HI 8 to DVD?

Has anybody converted your video Hi 8 or otherwise to DVD and what should it cost per hour? Any suggestions of places to go for this? I am going to buy a DVD burner soon but is it possible to connect my sharp Hi8 camcorder to my notebook and burn it myself?

I would suggest the Canopus ADVC-100. External device that connects to your computer through a firewire port. It runs about $250 retail. But can be purchased at an “academic” price of $199.

Description from Canopus:

Convert your S-VHS, Hi8 and 8mm analog tapes to DV in one simple step using the ADVC-100. The converted DV streams are transferred to your PC or Mac via IEEE 1394 (i.Link, FireWire) and stored on your hard drive where they can be manipulated using your favorite photo or video editing applications. This device is ideal for all OHCI and DV-only capture cards for Macintosh or PC.

Proven DV CODEC Technology
At the heart of ADVC100 is Canopus’s proprietary DV codec chip providing the industry’s best picture quality preservation during analog-to-DV and DV-to-analog conversion.

Locked Audio Support
Other converters can lose audio/video sync when converting longer segments of video. The ADVC-100 is the first inexpensive DV converter that supports locked audio when converting from analog to digital, assuring perfect audio and video synchronization.

High Quality (original hardware design, co-developed with NEC
Custom hardware Codec chip (original Canopus algorithm)
Locked Audio Support (capture long clips w/perfect audio sync)
Analog output of NTSC color bars for reference signal)
4-pin DV jack on front; 6-pin FireWire jack on back
Analog input connector on front
Analog output connector on back

User comments can be found here.

I would advise instead getting a video capture card with MPEG-2 rather than DV encoding. DV encoding is a pretty old compression standard that tends to pixelization artifacts more than MPEG-2. DV is also a less compact encoding, so it will take about 13gb per hour as opposed to 2-3gb per hour for decent MPEG-2. Canopus has a very good encoder, but all DV encoders are going to be rather limited compared to MPEG-2. Plus, since the end product is going to be DVD, you’re better off to convert to MPEG-2 all in one go rather than convert to DV and then again to MPEG-2. Good software MPEG-2 encoders are SLOW. DV’s main advantage is that it is easy to do frame-accurate editing.

The original poster indicated that he wanted to do this on a laptop. This probably isn’t optimal, but here’s what I’d recommend for that:

Laptop should have at least USB 2.0 and at least 10 gigabytes free for each DVD to be mastered. In addition you’ll need:

USB 2.0 analog video to MPEG-2 hardware encoder
4X DVD-R or DVD+RW drive
USB 2.0 external drive case for DVD drive

If you use a desktop system, use a PCI analog capture card with MPEG-2 encoder instead and omit the external drive case. All of these are widely available at Guaghua or your larger 3C stores. Make sure the capture card supports full resolution (720x480 NTSC) and MPEG-2 HARDWARE (not software) encoding. Older cards may have 1/4 resolution (for VCD) and only have a SLOW software encoder.

If you decide to go the DV route instead, figure 35gb per DVD for free space needed to master. I’d recommend getting TMPGenc if you plan to use a software MPEG-2 encoder. It is slow but very good quality.

Unless you have a lot of tapes to convert or are doing this as a hobby/learning experience, you are probably better off getting it done professionally. Be careful you use a reputable shop though. My wife’s friend was told by one shop they did high quality DVDs but did really crappy VCDs instead (crappy even by VCD standards).

How can you tell the difference if they give me a VCD or DVD other than the expected more clear picture that DVD gives? I was looking at Digatal camcorders today and they said that only the Sony 2.0 megapixel cams are good for computer viewing of the movies. Is that true?

VCDs get about one hour per disk, and the recording layer will usually be silver, gold or green. DVDs can have a menu, usually get 2 hours per disk (recordables are only single layer), and the recording layer will be some shade of purple.

The number of megapixels of the CCD is pretty irrelavent as all NTSC DV camcorders record at 720x480 resolution. The quality of the built in digital still camera in camcorders is usually fairly mediocre. As far as picture quality goes, the reviews I’ve read lately all give the highest marks to the Canon Elura 20 or 30. But in general you won’t go too wrong on any model DV camcorder from a reputable company. I’d recommend going for the larger 3.5" LCD, and a model with optical rather than electronic image stabilization. I’d advise against going much higher than NT35,000 as most of the features above that range are not too useful until you get up to the professional models.

I do a lot of transfers from DV to DVD-R if you have any questions about that.

Depending upon your budget or editing needs, you might also consider a set-top DVR . . . we got one with a hard drive so we can record TV and video to the hard drive, edit commercials, and burn to DVD. Since I have a ton of old VHS tapes I want to convert to DVD, this was a good way for me to go as I didn’t need to do any menu editing and the like . . . I have had very bad luck with computer-based conversion (got the Pinnacle Studio DV system and the damned thing crashes my system repeatedly and now my firewire doesn’t work - the service guys were less than helpful too . . . grrrr). I manage to do some small projects on the computer but if you don’t need to edit then you might consider a set-top . . . or, if you don’t have many tapes to convert, just bring them into one of the local photoshops for conversion - I have done a couple tapes that way and am satisified with their work.