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Thread: Converting old videos

  1. #1

    Converting old videos

    I'm planning to convert my miniDVs and a few VHS tapes to a digital format for ease of viewing and before they "go bad".
    My first question is, should I save myself some time and my sanity and just use one of existing services that would do it for me for a fee? I have about 30 miniDVs and 5 or so VHS tapes. Of course I'd want to save the money and I seem to have almost all I need for the task. I already have a video capture card that I bought a several years ago that saves videos in DV format. I have SE 1.5 that I'd use for editing. I'm not sure if upgrading to 2.0 at this time would be worthwhile. I also have a secondary workstation that would not tie my main computer while converting.

    My second question is, what would be the workflow if I used SE for editing, but encoded to MPEG in a 3rd party application? Ideally I'd want to keep files in MPEG format (better suggestions?). I want to avoid encoding in SE and then re-rencoding in another application. Can I save videos cut in SE with the original codec untouched?

    I'm eyeing CinemaCraft Encoder Basic, which is affordable for me, and it appears to perform well. How does SE's MPEG encoder compare to other
    encoders in terms of speed and quality? I thought I've read somewhere that it is not the best, but I may be wrong. It would be great if I could do everything in SE and not worry about quality much. Originals may not be perfect, but I don't want to degrade is further.

    In the end, back to my first question, is it worth the effort to convert is all myself or should I spend a few hundred bucks and have it done for me (minus editing, I guess)? One company I found (imemories.com) has quite reasonable prices.

  2. #2
    Registered User donx's Avatar
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    When you say... "ease of viewing", what do you mean?
    If you mean DVD, then get yourself a stand alone DVD recorder or a VHS/DVD dual recorder deck. Set it at high quality setting (one hour per DVD) You can plug in an external analog video source and with the right deck maybe even firewire.
    Encoding will be done in real time. I have a Toshiba deck ($150) that does a very good job of encoding audio and video to DVD (mpeg format). You can copy these encodes to the computer for editing if needed.

  3. #3
    By ease of viewing I mean that I do not have to have my old vcr or miniDV camera hooked up to my tv, I don't have to find and rewind tapes, I can quickly skip to any section of the movie that I want. I just don't want to deal with tapes anymore, just digital files that I can play on my computer or multimedia device hooked up to my network and tv.

    I am more concerned with my miniDV tapes. I have only a few VHS tapes that I'd want to convert. Are there any affordable decks like that for minidv tapes? Realtime encoding sounds good

  4. #4
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    I picture two reasons for your post (since you haven't really specified why you want to do this).

    1. This footage is personal stuff and you want to preserve them in digital format for personal viewing.

    2. This footage is business related stuff and you want to preserve them in digital format for archiving purposes.

    If your intention is scenario 1, then I go with Don's suggestion.

    If your intention is scenario 2, then I'd say in the case of outsourcing, I'd look at whether to footage will pay for itself to be outsource converted in the future or has already paid for itself and can be afforded the luxury of outsourcing easily.

    If this is yes, I'd take that as my first option.

    Downside is that you may not have any say in the resultant file codec and that may lead to complications down the line when you want to edit it.

    If you decided to do it yourself, then I'd say the workflow I'd use, is to:

    1. Capture using SE via firewire if possible
    2. If it's not possible, capture using whatever methods you have then transcode to SpeedHQ codec in SE
    3. Edit footage
    4. Render final edit in an uncompressed avi file format
    5. Bring file into a dvd authoring program and burn a dvd from that.


    I try not to use SE's MPEG file formats for creating DVD ready files, as I've never been too happy with the quality.

    Hope this helps

    Shabazzy

  5. #5
    Thanks for replying and confirming the quality problems with SE's MPEG.
    The videos are all personal. Occasionally my kids want to see this or that event. I have to pull out my camera, find the right tapes, hook it all up... you get the idea And archiving the videos is a also one of the reasons for the conversion.

    For capturing I use whatever software came with the capture card. It's an older consumer level card but it's not too bad actually supports firewire too. I haven't tried SE's capture. It may work with the card. I'll give it a try.

    Wouldn't transcoding to SpeedHQ take some additional time? Do you know the approximate size of uncompressed 1hr video?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by art View Post
    Wouldn't transcoding to SpeedHQ take some additional time? Do you know the approximate size of uncompressed 1hr video?
    Hi Art,

    Transcoding
    Transcoding is definately an extra step, but depending on the speed of your computer and size of the file to transcode, the length of time can vary.

    The reason, I suggest it is because it will GUARANTEE SE can make use of the file without any issues, and you'll be able to edit freely. When you use native files from other software or tapeless video cameras, there is always the spectre of incompatibility with SE that causes lots of frustration. This can usually be circumvented by transcoding to SpeedHQ straight from the start. In the long run it's a real timesaver in exchange for a bit of initial inconvenience.

    Filesize
    Well, it depends. I guess I should have stated that you have a choice of a 'Lossless' codec or an 'Uncompressed' codec.

    Uncompressed files will be MASSIVE (we're talking tens to hundreds of gigabytes here folks) for a 1hr edit, but you are guaranteed not to lose a thing in quality.

