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Hardware advice for DV editing needed

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Hardware advice for DV editing needed
on Sep 8, 2002 at 9:21:56 am

I'm a newbie to DV and need some help with my limited budget.

First, I own an old 8mm Sony Handycam and an old VHS camcorder. I would like to edit/archive those old tapes taking up space in the garage to CD-R or DVD format. Is it possible to have "master" quality with analog sources? Ideally, burn them to disk and dispose the tapes, if possible.

Secondly, I'm in the market for a new camera and was advised to go nothing less than 3CCD's and the GL1 Canon (or GL2 now). What is the difference visually between a tape from a GL1 vs. something like a Canon Elura vs. standard analog (8mm/VHS)? Can someone give me an analogy or scale? (ie, movie quality DVD vs. SLP VHS tv broadcast, with 10 being best, 1 being SLP VHS tv quality)

My dilemma is that my current machine is old and I really, really want a laptop. Laptops aren't as powerful as desktops, but I figure if a 667mhz Mac Powerbook can do it, why can't a PIII laptop do it either? I'm torn between "upgrading" my home machine and using the "extra" money saved to get the better DV cam, accessories, software, etc.

I then saw at Best Buy the other day, the microMV Sony. The compact size really wet my appetite and I was starting to think maybe I should get this one instead of the Canon GL1/GL2 line, but alas, no 3 CCDs!

I really want a lightweight laptop along the lines of a G4 Powerbook or Sony Vaio R505(?) but it seems like the SOny is a bit light on the horsepower for DV editing requirements. Should I go with the Powerbook instead? But that would cause me to reinvest in a different platform altogether and would cost even more money!

When I originally built my current machine a few years ago, my plan was to capture analog video and edit back then, but I never got around to it (time, new baby, and lack of good software) Now the kids are growing and I need to start keeping memories of them before they grow past my eyes. Could someone point me to the right direction and budget?

Current workstation:
Celeron 300A Slot 1 CPU
Soyo SY6VBA mobo (Via Apollo Pro)
Western Digital 18GB HD, 7200rpm U/ATA 100(?)
ATI All-in-Wonder 128 16MB video card
SB Live Value
Toshiba DVD CD-Rom
TDK Velo 24/10/40 burner

Doing some research, my options are to upgrade the mobo as Slot1 CPU is no longer supported and P4s don't fit the "Slot-Ket" socket converters. My RAM is also out as it is now DDR or RAMBUS. Can I still use my Video card on the newer boards? Its an AGP(2) board.

This is my dillema. I'm starting to think, just get a Powerbook, since I have to "start over" but yet it will set me back in getting that GL1 Canon camera.

My other option is if someone can confirm the "visual" difference between a Sony Digital8 vs miniDV vs. the Canon 3CCD miniDV, then maybe I should settle for "less" camera.

So in any event, which is the place one "can" cut corners? CPU speed, RAM, or camera?

I'm bad about looking too far ahead (ie when I "wanted" to do editing when I bought my ATI card and never "got around" to doing it) and biting off more than I can chew. My friend told me to just get a Mac and do iMovie for now. I would, but I hesitate becase I also do web developing and I want to stay current with the PC technologies (.net, etc).

Can someone help me? If someone can confirm that I can do DV editing on that little Sony laptop, then that would help a ton.
I don't have to buy the "big" desktop replacement and with the money saved, I can get the camera I've always wanted.

But what is the "best" non-3CCD camera out there for those on a budget?

Please help. I posted a previous question, but had no replies.

