How make DVDs from a camcorder
August 15, 2005 3:14 PM   Subscribe

How can I make a digital video (either .avi or something I can put on a DVD) out of a standard cassette camcorder?

I've been asked to videotape a speech tomorrow night and the person I am doing this for wants to be able to distribute copies on DVD. The camcorder is a Sony DCR-TRV8 (I don't have it in-hand right now, so I can't mess around with it). Is there a reasonably easy way to do this?
posted by BradNelson to Technology (6 answers total)
Best answer: Your DCR-TRV8 has an "i.Link" port on it — what the rest of the world calls FireWire.

You can plug this camera into an Apple iMac, Power Mac, PowerBook etc. with Apple iMovie installed, using a 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable.

Apple iMovie will let you easily transfer the video from the camcorder to the computer. Apple iDVD will let you easily make a DVD from the footage collected within iMovie.
posted by Rothko at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2005

Response by poster: What about on a PC?

Or, if I were able to copy the data onto a Mac, can I put it in a format that I can transfer to a PC to burn the DVDs?
posted by BradNelson at 3:25 PM on August 15, 2005

There are two ways I know how to do this. Both go through a conversion process.

Option 1. The camcorder will likely have some output of video - RCA jacks most likely. You need another piece of hardware here: an analog to digital converter. Something like this Canopus converter. The RCA jacks from the camcorder would go into the converter and then you would take a firewire cable out of the converter and go into your computer. If you're using a Mac, you can then import into iMovie or Final Cut Pro. If you're on PC, you'd need to check to see if you have a Firewire port and then you'd need a program like Pinnacle or Adobe Premiere to digitize the footage.

The one other possibility that I can think of - I've seen VHS/DVD player/recorders. If your camera is a VHS camera, you might be able to get a hold of a machine that will allow you to real-time play/record from VHS to DVD.

Either way, it's not an "easy" thing to do. It takes a bit of time, energy and equipment.
posted by jur777 at 3:26 PM on August 15, 2005

Best answer: Most new PCs have a firewire port. If your computer has a port like this one you're all set as far as physically connecting. You'll need some software to capture the output of the camera in a video format. Recently, Windows comes with Windows Movie Maker which I believe can do this, and very simplistic editing functions.
posted by knave at 3:29 PM on August 15, 2005

Best answer: If you don't have a firewire port, you can get an add-on card like this product.
posted by knave at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2005

If you have a PC with a DVD burner, it likely came with a copy of Nero Express (or some competing product) which will, like Windows Movie Maker, offer simplistic start-to-finish editing. YMMV. (And I have to say the current Mac toolchain is just fucking superb for the sub-prosumer approach.)

jur777: that's what I was going to say, but you did a better job, but it's a non-issue since he's got IEEE 1394 output on the camcorder.
posted by cortex at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2005

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