• New Patreon Tier and Early Access Content available. If you would like to support AVForums, we now have a new Patreon Tier which gives you access to selected news, reviews and articles before they are available to the public. Read more.

Digitising 8mm video tapes – 3 scenarios – which is best?

danvideodiary

Novice Member
Hi everyone,


The request:

I would massively appreciate it if anyone has experience with the below three scenarios, I’ve been searching on forums and there is lots of info/discussions but I haven’t as yet found anyone who has done a direct comparison of these three methods to see which garnishes the best results!


The background:

I’m working on a (hopefully) interesting project and need to digitise “video diary” tapes from when I was a teenager so I can edit them!


Three scenarios – which is best?


I have 8mm video tapes to back up (not Hi8, just solely 8mm)


Which out of the three following scenarios do you think would get the best results / has anyone done any direct comparisons / do you think I’d see any noticeable difference? I’m aiming to get the best quality possible


(1) Play the 8mm tapes in a Digital8 camcorder. Connect the Digital8 camcorder into an iMac via firewire
(I have the Sony DCR-TRV330E – made around 2001, it’s had quite light use and has TBC)


(2) Buy a myself decent Hi8 deck that has S-video out. Play the 8mm tapes in the deck and connect the deck into the iMac via a Canopus ADVC-110 or 300 (since the 300 has TBC) (I’d need to buy myself a Canopus)


(3) Buy myself a decent Hi8 deck that has S-video out. Play the 8mm tapes in the deck and connect the deck into the iMac via the pass-through function on my Sony MiniDV camcorder (I have the Sony DCR-TRV60E – made around 2003)
(I am presuming the pass-through function on this camera will be the same or perhaps better than on my Digital8 Sony DCR-TRV330E ?)


I will use iMovie or FCP on the iMac.


Thanks so much in advance, I’d really appreciate your thoughts


Dan
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Welcome to the forum danvideodiary :hiya:

I've digitised a few analogue tapes over the years and as I see it all 3 options would likely give you much the same results - as long as all the devices are working well.
Probably the easiest option is 1. as it is just the one device connected to the Mac, but if this does prove problematic then 3. is the next best option as there is only a cheap camcorder to buy. The Grass Valley (previously Canopus) ADVC converters are great, but not cheap - they do a good job but I doubt will be any better than a D8 camcorder, however they are easy to sell once the project is finished.

Mark.
 

danvideodiary

Novice Member
Welcome to the forum danvideodiary :hiya:

I've digitised a few analogue tapes over the years and as I see it all 3 options would likely give you much the same results - as long as all the devices are working well.
Probably the easiest option is 1. as it is just the one device connected to the Mac, but if this does prove problematic then 3. is the next best option as there is only a cheap camcorder to buy. The Grass Valley (previously Canopus) ADVC converters are great, but not cheap - they do a good job but I doubt will be any better than a D8 camcorder, however they are easy to sell once the project is finished.

Mark.

MarkE19 do you mind if I pick your brains on a related topic? (then does without waiting for reply haha)

I also have VHS tapes to digitise. I'm going to play them using a decent quality S-VHS player to get best possible playback (and use S-VHS out). You say The Grass Valley ADVC converters are great - do you think I would see any noticeable difference using a Grass Valley converter compared to using the pass-through function on my miniDV camcorder? Again going into the iMac

Many thanks Dan
 

MarkE19

Moderator
IMO you wont see any real benefit by paying out for an ADVC over using a MiniDV/D8 camcorder to digitise your VHS tapes. VHS is fairly low quality to start with so there isn't the quality to capture regardless of the method used.
However I still believe that a half decent camcorder will do a good job, but an ADVC may just have the edge on quality of final capture as long as that quality is there to begin with.

