26 Replies Latest reply: May 25, 2012 10:21 AM by John T Smith RSS

    Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best


      I've had many versions of Photoshop Elements, but have just purchased Adobe Premiere Elements 10 (have never used any Premiere/Premiere Elements software).


      I have about 50 miniDV tapes, but no camcorder.  Recently, I talked an acquaintance into lending me their camcorder which will play these tapes, which really took some talking, as I'm not a friend, just an acquaintance.


      I ordered and *just* received a Canopus/Grass Valley Bidirectional Analog/Digital Video Conversion ADVC110.  I intend to convert the tapes to DVD's, but with some editing, removing some scenes, etc.


      I had intended to read forum postings, view the tutorials, experiment, etc.  BUT, now the person want their camcorder back after this weekend, so I need to import all the tapes this weekend.  So, with no time to learn anything, what's the best way I can import the tapes into a format that I can play with/experiment with later?  Like I said, I had intended to import various ways, experimenting until I found what works best.  But now I need a "huge, uncompressed" file, or whatever, not even sure what I need.


      I wasn't expecting them to want their camcorder back anytime soon, so got kind of blindsided (long story).  When I was looking at ebay before, camcorders like this were either too expensive, or you were taking chances as to whether they worked or not.


      I know the usual answer would be to "read the manual", view tutorials, etc, but I'm going to be hard pressed just to import the tapes.  Even though it's a US Holiday weekend, I have to work it.


      Any tips would be appreciated, thanks.



        • 1. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
          Steve Grisetti MVP

          Forget the manual. Read my book!


          The ideal format for capturing your video will be over FireWire from that miniDV camcorder. That will capture them as DV-AVIs, the ideal editing format for standard definition video.


          You won't need the Canopus bridge between this camcorder and your computer. It's more for digitizing analog video. Just plug the miniDV directly into your FireWire port.


          With that many tapes, I'd recommend buying a used miniDV camcorder. You can find them on eBay for under $100 -- which is much cheaper than hiring someone else to digitize your tapes.


          Don't worry much about the "quality" of the camcorder, when it comes to playback. It's digital, so any miniDV will output the original video quality as DV-AVIs for your computer.

          • 2. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
            John T Smith MVP

            You don't say... IF you run Windows 7 you need to do this...

            Legacy Driver and Capture http://forums.adobe.com/thread/869277

            - And a Picture http://forums.adobe.com/thread/727755


            IF you have problems figuring out how to use PreEl there are a couple other programs that are single purpose, so MAYBE easier to use... I think they are free, but I don't use them so not 100% sure

            I have NOT used either, but many say to try these for SD capture http://windv.mourek.cz/ or http://www.exsate.com/products/dvcapture/


            Be aware that DV AVI is "about" 13 Gig per hour, so you need LOTS of space on your 2nd, dedicated data drive... if you don't have a dedicated data drive, you NEED one

            My 3 hard drives are configured as... (I built a computer for Win7... you need at least 2 hard drives... a BIG one for your data files)


            1 - 320Gig Boot for Win7 64bit Pro and ALL program installs (2)


            2 - 320Gig data for Win7 paging swap file and video project files


            3 - 1Terabyte data for all video files... input & output files (1)


            (1) for faster input/output with 4 drives

            - use drive 3 for all source files

            - use drive 4 for all output files


            (2) only 60Gig used, for Win7 & CS5 MC & MS Office & other smaller programs


            Search Microsoft to find out how to redirect your Windows paging swap file



            And... some other reading

            Steve's Basic Training Tutorials http://forums.adobe.com/thread/537685

            FAQ http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere_elements/premiere_elements_faq

            TIPS http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere_elements/premiere_elements_tips


            User Guide PDF http://help.adobe.com/en_US/premiereelements/using/index.html

            Right click the PDF link in the upper right corner and select to save to your hard drive

            • 3. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
              Ed.Macke Community Member

              While Premiere Elements will import your camcorder's video, you may want to consider using a piece of software called WinDV. It's free, very easy to use (IMO), and it does one thing very well and that's to import DV-AVI video from a camcorder to your hard drive. Pretty much all you have to do is plug in the Firewire cable (don't use USB), fire up WinDV, press "Capture" and grab a beer.


              After you've imported the video, then you can use Premiere Elements to edit it at your convenience.


              Also, just be aware that importing miniDV tapes is a real-time affair: if you have 50 hours of video it will take 50 hours to import it (plus the overhead of swapping tapes, etc.). Also, DV-AVI files take up a lot of room, about 12GB / hour(?), so do the math to make sure you have enough free hard drive space for your import.


