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Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)

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Todd VanSlyck
Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)
on Oct 23, 2019 at 1:26:50 pm

I wasn't sure where to post this, I figured this forum has the most knowledgeable user base about it.
I'm donating an old Canon XL2 to a few young kids that have the film-making bug, but don't have a camera.
The problem I'm seeing is, how can they digitize this without software like Premiere and Final Cut?

Is there a standalone software that can be used to get this onto their computer?
They're going to get a firewire card off Ebay so that problem is solved.

I know they have HitFilm Express, but I doubt that has any digitizing functionality.

I'm super excited to help these kids out, even if it's with an older camera, I just need to get past this bump!


Todd VanSlyck - Director of Multimedia
University of Northwestern Ohio
Dell Precision 5810 Intel Xeon 3.0 GHz
NVIDIA Quadro M4000
Adobe Premiere Pro CC
After Effects CC
Cinema 4d r14

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Tero Ahlfors
Re: Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)
on Oct 23, 2019 at 3:48:23 pm

Firewire is pretty much dead and I wouldn't bet on it working on modern OS's. I'd say the cheapest/easiest option would be to get an I/O device and record through the S-video or the composite outs of the camera.

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greg janza
Re: Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)
on Oct 23, 2019 at 5:31:32 pm

While giving them an old camera is a very nice gesture, I think the hassle of using old technology outweighs the potential benefit. Perhaps a donation to help get them a low end new camera would be more effective.

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Robert Withers
Re: Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)
on Oct 24, 2019 at 4:31:46 pm

Hi All,
My 5 Firewire drives are working fine with my Mojave-based Airbook though running through a Thunderbolt dock to whichthunderboltisit? 2, I think.

It's an interesting challenge to work with vintage but still quite alive software and equipment.

Though I'd probably recommend a $300 digital camcorder or shooting with an iphone through MoviePro. Don't all kids have a phone that records digital movies these days?


Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City

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Mark Suszko
Re: Question about digitizing tape (yes you read that right)
on Oct 28, 2019 at 8:35:50 pm

You could outfit the Cannon with a hard drive and they can then tap into that, but yes, actually, shooting on iPhones and Androids and etc with camera control software like Filmic Pro would be more practical, once you get them some external mics. A bonus of basing their workflow around cameraphones is that they are likely to be able to cover a scene with multiple cameras; A, B, C, etc. either the same shot done as wide and simultaneous close-ups, or dedicated iso coverage of each actor. Phones s audio records, too, for dual-system recording. Then any of the popular NLE's can multicam between these shots, and the kids will have an embarrassment of riches in terms of angle choice. Shooting amateurs with multiple cameras is handy, because non-pro actors can't give you consistent multiple takes, so having multiple-angle coverage of the one time they got it right is what saves the project.

Sell the Cannon, but them tripods and external shotguns and lavs and the like. You can find some in the 20-40 back range that are good enough for learning on. Blow the rest of the money on lighting tools; reflector boards, diffusion scrims, etc., made from cheap DIY materials.

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