How can I convert a video from Sony Mini Cassette to NTSC, PAL and DVD?
May 27, 2004 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I find myself in possession of a Sony Mini Digital Video Cassette tape that was taken while I was in Scotland a couple of weeks ago. I need to get it converted over to NTSC, PAL, and DVD, but am having trouble.... (I know you didn't see it coming, but there's more inside!)

My office is in Boston, but I work in Scotland. The video I have was taken on a digital video camera in Scotland and taped onto a Sony mini-DV cassette. We watched the tape in Scotland by hooking up the camera to a TV, and it was fine. I popped out the tape, tossed it in my pocket, crammed myself into an economy class seat on a transatlantic flight, and seven hours and five time zones later, I was back in Boston with the tape.

(We won't talk about where BA sent my luggage.......)

I took the cassette into my Media Services department at work, who handle conversions like this. They either do it internally, or outsource the work, depending on how complicated the request is, and how busy they are. They took a crack at it, but didn't have much luck. Sent it to two of their vendors, who also weren't able to do anything with it. I'm being told that it is a "long-play PAL format" and that for whatever reason, they aren't able to convert it to the three copies that I need (NTSC, PAL, and DVD).

I need this tape.

Best I can tell, I have a couple of options....
1. I can buy a video camera to play it on in the US. This is a valid option, but a last resort in an effort to cut down on expenses.
2. I can try and get it converted next time I'm in Scotland (two weeks from now). This is also a valid option, but I would love to have it copied much earlier than mid-June.
3. Some lovely folks on AskMeFi can recommend a Boston-based company who can handle this.....

Anyone? Anyone? (Bueller? Bueller?)

Many thanks........
posted by NotMyselfRightNow to Technology (8 answers total)
If you have a PC which can import this footage you can convert it in software.

I know that you can do this with Final Cut on a Mac.
posted by tomierna at 10:03 AM on May 27, 2004

Yeah you need a PC to change the format for you.

Also, DVDs are either NTSC or PAL, not thier own format.
posted by falconred at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2004

NotMyselfRightNow - Well, my schedule is a little tight right now, so I don't think I can drive into Boston for the next couple of days - but I've got all the necessary gear : a Sony Mini DV with USB/S Video and Firewire outputs, various VCR recorders, plus computers to feed data in to potentially transform the footage to other formats. I don't, however, have a DVD burner.

You're welcome to email me for my phone # if you want to come out this way. I'm approx. 1 hour from Boston, due west.
posted by troutfishing at 10:31 AM on May 27, 2004

If you turn it into an mpeg or avi with trout, I live in Boston proper and have a dvd burner and software.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:45 AM on May 27, 2004

The SONY LP format might *possibly* be a proprietary codec that is only playable back from the same type of camera (e.g. in your case SONY PAL miniDV). Some LPs play the tape slower; others actually compress the video image.

I learned this from experience when a camera store sold me two Canon mini-DVs for observational work, and after I accumulated hours and hours of footage discovered that iMovie would not recognise the camera output, because it was Canon's specific LP codec.

If this is the case with you'd probably have to buy more kit to convert the signal back into DV before you fed it into a computer. Or wait to go back to Scotland and export it to VHS.
posted by carter at 11:24 AM on May 27, 2004

Probably expensive, but you could give National Video a call and see if they have what you need. I think they're still near Kenmore. Also try VidBoston.
posted by FreezBoy at 12:37 PM on May 27, 2004

Oh, also - I succesfully transfered the first footage I took with the camera (my parents' 50th anniversary celebration) right onto regular old full size antiquated VHS - on the first try, like butter.

I just used the AV out worked perfectly. I haven't tried the Firewire or USB ports, but I have no doubt they'll be no more trouble. I like that little camera.

I don't have Final Cut Pro, but I do have iMovie. That will probably do whatever you need.

Here's another idea - overnight it to me (with tracking) and I'll transfer it to VHS and then overnight that to Curley...

Who then can burn it to DVD!

Just a thought.
posted by troutfishing at 1:10 PM on May 27, 2004


Sorry about that.

Yes, software can do it. It's painfully slow.

Did you know that Boston is a hotbed for post production? Avid and Media 100 are both located in the area.

Meanwhile, back at the farm - you'll find that some duplication places do PAL, NTSC, DVD , whatever.

Looked for City of Boston - Film Bureau in google. Always a good resource.

Then I found Duplication/Standards Conversion in USA Massachusetts, Boston - film tv production

And finally, I found this:
APM Studio. Turn Home Videos into perfect DVD's!

BTW, the tape is DVCAM (since it was shot on a prosumer sony camera, most likely) while it's trying to play back mini-dv. The speed you had it set at isn't supported by the pro decks .

No professional shoots at that speed (because the frequency of dropouts is higher).

One of the above solutions will lead the way. Feel free to contact me directly if you have further vid questions.
posted by filmgeek at 5:53 PM on May 27, 2004

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