              I would also recommend backing up your video after you import it, if at all possible. After you've borrowed a camcorder and done that much work, you don't want to lose a file and have to start over.


              ETA: John, looks like you beat me to the punch

              • 4. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                Ed.Macke Community Member

                One other thing that I thought of in re-reading your post. You mention "one big, uncompressed file".


                I forget exactly how Premiere Elements and WinDV import their video, but let's say you have a miniDV tape with 60 scenes of 1 minute each.


                Some products will just create 1 big file that has all 60 scenes - so you've have (1) 60-minute long file.


                Other products - like Scenealyzer, which is what I use - can create a separate file for each scene, so that you would get (60) 1-minute long files.


                I much prefer the smaller, multiple file approach - they are much easier to organize and I suspect they are easier for PRE to work with. But either way, you might want to do a short test first to see which way your software will handle multiple scenes and make sure it's what you want. If you want multiple files and the software isn't doing it, there might be a setting to control that (usually it will be something like "create a new file on timecode break").

                • 5. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                  John T Smith MVP

                  I did not mention http://www.scenalyzer.com/main.html because I read a comment in another message thread that it is no longer possible to buy the program... but, that could have just been one person not being able to make an internet connection to the correct page


                  I have NOT verified this for myself... so I just posted the 2 other program links I have in my notes file


                  Copying all the DV AVI files from internal data drive to external USB hard drive as backup is a really good idea... I have several USB hard drives as well as my internal data drive


                  It is also a good idea to make a full boot/program drive backup to an external USB hard drive... while everything is working properly... to guard against a drive or software failure


                  Hardware crashes or virus infections or simple software problems happen, so you should buy AND USE software to make a full backup of your hard drive to an external USB hard drive... plus, making step-by-step backups during a new setup or major program addition makes it easy to go back a step if something doesn't work


                  This backup and then restore is, of course, only to the same computer with a new drive (or the same drive as long as you don't mind writing over everything) since doing a restore to a new computer won't work due to Windows and many programs having activation information that is keyed to your hardware (which is why Windows will force you to RE-Activate if you change very much hardware)


                  The product I use is at http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/image-for-linux.htm


                  Image runs off of a bootable CD via Linux (the Zip you download includes a program to make the bootable CD) and it reads EVERYTHING on the drive, even the hidden registration information, so everything is restored when needed... and you may restore the image to a brand new drive in case of a crash, and not have to re-install anything


                  Please note that I own no part of Image, and I don't get a referral fee (that is just a plain web link) but I use the program and it has saved me a LOT of trouble when I had a hard drive die... and I was able to restore everything and not have to re-install or re-activate a single program, from Windows on up

                  • 6. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                    the_wine_snob Community Member

                    I think that Steve, John T and Ed have covered everything pretty well.


                    While I have not used WinDV, many sing its praises. I have used ScenAlyzer (the paid version), BUT I hear that it is no longer available. Some Premiere users think that ScenAlyzer is the "Capture module," that Adobe should have incorporated into Premiere, as they find it superior to the Capture module in either PrE, or PrPro.


                    Ed, or others, will have to give you tips on WinDV, but with its high ratings from actual users, I think it would be a good program, and as Ed mentions, using Scene Detect to break up the files, might be the ideal workflow for you.


                    I would recommend that you pick up a high-quality external HDD, to store your Captured material. You are talking about ~ 650GB (not too far short of 1TB) of storage space needed. If you have one 1TB internal HDD, that is mostly empty, you could Capture to that, but I would also Copy the files over to the external for archiving.


                    Depending on the connection of that external HDD, you might be able to edit to/from it, and if you elect to, see this ARTICLE for some tips.


                    Good luck, and happy editing,




                    [Edit] If I had waited a bit, I could have just said - "Um-m, what John T. just said." He is quick this morning!

                    • 7. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                      Ed.Macke Community Member

                      WinDV is about as simple as simple gets. Download the 38K .ZIP file, extract the .exe and run it (or just run it from the .zip file). No install required.


                      The web site has a very handy interactive screen grab that explains each field, but basically you put in the file name and press "Capture".


                      I think the defaults are fine, but you can click "Config" to check.


                      I think the things I would recommend are:

                      • Check the unlabeled box on the main screen that's to the right of the "Config" button. It's for "Enable DV Control"
                      • On the Config screen, select "Type-2 AVI (vids+auds)" - that's what PRE likes, IIRC
                      • Also on the Config screen is "Discontinuity threshold". Them's fancy words for saying "create a separate file whenever the timecode changes by more than this number of seconds". For example, if you set the threshold at 5 seconds, if you stop filming one scene and start filming again within 5 seconds, that all goes into the same output file. If you start filming again any time after 5 seconds, that will go into a new file. If you set this to 0, that's when you get "one, big file" with all scenes.


