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Convert camcorder recording medium from MiniDV to SD Card

Discussion in 'Camcorders & Video Editing' started by JMak, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. JMak

    JMak Member

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    Hi, I joined this forum to ask for help.

    I have scoured the internet to find out if it's possible to convert a broken Sony VX1000E from recording to MiniDV format to recording straight to SD card or Hard disk drive. I found only 1 suggestion, which is to use an Archos to capture from Firewire and record that way. This may be possible, but I would like a more elegant and portable solution, and to keep the battery life long.

    Ideally, I would like to remove the broken and redundant cassette recorder parts, connect an SD card writer from another low cost video camcorder to the video line from the video processor, and write the MPEG2 or DV stream straight into an SD card.

    I realise I might have to find the video pinouts inside the camera, or hack into the DV output to achieve this, but it seems possible.

    If anyone can help or advise what I need to do, or you know if this is possible, please let me know. I have a bit of capability in microcontroller programming and electronics if this helps.

    Thanks!
  2. rogs

    rogs Active Member

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    I don't think this is going to be a feasible project.
    One of the biggest complaints about the new SD 'card' camcorders, when they first arrived, was that not one was produced that could handle DV streams.
    At the time it was simply that the cards couldn't handle the continuous 25Mb data rate required.
    IIRC the only solid state option for recording DV was Panasonic P2 cards, and they were (are?) silly prices.
    Although that is probably no longer still a problem, I don't think you'll find an SD writer from a 'low cost' camcorder that will handle the task.
    As for reading the video information from your existing 3 CCD sensor output, encoding that information to mpeg2 and then writing that to an SD card......that sounds like you'll need a serious amount of technical know how!
    I wouldn't even be sure that separate mpeg2 encoding hardware chips are available in any 'stand alone' form?
    A real challenge...... if it's possible at all!!
    Interesting idea though!:)

    If you really are keen to keep using your VX1000E (fine camera, but things have come along way since then?.....:)) you might consider using a laptop computer, fitted, if necessary, with a something like this :PCMCIA Firewire 3 port IEEE1394 Laptop Expansion Card: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo to provide a Firewire input.
    Then capture DV video straight to hard disk via firewire, in real time, using something like the WinDV software utility.

    With the exception of P2, I would think that's about as portable as you'll get for 'solid state' DV capture.
  3. JMak

    JMak Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the input. I acquired the camcorder for free from university, because the cassette compartment is broken, and I thought it might be possible to transfer the data stream to another recording medium.

    I have been reading about the SD card and hard drive camcorders and they usually do a lot of compression on-the-fly before writing the information. It's a shame very few affordable solid state memory storers are capable of the data rate.
    I found this, so it looks like I'm not alone in this quest:
    Our Project to Create a Cost Effective Solid State HD Video Recording Device Begins at DVinfo.net

    There is more about recording in real-time on that site...

    It seems hard drive option is more plausible.
  4. Boostrail

    Boostrail Active Member

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    Surely if the DV out is transponding the "camera" video then one could connect this direct to a PC(Laptop? ) having a decent processor, a largish memory, DV in and a large HDD. Then using the acquisition part of any video editing software one will end up with .avi files at 13gb per hour these can then be edited and compressed sensibly to 2-4GB per hour that can be transferred to a SD card or DVD.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010
  5. JMak

    JMak Member

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    Yes, any DV camcorder can do that as long as DV output is on. However, it's not practical to carry a laptop around as well as a camcorder to do outdoor recording. You would also have to click to start recording on both laptop and camcorder. I would much prefer to have a recording medium that I can attach to the camcorder, so it can be carried around as a single unit. If it can be powered from the camcorder battery and synched with the record button on the camcorder, even better.
  6. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  7. JMak

    JMak Member

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    Thanks for that Graham,

    The Quickstream looks ideal! I hope it doesn't cost too much...

    Thanks again.
  8. MarkE19

    MarkE19 Moderator

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    Exactly the same question as asked in this thread with nobody having any ideas on how to go about it.

    I could not find any prices for the Quickstream, but only mention of it being around half the price of the Firestore which is just over £1,000 - making the Quickstream likely to cost in the region of £500 :eek:

    Mark.
  9. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson Well-Known Member

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    Yes based on the American site the base model looks like £400-£500. As you say - OUCH.
  10. iainwesty

    iainwesty Member

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    I have an old samsung MiniDV camcorer. a cheap camera but quite capable at that. problem is that it records the sound of its own tape deck. (frustrting)
    that firewire hard-drive seems idea but its %500 more than what i paid for the camera 8 years ago. their must be another way round this.
  11. JMak

    JMak Member

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    Hi, I agree, it should be easy, but I still haven't found an easy way to do it. There must be some way of converting the digital video signal and streaming to an external hard drive without paying £1000 for the privilege. Hard disk camcorders have the hardware that does this, but theres no easy way to integrate the parts in old equipment.