    Lossless files can vary depending on which codec you use and whether its compatible with other video related software (like DVD authoring software). Lossless codecs (like Huffy, SpeedHQ) can create small filesizes and retain the quality of the native file by not losing any (or very little) of the video information (hence the term lossless). Sizes on average for a 1 hour project can be in the high megabytes to low gigabytes.

    Again it all depends on which codec you use.

  7. #7
    I'll give SpeedHQ a try and see how it goes. I probably don't have enough disk space to handle huge uncompressed files

  8. #8
    Just edit in SE and output to AVI DV type 1 or 2. If you are just going to play them to your tv as a digital file, the quality will be there. Should be about 12GB per 1 hr of tape. If that is too much space, then you have to explore further lossy codecs, including mp2 or mp4. As long as you are able to play them on your media server, you should be good to go.

  9. #9
    Paintball Video Geek billmi's Avatar
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    If this is just for personal use, grab a DVD recorder - they can be found for around $100, and many have firewire input and control - just hook up the camera, use the on screen menus, and they'll control playback from the camera and dub the tape straight to DVD in realtime. Way, way less time than capturing to SE and converting to other formats. Worse yet, if you convert to SpeedHQ, are your kids going to have something that can play NewTek's discontinued (well, Speed Edit still has it, but Tricasters no longer use it for recording) propriatary format in 10 years? I'll bet they'll be able to find something that will play DVDs in 10 years.
    Last edited by billmi; 12-01-2011 at 05:25 AM.
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  10. #10
    To those suggesting that the easiest way to do this is with a standalone dvd player, billmi said he wants digital files that he can play on his computer so he doesnt have to hook anything up or look for this tape or that. DVD is the same as a vcr except the tape is a disc. It's still something he has to look for and load and possibly have to connect a dvd player to watch.

  11. #11
    Haven't thought about that Right now I have a dvd player hooked up to my TV but in the future I probably will not. I simply want to have the movies in a digital format, stored either on archival quality optical media (DVD at the moment) or a hard drive or whatever the future brings. As I said, I planned to convert to mpeg so that I could fit them on DVDs (just store files, without fully authoring with menus, etc) and I figured mpeg format would be popular for a while. I guess I could just leave the movies in AVI DV format and keep them on a larger hard drive. I'll take that into consideration.

  12. #12
    Paintball Video Geek billmi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony R View Post
    DVD is the same as a vcr except the tape is a disc. It's still something he has to look for and load and possibly have to connect a dvd player to watch.
    Unless he copies the MPEG based files on the DVD to a hard drive when he wants to view them on a computer. You can't do that with tape.

    The same end result could be achieved by capturing into Speed Edit and converting to MPEG, but would that would take substantially longer and not also include the backup copy on optical media.
    Last edited by billmi; 12-01-2011 at 06:36 AM.
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  13. #13
    that's correct and the reason I want to move to some digital format.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by billmi View Post
    ... Way, way less time than capturing to SE and converting to other formats. Worse yet, if you convert to SpeedHQ, are your kids going to have something that can play NewTek's discontinued (well, Speed Edit still has it, but Tricasters no longer use it for recording) propriatary format in 10 years? I'll bet they'll be able to find something that will play DVDs in 10 years.
    Quote Originally Posted by billmi View Post
    ...The same end result could be achieved by capturing into Speed Edit and converting to MPEG, but would that would take substantially longer and not also include the backup copy on optical media.
    You make some good observations there Bilmi, but I'd point out that the reason SpeedHQ and SpeedEDIT was mentioned as answers to the question is because Art mentioned that he'd have SE1.5 for editing. So with that said, the need for transcoding to SpeedHQ would just be for editing purposes, not for the final product. Legacy codecs wouldn't really be an issue.

    But as you say, for DVD authoring or file archiving, another tool would make lighter work of it.

    Shabazzy.

  15. #15
    Paintball Video Geek billmi's Avatar
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    True, I must have glossed past the editing part. Pre-coffee forum cruising.

    Even then I'd avoid SpeedHQ. MiniDV can be captured straight into SpeedEdit by firewire, and it will save as a DV Codec AVI. There's no transcoding, so it's the best quality possible. It's supported directly by Windows as well as a wide variety of editing and playing apps on many platforms. It edits well in SpeedEdit so there's no transcoding advantage either, just the limitation of only being able to play it with NewTek software or codecs if you use SpeedHQ.

    That still leaves the VHS tapes. If art's MiniDV camera has video inputs, it will probably go into E to E mode when set to VCR mode. In that case, it will work as an analog video capture device. Set it up with VHS via S-video or composite to the camera then firewire to the computer and SpeedEdit will work to grab the resulting realtime DV conversion when you hit play in the VHS deck.

    If not, the DVD recorder will work for the VHS, and still has the nice factor of optical media backups of the originals. Dragging the files from a DVD to hard drive, it's hit or miss in SE 1.55 whether the audio will be read, but SE 2 seems to do an admirable job of taking them as source files directly, no transcoding necessary.
    Last edited by billmi; 12-02-2011 at 05:56 AM.
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