                      And yes, I didn't want to mention Scenealyzer either because a) it costs money, b) there seemed to be a question of whether it's being sold any more, and c) for timecoded, digital files, WinDV works about as well as Scenealyzer at separating files. Scenealyzer's real value was in separating analog files (i.e. no timecode) - something PRE was horrible at and WinDV doesn't do.

                      • 8. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                        Ed.Macke Community Member

                        Also, don't be freaked out by the fact that WinDV is only 38K, was last updated in 2003, and comes from the Czech Republic.


                        Normally all those things togther would make me think twice about what I was really getting


                        But no worries - it's the real deal.

                        • 9. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                          the_wine_snob Community Member



                          Thank you for those detailed instructions. They should be very helpful to the OP.





                          • 10. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                            RedDog55 Community Member

                            Thanks for all the replies, but I think I made a mistake in describing the Tape, it is Mini DV Hi8 tape, so is analog not digital, right?  At least, that's why I bought the Canopus ADVC110 for.


                            I saw the replies and I wanted to hide my face, that I left the impression that this is digital.   I've seen these referred to as "Mini DV", so I just used that term.  I'm terribly sorry that I left out pertinent information, I'm embarrased as well as sorry.


                            Just a couple of repsonses, I know it's "real time", so 50 hours of tape will take 50 hours to import (I was thinking a tape was only about 20-30 minutes, but since I haven't run them yet, don't really know).  I've got at least 2 terrabyte hard drive space available, one terrabyte in one hard drive I bought esplically for this project, plus at least one more terrabyte on my regular hard drives.


                            As for the other links/replies, I'll look them over when I get home after work.


                            Again, I apoligize for any mis-understanding.  These aren't my tapes, but a family member's whose camcorder died and was thrown away long ago, which is why I had to borrow one.


                            Thanks. RedDog

                            • 11. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                              Steve Grisetti MVP

                              If you have Hi8 tape, I'd like for a backwards compatible Digital8 camcorder, which you should be able to find on eBay. Digital8 was Sony's proprietary digital video system in the early part of the decade. It's main advantage was that Digital8 camcorders could also play Hi8 and 8mm video -- which made the ideal for digitizing 8mm tape!


                              I suppose you can use the ADVC110 if you'd like to digitize your videos, assuming you've got a Hi8 camcorder to play the tapes. But I love my old Digital8 cam, and I keep it around for digitizing my old 8mm tapes from the 1990s. It does a terrific job, and it's as easy as capturing miniDV!

                              • 12. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                the_wine_snob Community Member

                                Got you!


                                For analog tape video, then you WILL want the Canopus/GrassValley 110.


                                When properly setup, with FireWire, the Canopus should allow you to Capture from PrE. Note: you will not have Device Control, as the camera will be hooked to the 110 via composite cables, which are one-way (data from camera to Canopus), but with a bit of practice (with 50 tapes, you will get that), you can initiate the Capture, and then hit play on the camera. If it has a remote, things are a tad quicker, but even if you need to press a button, you should only get a few black Frames, which are easy to cut out.


                                I have to do similar, when doing a Capture from my VHS deck. I click the mouse on Capture, and then with the left hand, hit Play on the deck's remote control - maybe 10 black Frames, at most.


                                Good luck,



                                • 13. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                  John T Smith MVP

                                  >Mini DV Hi8 tape


                                  Mini DV tapes look the same, but they are not the same as Hi8... so when you say miniDV people take it to mean (wrongly) that you are working with digital tapes


                                  If you can't finish with your borrowed camera, or find a used camera to buy, check to see if GO VIDEO still sells an 8mm/VHS desk... I used to have one, back when I had a Sony Hi8 camcorder... but don't know if GO VIDEO still sells one or if they stopped when Hi8 was replaced with other formats

                                  • 14. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                    Ed.Macke Community Member

                                    I'd second the Digital8 approach. I used that exact method for converting hours of old analog tape to DV-AVI.


                                    Since it's a true digital camcorder, you just plug it via Firewire and import like normal (with PRE, WinDV, or Scenealyzer). The camera just converts the analog to digital on the fly. You can control it using "Device Control".


                                    Really the only difference is that the DV-AVI doesn't have timecodes so products like WinDV that use timecode to break it into individual files won't work. That's where Scenealyzer really shines.


