sony dvd camcorder

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    • #36852

      I am new to video editing. What video editing software can I use with a sony dvd camcorder? What is the best way to preserve the quality of the movies on the dvd when I move them into the software for editing purposes.

    • #163673

      Hi SY,

      The only way to fully preserve the mpeg format of the movies on DVD are not to edit them at all.

      Mpeg 2 (DVD format) uses a special method (called a codec) to record video. Basically, it saves memory by only changing the pixels on the screen that are modified.

      For a simple example, let’s assume that there’s a red "ball" bouncing through a scene featuring green, unmoving grass. here’s a little picture I put together to help make my point.

      The set of images on the top are consecutive "frames" from a movie about our little red ball in an uncompressed format. Note that every frame contains 100% of the data.

      The set on the bottom represent how the Mpeg2 codec stores video. It starts by capturing a whole image. From that point on, until it’s told to do so again, the consecutive frames only contain the data that changes in each picture. In the example, the larger portion of white "empty" space is the grass that the codec doesn’t need to draw again because it doesn’t change. The smaller section of white is where the red from the ball on the previous frame overlapped the red on the current frame, so the computer doesn’t record this.

      As you can see, this makes the file much smaller. On frames 5 and 8, there is almost no change whatsoever, making those frames very compact. This is why we can watch a whole two hour movie on one roughly 5GB disk, instead of needing 10 such discs, or a much larger disc (remember the old "Laserdiscs?"-The need for those huge disks died when mpeg2 came out).

      The problem with mpeg is that in editing, your computer has to start making guesses. FOR example, let’s "edit" a smiley face into frame 4 of the example above and see what happens without some clever computing:

      Okay, on the surface, that looks innocent enough, right? We just edited one little itty bitty frame, didn’t we?

      But now we get into the deep, dark evil of mpeg2 that is the one downfall to the format. You see, in the top segment, the uncompressed frames each contain a full image, so editing isn’t a problem. Just cut out the garbage, and when you’re done adding clips in, it still looks beautiful. In mpeg2, though, because it only records what changes, and not the entire frame, editing causes you to lose your original image, and consequently, the quality.

      Below, you can see what your "finished" movie would look like if it were edited in mpeg2:

      I believe the term we’re looking for is "Uh oh"! Obviously, in the mpeg2 format, the image in the frames following our smiley edit are all severly deformed. By the last frame, 2/3 of the grass is still missing, and it took until the second to last frame for the red ball to fully rematerialize! The reason is because this mpeg clip only fully saved the initial frame, and every sucessive frame is only a "layer" that is added onto the previous ones.

      This is the reason that when you see edited mpeg video, there is severe blurring. The original mpeg file was designed to layer frame on top of frame, but when you edit new frames in, now there’s something under your image that wasn’t meant to be there. This makes a very drastic destruction of quality to your final video take place.

      This is all why mpeg formats are wonderful for final editions of a video that’s going onto DVD, but terrible when it’s what you have to start with. The camcorder companies did a major disservice to the general consumers when they released DVD camcorders. They basically manufactured a device that makes it nearly impossible to edit.

      That being said, many of the newer professional level editing programs are developing ways to prevent image quality loss, but these programs are almost always pricey. An affordable solution for editing would be to purchase an analog video input box for your computer. I’ve seen these, with a USB output to the computer, for as cheap as $30 in various places. With one of these boxes, you can plug your camcorder’s analog "rca" or "composite" outputs directly into the converter box. The picture is then transformed into an uncompressed .avi (or for mac users, .mov) file that you can easily edit even on the built-in editing software on your PC.

      Aside from what I just suggested, editing DVD’s is difficult, and will almost always end miserably. Give a converter box a shot. Your picture won’t be as crisp as digital, but it’ll sure be better than trying to edit mpeg files.

    • #163674

      Thank you for your detailed reply. I appears I fell hook, line and sinker for what the sony salesman said. He said it was easier to edit dvd video because you did not have to transfer the video from the camera. Just lift it off the dvd based on what you need. I now need to think about getting rid of the DVD camera and getting what?? I wish I had found this site before I bought the camcorder.
      As PT Barnum says, there is a sucker born every minute. My bad. I will learn from it. :-//

    • #163675

      That’s too bad!

      Perhapes if you would have told the salesmen as to what extent you were planning on editing he might have showed you the tape cameras instead. This way you both would have been happy. He still made his sale and you would have the right camera. Is it too late to take it back?

      Anyway… to answer your question, if you are thinking about using PC based NLE editors, you would want to go with a MiniDV type camera. There are quite a few of them out there ranging in price from $300.00 or so all the way up to $5000.00 or more. Of course like with anything you get what you pay for. It would be a good idea to do some research and to really educate yourself about all of the different features available. Some fetures you will want and some you won’t need depending on what you’re going to be doing.


