Video Cameras forum

General discussion

MiniDV? Or Straight to DVD? That is the question.

by spilks / May 2, 2007 2:06 AM PDT

I am just about to purchase my first camcorder and I've heard mixed feedback about formats. I was all set to buy a MiniDV camcorder (better quality, more flexibility for editing) but then I read a few things about MiniDVs being on their way out. I don't want to buy something that's going to be obselete in a year.

So, does anyone know the downside of straight to DVD? Or the upside? Is the only downside that you can't burn it to your computer and edit it?

Please help!

Thanks, everyone.

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My 3-cents...
by Dan Filice / May 2, 2007 4:08 AM PDT

For the Average Joe who wants to import and edit footage from a camcorder, the DV tape format gives you what you need. DV tape is MUCH less compressed, so the result, once you import, edit and burn to DVD, should a better picture. Importing from a DVD means that you are taking a format the is already compress (the end result of burning a DV tape to DVD), uncompressing for import, editing and recompressing back to DVD. Unless you are working with a high-end camera that shoots HD video to a hard-drive, memory card or disc, and has something like a Firewire or similar export port, it seems the mini-DV format is better. I wouldn't worry about mini-DV being obsolete yet. I think the life-span of the average camera will expire before mini-DV becomes obsolete, and then you'll need a new camera anyways. Then worry about it.

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(NT) Agree with Dan
by boya84 / May 2, 2007 11:14 AM PDT
In reply to: My 3-cents...
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Follow up question then...Dan?
by spilks / May 2, 2007 11:57 PM PDT

Okay, I'm a rookie here. So you're saying MiniDV quality is better and more flexible of a format, right? As opposed to straight to DVD. Correct me if I'm wrong but with MiniDVs, I can:

Download files to my Mac
Edit with iMovie
Burn movies onto DVD from my Mac
Watch on my DVD player/TV via a connection straight from the camcorder

Is this right?

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I know you asked Dan, but I saw the post...
by boya84 / May 3, 2007 1:15 AM PDT

Yes, MiniDV tape provides for highest quality video image available.

I have been importing high definition and standard definition video from miniDV camcorders to my Macs for a couple of years. In addition to the camera you purchase, you will probably need to buy a FireWire cable, too - the manufacturers typically do not include the 4-pin-camera-side; 6-pin-computer-side FireWire cable in the box.

Lock the MiniDV tape, insert in camera.
Power up Mac
Connect the camcorder with the FireWire cable to the Mac
Power up the camcorder and get to "Edit/Play" mode (suggest you use the AC power adapter, not battery power)
Launch iMovie
Using iMovie controls or camera controls, rewind tape.
In iMovie clip capture mode, click import.
iMovie takes control of the camera and brings in the clips. Real-time for standard definition; less than real time for high-definition (depends on your CPU).
When import complete, click stop on iMovie, Save.
Power down camera... start editing.
When editing complete (cut unneeded footage, add transitions, special effects, add titles, add photos, add sound track, etc. - You can use iPhoto and iTunes, but it is not necessary), in iMovie, click iDVD. Add chapters. When all chapters added, click burn.
iDVD launches. Select the template and customize as required. When ready, click Burn - when instructed, insert blank DVD-R or DVD-R double layer. I don't know what Mac you are using so I don't know what capabilities you have. (You can either make multiple DVDs or make one "master" and after checking it on a TV, use it to make duplicates later.)
When complete, iDVD will eject the disc.
If you want to output back to the camera, insert a blank tape to the camera, connect the camera to the computer, power up camera and get to "Play/Edit" mode.
In iMovie, under "File" go to "Share" or "Export" and select Camera. iMovie takes care of the rest, just follow the prompts.

I do this all the time (though I am trying to use FinalCut more)...

How much available space do you have on your hard drive? Video uses a lot of space... An external FireWire connected hard drive can help resolve this if it is an issue.

Dan, did I miss anything?

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wow that seems complicated
by spilks / May 3, 2007 1:39 AM PDT

I have a gig on my iMac. Is that enough? I have a 60gig external, too. I probably won't be doing as much editing as you do. I just want the option to do so. Can I play the movie on my TV straight from the camcorder? I think you missed that. Thanks for your feedback. I am printing out your instructions as we speak!


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1 gig of RAM is fine - more is
by boya84 / May 3, 2007 3:03 AM PDT

always better, but it won't hurt you to be without it.

Knowing what hard drives you have isn't really that helpful - we need to know how much *available* space there is (because if it is not available, you can't store video to be edited).

Note the step regarding exporting to your camera... once on your camera, you should be able to connect your camera direct to your TV and use the camera as the playback... this presumes your TV has available AV-in ports. Not knowing your TV manufacturer or model (or what ever else you already have connected to it), I can't tell you for sure.

The edit process really is not that "complicated". There are a few steps, yes, but for the most part, it is a very linear activity and I tried to include all the steps so you had them all.


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thanks bill, one more question
by spilks / May 3, 2007 3:38 AM PDT

Why would I have to Export something back to my camera to watch on TV---when it originated in my camera??

Also, what camera do you have?

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You would normally only export
by boya84 / May 3, 2007 4:06 AM PDT

the edited stuff back out to your camera.

You are correct, the video originated from your camera (the raw material), but then you imported to the computer, edited that content (cur bad footage, transitions, titles, special effects, audio, etc)... when you burn a DVD you are essentially "exporting" to that media. If you happen to use a high definition camera, exporting to DVD will cause that video to be downsampled to standard definition (really clear standard def, but standard def). If you export the video your high definition camera, it will be in high definition - so you use the camera as the playback machine on a high-def TV using the component or HDMI cables that connect to your camera.

Most people do not yet have high definition (HD or BluRay) DVD burners to write high definition video (and most people do not have high definition players, either)... and at about $50 per HD or BluRay blank disk, that's a pretty pricey "disposable media" - in my book, anyway.

I have a Sony HDR-HC1 1080i high definition miniDV tape based camera and have been using it for about a year...

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thanks, bill
by spilks / May 3, 2007 5:01 AM PDT

Aha. I see what you mean now. Okay, if I have anymore questions, I'll let you know. Thanks again for your help.

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