    I believe you can buy an Archos media player with various video inputs. It does pretty much the same job, but you can use it as a media player as well. I don't think they make that product any more though. Theres' also some cheap netbooks and laptops with firewire input. I also found this:
    Products - Digital video recorders
    But I don't know if it's worth the money...

    Like others have said, unless you can get a free (or cheap) repair done under warranty you are probably better off buying a new camcorder instead of trying to resurrect your old one - sad but true.
  12. rogs

    rogs Active Member

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    Just when it seemd as if the idea of DV onto solid state media was never likely to appear in any other form, other than those mentioned above, Panasonic suddenly come up with a camcorder that does record DV to SD card!

    See here: http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/includes/pdf/AG-HMC80.pdf

    OK, it's not a consumer camcorder, but who would have thought a new camcorder, recording DV to SD card, would have appeared at this late stage in the life of DV?

    Still no cheap way though.......:(
  13. JMak

    JMak Member

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    @Rogs:

    I couldn't help but laugh at that picture - that camcorder is HUGE for for something that uses SD cards! I wonder if they pad it out with bricks to make it feel heavier?

    Anyway, I keep thinking "there must be something out there". I found a few more gadgets that kind of do what we want for a price:

    Cowon A3 (has AV-in) Similar to some Archos devices.
    Cowon A3 Review (30GB) - Portable Video Players (PVPs) - CNET Reviews

    Sony DV tape and SD recorders:
    HD DV tape portable recorder : Accessory Finder : Sony

    Sony portable DVD recorders:
    DVDirect : Sony

    A USB video capture device for PC-
    Has AV, Composite and S-video in, encodes on-the-fly (unsure if this does it in hardware or software).
    USB Video Audio Grabber : Video Editing : Maplin

    A tiny program for recording/outputting DV from Firewire on computer
    WinDV

    I still haven't found what I want - a small cheap device with DV Firewire input that records straight to SD card...
  14. senu

    senu Well-Known Member

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    JVC made some HDD camcorders that recorded DV AVI and used firewire but they dont seem to have caught on because mpeg2 and fast USB transfer have made the real time firewire transfer and huge DV AVI file sizes less attractive to the average user
  15. 12harry

    12harry Active Member

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    I've seen a card-based gadget that records video from a camcorder, thereby extending the life of a semi-pro DV machine. However, it doesn't use SD cards, so that doubles the memory cost and the LCD Counter-display is somewhat poor to my eyes, I'll try to get the details if yr interested, but s/h it was abt. £400...is this your price-level, I suspect that's on-the-way to a new piece of kit.

    The original issue was a broken casette compartment - is it unusable? Can you not find a way to slip a DV tape in and support it? If it was broken so tapes didn't lace properly then the AV Deptartment might sling it your way - but it "may" be repairable. . . . See if you know some handy-types.

    Any add-on Card-based recorders are expensive because they are used by "pros" and that's where the money is - hence that Pana Camera DV+SD - it will appeal to DV-tape users and move them to SD (as I read comments here).

    I agree a "laptop + camcorder" is impractical, except perhaps in a car, or filming out of a train....but for "normal" outdoors it's too much, unless you are a "crew" member, then it might provide a second-camera. You'll kknow HDD are susceptable to jogs and vibration, but with care....

    Talk (here) about the data-streams suggests lots of compression for card-based camcorders...has this been found a problem? I wonder because HD seems the rage now (and "Full HD"), which implies even more data. SD cards are getting even bigger (there is a new type larger than SDHC..is it out now?), and as the manufacture improves even the "slow" ones will be OK, unless you want to spend more.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  16. rogs

    rogs Active Member

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    One of the main reasons that DV onto SD cards was not used early on was the fact that DV is not that compressed (only about 5:1), and needed a continuous 25Mb/s bit rate.
    The Panasonic P2 cards -- one of the first serious solid state recording mediums -- actually used selected SD cards, specially configured, to be able to cope with the high data rates needed for DV recording.
    Now that SDHC cards have no problem with that kind of bit rate, DV could be recorded.
    The camcorder I linked to (which as I understand is aimed at the educational market, rather than as a true 'pro' camcorder) is, AFAIK, the only camcorder that actually offers the facility of recording DV to SD cards.
    The consumer market has moved on, and 'HD' is now the buzz word. DV is no longer in fashion, consumer wise.

    Having said that, it's interesting to note that converting highly compressed AVCHD footage to an intermediate format - like Cineform or Canopus HQ - makes it much easier to edit. And that's because those formats are like DV in their structure. Intraframe, and easy to work with.

    So even if it's disappearing, DV leaves a useful legacy for those who like to edit HD, without having to use a seriously powerful machine, and the latest editing software, for a smooth workflow!
  17. JMak

    JMak Member

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    That's too much for me unfortunately. I got the camcorder for free, and just wanted to see if I could get some use from it. I already have a working Canon MV630i but this Sony is supposed to have better optics and sensor.

