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Forums Storage & Archiving miniDV capture woes…

  • miniDV capture woes…

  • Philip James

    September 24, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I need to capture and archive 70 miniDV tapes for a friend. I didn’t think this would be too difficult but I am struggling to find an effective solution. I have a Sony HVR-M15J deck connected to my MBP via Thunderbolt 3 -2- FW800. The laptop sees the deck. I absolutely need an option where I can capture tapes without having to watch over them – I just want to start a tape capturing, walk away, and then come back later to check the length of the record and do a spot check or two. I want to capture each tape as a single clip, across any timecode breaks. I don’t want the capture to stop until it has reached the end of the tape. I want to capture as DV native.

    So far I have tried three capture options:

    1) iMovie – it breaks the capture into clips and is unreliable at capturing everything on the tape

    2) LifeFlix – supposedly a specialist for DV capture – it also broke the media into clips and ended up recording the same chunk over and over after a timecode break on a tape

    3) Media Composer – it doesn’t recognise the deck but Capture Tool does see the video coming in in Global mode. I can capture video wild (with TOD timecode) but it’s not capturing audio, even though audio is registering on the audio metering coming in. It gves me an error message about audio sample rate mismatch and changing my project audio setting to 32k seemed to stop it aborting but then I found my clips were mute. Hmmm

    Someone mentioned Final Cut or Premiere Pro – maybe an old version more used to miniDV? All my Macs now run Catalina but I have an external SSD with Mojave that I run a few 32 bit apps from that I still use occasionally.

    This is tougher than I thought it would be. Anyone got any wisdom on this?

    Thank you, Phil

  • Greg Pasztor

    November 4, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Purchase a Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle. Download the Media Express software. Use the component out of your DV deck..& audio. In the Media Express software, go to preferences and uncheck the boxes for:

    -Stop capture if dropped frames are detected

    -Stop playback if dropped frames are detected

    Depending on your audio routing, you may not be able to hear when capturing, though the meters should indicate level. You will have to manually stop the capture.


  • Arusha Baker

    March 12, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Is this a lossless transfer? I work with MINI DV tapes, and have yet to find a better workflow than the following, which is not ideal, but it is lossless:
    1. play tapes from mini dv deck
    2. connect via firewire to OLD mac laptop with firewire 800 doc.
    3. Import via FCP or Premiere Pro – although I end up using FCP because premiere sticks with tape media. That is, unless I am missing something.

    I am ultimately looking to build a mini dv archive suite, which will include purchase of a better minidv deck (from who knows where). Phil, there are resources to look into on

  • Paul Carlin

    March 17, 2021 at 4:22 am

    It will be difficult to capture across breaks without going analog. You are attempting to encapsulate the DV steam into a file, but the data steam is highly unstable and can’t be captured reliably. Capturing ProRes422 HQ will be more than sufficient and will far exceed the DV codec’s capabilities (meaning that there will be no visible loss of quality). Look into running the analog video through a TBC and then into an analog capture device like the aforementioned Intensity. This will reduce your frustration level 10 fold and allow you to walk away. Set a timer for 1 hour and stop the capture manually. You can even trim the QT movies later if you want to keep things nice and organized. ProRes is an excellent choice for this. Be sure to capture native size to preserve the interlacing.

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