Hi8 Digitization Questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 10-01-2011, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, and thanks in advance for your help on the following.

I'm in the process of digitizing some Hi8 tapes. Here are my questions:

1. Picture Noise -- DV vs Huffyuv
After passing the analog signal (S-video) through a Canon GL2 Mini-DV camcorder and capturing the resulting dv-avi via firewire, I noticed that the resulting picture appears somewhat "noisy." That is, areas of solid color appear somewhat "noisy" rather than "smooth." Is this due to the DV intra-frame compression? Would I be better off buying a high-quality capture card (e.g. PDI Deluxe or please suggest one) and encoding the capture using a lossless codec such as Huffyuv? How much cpu power does it take to encode to Huffyuv (i.e. what are the minimum processing requirements)?

2. Which dv-avi filetype?
Assume I plan to capture the video as dv-avi for archival and dvd-authoring (or possible editing), using yet-unknown editing software. Which dv-avi type (Type 1 or Type 2) is recommended for this purpose? That is, which is most universal? Is there any advantage to the "raw dv" format offered by dvgrab?

Is it just as easy to rejoin segmented video (i.e. assuming the capture software outputs 1GB chuncks, say) of either type? Is it necessary to rejoin the files before DVD authoring (assuming no editing is desired)? Are there free software tools capable of rejoining either type of dv-avi?

Also, what's the reason that dv-avi type 2 plays back fine on Windows VLC, but on Linux (in both mplayer and VLC), the aspect ratio is wrong (i.e. there are thicker black bars at the top and bottom, and the picture is squashed)? Note that this does not happen with dv-avi type 1.

3. Which capture software?
I've used both WinDV and dvgrab, and I'm satisfied with either (no plans to use anything else unless there's a quality advantage). If WinDV doesn't have a particular advantage over dvgrab, I'll probably just stick to linux and use dvgrab. Is there any reason why I should use WinDV over dvgrab? I noticed that WinDV reports "dropped frames," whereas dvgrab reports "damaged frames." What's the difference? Also, what does either of these tools do upon encountering a blank spot (unrecorded spot) on the Hi8 tape?

4. Problem with Hi8 Playback
I noticed that when I stop playback on my Hi8 camcorder in the middle of a tape, and then rewind the tape a bit before starting playback again, there sometimes appears a horizontal line disturbance in the picture, that slowly moves up and out of the screen. This disturbance seems to have become part of the tape, as it now always appears in the same place on the tape. Has anyone ever heard of this before? Suggestions?

5. Writing and Reading from Hard Drive Simultaneously
I'm using an old computer to conduct these Hi8 digitizations. My hard drive tends to fill up with dv-avi chunks during video capture via FireWire. Is it OK if I dump some of these chunks (i.e. chunks that are already completed) to an external hard drive via USB 1.1 as more data is being captured through the FireWire? (I realize the dumping will be much slower than the gathering, but I figured it will work out as long as I started dumping early in the process.) Is there any danger that the new data coming in through FireWire could be messed up due to the hard drive sending stuff out via USB at the same time?
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post #2 of 28 Old 10-01-2011, 11:14 PM
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I did my Hi8 conversions back in 2001 using a Pioneer DVD recorder with time base filtering. Funny I just looked at some these recordings a couple days ago and they look really good. I could never get good results with the capture cards from back then. The DVD recorder was always the best with basically no lose of quality. Once you get them on DVD its easy to strip the video and audio off the disc.

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post #3 of 28 Old 10-02-2011, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronomy View Post

I did my Hi8 conversions back in 2001 using a Pioneer DVD recorder with time base filtering. Funny I just looked at some these recordings a couple days ago and they look really good. I could never get good results with the capture cards from back then. The DVD recorder was always the best with basically no lose of quality. Once you get them on DVD its easy to strip the video and audio off the disc.

Thanks for your reply. I have also considered using a DVD recorder, but I'm not too enthused about compressing everything to MPEG-2. I realize DV is also compressed, but I believe it's less lossy than MPEG-2. One concern I have with a DVD recorder is that the optimal quality setting only allows for 1 hour on a 4.7 GB DVD. This means that I have to stop the analog tape to switch DVDs, and as mentioned in my original post, I fear this may damage the original tape.

