Video import hardware

cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricksRaleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
edited January 6, 2013 in Video
Hey video gurus....

I have two older video cameras and lots of family video that I would like to import and digitize into my iMac. The newer camera is a Sony DCR-TRV10, and includes Firewire, so I am good with that one. However, the older model is a Sony CCD -TR6, a Video8 model that only sports composite video out. My thought is to find an adapter that will plug into the iMac USB or Firewire, and simply import from the camera.

I also have an old VHS or two that I want to digitize, and finally, I actually have a LaserDisc player, and I want to use it to digitize a few old movies I have on LaserDisc (original Star Wars trilogy, without the added scenes and effects since added in case you wanted to know why).

The older Sony video camera has only a 'yellow' and 'white' RCA plug on it, so I am fairly limited as to connections, while the LaserDisc has composite and S Video. I don't think it has component, but not sure.

So, what does the brain trust here recommend as hardware to best grab video from the old composite and S Video sources I have available?

Comments

  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
  • cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricks Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    Thanks, I have been considering this from Elgato, but wanted to know if anyone has experience with these. There are literally hundreds, and they all seem to be somewhat associated with software, I think.
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Thousand Oaks, CAPosts: 19,160Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    Most likely way out of your price range, but just throwing this out there as a rock-solid and more capable solution that may prove more useful to you in the long run, or just as likely turn out to be a waste of money: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity/ $190 at BH.
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  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    DavidTO wrote: »
    Most likely way out of your price range, but just throwing this out there as a rock-solid and more capable solution that may prove more useful to you in the long run, or just as likely turn out to be a waste of money: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity/ $190 at BH.


    DavidTo, that's a good piece but I always thought of it more for live-capture versus the OP's need. Still for it's capabilities, not at all expensive!
    tom wise
  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    @ Cmason, Sorry, didn't realize you were a MAC guy!:D
    tom wise
  • cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricks Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    Interesting. No denying Blackmagic knows what they are doing...is there anything *better* about this hardware that would say lead to better quality from my obviously low quality originals?
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Thousand Oaks, CAPosts: 19,160Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    Interesting. No denying Blackmagic knows what they are doing...is there anything *better* about this hardware that would say lead to better quality from my obviously low quality originals?

    Most likely not. It's more about if you're going to spend money, at least think of something that has other features you may find useful. If they're not useful to you now or in the future, then don't spend your money on it.

    For me, if I had to do it I would spend more to get the thing I trust. But the others are so cheap that you're really not risking a whole lot to give 'em a shot. thumb.gif
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  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 3, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    Interesting. No denying Blackmagic knows what they are doing...is there anything *better* about this hardware that would say lead to better quality from my obviously low quality originals?
    DavidTO wrote: »
    Most likely not. It's more about if you're going to spend money, at least think of something that has other features you may find useful. If they're not useful to you now or in the future, then don't spend your money on it.

    For me, if I had to do it I would spend more to get the thing I trust. But the others are so cheap that you're really not risking a whole lot to give 'em a shot. thumb.gif

    Indeed. All you're looking for here is a connection and a program to make sense of it. I'd go just that route unless I needed LIVE-Capture! And no, nothing here is going to turn SD into HD. We do all know that each time we encode we degrade and I don't think there's a caveat. You cannot take a old VHS tape and make it better, maybe Hollywood could with proprietary-software and hundreds of hours, but I wouldn't bet on it.

    Oh, btw, what kind of program are you going to use to reencode and burn to DVD with? or are you going to burn to Laser Disc? If so, how does that work?
    tom wise
  • cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricks Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 4, 2013
    angevin1 wrote: »
    Oh, btw, what kind of program are you going to use to reencode and burn to DVD with? or are you going to burn to Laser Disc? If so, how does that work?

    My basic plan was just to import into iMovie. I actually have Premiere via an 'overpurchase' of CS5, but I don't really want to learn how to use it.

    No DVD, I will simply convert to H.264, mp4 or other format and leave on the hard drive for streaming.

    The LaserDisc is just a player. In fact, I don't know if my old player still works, but I hope it does, at least one last time. I bought it in 1993, to play on my new, 27" Sony TV, which offered incredible S Video and lots of other acronyms that seem completely silly and outdated today. At the time, it looked amazing, and for some reason, I didn't mind having to flip the LaserDisc over or change the disc halfway through the movie!. On the other hand, that TV, which still works and is in my office now, weighs 125lbs, and cost HALF of what I paid for a LCD TV 10 years later. TVs have gotten better, bigger and far more expensive.
  • angevin1angevin1 Performs as designed Posts: 3,403Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 4, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    No DVD, I will simply convert to H.264, mp4 or other format and leave on the hard drive for streaming.

