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Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)

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Matt Mitchell
Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:43:12 pm
Last Edited By Matt Mitchell on Aug 22, 2019 at 7:33:25 pm

Hi, I'm trying to digitize a bunch of old, analog videos in three formats (8mm, Hi8, and VHS). Starting with 8mm and Hi8, I have an old digital Hi8 Sony camcorder that plays the 8mm and Hi8 source material fine. It has DV, mini-USB, AV Minijack, and S Video outputs.

First I connected a DV-to-FireWire 800 cable to the DV port on the camcorder and into a FireWire-to-Thunderbolt adapter and into a 2013 Retina MacBook Pro. Neither Final Cut nor Premiere would recognize that I had a camera plugged in.

Then I tried connecting the camera through the DV-to-FireWire cable to a 2010 Mac Pro's FireWire port. Final Cut Pro 7 recognized the camera this time and let me capture video (may be worth noting that it did not recognize the timecode from the camera so I just pressed play and hit "Capture Now" to capture the video). However, when I watched the video I had captured, there were some issues with it (the actual captured video in the Finder, not just as played in Final Cut). While the black edging, snow, and static lines were not 100% unexpected, and are remediable, what I did not expect and do not know how to address is the way the captured video speeds up and down over and over again. The video gets too fast, then slows down, speeds up, slows down, seems to skip frames. Here is a short clip demonstrating the issues with the video I captured: https://vimeo.com/355388771

At this point I'm wondering:
1. What is happening?
2. Why is this happening?
3. Can I fix it?
4. How do I fix it?
5. Do I need to buy another product to capture this video?
6. What do I need to buy? (Would like some options that allow me to capture all three of the formats I mentioned at the top)

Thanks in advance!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 22, 2019 at 7:36:56 pm

The DV signal chains were notoriously fickle back in my FCp-7 days...The edit system would not recognize the input unless the various components were powered-up in a specific order.

As to your speed ramping issues, what I'd try first is to re-capture in manual control mode, not trying to use time code or anything, where the NLE is just passively recording, and you use the manual transport controls on the camcorder itself to play out. I think that wobbly control-track was probably causing the NLE to try and adjust playback for the wrong reasons. Where the original camera tapes were started and stopped, there will be discontinuities in the guide tracks, so don't trust them.


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Matt Mitchell
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 23, 2019 at 7:40:23 pm

Thanks for responding. I did capture choosing no control device, not using timecode. Any other ideas what it might be?


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Brett Sherman
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 24, 2019 at 12:22:23 am

The only thing I can think of is that the frame rate is set wrong on FCP X for the capture. 25fps instead of 30fps. Normally, it would just not be able to capture, but having DV output on an 8mm format is weird since it's an analog format. So it might be a weird thing with this particular deck.

The only thing I can think is to go analog and get a capture card of some kind. I've used Black Magic ones, but they are probably a bit pricey for what you want to do. The deck is already doing some sort of A to D conversion, so you're not adding an additional process.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 24, 2019 at 4:13:31 am

I got one more idea; is the original tape all one speed? Because back in the day, there was a lower data rate "speed" and a higher one, not unlike the multiple speeds of VHS tapes. If someone mixed between those two settings on one tape, maybe that would have an effect.


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Matt Mitchell
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:24:52 am

Mark: The speed ramps up and down every second or two, and it's not like if there was more than one speed I would have been wildly switching back and forth between them every couple seconds while filming, so I don't see how this makes sense, sorry. Also if the speed kept changing, it wouldn't be playing back fine in the camera, which it is.


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Aaron Villa
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 26, 2019 at 8:21:40 pm

I've done this the same way, using a DV camera to pass through the analogue from the composite connection.

I had issues capturing DV with FCPX. I used iMovie and it worked way better.

As for the speed and skipping issues, you may want to try fast-forwarding the tape, then rewinding it. Maybe since they've been sitting the tape is kinda stuck together.

May want to try a camera cleaner tape.

I've also used an Elgato USB capture device if I don't need the raw quality. It captures directly to MP4 and seems to do its own noise clean up and deinterlace.


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Claude Lyneis
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:34:25 am

I was using FCPX recently to transfer some mini-DV files and the results were not great. Sometimes the transferred files were OK, sometimes there were lines. Also, it tended to break the video into clips somewhat randomly. Rewinding the tape sometimes made it work.
Some of the mini DV tapes were originally made by ingesting 8 mm analog into a miniDV camera, which I still have. I bought a Elanto digitizer and used it on the 8 mm analog directly and that was easier and better since it converted directly to an MP4 format.
Of course with the mini DV files, they may of been the problem or the firewire link. This process was good enough for home movies, but nothing more demanding.


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Matt Mitchell
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:30:52 am

Claude: The DV transfer seems to be working poorly and I don't care too too much about the quality of the videos (obviously would be ideal to capture them as high quality as possible) so I'm looking at the Elgato capture device. Thanks!


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Matt Mitchell
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 28, 2019 at 3:28:17 am

Aaron: There's nothing wrong with the tape. Plays back fine in the camera. Something is happening to the data during the transfer via DV-FireWire. I can try using iMovie to see if it improves, and I was also already looking at that Elgato capture device, which I'll probably buy if iMovie doesn't work. Thanks!


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Doug Metz
Re: Problems trying to transfer analog video (8mm, Hi8, VHS) to digital (2013 MacBook Pro)
on Aug 28, 2019 at 2:24:38 pm

I've had good luck with free-run DV / Firewire capture using the ancient, but still functioning, Vidi.app:
https://www.mitzpettel.com

Hasn't been updated in forever, but still works (for now).

Doug Metz

Dalton Agency


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