Another question about transferring to dv-avi: Is there any potential problem with capturing a 2-hour tape as a single 26 GB file? Assuming the filesystem can handle it (ext4 should have no problem, right?), are there any other compatibility issues (e.g. software issues when trying to author a DVD from a huge dv-avi file)? If the dv-avi is broken up into 2 GB chunks, on the other hand, how can one ensure that the transition from one chunk to another is completely smooth? Does every DVD authoring program automatically handle this?
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post #4 of 28 Old 10-02-2011, 09:42 PM
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There are probably better analog video capture cards out there these days but at the time my Pioneer DVD recorder was the best. The timebase correction was a must for capturing video tape and the recorder had the ability to select constant bitrate Mpeg2. Nothing wrong with Mpeg2 standard def at 9Mbps. Its very easy to edit too. No loss of quality...if I had waited until now the colors would have deteriorated on the tape. Uncompressed video was way too big to store. Plus I could store the audio in uncompressed PCM. It was the quickest way to get my videos in digital form.

NLE's can handle large avi files very easily. They can also handle multiple large or small files. I use Sony Vegas Pro and have used Vegas well before Sony took over. Vegas was originally created by Sonicfoundry. Sony purchased them. NL3's can handle many different video formats. Don't worry about the file sizes.

Cheers,

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post #5 of 28 Old 10-02-2011, 10:24 PM
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Capturing the Hi8 video using your Canon GL2 (DV) with an S-Video cable is one of the better ways of transferring your footage. I would continue using this method. Don't mess around with Huffyuv - the file sizes will be excessively large with very little benefit in terms of quality.

AVI Type 1 vs Type 2. It really doesn't matter which type you use. These days all video editors can handle either type without any problem. You mentioned an aspect ratio issue when playing Type 2 on your Linux system. This would be the fault of your media player. VLC allows you to manually specify which aspect ratio it uses. But if Type 1 doesn't exhibit this problem, then continue using that...

File sizes: Whether you capture in 2GB chunks or in one 26GB file, you will need to render the video to MPEG-2 in order to create a playable DVD. The rendering should be done in a video editor such as Premiere, Vegas or Final Cut. Have you noticed that your footage is fuzzy at the bottom of the frame? This is the head switching noise on your Hi-8 camera. You should remove this noise (either by cropping or adding a black mask) before you render the footage.

Capture tools: WinDV is a perfectly fine tool to capture your video. You can specify the number of frames to capture per file. So if you want to capture 2 hours in 1 file, you can set the number of frames to 216000 (30 fps * 60 seconds in a minute * 120 minutes)

Using your computer while capturing footage:
I would strongly recommend not using your computer while you're capturing footage. Especially since it's an old PC. If your hard drive is overworked while capturing then you'll drop frames and then you'll have to start all over again.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-10-2011, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Ronomy and Sabatical.

I believe I read somewhere (probably here on AVS) that using a DVD recorder potentially allows one to preserve a certain characteristic of the Hi8 audio information (a type of fidelity or something) that may be lost upon converting the Hi8 to DV via a miniDV camcorder.

Can anyone tell me what characteristic this might be? Is this even true?
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-10-2011, 07:10 AM
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It's not true. In fact in many cases using a DVD recorder will decrease the quality of your audio as it will encode it using a lossy codec (mp2). Depending on the bitrate of the audio the quality could suffer quite a bit.

