13 Replies Latest reply on Apr 30, 2009 7:06 AM by the_wine_snob

    Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital

    Paul787 Level 3



      I am looking for advice on converting some Hi8mm analog video tapes to digital. They are not my tapes but I would still prefer to obtain a good quality transfer. I may do some editing on a few of them in PRE and would like to maintain the ability to edit them in the future.


      At present, I've bought a Roxio easyVHStoDVD USB converter which states it can capture in DV-AVI format but doesn't actually appear able to do so. Results so far at capturing have been finicky at best but I'm still working on it but am wary because the format captured is not DV-AVI.


      I've read several people here suggesting using an ADS Pyro A/D Firewire converter. Would that be a better, less troublesome route to go? And what other tips does anyone have in doing an A/D conversion?




        • 1. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
          Paul_LS Level 4

          Yes the ADS Pyro is the best way to go... either the Pyro or the Canopus range of DV converters... ie the ADVC110 or ADVC300. The ADVC300 is the best of the bunch as it has a timebase corrector which can help eliminate dropped frames on older tapes.


          Your tape will be captured as one clip, if you are burning straight to DVD this is not a problem. However if you want to do some editing you may want to capture using the scene detect option. This will split the video up into clips (virtual clips within PE7, ie the tape is still capyured as one video) and place them in the Media Bin where you can drag them to the timeline. I am not sure how well the PE7 scene detect option works... I have had mixed results in the past with similar programs. Usually end up splitting it up myself manually.

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          • 2. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
            Paul787 Level 3

            I can get the Canopus ADVC110 for $250US in Canada here, so I might go that route.


            Will 1 hour of analog tape produce about 13GB of DV-AVIs like miniDV tape does?


            And since I'm doing this for my brother, I would like to get the files on my computer, burn them to DVD, and then delete the files. In the future, would I still be able to do decent editing from the DVD files after PRE has encoded them to the different type of files it uses for the DVD? I'm not much of a tech person but if I'm going to do these transfers, I would like to do them well and once only.




            • 3. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
              Paul_LS Level 4

              Yes the DV-AVI captured from the ADVC110 will be 13GB per hour exactly the same as from a miniDV tape.


              Once burnt to DVD the video files will be converted to MPEG2 format (.vob on the DVD), these can indeed be imported into Premiere Elements for further editing however there will be an impact on quality. MPEG2 is a compressed format, at the highest bitrate available from PE7 of 8Mbit/s the file size is shrunk to around 4GB per hour. If you encode at the highest bitrate (a little over one hour on a single layer DVD) you could do one more edit/burn cycle without losing too much quality. Ideally you would want to use an editing program that supports smart-rendering, which will burn unedited portions without re-rendering avoiding the subsequent quality loss. Unfortunately PE7 does not support smart-rendering... whereas most other editors do.

              • 4. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital

                If it was my money, I would buy a used Digital-8 camcorder from ebay.  Most Sony D8 camcorders (if not all) will playback the HI8 and 8mm video formats.  Some of them (if not most) also have a video conversion feature which will accept A/V in, convert to digital and sent it through firewire.  You would get an analog to digital converter and a bonus free camcorder for less than a standalone converter.  The stand alone converter might give a slightly better analog conversion, but an older home movie on HI8 would never see the difference.


                I bought a Sony Handycam DCR TRV530 2 years ago which is a D8.  New it was $1,200 but I paid around $300 including a $50 bag.  I just checked and saw one on ebay for $100 with a few hours to go.  This camcorder has a 25x optical zoom which is great for football videos.  I have used the video converter to record a few shows from my DVR video output with good results.  I also bought an "extended life" generic battery from ebay that gives it over 10 hours of run time.  This camera also has the LAN-C interface for remote zoom from the tri-pod.  This model works with my Premiere Elements 3 with no problems.  I believe the output is a true DV-AVI format.


                If you consider buying a used D8 camcorder, look up the manual online before you bid to make sure it has the video conversion feature.  Not all models do.  The link below is for my model.  Look on page 74 and it shows how it is done.  Sony calls their firewire "i-link".  The best part of capturing with this method is that the HI8/8mm tape is in the converter and premiere will remotely control your camera.





                • 5. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                  Steve Grisetti Adobe Community Professional

                  I, too, own a Digital 8 that's backwards compatible. It works great for digitizing my old 8mm videos!


                  The TRV200 series of camcorders (which were the bottom of the Sony line and the last Digital 8s made) were not backward compatible, however. Watch out for them.

                  • 6. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                    Paul787 Level 3

                    Thanks for the ideas. This gives me more then enough to get started. Since my brother is paying for it, a Sony Digital 8 with the pass through is probably the way to go as he could retire his old analog Sony 8mm and use the Digital 8mm camcorder after I finish the transfers.

                    • 7. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                      Paul787 Level 3

                      I ended up buying a new-in-box ADS Pyro 557 for $90US on eBay so I think I should be underway with the transfers soon. Thanks again for all your help. I love visiting this forum as it has made getting into video editing so much easier.