    • #163676

      Hi Sheridany,

      I understand your frustration. I’ve had several clever salesmen sell me crap I didn’t need or want in my day. Now I mostly research info online, and if I ever have to go talk to a sales rep about something, I have a list of facts in front of me. Oh well, it’s a road we’ve all walked down.

      In a sense, the sales rep i right, in that it’s easier to get the video onto your computer. With MiniDV (or really any tape format), you have to dump the video onto your PC in "Realtime", that is, if you filmed 47 minutes of video, it will take 47 minutes (plus setup time on your PC) to dump all the video out. With the DVD diss, you pop ’em in and in a minute, your whole video is on the computer.

      Beyond that, however, the ease stops. As soon as yu start editing the files, you’ll suffer severe blurring and image degredation. My example above was really a lot simpler than the reality of mpeg, but it shows you why mpeg is a bad pre-edit format choice. The truth is that DVD’s are easy, but sometimes the word "easy" replaces other four letter words, such as "good" or even "best".

      You know, I’ve always been the kind of guy who figures if life gives you lemons, open a lemonade stand. If you can’t return your camera, you can still make the best of it.

      For example, this device will allow you to output your standard analog outputs from the camera into it, and it will in turn, convert that to an .avi format. Once again, you’re back to realtime video dumping, and now you lose a little quality because you’re making a stop at a converter box, but it’s better than trying to edit raw mpegs.

      BE CAREFUL! Some of these converters convert video to mpeg format. Look at the output formats on these converters to make sure you’re not buying something that puts you in the same spot you’re already in.

      They also sell internal video cards you can install in your computer that work much better than this. They usually allow you to pick your format. ATI has the classic solution: the All in Wonder series. I had one of the old All in Wonder cards, and I loved it for video capture back in the pre-MiniDV days. It did a great job.

      It’s not the end of the world for this camera. You still have options. But next time, for better quality, easier AND better editing, and less diagrams from strangers on the Internet, go with MiniDV πŸ™‚

      Good luck to you!

    • #163677

      This is a wonderful site. Great information. I tried last night converting the mpegs on my hard disk that get to the computer through Picture Package and convert them to AVI using a software converter like Blaze Media Pro. It did not work as it said there was an error with the file fomat.
      I ordered the converter this morning that Jim recommended. I am optimistic that will get me started

      A mini DV purchase will be in the cards in the future.

    • #163678

      I was thinking about the converter and wondering how this process works using the converter Jim mentions above.
      I assume the dvd disc is in the camcorder and I hook up the analog wires from the camera to the converter which is hooked to the computer via usb cable.
      What enables the video to move through the converter to the pc and end up as a avi file?
      Is it the capture mechanism in the editing software? I am using (don’t laugh) power director version 5? Is there other software I have to buy to enable this process? The growing pains of a newbie! 😯

    • #163679

      Hi Sheridany,

      I have to skedaddle to a meeting right now, but if nobody explains before I return, I’ll do so, maybe with another snappy graphic πŸ™‚

    • #163680

      This morning I tried something that Sony tech support recommended. I finalized the dvd in the camera which took about 6 minutes for 15 minutes of film and then I used a dvd ripper to rip the movies from the dvd directly in the computer into an .avi file.
      I pulled one of the chapters into Power Director and it worked. I can’t tell if there is degradation in quality at least it doesn’t appear to be. When I play the output vs. the original. There appears to be some loss of quality in comparison to the dvd footage directly played on the computer. Not really noticeable though.
      I did not try to edit the film by inserting transitions or text yet, which I will try to tonight and see what happens. I am assuming that since it is a .avi file, there should be no problems.
      This has been a great fast learning experience in editing to say the least.
      Thanks to all who have contributed to this learning experience.

    • #163681

      Hey, that’s great!

      If you can rip the file to an .avi format, you should be okay. .avi saves every frame as a solid picture.

      It’s a pity that it takes so long to finalize a DVD. It’s sort of a trade-off. Spend money and get the converter that works in real time, or go with what you have and it takes a lot longer. That’s a pity.

      At any rate, with clips in .avi format, I think you’re golden on this one! Good footwork there. I didn’t even know that was possible. It wasn’t on the older DVD cameras anyhow. Kudos!

    • #163682

      Hi all,
      I am also in the same situation as sheridany now. Bought the Sony DVD camcorder thinking editing would be much easier. πŸ™ Should have come to this forum 1st before getting the camcorder 😑 .

      anyway, i am also trying to see if there are other methods to edit my mpg video clips. I wonder if any of you knows if any of the Sony Vegas software family(especially the Vegas Movie Studio) able to edit mpg clips without compromising quality or to an acceptable level of quality?

      Appreciate you inputs! Cheers!

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