                                    I think PRE will also do content-based scene detection, but (at least with version 7) it won't actually break it into individual physical files, it just creates on big file and then creates in/out markers where the scene changes. So it's kind of "virutal" file, if that makes sense. If you start a new project (or your project becomes corrupted) and use the same source file, you have to do the scene analysis all over again (i.e. time-consuming) and it won't be the same every time.

                                    • 15. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                      RedDog55 Community Member

                                      OK, got it hooked up, and imported 3 tapes so far, and have a basic question. When I start a new project, it allows you to change a setting, where you can select AVCHD/LITE 720p24,LITE720p30 etc. or DSLR/1080p24, etc. or DV/standard 720p24 etc (among others).


                                      First tape I put in, the default setting was DV/standard 720p24 (I think) and no problem. Next tape, it didn't like that setting, and said something like "setting is different than device, if continue will not be optimized".  I have to start a completely new project, change the setting one by one until I find one that I don't get the warning.


                                      Is there a way I can tell what I need to choose by telling it to look at the device BEFORE choosing a setting?


                                      It seems that if I restart the computer, then start a new project, it chooses the proper setting, but if no restart, then with next new project it simply stays with the last setting.  Of course, that could have been coincidence.


                                      Of course, I have a lot of learning to do.


                                      Thanks to all, RedDog

                                      • 16. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                        the_wine_snob Community Member

                                        For analog material, you should choose the NTSC (or PAL, depending on where you live) DV Standard, as that is what the material was shot as. There was no Widescreen 16:9 back then, unless you had a very special camera.


                                        Choosing something else will not get you better quality, just problems.


                                        Good luck,



                                        • 17. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                          Ed.Macke Community Member

                                          Hunt, I think the OP is using the Canopus product.


                                          I'm not familiar with it, so I was just wondering... the project settings would have to match what the Canopus equipment was actually generating, right?


                                          For example, if the Canopus is taking analog Hi8 as input and converting it to 720p output, the project settings would have to match the 720p setting, not the NTSC DV Standard correct? I'm not saying that's what's happening, I'm just wondering if maybe there's a config setting on the Canopus that might be outputting something unexpected and wonking things up.


                                          As an aside, this is another reason why I really don't like using PRE for ingesting files. The part of getting files from a camcorder to your hard drive is really independent of the project that will eventually use those files, but PRE forces you to kind of co-mingle those.


                                          Along those same lines: does the OP really need to create a new project for each import? Personally, what I've done in the past is just create a project that works, import the tape. Close the project, re-open that project and delete the files from the media bin (which deletes them from the project but not from the hard disk), and import the next tape. Lather, rinse, repeat.


                                          Another thought is why not just use WinDV to import? That should work with the Canopus, no? And it would avoid all of the project settings headaches?


                                          Just thinking out loud...

                                          • 18. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                            John T Smith MVP

                                            Since you are doing the transfer work, you need to see what you are telling the device to create... so you will know what project setting to select


                                            Or, analyze your files to find the same information


                                            For PC http://www.headbands.com/gspot/ or http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/en


                                            For Mac http://mediainspector.massanti.com/

                                            • 19. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                              the_wine_snob Community Member



                                              The Canopus ADVC-110 doesn't actually produce anything. It takes a feed via composite cables, and just digitizes those streams (Audio and Video), and that digitized feed is what PrE Captures. The source material, recorded onto the tape as an analog signal, is what is important. It should be very close to 720 x 480 (for NTSC), as it was designed to play on a CRT TV of the era. Unless I missed a camera from that era, there was no Widescreen 16:9, and everything was Standard 4:3, with a PAR = 0.9 (NTSC). That translates to the DV NTSC format, and hence Project.


                                              What I normally do is create a single Project, named "Capture_[Client Name]," and then Capture all tapes to that. However, and depending on what the subject matter of the OP's tapes are, it might be better to set up a unique Project for each tape. It really just depends on how one likes to work, and what they are presented with. In my normal case, the material might differ a bit, in subject matter, but it is all for one client. I name each Captured file numerically, corresponding to a number that I (or the client) has assigned to that tape. During Capture, I log in each tape, with a worksheet. I usually do not do Scene Detect in the Capture, but do make notes w/ approximate TimeCodes, etc., and then know about where I will be cutting. When done, I usually review each Captured file, and refine my notes. In the OP's case, with 50 tapes, and limited time w/ the camera, that luxury will likely not be afforded. Still, while doing the Capture, I would log each tape, as well, as is possible. That would give me something to do, that is constructive, during the 50 hours +/- required to Capture - better than Solitare.