                      • 8. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital

                          II too am trying to do convert old HI-8 and VHS to a digital medium and have considered this avenue as well. I looked on EBay and found a few D8 camcorders and was wondering if the TRV510 model would do the job. It has the the USB & Firewire I/O to link to your PC, but in a review I read, it says that it doesnt  actually convert the analog source to digital unless you have a sSony Vaaio computer to link with the camera. Here's the review. I'm having trouble finding a review on the 530 model to see if it says the same thing about it. Does the 530 have an s-video input? I think this is a better avenue to take than a A/D converter as stated, but i want to insure i buy the correct model.

                        • 9. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                          Paul787 Level 3

                          Well I got my ADS Pyro converter from eBay today and it works nearly perfectly. Plug it in, and away it goes. Two small problems though.


                          1) On the bottom of the DV-AVI videos created, there is a very small flutter on the video. Can this be corrected?


                          2) The S-Video input plug on the unit is quite recessed into the ADS unit, so much so that I had to cut away some of the plastic at the end of the S-Video cable to get it to (barely) plug into the ADS unit. Does anyone know how to open up an ADS Pyro unit and adjust the alignment of the S-Video input plug? I can live with the problem but it would be nice to plug the cable in more securely.




                          • 10. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                            Paul_LS Level 4

                            I assume your flutter is some sort of head switching noise which is normal on analogue tapes, it appears as a few lines of flutter at the bottom of the video. Normally it is not seen on a TV because of the overscan... ie the edges of the video are off screen,. But when you capture and view on a monitor you see this region.


                            Cant help with opening the Pyro though.

                            • 11. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                              Steve Grisetti Adobe Community Professional

                              Chuck at Muvipix is really the Pyro AV Link expert.


                              You ought to post your question to him on http://muvipix.com/phpBB3/

                              • 12. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                                the_wine_snob Level 9

                                The workflow that you outline is good for archiving the material, but not so good for later editing that material. As Paul_LS states, a DVD-video will use MPEG-2 encoding. Material and quality will be forever lost. These DVD's are good for doing a backup of the material on tape, but the best quality will result from editing the Captured DV-AVI Type II material. Get an external HDD, instead, and copy those files over to it for later editing.


                                If you need to do much correction to the Captured material, especially color and exposure work, you might want to look into the Canopus 300, which allows one to do more at the Caputre stage with regards to color and density. The 100 will do a great job of straight Capture, but all corrections will need to be done in PE later.


                                For a similar Project, with 34 VHS tapes (all sorts of film rates, EP, LP and SP, I did a quick archival copy to DVD (I used my Panasonic VHS-DVD deck for this), and then did a Capture to DV-AVI Type II for all tapes, logging each with details and notes on what each scene was and where it was located, via Timecode. This was all done, while the Capture was being made, and these notes were invaluable, when it came time to actually do the edits.


                                Using the DV-AVI Type II files (stored on about 4 2TB external (FireWire 800) hard discs, I then Imported just what I needed to create 17 finished DVD's from the tapes. During the edit, I archived each Project to another set of external HDD's, because I will need to do extensive editing for a finished set of DVD's for the two subjects, whose lives were recorded on those 34 tapes. Again, I kept notes on these files, so I know exactly where every scene is located. I can still go back to the Captures, but as I have doine the color grading, and density correction on the next phase of files, those would be the ones that I'd want to use.


                                In this Project, the biggest help was my "shot sheet," that contained all details of every shot. It saved me countless hours of searching, just to locate a particular scene. If you need a "shot sheet," let me know, and I'll share a PDF of the one that worked for me.


                                Good luck,



                                • 13. Re: Advice on converting analog Hi8mm tapes to digital
                                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                                  This is common with analog recording of video material. Some things to consider:

                                  1.) it is usually outside the scanning area of CRT TV's, so is not likely to be seen on most display devices (see below)

                                  2.) one can either apply a Crop Effect to completely remove this area (you only need to do the Crop on the bottom)

                                  3.) a slight Motion>Scale Effect can do the same thing, as you will Scale up your final image to just over the, say 720x480 NTSC frame size


                                  I used #3 for the VHS tapes, as I did not want even a small black line at the bottom, should the client play back on a newer flat-screen unit.


                                  Though you have already chosen your A-D device, the Canopus 300 can take care of most of this "head switching" distortion, but basically uses variations on #3 above, which can easily be applied by hand. Note: if you are working on the total Capture (one big Clip), it's simple to just do the Motion>Scale (can also add a bit of Motion>Position to move the image down slightly), first to eliminate the distortion. If you have cut the Clip into smaller individual Clips, to the Effect on the first, and then Rt-click>Copy. Select all other Clips on the Timeline and then Rt-click>Paste Attributes. Do this, before you add any other Effects, unless you wish them to be applied globaly.


                                  Good luck,