Panasonic manual does state that it will transfer digital video via the DV port 4-pin 1394.

    Please help!!!!!!!

    Respectfully,

    John Hardin

  • Ulrich Muzyk

    I am fairly new to Adobe Premiere CS3. I transferred my old VHS onto DVD-RAM using a Panasonic HD Recorder. Since Premiere cannot read VRO files I simple renamed the extention to AVI, i.e. file.avi
    Now I can import it to Premiere and it looks fine. The only problem that I encountered is that the audio is out of sync with the video. Is this a wrong setting in Premiere, i.e. set up of the project?

    I can view the file.avi in Windows media player, Nero show view and others without this problem.
    Does anyone have a hint what to do? Thank you.

    Best Regards
    Ulrich

  • Wil

    Hi I was just searching for some info on camcorder formats and came across this site. I just bought a used panasonic D300 camcorder and found out how much more work is needed with a minidvd camcorder. So many limitations and time consuming processes like having, pre-formatting the disks before your trips, only 20mins on 1 side of the disk, finalizing the disk while plugging into the AC to name a few. Luckily I paid a really great price so it offsets the downsides. Plus it’s my first unit and it has full manual control and optical stabilization. It’s still great to try shooting in different settings out. I want to say that there is a great free software called SUPER that converts virtually any file to any file. I works great and it’s free!

  • Erik

    Hi Terry,

    My wife and I have an eight week old and bought a mini dvd camcorder to capture our son’s big moments. The first disks I used were TDK DVD-R’s. I removed the disks before filling recording space to record a project at work. This may have been my mistake exposing the disks to more handling and dust. I have two of these TDK DVD-R disks with footage that the camcorder will return a message saying the disk may scratched or dirty. The camcorder will not read these. I tried cleaning the lense with alcohol and using a lint free cloth to remove as much dust as possible from the disks and still no luck. There appear to be no visible scratches. Should I try buffing the disks with the tootpaste method??? Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

    Happy Holidays,
    Erik

    • Paco Vasda

      Do not touch your DVD or CD reader lens.
      If there is dirt thick enough that it would require cleaning then you will most certainly damage it removing said scrubbable dirt.