                                              Now, the OP might benefit FROM using Scene Detect, so long as that functions adequately. I just Capture to one large file, and when editing, Dbl-click on that file in the Project Panel, to open it into the Source Monitor, set In & Out Points for many Instances of that file, and drag those Instances to the Timeline for tighter editing. Again, that is just my personal workflow, and is predicated on what I am doing, for whom I am doing it, and what I have been given (usually VHS tapes).



                                              • 20. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                Ed.Macke Community Member

                                                But the digitized stream has be in some format. The googled the Canopus docs, and they don't say exactly but they do says it outputs "DV". It looks like the options are Audio Mode (48Khz/16-bit 2-channel | 32Khz /12-bit 4-channel), Audio/Video lock (yes | no), NTSC | PAL, and if NTSC Japan | USA.


                                                I guess John's recommendation for Gspot or equivalent would be the acid test to see what was being created / ingested. But if I were a betting man, I'd bet that you're right (if for no other reason than you almost always are ). But in any event, it's not like it would produce different files based on different tapes - they should all be the same format.


                                                It's too bad Scenealyzer isn't an option. It could bypass all the PRE fusiness, name the files something meaningful, increment by number, and do scene detection. At the end, there would just be a boatload of DV-AVI files waiting to be edited in PRE.

                                                • 21. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                  nealeh Community Member

                                                  To use your ADVC110 you should connect your analogue camcorder to it with whatever output options it has (e.g. red/white audio, yellow video) and the ADVC110 to the computer via firewire. In PRE (or WinDV, or Exsate Capture Live) you capture it as though it was from a miniDV digital camcorder (as the unit is, in practical terms, fooling your capture software into thinking a miniDV camcorder is connected to it). This will create a file of around 13GB per hour of footage.


                                                  I use a Canopus ADVC300. It has two banks of settings controlled by dip switches or software. So for the ADVC300 switch 1-5 selects NTSC or PAL, switches 2-4 and 2-5 allow setting of 4:3 letterbox or 16:9 aspect ratios. Check your ADVC110 to see if it has similar settings.


                                                  Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children

                                                  • 22. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                    RedDog55 Community Member

                                                    With Gspot or the other PC link you provided, is there a way to tell it to "look at what's on this device", rather than "examine this file"?




                                                    • 23. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                      RedDog55 Community Member

                                                      Thanks to all who replied, you were all very helpful! 


                                                      I can see that I won't be able to get all these tapes (or even half) done over the weekend, so I'll grovel and beg to borrow the camcorder longer.  Or, will look on Ebay for a used one.


                                                      I burned the 3 tapes I did to DVD, and they all play video ok.  The audio is ok playing on windows media play on several computers, but don't get any audio on the one DVD player I tried.  I think I choose the wrong audio settings on import.  But, if I can't figure that out, I'll start a new thread regarding that.  I seen to recall seeing several posts regarding no audio, so will check those out.


                                                      btw, the people who said about 13gb per hour of tape were exactly right!


                                                      Again, Thanks to All!!


                                                      • 24. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                        the_wine_snob Community Member

                                                        With G-Spot, you can go to Tables (unless the name has changed) on the Toolbar. That will show you all installed CODEC's on your system. Be aware that Adobe hides its MainConcept CODEC's, to protect them from being overwritten. They do that with a subtle name change, but many CODEC utilities will report errors, or corrupt MainConcept CODEC's. This is a false-positive, as they are fine, just named in a different fashion. See this ARTICLE.


                                                        Good luck,



                                                        • 25. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                          the_wine_snob Community Member

                                                          As you have discovered, you have undertaken a large project. The most that I have ever worked on, was 17 VHS tapes. That was several days of Capture, but then I had to first view the Tapes, to get some sort of numbering scheme down - the client had dated some, but not all, and even on the ones with a date, it was usually for only the first session, and the dates jumped around throughout the tape. In some cases, the client had switched tapes around, maybe trying to find one that still had space on it? I spent three full days, just on the Capture. However, I did have my worksheet, so I rather knew what was on each of those tapes, and hence, what was in each of the files that I created. As my VHS deck is also a DVR, I created a DVD-Video of each tape too, but that was just an "extra" for the client and for archiving purposes only. I did not plan on ever editing from those, but could have, in a pinch. However, when starting with old VHS, the last thing that I wanted was to have to edit an MPEG-2, of that footage, that had been compressed.


                                                          I find that a six-pack of good beer, or a bottle of Single-malt Scotch Whiskey goes much farther, than groveling...


                                                          Good luck,



                                                          • 26. Re: Limited Access to MiniDV camcorder, need to import best
                                                            John T Smith MVP

                                                            >Single-malt Scotch Whiskey


                                                            My current favorite is Glenmorangie 12 year old Quinta Ruban