That being said, some DVD recorders allow you to have uncompressed (PCM) audio. If audio quality is important to you then use this setting. Personally, unless you're converting musical concerts then using 384kbit/sec MP2 encoding will be fine...
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-10-2011, 09:45 AM
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DV is better than DVD-Video.
Type of DV-AVI does not matter. Grab the whole tape into one file (should have something better than FAT on your drive).
Type of capture software does not matter much, the result is the same if you go through Digital8 or DV camcorder.
Lines on video may relate to tracking, you must ensure that your Hi8 camcorder has correct tracking.
Avoid simultaneous access of HDD to prevent dropouts.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-10-2011, 10:22 AM
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Seriously, forget the Canon. Pick up a Digital 8 camcorder on eBay. It will automatically convert the Hi-8 to a DV stream and send it out through firewire to your computer. Digi-8 camcorders have a built in DNR and TBC to reduce noise and stabilize the video. It will preserve the high-band quality of the Hi-8 video, and you won't lose as much through using analog cables and plugs. It's the way to go. When you're done, sell the Digi-8 camcorder for the same price you bought it for!
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-10-2011, 01:05 PM
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In regards to HuffYUV vs. DV. CPU isn't an issue, unless you have an ancient computer. Any modern 2.0ghz C2D or better is adequate. HuffYUV is better than DV, but it requires an average of 2.5x as much space per hour (about 13-14g/hr vs 30-35g/hr), and that can add up, and as previously said, there will be extremely little benefit from it.

In regards to a DVD recorder, you don't have to actually capture with the DVD recorder, you can simply run through it to gain the benefits of certain DVD recorders (such as DNR/TBC). Certain units have better options than others, but a big part of how many places you pass your signal through should be evaluated based on the original source quality. For Hi8, I don't think you'd see the benefit like you potentially would with VHS.

IMO, Your best option for Hi8 is to run it through a Sony D8 camcorder and then into the computer over firewire to bring it into the computer as DV.
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post #11 of 28 Old 12-11-2011, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. One more question. My current computer encodes DV to MPEG-2 slower than real time, so I will not be using it for encoding purposes. However, I may receive access to a DVD recorder. I'm considering capturing DV on my computer and recording a DVD simultaneously in the following way. My Hi8 camcorder has S-video and composite video out, as well as RCA (red and white) left and right audio out. I could feed the S-video to the Ganon GL2 (for conversion to DV) and feed the composite video to the DVD recorder. I could buy cables to split the red and white audio, such that it could be fed to both the Canon GL2 and the DVD recorder. This would allow simultaneous DV capture and DVD recording. There are two disadvantages:

1. The DVD recorder would receive video via a composite video cable, rather than S-video. I am wary of using a splitter cable to split the S-Video signal, as it may weaken the signal (this should be avoided, right?).

2. The left and right audio signals coming out of the camcorder would be split between two devices, thereby potentially weakening the signal. Would the audio suffer? Would the volume be reduced?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevypower View Post

Seriously, forget the Canon. Pick up a Digital 8 camcorder on eBay. ... It will preserve the high-band quality of the Hi-8 video, and you won't lose as much through using analog cables and plugs.

Assuming my current Hi8 camcorder functions as it should, is the result from a Digital8 camcorder likely to be substantially better than that produced by the GL2 after receiving the signal from my camcorder via an S-video cable? I'm hesitant to spend the extra time and effort unless my current camcorder exhibits persistent problems.
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post #12 of 28 Old 12-12-2011, 04:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technoloman View Post

1. The DVD recorder would receive video via a composite video cable, rather than S-video. I am wary of using a splitter cable to split the S-Video signal, as it may weaken the signal (this should be avoided, right?).

2. The left and right audio signals coming out of the camcorder would be split between two devices, thereby potentially weakening the signal. Would the audio suffer? Would the volume be reduced?

Splitting the signal anywhere will introduce some form of signal loss. Will it be noticeable with the above setup? Probably now. However, you are doing yourself a disservice by using s-video one place and composite another. Always use the highest signal option available, and that's s-video.

What's your reason for encoding everything to MPEG-2? Are you trying to archive on DVD, or is this your only playback mechanism on a TV? (no streaming devices at home?). Or do you need to distribute?

Quote:


Assuming my current Hi8 camcorder functions as it should, is the result from a Digital8 camcorder likely to be substantially better than that produced by the GL2 after receiving the signal from my camcorder via an S-video cable? I'm hesitant to spend the extra time and effort unless my current camcorder exhibits persistent problems.

In theory, there would be no difference, but it depends on the quality of the digitizer in the unit. Hi8 is analog so sending it out analog over composite audio and s-video is the best you can do. Then you send it into the GL2 to get convereted to digital into the DV format. So the biggest question is what will have the best A->D conversion. Given the quality of the GL2, one would think it would be this unut, but a side-by-side test would be the only way to know for certain.

