miniDV camcorder, no firewire port on laptop – last time, I swear

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    • #59248


      I've done enough reading and bouncing around on the internet now to know this is a common dilemma.  That said, in all the reading I've done, I've not found a good definitive answer on what works.  For those of us who are just entering the video making world but on shoestring, buying a used miniDV camcorder is a good option.  I bought a Sony HVR HD 1000U.  The stills can be transferred via USB but video transfer is firewire.  
      Of course, Dell Inspiron N7010 laptop has 1) no firewire port and 2) no "expresscard" slot.  This is what my research has found:
      •  Most will tell you that IEEE to USB adapters do not work.  Different data formats, yada yada yada.  I have not tried this but the consensus is don't bother
      Other options that have been posed:
      •  EZGrabber video adapter.  Does not use firewire output but uses standard video output – I'm trying to understand if I lose HD as an option?  I'm a little confused but it's cheap so will try it.
      •  Pinnacle Studio Moviebox Ultimate.  Willing to try it but reviews about it have been highly mixed so would love more input.
      •  Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle.  Seems a higher end option to the one above perhaps. Again, would love to hear if anyone tried this and did it work.
          I had wondered if I had external hard drive with firewire and USB ports, would that be an option (copy down the files via firewire from camcorder and have it available to laptop for editing via USB port?).  Has anyone tried this?
      I sure appreciate anyone sharing their experiences and how they solved this problem.  Or if there is already an existing link that has 'solved' this problem I'd appreciate link to it.  I've read through a ton of forums referencing it but have yet to see someone come back and say definitively what worked for them.  I hate to have to buy a very expensive player or another older PC to solve this problem. Defeats the purpose of buying the cheaper camera.  
      Thanks for your help!
    • #207232
      Member    You're not the first with this problem. Right here on these very forums your problem has been discussed                RicK Crampton

    • #207536

      Hi Rick – as you might have seen in my post, those forums are where I received much of the info I posted.  And no one had definitive answers with follow up.


      So here is my follow up – 


      – I didn't bother with a USB adapter – isn't going to work

      – Bought a pinnacle movie box – works capturing in real time (time consuming)

      – Bought an older refurbished PC with firewire port… makes a sound as though it recognizes a device is being added, but it doesn't show up anywhere and I can't use any programs to download the video as the device is not seen


      So..veterans of this process…any recommendations for the PC?  Am I missing drivers or some other software?  


       Needless to say this whole thing is frustrating.  I like the camera but if I can't get the video files off of it or have to spend a ton of money doing so….it really does defeat the purpose of starting with an inexpensive/older camera.


    • #207542

      " – Bought a pinnacle movie box – works capturing in real time (time consuming) "  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that capturing miniDV MUST be done in real time . . . . . ??

    • #207543

      Clearly I am still learning but if the PC could see the device I should be able to copy the file over then import into the editing program.  Right now I seem stuck with having to use Pinnacle to 'capture' the video, then face another time consuming effort in converting it into a format that Premier Pro will recognize.  I am probably not doing something right but it is not giving me choices as far as format and PP doesn't see the Pinnacle download version until I convert it into a different format – so then another 60 minutes or for that process.  


      If you know this process and can advise a better way, please feel free.  Hoping someone out there who knows this process well can pipe in.




    • #207547

      I have used a couple different capture interfaces, the Pinnacle Liquid Edition Pro being one of them. Video files I've imported ( captured ) with the Pinnacle gadg are readable directly in Adobe CS4 and CS5 without conversion. The Adobe software also has a capture function which should allow you to import directly from the camera into PremierPro ( by way of the interface box ). I can't imagine why a conversion 1) would be needed between Pinnacle and PP, or 2)  that it would be a function which would be so intensive as to be accomplished in " real time ".   One of the things I like so much about PP is that it accomodates a wide range of camera codecs specifically WITHOUT the need for transcoding, unlike FCP which seems to need to transcode nearly EVERYthing! I don't know the Sony camera you're using . . . .  maybe they have a proprietary codec which isn't easily digestable by PP?? There are A LOT of snares and pitfalls in the Video jungle and you're certainly not the first to experience hardware incompatability, if indeed that's what is at foot here.

    • #207549

      I don't suppose you live close and can come over here and tell me what I'm doing wrong? ;-D


      Somehow PP would not read the Pinnacle capture in m2v format, even though PP should so…I'm stumped.  And it captured the audio tracks separately, which I wouldn't mind but it just wouldn't see the video file.  I wish I knew what I was doing wrong but am stuck on that one.


      Now….I did try the PP capture function again and had better luck this time (using Pinnacle box between cam and PC) on a different laptop.  So eliminating the used laptop I just bought for this purpose from the process for now was more promising – Pinnacle seems preferable.  


      That said, it seemed to capture but the clip(s) are not appearing in the project list in PP.  I must be doing something wrong but have gone back through a tutorial again and I am following step by step same process.  


