How To Transfer the Content of a Mini-DV Tape to Your Computer

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This article describes the various methods that can be used to transfer videos from a Mini DV tape to your computer. Most of the components described below can be bought for an affordable price on Ebay, Amazon, or any local electronics convenience store.

You will need a desktop or a laptop equipped with a built-in Firewire or ilink input (IEEE1394 port). The content of your camcorder can be transferred using a video editing software such as Windows Live Movie Maker, iMovie (Mac), or any other commercial video editing software that can auto detect the camcorder.

N.B. If your PC is not equipped with a Firewire input, you can easily upgrade it using a PCI to IEEE 1394 card. Laptops equipped with the Express Card slot (PCMCIA) can easily be upgraded using a Firewire IEEE1394 Express Card.

Using a USB Video Capture Adapter

If you don't have any free PCI slots available on your PC, or if your laptop doesn't have the Express Card slot, you need to buy a USB video capture adapter. This piece of hardware allows you to convert analog audio and video to a digital format. On one side, you have a classic S-video connector, which ensures compatibility with most camcorders or VHS players; on the other side, there's a USB Male Type A Connector that plugs in directly into your PC:

The file is captured in MPEG2 format, which is easy to burn onto CDs and DVDs. It is also compatible with most video players and video editing softwares.

Capture Content from a Video Recorder (VCR)

To capture the content from a video recorder, you need, at most, three components. The most important of these is the SCART cable and adapter, both of which connect to your VCR:

You will also need a USB Video Capture Adapter that connects to your PC. This device is usually shipped along with any necessary software or drivers:

N.B. The white and red connectors carrie the left and right audio, respectively. The yellow socket is for composite video. The black socket is for S-video (i.e. better quality).

If your VCR doesn't have a SCART port, then a Video/Audio Input to SCART converter will be required:

Using the Pinnacle Dazzle Video Capture Card

Another option that you have is to use a Dazzle Video Capture Card to connect your video recorder or camera to your PC. This solution is more expensive, but many consider it worth its price, as the capture card comes with powerful video editing software and allows you to capture videos while ensuring minimal loss in terms of quality:

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Jean-François Pillou

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