Now, if you had some D8 tapes, you would definitely want to use a D8 camera, because D8 is digital, and to output it as analog to then go back to digital would entails two unnecesary conversions.
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post #13 of 28 Old 12-12-2011, 10:09 PM
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Yep, in theory they should be the same. But the D-8 camcorder converts it to digital inside the playback device. This eliminates analog cables and connectors (where interference comes in to the signal). The built-in DNR and TBC are an added bonus.
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post #14 of 28 Old 12-15-2011, 11:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input. I would like opinions on the following setup:

Send analog video from Hi8 camcorder out via S-Video to DVD recorder, which has S-video in and out. Record a DVD while passing signal through the DVD recorder and out via S-video to MiniDV camcorder for capturing DV-AVI.

Is the additional pass-through device (i.e. the DVD recorder) likely to degrade the S-video signal, especially if it's recording a DVD during the process? Note: the DVD recorder has a line time-base corrector, but I don't believe the analog tape needs it -- the quality seems fine.
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post #15 of 28 Old 12-16-2011, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by technoloman View Post

Is the additional pass-through device (i.e. the DVD recorder) likely to degrade the S-video signal

Yes, you are unlikely to find lengthy S-video cables for the same reason, the quality benefit from the Y/C signal deteriorates.
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post #16 of 28 Old 01-10-2012, 07:13 AM
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First of all...Happy new year to all.
I have a few Hi8 tapes which I have decided to transfer to the pc. They are in PalB from a Sony CCd HR8 05E camera. I am using s-video into a USB digitizing module (ION video-2-go). If I see these tapes directly on a TV set, the picture is very good, but agter digitizing them to the PC, and viewing them through PowerDirector, the picture seems grainy. There is not much settings to be made on PowerDirector...I set it to Pal-B, Mpeg-2, (tried AVI, but too long and no improvement). I also get dropped frames, and I cannot find out how to set the capture/coding not to be in real-time. Can anyone please help me and give me a clue. I want to capture in the best format possible without going over the top. In theory I might want to do some editing, but that could be way ahead....and maybe never. Thanks to all. Your previous answers were very interesting.
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post #17 of 28 Old 01-10-2012, 08:02 AM
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I have found dropped frames usually comes from the computer not performing fast enough to keep up with capturing the stream. Usually this happened when I was capturing directly to an external hard drive with a USB connection. Firewire 800 on the Mac has never been a problem, but USB 2 on a PC has. So I avoid capturing directly to an external drive if the cable is USB 2. Try capturing the video to the internal drive and then transfer the file to an external.
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post #18 of 28 Old 01-10-2012, 11:49 PM
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yes that is also what I am doing. I record to the internal hard disc, so I do not have a disc communication problem. I have read somewhere that the dropped frames are due to the setting of the codec to "Real Time", and so if the processor or communications, or any other internal process cannot keep up, the software just drops frames. So the trick is to find that setting which disables "Real Time".
My present problem is that the resulting picture is not up to the standard of the original, it is rather grainy. Again, I read somewhere that this may be intrinsic in Microsoft's Window. But then how can it be that other sources, including downloadable video, shows in good quality.
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post #19 of 28 Old 01-11-2012, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgalea View Post

They are in PalB from a Sony CCd HR8 05E camera. I am using s-video into a USB digitizing module (ION video-2-go).

There's your problem. You shouldn't be capturing video through USB. Replace the ION Video-2-go USB dongle with a better quality analog-to-digital device and you will see much better results.

Are you able to track down a Sony Digital8 video camera? This will digitize your tapes in a much better way. You will need a Firewire cable that you plug from your Digital8 videocamera to your PC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tgalea View Post

There is not much settings to be made on PowerDirector...I set it to Pal-B, Mpeg-2, (tried AVI, but too long and no improvement). I also get dropped frames, and I cannot find out how to set the capture/coding not to be in real-time.