    Thanks for explaining the Laser Disc system. I thought maybe I was behind again! :)

    But on the "converting" thing, that is where you can make or break a difference in quality. I think these systems come with software and that software does the work. If you can record in your final wrapper; H.264, MPEG, then good, but if you have to convert again after capture or record, then I'd look closely at the encoding process/software to get the better result. Since you have CS5, Media Encoder can convert these files for you and you can actively adjust the settings for a better encode!
    tom wise
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,083Super Moderators moderator
    edited January 5, 2013
    For "clean" SD analog video, I recommend either the Grass Valley ADVC110 Bi-Directional Analog/Digital Converter or the Grass Valley ADVC55 for uni-direcional conversion. This basically turns your analog camcorder or VCR into an IEEE-1394 (Firewire) DV video source (or source and inverse destination for the ADVC110).

    For source video which has a fair amount of noise (mostly visible in a still frame of the video), I recommend searching for a used Canopus/Grass Valley ADVC300, which is similar to the ADVC110 except that it includes a Dynamic Noise Reduction circuit to greatly reduce the video noise levels, improving video quality quite a bit. (DV video has a fixed bandwidth, which means video noise competes with video content detail during DV compression when the video is being encoded. In other words, if you don't reduce video noise before the DV encoding, you lose lots of video detail.) Be aware that the ADVC300 can cost nearly the same used as they did new. Expect to pay around $300-$400, depending on the condition of the unit.

    Another method of reducing video noise uses an older high-end VCR which has DNR noise reduction. Just take the video from the analog source into the VCR with DNR turned on, then take that output into an ADVC55, which converts to DV and outputs firewire. (I use both a Toshiba SV-F990 VCR and a Philips VR6995 VCR for that function.)

    If the video is poorly exposed or improper white balance, you may also wish to use a real-time video processor, like an old Elite Video, Broadcast Video Processor(plus)(model BVP4+), plus a proc amp like the Studio 1 Video Processing amplifier. While they can't do miracles, video processing units can add some life and spice back to an older video source, and get the video closer to a proper IRE level, like a 7.5 IRE black level (setup/pedestal) and whites at 100 IRE. (Ideally, the analog to digital converter translates these into 16/235 "Y" luminance, suitable for the DV stream.)

    I'm not saying anyone has to go to all of these lengths, but at least video DNR should be applied as needed for best results going to digital video.


    It's also possible to just use a DVD recorder. These can convert the analog video into a DVD+-R/RW, which many computers can also view for constituent video files. Once you create the DVD, just use a computer to look for "VOB" files, which are the video-audio content in MPEG-2 format. Copy the VOB files into your computer, and you can use them for storage. Of course, the better the source video and the better the DVD recorder, the better the typical results for the conversion. MPEG-2 is pretty lossy, and you can lose audio sync, so this isn't the best approach if you need further editing.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricks Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 5, 2013
    Thanks Ziggy, that looks really interesting. I think that might be better than the Blackmagic mentioned earlier, because the Blackmagic requires USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt and seems picky about it. So, I could not use that unless I buy a brand spanking new mac.

    What is the difference in this device, vs say a dongle like the Elegato USB converter, or even the Blackmagic Video Recorder? The latter two seem to be limited to converting to H.264, whereas the other devices convert to something else or some other format? They seem to be priced the same, so trying to figure which is most appropriate.

    Perhaps the Grass Valley and Blackmagic have onboard H.264 converters, so that I don't have to rely on the slower CPU on the Mac? Something like the Elegato Turbo H.264, but combined with the converter and breakout box?

    Firewire is fine, as I need it for my current video camera, though Apple seems to be abandoning it. USB 3.0 would be great, but I don't have it now, and it might be on the next Mac I get, who knows?
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,083Super Moderators moderator
    edited January 5, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    ... What is the difference in this device, vs say a dongle like the Elegato USB converter, or even the Blackmagic Video Recorder? The latter two seem to be limited to converting to H.264, whereas the other devices convert to something else or some other format? They seem to be priced the same, so trying to figure which is most appropriate. ...

    Let me start with the differences between some of these common video formats.

    With analog video, like your Video 8 tapes plus VHS/SVHS tapes, video is recorded as discrete frames, while audio is recorded as a stream.

