miniDV Memories - Moving your old miniDV tapes to more persistent storage
Written by: Frans on January 27 2019 14:00; modified on: June 24 2019 12:08.
There are many home video enthousiasts that must be familiar with the fact that nowadays tapes are old fashioned, obsolete and impractical. Storage of video has changes significantly and has been replaced by Hard Disk Drive (HDD), Solid State Drive (SDD) or even phone recording using your favourite Android or iOS smart phone.
And then what, everyone has a home hub capable to stream video to any of your devices in the house, but then... you are still stuck with the tapes. This must be an too familiar situation where you are rarely looking back at memorable moments in life due to the legacy mini DV tapes.
But this can be changed to ensure that you can enjoy your video taped best memories.
The first thing to do is get your tapes readout, this means that the tapes need to be digitized. You can do this yourself or use a service, I decided to read them myself. I mean those videos are private and should remain as such. If you do not want to spend the time to read the videos you can find a service to digitize them for you.
Following steps are required:
Having installed, typical problems are that the camera is only connected on startup of the computer. Once started, the connection is perfect and dedicated data grabbing is working fine using dvgrab.
I used the following setting:
dvgrab -f raw -rewind -size 0 -showstatus filename-
Found AV/C device with GUID 0x0080458031652c3a Waiting for DV... Capture Started "filename-001.dv": 4346.74 MiB 31652 frames timecode 00:21:07.07 date 2012.02.03 15:37:10
The tool output will show you the capturing status of your camera, the file, frames and timecode of the recording. My advice would be to ensure that you store the output as the timecode information gives information about the events that are recorded and therefore serve as a means to suit like an index. Just dump it in a text file to store this for later usage.
Capabilities are to split scenes by timecode, however I did decide to capture the raw stream as the intent is to convert it into one readable playback file rather than many files. Rationale is simple as the tapes chronologically ordered by timecode already. In case of later processing I will have the original DV data stream allowing specific processing afterwards.
The original DV data stream is stored as approximately 13GB files. There are enormous and cannot be read by different standard codecs in place on many of the playback devices although Windows in combination with VLC Media Player has no problems playing the raw files. Still this means that conversion to separate encoded a/v streams is required for users without this specific set of tools. You can use the dvgrab tool but I decided to convert afterwards using ffmpeg. Post processing can be done easily overnight. Alternatively, what I still need to investigate is to use transcoding on a Network Attached Storage device. This allows playback conversion to many different devices.
I standardized to generating MPEG-4 files (see: #MPEG4) and are generally readable by different operating systems like Windows, OSx, iOS, Android and many of the current browsers. Note that there is always a loss of information when encoding and there is a related trade-off between file size and quality. An MPEG4 file generate an approximately 1.5GB .mp4 file which is a substantial reduction.
Now it's defined and explained how to digitize the data from tape to hard disk it's a process of being persistent and to get it done. Type in, read to disk, convert, repeat for 23 tapes and another 30 types for someone else (as a favour).
You can do this unobserved, but it is also fun to see the preview of the recording on the small screen of your camcorder upon while playing the tape. Persistent hard work and fun all together!
Many more memories later the tapes are all digitized to my Network Attached Storage allowing them to be playback easily.
A lot of work and 222 GB of dv video files, however a one-time activity.
I hope that this helps you as home video enthusiasts with miniDV tapes to digitize them in time and to enjoy the playback of them with your family.
|Debian||Debian is a free operating system (OS) for your computer. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run.|
|Digitize||To convert into a digital form that can be processed by a computer. Although miniDV is already a digital recording I used it in the context of converting from tape to peristent digital format.|
|DV||DV is a format for storing digital video. (see: #DV1)|
|dvgrab||Capture DV or MPEG-2 Transport Stream (HDV) video and audio data from FireWire|
|Reference||Source||Reference (URL, ...)|
|#FireWire||Wikipedia IEEE 1394||https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_1394|