      Fortunately I have no external deadline on this project or I'd be screwed!  Sigh…

    • #207557

      This is like trying to remotely conduct another person, on the moon, thru the performance of an appendectomy without being able to see what they're doing . . . . Your Sony camera records . . . . HDV? When you tried capturing directly to PP, did you select the HDV option? Does the Pinnacle box say it's good for HDV? Are you sure that your laptop is capable of handling HiDef?; ie, fast CPU, lotsa RAM, etc . . . . are you using a separate hard drive for your captured video? Geez, there are SO many variables in your situation . . . . . . . . . It does seem kinda cruel that camera manufacturers were cajouled into putting Firewire ports on their cameras, and then computer manufacturers discontinued putting Firewire ports on their computers . . . . . Knowing that Firewire was going to be an issue, I selected motherboards which had Firewire on board when I built my two editing computers.                  "


      " That said, it seemed to capture but the clip(s) are not appearing in the project list in PP.  I must be doing something wrong but have gone back through a tutorial again and I am following step by step same process. "   Don't you have to import your media ( browse media ) into your project source files ?

    • #207562

      Pretend I'm on the north pole in some remote outpost and you're the only one who can save me….


      Last night I decided to try Corel VideoStudio to capture/import.  I know the program better and it was easier to navigate.  So….I can import, but I did run into slowness and it hung on one attempt. Seems pretty clearly to be a capacity/performance issue on my PC.  This at least is a problem I can understand and address.  Today was going to set an external hard drive and see if it helps.  


      ps.  The camera is a HVR HD 1000U so it does record HDV.  And it feels cruel this set up, you're correct.  I'm still not clear what the PP capture issue is/was but I will solve this puzzle eventually….as God is my witness!!  (Or I will give up and buy an expensive more recently manufactured camera sooner rather than later….one or the other).

    • #207823

      Thanks Ed.  Did consider that but finally was able to capture all the video and finish my project. 


      And thanks everyone for the suggestions!


      In the end…


      –  Used the Pinnacle device to take firewire out of camera and USB into computer

      –  Hooked up an external hard drive to add memory (and did clean some junk off my computer as well)

      –  Ended up capturing the 60 plus minutes in two batches as after the 30 minute mark it started to drop and stutter…but in two batches…no problem


      As I am still a novice at all this, I am going to guess now that EXPERIENCED people might capture their video in segments to start with so they could view it and organize it and tag the files while capturing…thus saving lots of time.  Rather than download all of it then go through it and break it up afterwards…the part that I always find so time consuming.  (Probably a bunch of you out there going, Duh!)  


      This is how we learn I guess! 



    • #207829



      My capture software part of Vegas Pro detects every time I started and stopped the camera and captures it into clips. That being said if I shoot a continuous event like a wedding. Then it is all one clip. I also own the HVR HD 1000U. It served me well. 


      Ive since moved to sony nex vg20 cameras shooting on sd cards. 


      If you need another HD 1000 mine is for sale πŸ™‚

    • #207832

      Oh that's interesting.  I realize now there is an option to capture in clips so maybe I will try that function and see how it goes next time.  Thanks for the insight.  I really have SO much to learn.  I love editing and the finished project, but it takes me SO long to produce something I'm happy with. I know folks who do this for a living can't afford to take so much time.  


      Just as a frame of reference, for a typical wedding…how much video do you shoot in total and how long are the finished projects and how long does it take you to put it together…if you don't mind sharing  (I need a goal!)


      Yeah….I think one godzilla-cam (as my friend calls it) is good for now. Thanks though.  ;-D


    • #207841

      I've been involved in wedding shoots as well as editing one.  I don't actively seek weddings but on my website I advertise the starting price is $1500.  Not worth giving up a weekend for less. 


      I am sure there are others on this site that can give you more insights into weddings than me. 


      Here is what I'll do for 1500. That would be the wedding only with two cameras. A DVD with the complete ceremony  as well as a 3 to 4 minute highlight video set to music.  


      Everything goes up from there. 


      For a paying client :). I like to turn things around in two weeks or less. 

    • #207844

      Thanks Cville.  Good info.

    • #211133

      Hi Pirate – yes, the Pinnacle Movie Box ended up being the best solution and the least complicated.  


    • #211142

      I'm confused. Does your camera record to SD card or tape? If it's a card, then stuff that in an adaptor, if it's tape then capture MUST be in real time. Your mention of M2v makes me think it's card based, so why not just use a usb adaptor to get the card contents into your laptop.

    • #211143

      It's tape.  USB is not an option.  I think it's pretty clearly discussed in the thread.

    • #211144

      Thanks Lee.  I'm considerring switching to a camera that can record straight to a card, which would make things easier, but I'm stuck having to upload my videos from tape to my old computer through the firewirecable.  I've looked online for that Pinnacle Movie Box and a lot of sites have discontinued it, or are charging way more than I thought it would cost for it….