Thanks so much! Nick

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Re: Hardware advice for DV editing needed
on Sep 8, 2002 at 1:53:49 pm

Hi there
I was wondering how serious your looking at getting into editing. If you just wanted to be able to transfer your tapes and make some new ones with fairly simple cuts and transitions then I think you would be able to edit with the Sony labtop and a simple program such as one by Ulead. The only other thing you would need is a DVD burner to put your video's to DVD. Ulead also makes 2 DVD authoring programs that are cheap (In price) but are very easy to use and from what I have heard are getting great reviews. You said you were thinking of getting a Mac but it was only a 667, but a 667 is kinda a different standard in mgz then PC. A 667 Mac is around the equivelent of a 1ghz PC or maybe even more. As far as camera's go, If you are still interested in 3CCD's you should take a look at the Sony PD150. If you are just filming family and friends and your children growing up, I don't think you will need a 3CCD camera. The difference between Digital 8 quality and Mini DV is basically unnoticable so it is wiser to go for certain features you need rather then DV over Digital 8. I think a Digital 8 camera would be the best for you as it records in digital so your tapes will last a long, long time and with a Sony Digital 8 it will be able to play back and record on all your 8mm, Hi 8,and Digital8 tapes. So you won't have to use your old 8mm camera, you can just pop the tape into the digital 8 camera and connect the firewire to your sony laptop and capture away (using highspeed great quality transfer firewire). I know you have VHS tapes too, you could hook your old vhs camera up to the sony one (if your vhs has RCA outputs) using a cable that comes with the sony and record the vhs tapes onto the sony camera and then transfer them using firewire to your laptop, or purchase a card such as dazzle, that comes with RCA hookups and software (most likely Ulead Videostudio). So basically I think you can edit with the Sony Laptop, I know it already has the firewire and probably comes with a really simple editing program, but you should look into getting a program by Ulead as they are better and still highly affordable. The only other things you should look at are getting the biggest hard drive you can afford (DV takes up a ton of space) a fast processor, but maybe most important alot of RAM. Hope I helped you out, I think you should do more of your own research before you make a purchase, but I hope I helped steer you in the right direction. Oh 1 more thing about the Sony camera. I have a Digital 8 and love it, never had a problem with it. 1 of the best things is that there accessories are so much cheaper then other companies eg. For the price of a one hour Panasonic or Cannon battery you can get a Sony 8 hour battery. Also lights and telephoto/fish eye lenses are much cheaper then compettitors as well Digital 8 tapes are cheaper then Mini DV and you can record 8mm or Hi8 tapes using the Sony which is even cheaper. Take care, I hope I answered some of your questions. If you have any more, I'm always checking this msg board.

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Ted Jan
Re: Hardware advice for DV editing needed
on Sep 8, 2002 at 8:50:26 pm

hmmm....first off...just about any sony laptop currently on the market can be used to edit video. I've always considered Sony's as the PC version of the Macintosh Powerbooks. I personally use a Sony P3 500 with 192 MB of Ram and 6 GB harddrive. I have it hooked up to a external firewire 120 GB harddrive. Also these days, a laptop is just as good as a desktop when it comes to performance. The biggest thing of course is cost. Laptops tend to be more expensive than Desktops. You can probably buy a desktop a whole lot cheaper with the same specs that you are looking for in a laptop.

There is a big difference in video quality when comparing 3 ccd's to 1 ccd's. You must realize that 3 ccd cameras have allocated a ccd to each of the 3 primary colors (red, green, blue). 1 ccd cameras have to use their one ccd for all 3 colors. Also 3 ccd cameras tend to have a lot more in terms of manual controls so you can adjust the camera to the picture quality that you like.

MiniDV vs Digital8...are storage mediums and should not be thought of as having visual differences when viewed on a TV. Canon GL2/GL1, Canon XL1/XL1s, Sony PD150 all use MiniDV tapes. Only the Sony consumer 1ccd cameras that say they are Digital8 use Digital8 tapes. All these cameras record in DV format...they just use difference storage mediums. The only time you start thinking about visual differences is when you are looking at the quality of the picture from different 3ccd or 1ccd cameras. And that is all a matter of personal opinion.

