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Saturday 29 May 2004

Slimbo Speilburg [slim]

My old Sony Handicam was becoming an embarrasment, even my kids were ashamed when I'd lug it out and stand near the other preening dads with their cool little DV players. So I invested in a cool little dv player of my own, the Canon mv700i, as I'm a bit fond of canons still cameras.
It's a lovely little thing, nice chromey buttons, good build quality, absolutely tiny too. The tapes I got with it gave you an hour of vid which is plenty, especially as they're only a couple of quid and the whole thing fits into a camera bag instead of a big video camera bag. Image quality is superb, and of course you dont get any degradation when you transfer it as with analog, becuase it's digital and leet. I bought the 'i' model for an extra few quid because it accepts analog in, so I can transfer my old vhs stuff to DV tape for storage without degradation. I figure using a little DV cam to do the capture is a lot less faffy than rigging up my video player to my pc.
There are a couple of downers, both relating to the size of the thing. First its so small that it's quite hard to hold steady. It does have image correcting gubbins but it's still hard to get a shot as steady as with my older bigger cam. Also, as its so tiny, the mic is obviosly too close to the drive motor, so you get a bit of that noise on the soundtrack of your vid. Bit of a shitter really, you'd have thought they could have designed around that or something?
Now with my old analog camera, you recorded shit with the camera, you plugged it into your domestic video recorder and recorded it off to vhs. A dv cam is a whole different kettle of shit. This plugs into my firewire port on my pc, and appears as a device on my 'my computer' list. Double clicking on the icon on the camera allows me to watch the vids off the tape on the pc. I think the camera was supposed to ship with some movie editing software, but mine didn't, bleh, so I started off using the Microsoft Movie Maker thing. This isn't bad on first view, it does lots of stuff like transitions and fx (if you download the free update v2 off their webby), in fact I spent a lot of time building up nice movie with lots of leet features, until I realised it was shit. Why's it shit? Well it appears to encode everythign into windows media format, which is useless for making DVD's out of. So I got me a copy of Pinnacle Stuido, and had loads of fun makign dvd menus, sound tracks, ! titles, transitions. It's a world apart from the free stuff, and well worth investing in if you've got a dv cam. Problem here is it offers so much over the old analog transfer to tape and watch method that you spend much more time on it. Of course the end result is far better so worth it in the end. The rendering of the final dvd for writing also takes a long time, a couple of hours on my p4 3.2 ghz machine with 1ghz of ram.
Oh, another iffy bit. An hours Digital Video in raw format is about 12gb, whereas a dvd is about a quarter of that, so the video must be encoded to fit. So what do you do with the source? Delete it? Keep the tape, what? I dunno!
Oh, final a bonus is that you can get software to allow you to back up 12 gb of data to the things, which is kinda comparable with DVD-R costs, but of course the tapes are re-writable.
I'm happy overall, some catchas, and some dissapointments but it is a lot of fun. The end result is an amazing dvd of my family events which I can copy, show off and pass around without worry about it being degraded or worn out or being chewed by someones shitty old furgason or whatever.


  1. Any chance of any hot Bloomers amateur action?
    Any how, I've been doing some research and the word on the street is that Roxio's new product Easy Media Creator 7 could be the daddy...
    Maybe ask the man in the pub about it, next time you're out.

  2. It's not bad but ULead's stuff (not the free shit, the proper boxed stuff) is the fastest stuff on the block. It'll give you real-time previews from DV shit and encodes quickly. With DV you want it to encode quickly.

  3. The raw data? Encode it with something like Xvid to a reasonable definition, and it will be much smaller even than DVD file sizes - you can then back that off to plain old CD-R, or even archive it the way HD prices are going.

  4. Ah, I think it was ulead that was supposed to come with the cam but seemed to wander from the box...
    I'll see if I can find a demo copy and try it out. I was dead impressed with pinnacle though, mostly because I managed to produce a dvd with a soundtrack and a menu in pretty quick time, apart from the rendering.
    Adobe Premier is supposed to be the daddy according to many messageboards, but that's megabucks.
    Oh, and I've spent all day trying to ressurect a laptop that Roxio's CD software had completely destroyed, I'll be avoiding that stuff for a while!
    Bloomers doesn't do any acting sadly.

  5. Or just MPEG2 encode it which is vastly faster and then cut it to DVDs that people can actually watch!


  6. Afty: I don't need it smaller than DVD, and my point was that's still encoded. It's still less quality than the original DV. Perhaps I'll never need the original DV, but it does seem a shame to just delete it.
    I think I'm definately in the market for a fuck off big disk tho..

  7. You really need to consider what you're going to do with the raw mini DV footage. I suspect like most 'dads with cams' you'll end up with a stack of mini DV tapes covering all sorts of guff from kid's parties to random drunken events.
    If you're going to be editing stuff, then a big disk is a definite; since as you point out, importing raw footage eats into the GB in fairly short order, and having a dedicated drive for this sort of thing is good form anyhow.
    In terms of editing, there are shed loads of packages out there, and again depending on what you want to do, various options spring to mind.
    I'm guessing roughly edited shorts of events perhaps with the odd caption and transition effect is what you've got in mind? In which case Pinnacle Studio 9 is an excellent product; I've used it's predecessor and I can honestly say it's one of the easiest pieces of kit for that sort of work.
    It'll also handle soundtracks and export to DVD without any hassle.
    Now, Adobe Premiere and Adobe AfterEffects are two mainstream professional packages which are a) expensive and b) far and away too 'pro' for something like this; whilst they are *fairly* intuitive, you'd end up simply doing exactly what you would in a Pinnacle type scenario, and the pro-tools would be left untouched.
    Either way, insofar as keeping the source around is concerned, the cost of mini DV is fairly small, so you could always simply keep adding tapes to a permanent collection once they have stuff on them you want.
    Incidentally, Pinnacle not only handles DV device -> Pinnacle 'Studio' but also outputs back, straight to DV device which is very nifty.

  8. I've used Pinnacle a lot. It's good. It's very easy to use. It is, however, quite slow. That's why I mentioned ULead's latest stuff. Slim's bound to have a 486.
    I also really don't think you're going to see much of a drop in quality when you MPEG2 encode to 6-8Mbps and cut that onto DVD. Not enough to want to keep the DV tapes around imo.

  9. Sure, whacking out the source as MPEG2 at as you save between 6 & 8Mbps would be a fine solution here; a stream at that quality can be easily used as a future source for additional editing.
    The thing to watch out for though is the editing product's ability to deal with MPEG2 media; we have encountered really stupid bugs with the likes of Real Producer 10, Discreet's 'Cleaner' and FlipFactory in terms of either fucking around with the MPEG2 source or incredibly, insisting that MPEG2 can only be output at ISO resolution; something which is completely useless.
    Now, probably not something for Slim to be worried about, but if you do go down the route of making what is effectively an MPEG2 stock library, make sure your chosen package deals with it well.
    Haven't had a good look at Ulead's latest; still screaming blue murder over something called a MediaHawk 2000 - an irritating bunch of toss that has swallowed up the entire day :)

  10. Ta choppers. I'm going to leave it on DV tape for now, as the pinnacle cut to dvd fucked up the sound somehow. Not sure if its the disks or the software, but the sound is like folks are speaking underwater, and it loses sync with the vid. Fortunately the dv tapes are only a fiver for 12gb, so I'm not breaking the bank for now.
    I've got a 3.2 pentium by the way lurks, faggot!