    • #211148

      Just a thought – there are a number of businesses that will copy tapes of any type and make the resulting files available to you for editing. While I understand we all want to save the money and do it ourselves, most of these companies don't charge a whole lot of money to provide this service and you don't have to spend a whole lot of your valuable time trying to make old systems work.


      Something to consider.

    • #211165

      A variation on Ed's suggestion:  find a friend who has a computer with Firewire. I am sort of doing that myself–being my own "friend"on such problems: a 2008 MacBook Pro with Firewire copies my MiniDV tapes for use with my 2013 MacBook Pro which seems to have little connectivity to anything, out of the box.  Thunderbolt!  Righhhhhht!  (It isn't hopeless, but not as convenient as more flexible earlier options.)

      While I am grateful to have that solution, in hoiuse, I have moved from MiniDV to SD cards, and have no regrets in that regard.  I hope to soon have the MiniDV material in my current system for re-processing into completed video projects.

    • #211561



      I've been using a Pinnacle MovieBox to capture DV to laptop without firewire for years.

      My problem now is that the hardware is becoming quite old and will soon stop running on newer operating systems.


      I had a look online but I was somehow unable to find a modern replacement for the MovieBox.


      Am I missing something ? I know that modern camcorders do not use DV tapes anymore, but I'm sure some semi-professionnal people still use DV or HDV tapes, or am I mistaken ?


      Any suggestion for modern DV transfer hardware box would be very welcome.


      Thanks in advance for your help.



    • #211565

      If you have a newer laptop with USB3, then use Black Magic Design Intensity Shuttle

      to capture either Standard Definition (SD) via composite, or High Definition (HD) as in HDV via component; both using analog stereo for audio.  The other option is a low cost desktop machine you can put a Firewire pci card into.  Run older OS and keep it just for capture of older tapes.  Not good for travel or mobility, but works fine at home.  Or, capture all your existing tapes with system you have, then move to a card camcorder.  Prices are low for great quality now.  A $300 to $400 HD camcorder will give much better quality than any SD older camera.

    • #211795

      scubajam, I'm curious as to why you would recommend capturing Standard-Definition via composite, when the Intensity Shuttle has a S-Video input.  The S-Video, especially for Mini-DV, would give you cleaner, higher qualty video than dropping it to composite.   And, as far as I am aware, all Mini-DV camcorders were shipped with a S-Video out installed for analog output.

    • #211797

      You're absolutely right on S-video.  I'm now shooting in HD, so I would use component.  Now when I travel, I use cameras with SD cards so I can input into laptop.  When I shoot near home, I can use any of my cameras as I have a desktop with firewire.  While I prefer the newer flash card cameras for quality, and the hacked GH2 or Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera are my first choices, I do a fair amount of underwater work and the housings are often more than the cameras.  My primary UW housing is for a Sony A1U, which is a tape HDV camera.  When on a dive trip I have to input into a laptop via component, but that's usually for a quick on-site view.  For editing I'll wait till home to capture via firewire and edit on my 2 monitor, 8 core, desktop machine.

    • #207564

      Have you tried recording in DV instead of HDV? Make sure the capture device, whatever you are using, is set to accept DV. 


      I had a similar problem with my Canon XH-A1 tapes not able to play on a Sony GV-HD7000 until I carefully read the manual where it said the Sony can't play HDV format tapes. When I started shooting in DV, all was well.

    • #211132

      Hi Lee, I know this is an old post (over a ear ago!) But I am running into the same issue that you initially stated. 

      Are you still using the Pinnacle Movie Box for this, or have you found another solution?


    • #211157

      Hey Lee,

      I also use an older PC with a firewire connection and have Corel Video Studeo Pro X6 to load my MiniDV tapes to a EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE.

      Then I move the HD over to my editing machine (Screamingly fast Lenovo Erazer). I use VS, Pinnacle and Vegas Pro on the Lenovo depending on what I want to do. It handles everything from 4K down to the MiniDV video.


      Hope this helps,



    • #211159

      I'm certainly learning from you and this thread.  I haven't looked in a couple years when I purchased a laptop without Firewire, and I have 3 cameras I love that shoot HDV (plus a few others on SD cards).  I actually like tape because of the archive ability; no worry about crashing hard drives.  Before the Pinnacle, all that was available was the BlackMagic Intensity Shuttle that used the component output, pus stereo cables, to capture.  And that's $200 instead of $149, and requires USB3.  Another option is to get a used desktop and buy a Firewire card, less than $20, and install it; can even use your external drive.  I much prefer editing on a desktop, standard keyboard, using 2 monitors, and my case has 6 hard drives and 13 TB, plus many external drives.  But all that's been collected over years.  Anyway, seems the Pinnacle unit works well, except for losing sound synch after a while, for which you found work-around.  I'm going to look into getting one.  Thnx.

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