You shouldn't capture direct to MPEG-2. You need a powerful PC to do that, and even if you did have the proper equipment, it's better to capture to a less comprressed format first (DV-AVI @ 13 GB/hour) and then you can encode to MPEG-2 after you've capturedyour footage.
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post #20 of 28 Old 01-11-2012, 08:38 AM
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My Sony DCR-TRV340 Digital8 camcorder will be arriving in the mail today via eBay.

Did a conversion 6 years ago with a poorer quality digital8 camcorder so I hope I see some gains in quality.

Alan
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post #21 of 28 Old 01-11-2012, 10:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabatical View Post

There's your problem. You shouldn't be capturing video through USB. Replace the ION Video-2-go USB dongle with a better quality analog-to-digital device and you will see much better results.

Are you able to track down a Sony Digital8 video camera? This will digitize your tapes in a much better way. You will need a Firewire cable that you plug from your Digital8 videocamera to your PC.


You shouldn't capture direct to MPEG-2. You need a powerful PC to do that, and even if you did have the proper equipment, it's better to capture to a less comprressed format first (DV-AVI @ 13 GB/hour) and then you can encode to MPEG-2 after you've capturedyour footage.

I had read good reviews about the ION analogue to digital converter. What product are you recommending. Is it better to ahve a capturing board? The idea of using a Digital8 device is good, to play directly the tapes in the device and digitise to the PC, but its not easy to find a camera or VCR on the market, and what is available is not cheap. WWhat's more, as I live in Europe, not all seller ship to my country, and those that do, must charge a high shipping cost. On the other hand, I cannot understand how in this modern world of technology we are unable to make an electronic device to properly convert analogue to digital signals.
I would like to record in DV-Avi as suggested by you, but I do not have it on Powerdirector 8 which came with the ION converter. I hesitate to upgrade before I am sure that by doing so I can make a perfect copy of my tapes. What's your opinion?
Thank you for your interest and advice.
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post #22 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 10:24 AM
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after thinking about it, it would not be the USB speed that causes poor quality. The USB speed is 400MB/sec, while if each frame in Pal takes about 1MB-1.2MB per frame, it would yield a traffic of about 35MB/sec. So the USB speed is more than adequate. So maybe it is the ION quality that is in question here.
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post #23 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgalea View Post

after thinking about it, it would not be the USB speed that causes poor quality. The USB speed is 400MB/sec, while if each frame in Pal takes about 1MB-1.2MB per frame, it would yield a traffic of about 35MB/sec. So the USB speed is more than adequate. So maybe it is the ION quality that is in question here.

If you're talking about USB 2.0, it's speed is 480 Mb/sec, or 60 MB/sec, not 400 MB/sec. If the data rate is indeed 35MB/sec, you would still be OK as you said.
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post #24 of 28 Old 01-25-2012, 06:11 PM
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I ran my Hi8 tapes from the Hi8 cam to my Panasonic PV200 DV camcorder, it outputed back to the computer- looked fine to me.
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-26-2012, 07:09 AM
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I was finalizing my conversion of a few VHS tapes and found out that the audio on the last tape I processed did not get captured properly.

I'm using a Sony DCR-TVR340 as my converter.

I tested a Hi8 tape this morning, and it too, is not capturing properly.

So either my camera Firewire out is not working or maybe the Firewire card decided to act up.

Video is coming through fine.

Any thoughts?

Alan
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post #26 of 28 Old 01-26-2012, 07:32 AM
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What's wrong with the audio? Can you upload a short sample (5 seconds) to www.mediafire.com ?
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-26-2012, 08:36 AM
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When I first converted this tape (the last of all the tapes I converted), the volume was extremely low on the exported AVI.

With subsequent attempts, there was no audio at all on the captured AVI, but there is clearly audio on the tape.

I tested a miniDV tape and the Firewire card is working fine.

I can only assume the Digital8 camera Firewire out has ceased to function properly.

You can tell the camera connection is loose.

Oh well.

Bought it for $200 used and got about 15 tapes processed.

Could be worse I guess.

Alan
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post #28 of 28 Old 01-26-2012, 03:23 PM
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Got it figured out.

Using my miniDV camera to record the VHS tape, then I will export.

Alan
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