Camcorder Video Tapes 8mm Transfer To Mac

Manfonse

Active Member
Hi,
I have a Sony 8mm Camcorder and about 15 family home video 8mm tapes i would love to digitise. I have a 2018 MacBook Pro with no dvd or cd drive.
Anyone have any clues what to do or use. Ive seen few ideas on amazon, but a lot of negative reviews.

Thanks
 

sep8001

Well-known Member
I think you may need a firewire connection to connect your camcorder to a pc.

What model is the camera?
 

Emerton

Active Member
An 8mm camcorder won't have firewire. The quickest and easiest way to 'digitise' your tapes is to buy or borrow a dvd recorder with analogue inputs (preferably phono sockets).
 

Manfonse

Active Member
Thanks for the input guys. :)
 

avon75

Member
I think you have 3 options depending on the combination of cost, convenience and quality you require.

Option 1: Borrow/buy a DVD recorder with/without hard drive to edit footage
Pros: simple, cheap
Cons: You’re recording to DVD in MPEG2, not the best recording format these days, and you will need to convert via your Mac to something like MP4 or HEVC, which entails some degradation every time you convert file formats. Plus you state that you want to get these onto your Mac, so you’d need a DVD drive and the appropriate ripping and conversion software (handbrake is free and good). This is how I transferred my family’s collection of over 50 tapes about 15 years ago.

Option 2: Send off the tapes to a professional conversation service
Pros: Dead simple and convenient and no investment in tech required
Cons: Most will only transfer to DVD, sometimes MP4 but you still have issues as above, and the cost is high for 15 tapes - around £20-30 per tape from what I can see.

Option 3: Transfer yourself using a Digital 8 camcorder and cables
This is how I did my last conversion of around 75 family and personal tapes, from VHS, Video 8, Digital 8. I also re-archived my family’s Video 8 tapes again using this method as many of the discs were lost or scratched.
Pros: This is the highest quality capture and offers the most flexible archive format. The analogue tapes are played back in the Digital 8 machine and converted into a DV signal that can be captured by your Mac. These are stored as AVI format files at very low levels of compression and uncompressed sound quality. The conversion by the camcorder also usually applies TBC to the analogue signal, improving the stability of the picture. You have ultimate flexibility as new hardware and file formats emerge, it’s a simpler case of going back to your original movie projects in iMovie and exporting into the new format, always from the source archive file. It’s easy to make back ups so your content is forever preserved, and hard drive costs are cheap. Also models with analogue inputs allow you to hook up a VHS recorder and output the signal in DV format.
Cons: Unless you already have the necessary hardware and cables, which I did, you may have to invest in a Digital 8 camcorder and cables to hook it up to your Mac. Plus iMovie no longer supports FireWire transfers from analogue tapes, so you will need a 3rd party app from the App Store (I use LifeFlix which is $80 but well worth it - a free trial is available).
Make sure you get a camcorder that has DV Out - not all do. Examples on eBay are going for between £50-200 depending on seller, condition and accessories.

My work flow is:
Sony camcorder DCR-TRV240E
miniDV/iLink to Firewire cable (generic from Amazon)
Apple Firewire to Thunderbolt 2 adapter
Apple Thunderbolt 2 to USB-C adapter
Software: LifeFlix for Video 8 and VHS capture, iMovie for editing and AV adjustment and export to whatever file format or device I choose.
All my content is archived as AVI, current consumable output is MP4, and at some point I will re-export the project files as HEVC once my family have newer hardware. I’m also looking at a cloud storage service to back up around 2TB of AVI files - still searching for that one ! Right now the archive is on 2 portable hard drives (one is a back up).
 
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Emerton

Active Member
As avon75 says, using a Digital8 camcorder that can play back analogue recorded tapes is a good option and will (in most cases) prevent the picture rolling with it's built-in Time Base Corrector. Not all Digital8 camcorders will play back analogue tapes though, so check before buying. Digital8 - Wikipedia
 

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