    Yes, it's not worth trying to repair. Parts have been removed from the cassette bay by the guy it belonged to. It would be too much work, and would require significant replacement parts to repair the cassette bay.

    The problem seems simple to me, but it looks like there is no easy way to take a DV signal, process it into an avi file and save to SD card...

    My next idea would be to use the Sony optics and camcorder shell and fit the CCD and processor parts of another camcorder that will save to SD card. But I'm guessing the 3CCD optics won't be compatible with a normal CCD. Hope I'm not flogging a dead horse, but I don't like to see good technology thrown away.
  18. emocean

    emocean Member

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    VX1000 with knackered tape mechanism + less than 100 quid budget = Dead horse
  19. chowini

    chowini Member

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    I have a cannon dv recorder which I love and it would be nice to be able to record to sd card. let me know if you found the solution. Thanks. P.C.:thumbsup:
  20. 12harry

    12harry Active Member

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    The problem I have is that I'm not convinced that DV was so good we should want to maintain it (by replacing the tape with SD cards, etc.).
    The data-rate issue is more-or0-less resolved, with most 1K camcorders specifying "Class 4, or above" Memory. It is easy to buy Class 10 . . . So I think the data-rates of 28Mb are easy enough . . . but is there a limiting factor in the playback, perhaps . . . . certainly DVD and/OR can anyone give a figure for BD?
    Isn't this the limitation, rather than the SD cards? Hence compression is now well established at a figure that is usable by consumers - there being little point in recording more data which will be stripped away at the first hurdle.

    I'm sur I hav seen the best-quality recording suggesting that 24, or 28Mp is selectable . . .

    Also, I note that JVC uses 4x SDHC cards for their 4K camcorder, so the issue of data-rate is solved neatly - and I wonder if P2 wasn't an attempt (and still is!!!) to extract huge sums from the Pro Early-Adopters (of digital), so they could match what had gone before (ie DV Tape). Maybe in 2000 SD memory was a bit slow (and in small chumks), but now fast 32G and Class 10 is under £17 . . . .



    Isn't the real issue whether OP can buy a half decent camcorder?

    I guess he's going to have to go for a piece of Pro-Kit since the manual-adjustments on lesser kit seems (to me) to be "playing it" (rather than achieving it).....
  21. Bob++

    Bob++ Member

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    If this was a film then some 14yo in a basement would knock you one up with a soldering iron and a pair of pliers, from kit he had lying around in no time.
  22. rogs

    rogs Active Member

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    I spent many years involved with electronics hardware design, and we would get lots of folk asking how to get item 'A' to work with item 'B' --

    "Shouldn't be too difficult or expensive" -- they'd say -- "item 'x' almost does it, and that's only a fiver from Sainsbury's"

    "Well, why not buy item 'x' then?" -- "well it doesn't quite do it, so that's why we're asking you" ---

    "How many do you need?" --"Just the one".

    So you go back with a price......."HOW MUCH!! -- that's ridiculous."

    "So , buy the one from Sainsbury's then" -- "But it doesn't quite do what we need" ...

    And so on.......

    In this case, the need to record DV onto SD cards has proved to be a very small market... and the price of the special kit available reflects that.

    Never seen anything cheaper than the MCE QuickStream DV - Portable, FireWire DV Capture Drive for this task. And it is expensive!

    I think the other similar product - Firestore - is now obselete?.....

    You might of course find a real 14 year old, clever to make one in his basement... I wouldn't hold your breath though. :)
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  23. MarkE19

    MarkE19 Moderator

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    Commercial BluRay discs generally top out at around 50mbps
    Blu-ray Disc - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Mark.
  24. 12harry

    12harry Active Member

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    Thanks MarkE19, I'm reading that modern SDHC camcorders go up to 28Mb/s - and that's "using Class 4, or higher" - So I don't know if class 10 (which are available cheaply) are good enough for that 54Mb/s - it can't be far off. Maybe the alternative is for the Camcorder to have faster memory inside and then transfer after10mins (say).
    I think some semi-pro types have a similar arrangement, when two SDHC slots are provided (in "Back-up" mode).

    Incidently, do you know what the data-rate figure is for 3D Blueray? (I didn't find it in that Link).
  25. MarkE19

    MarkE19 Moderator

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    Class 10 SDHC cards have a minimum read-write performance of 10MB/s (aka 80mbps). So a Class 6 card is fast enough to cope with 56mbps as it can cope with 60mbps, but maybe a little too close for comfort.
    Secure Digital - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    AFAIK many camcorders do have a recording buffer
    It was in the link in my previous post, just further down the page :)
    3D BluRay has a 50% overhead - Blu-ray Disc - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    so if a 2D version of a film peaks at around 40mbps then the 3D equivalent will peak at around 60mbps.

    Mark.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  26. 12harry

    12harry Active Member

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    Thanks for yr patience rogs, I read it, but failed to grasp the logic.
    So it's 60mbps . . . thankyou.

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