I own a Sony Digital8...actually, I own one of the very first ones. And although the picture quality is okay...I recently preordered the new Panasonic AGDVX100 24P 3ccd video camera expected to come out in October. I ordered this specific camera because I'm thinking about doing indie films and it will have some features specific towards that industry. When comparing the Sony Digital8 to a Canon XL1...the Canon XL1 in my opinion has the better video quality...but then that is comparing a 1ccd camera to a 3ccd camera (the 3ccd camera should have the better video)

If you are thinking about upgrading your computer than basically you need the following things:

new motherboard
more memory at least 256
new processor
another harddrive, 7200 RPM as big as you can afford
firewire card, for transfering the video from your new video camera to your pc
dvd burner, if you are planning on making dvd's

your current video card is really don't have to upgrade it.

cutting corners
it really depends on what you are going to do? if all you want to do is transfer video from your vhs camcorder/old sony handycam to your pc, then forget about the new video camera and get a analog to digital bridge or a tv/video capture card for your pc. it will allow you to connect a vcr/tv straight to your computer and then you can capture the video directly. if you really want to cut costs, then buy a P3 desktop...memory for desktop machines are cheap. I bet you could put together a decent P3 desktop for under $1000 including the dvd burner and new harddrive. I know that I can...very easily...

by the way, you might have a hard time trying to buy a new GL1 anywhere since the GL2 came out. Canon likes to get rid of the old models before they release the new ones. Also...from what I've heard the video quality of the new GL2 is just as good as the Canon XL1s and there are some features in the new GL2 that are not in the Canon XL1s.

Digital8 would be a good choice for you if you wanted to cut costs via the camera. Since the Digital8 cameras can play back the same tapes as your 8mm Handycam.

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Re: Hardware advice for DV editing needed
on Sep 13, 2002 at 9:01:32 pm


Maybe you should rethink the 3 chip camcorder unless you want to do some sort of professional videomaking. This is a lot of extra money, and even then you will be shortchanging yourself if you dont go even further and buy a 3 ccd model with better optics. I think it would be a good idea to get a digital 8 model 1st. Later when things work out, and you learn more about cameras (a daunting process) you could get a 3 chip model. The main reason being that you can use the digital 8 camera later as a digital recorder. It can record better DV than its optics and ccd are able to record (though this camera does a good job much better than my old canon hi8). My sony D8 also has an analog to digital bridge built in I believe. I havn't tried this so check it out, but I think you should be able to play video into the sony d8 analog port and simultaneously upload to your computer through the computer firewire realtime. Dont forget that you can edit the dv lossessly in the computer and then save the output in dv format back to the sony d8 later for archiving( again a lossless step). Why back to tape? 1 hr of video is some 12 or 16gb of storage. You can also compress the digital files further to say mpeg2(DVD uses this format) for some 2 to 3 gb per hour of video, but this is not lossless. With my old footage I am going to make dvd's too, but will also archive back to tape in digital format. You may again in the future need to convert to another media as they say dvd is not the end format. One thing is clear, the analog tapes are deteriorating. Once you digitize it you stop that process.

Final recommendations: desktop option only considered, (I don't know anything about the newer laptops).
1 keep it cheap, sony d8 or mini dv 1 chip to start. Look at sony site and compare camera and ccd specs. The d8 may no longer be the best value as the mini dvs are coming down in price. If you have a stockpile of hi8 or 8 video, get the d8. Those old tapes play in the d8 camera as you upload digital via the firewire.
2 upgrade your Motherboard, or get an off shelf model compatible with your ram, with maybe a pentiumIII around 800mhz minimum. Try to re use your video card for now. You need to upgrade the desktop anyway. 300.00-800.00.
3 get an 80 gb western digital bb model harddrive(IDE)as a dedicated video drive. You need this much space and this is a good value, and fast. some 150.00-200.00. You dont need raid with what I am recommending.
4 Get an ADS pyro firewire card with premiere 6.5(just out). From the videoguys( Im not affiliated in any way with them) some 250.00
5 Get an operating system that is capable of ntfs file format for the harddrives (windows 2000 is what I use). This allows you to overcome the 2gb file size limit in conjunction with premiere and a firewire card. This way you will be able to upload a whole 2 hr video tape in one pass to your 80gb drive.

Final final suggestion. Forget the DVDs for now. Just digitize and save in digital format on tape with your new sony D8 or mini dv camera. Buy the camera, the harddrive, premiere/ads pyro firewire bundle and windows 2000 or XP only and see if it all works on your existing computer. Add more later, like a dvd burner. The add on capability is the beauty of the desktop.

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