    With DV video, like that coming out of the Grass Valley boxes, the video and the audio are also discrete frames. (The audio stream is converted into discrete quanta that can fit into each frame, along with the video.) In digital video terms, each DV video frame is an "I-frame", or "Intraframe", meaning that each frame is unique and does not depend on surrounding frames for any information. This also means that each frame is a "key frame", meaning that a video editing application can cut at any frame in the file.

    H.264 is an MPEG4 varient, and all MPEG compressed files consist of three type of frames:
    1) "I-frame", as above. These are used sparingly in MPEG files.
    2) "P-frame", or "Predictive frame". These frames use visual information based on previous reference frames, but they are not complete frames themselves.
    3) "B-frame", or "Bi-Directional frame", meaning that these frames use visual information from either previous or later frames. Again, these are not complete frames themselves.

    Since only the I-frames are complete, all other frames have to be generated from either prior frames or surrounding frames. This makes for more compact files (higher compression), but at the expense of lost information (which may, or may not, be visually significant). All of this processing means that more powerful computers have to be used for both playback and editing of MPEG files too.

    MPEG files are generally recommended for distribution, but not for acquisition or editing. (Modern camcorders do a commendable job using H.264 for acquisition, however.)

    I greatly prefer DV files over any MPEG for anything in standard definition, which includes most consumer analog video source.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • DavidTODavidTO Mod Emeritus Thousand Oaks, CAPosts: 19,160Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins
    edited January 5, 2013
    Excellent explanation, Ziggy! clap.gif
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  • cmasoncmason Old dog, new tricks Raleigh, NCPosts: 2,506Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 6, 2013
    So the Grass Valley and I presume BlackMagic Shuttle products will take analog and convert to DV format, which is the same as what my Digital8 Sony camera does over Firewire. All the other solutions convert to H.264 first, meaning I will only have the choice of an original in H.254, sorta like shooting in JPEG to begin with, right?
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,083Super Moderators moderator
    edited January 6, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    So the Grass Valley and I presume BlackMagic Shuttle products will take analog and convert to DV format, which is the same as what my Digital8 Sony camera does over Firewire. ...

    I'm just learning about the BlackMagic Design Intensity Shuttle series, so bear with me as I'm not absolutely certain of specifics.

    It does appear as though the basic Intensity Shuttle is Windows 7 only, does not support Dell computers, and requires USB 3.

    For Mac, there is the Intensity Shuttle with Thunderbolt, obviously requiring a Mac with Thunderbolt capability. There is also an "Extreme" version of the Thunderbolt box, which allows some real-time Final Cut and Premiere effects.


    For Mac and Win 7 desktop machines there is an internal PCI-E card, the "Intensity Pro HDMI and Analog Editing Card". Mac compatibility statement for this card:

    "Mac:
    Mac OS X 10.6.5, 10.7.x
    2008 Intel Mac Pro (Mac Pro 3,1); 2009 Intel Mac Pro Mac Pro 4,1); 2010 Intel Mac Pro (Mac Pro 5,1)
    4 GB system memory
    High-speed storage with plenty of capacity is required to capture and play back uncompressed digital video. Compressed video formats use less space and can usually be captured and played back with one hard disk"


    Also:

    "Avid Media Composer 6 internal effects in DNxHD, XDCAM, and uncompressed
    Apple Final Cut Pro internal effects in DV, DVCPRO HD, ProRes, and uncompressed on Intel Mac OS X
    Adobe Premiere Pro Mercury Playback Engine effects in DV, MJPEG, DVCPRO HD, DSLR, AVCHD, XDCAM, XDCAM HD, and uncompressed"



    So yes, it looks like both the BlackMagic Design PCI-E card and the Grass Valley boxes will do DV video files from an analog source, but only the Grass Valley boxes use Firewire connections. (It looks like the BlackMagic Design PCI-E card simply creates the different video files from the analog stream.)
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 21,083Super Moderators moderator
    edited January 6, 2013
    cmason wrote: »
    ... All the other solutions convert to H.264 first, meaning I will only have the choice of an original in H.254, sorta like shooting in JPEG to begin with, right?

    H.264 video is a very lossy format for an analog SD source, compared to the DV format. For your application and equipment it does sound like the older Canopus/Grass Valley ADVC300 would be the best overall solution, since it includes dynamic noise reduction. That will get you DV files which should mix pretty well with your Digital 8 camcorder (which natively produces DV and has somewhat less noise from the files.)

    The BlackMagic stuff is supposed to be very nice, but you seem to require a lot more computer horsepower to get the finished product. (Software and additional processing to get noise reduction.)
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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