Mark.
 

danvideodiary

Novice Member
Thanks Mark - this makes sense

The VHS tapes are quite low quality - they were home movies I made with friends when I was a kid/teenager and were edited together on quite cheap domestic VHS recorders. Therefore I don't think the quality is there to begin with - meaning I'd be best off just using the miniDV/D8 camcorder as pass-through machines (and save myself the expense of an ADVC - which I think would make no noticeable difference considering the source quality)- so I'm going to go down this route

Thanks again, I really appreciate your advice
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Try to get the original ( pre-edit) tape if available, as Analogue is easily downgraded...and I suggest you try a FilmMaking Club - almost certain someone will have a DVD-recorder that accepts svideo (is that the round connector you meant? -Post4 You mentioned SVHS playback m/c ), the DVD recorder should do wonders for the analogue material and then you can perform a basic-edit (cutting out bad stuff off the HDD), before recording to DVD - this can then be edited, colour corrected, fades, transitions and maybe add some new audio, etc. using yr PC and Editing Software.
....(( You'll find this an eye-opener, compared with Analogue Editing!)....
As others have said VHS isn't too good to start with, so there is no point in spending much. A donation to Club Funds may well work wonders.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Try to get the original ( pre-edit) tape if available, as Analogue is easily downgraded
Rather than saying 'downgraded' I would phrase it as 'highly subjected to generation losses'. So as 12harry says working from the original camcorder tapes should offer a fair improvement in quality of the final digital copy.
the DVD recorder should do wonders for the analogue material
A DVD recorder is no miracle worker :D - it will still only be VHS quality, you can't polish a turd :p
and then you can perform a basic-edit (cutting out bad stuff off the HDD), before recording to DVD -
This is possible with a DVD recorder with a HDD if you only want to do basic edits, but if you want to do more than basic edits then I would just do it all on the PC as this will give you far more control.
this can then be edited, colour corrected, fades, transitions and maybe add some new audio, etc. using yr PC and Editing Software.
I strongly suggest you don't try to do too much with VHS captures. The quality will be low, compressed to MPEG-2 and so advanced editing will likely cause further visible quality reduction.

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
I'm sure your tapes are gold dust to you and your family (should I put the shovel down before I dig myself in any deeper o_O )

It amazes me how much we had to spend a few years back to get what now looks fairly average, in comparison to what a couple of hundred quid now gets us. My Sony TRV-900e cost me £1,500 (actual cost in 1999 :eek: ), but you now get a very nice full HD camcorder for about 20% of that. But much the same as my first PC compared to what I have now. I genuinely think technology has not just improved, but got a lot cheaper over the years.

Mark.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Agreed, but we spent £££'s thinking that was the Future, - only to realise we'd been duped as the tech moved on.
Now, when we do spend on new gear, maybe we are wary that this piece of kit is only "temporary" and that soon we'll want something that's better - if only to keep-up with others. Whatever happened to "Content is King" - watching some old 8mm cine is rather difficult due to poor definition, jumping frames, colour casts, etc.

What form do others Posters think out camcorders/gadgets will take in the next 5-10 years, for example?
 

danvideodiary

Novice Member
Mark - yes it's crazy how much stuff used to cost! I'm using a good quality VHS deck as the player to digitise my ** gold dust ;-) ** VHS tapes into FCPX. I managed to get a Panasonic S-VHS NV-HS1000 from eBay for £21 !! Hardly used, I think that was around £1000 when new . 1000 ruddy pounds !!!

Harry - I think in the next 5 - 10 years something as big as an iPhone, or indeed an actual iPhone (but with a lens attachment type thing on it), will be a great quality HD video camera (iPhone video footage right now is pretty ropey), and have storage for a good few hours or even several hours of footage. Price wise I think it will actually increase from the basic small HD video cameras on sale now, to around £600 or so. That's my prediction anyway, although I'm probably way off the mark haha
 

MarkE19

Moderator
although I'm probably way off the mark haha
That's pretty much guaranteed as technology never ends up doing what the real experts (ie us) predict :confused:

Mark.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Guardians of the Galaxy Xmas Special, Strange World, Bones and All, and Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 4K
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom