DIY Memory Lab - Transfer DV/miniDV

Step 1: Ask library staff for the adapter

  • Our DV deck (Sony DSR 1500A) is in the rack. The adapter, however, is not.
  • Check out the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter from the Octavia Lab staff desk; DIY Memory Lab staff will connect the equipment.
Thunderbolt adapter

Step 2: Turn on DV deck

  • Make sure the DV cam deck is on. The power button is on the upper left hand side of the deck.
  • When the deck screen lights up with numbers, that means the deck is on.
  • Load your tape into the DV CAM deck.

Step 3: Open ​QuickTimeiQuickTime icon

  • Once you have logged onto the Mac computer, double click the QuickTime icon in the dock.
    NOTE: If the icon is not in the display, search for "QuickTime" in Finder and double click the icon that pops up.
  • No window will appear, but you will see a new menu in the upper right corner of the screen. Click “File,” then click “New Movie Recording”

New movie QuickTIme screenshot

Step 4: Change the inputs

  • Now you must tell QuickTime where the video and audio will come from.
  • Click the down-arrow icon to the right of the red circle/record button. A menu will appear: select “DSR-1500A” under both “Camera” and “Microphone”

Changing inputs QuickTIme screenshot

Step 5: Import your media

  • Go back to the miniDV machine and cue your miniDV cassette to where you would like to start the recording.
    NOTE: To maximize your time, staff recommends that you use your appointment time to capture the entire tape instead of reviewing which part(s) you want to capture. Editing out digital footage generally takes less time than manually fast-forwarding to different parts of an analog tape.
  • In QuickTime, start the recording by clicking the red record button.
    NOTE: Do NOT press the record button on the miniDV machine, as you will risk erasing your tape!
  • QuickTime record button screenshot

    • On the miniDV machine, press the “Play” button.

    MiniDV play button

    • You should see your media appear in the QuickTime player.
    • When you are ready to stop importing, click the stop button on the miniDV player, then the stop button in the QuickTime player.

    QuickTime recording screenshot

    Step 6: Save your video file

    • Save your file by clicking File > Save

    QuickTime save files screenshot

  • Tell QuickTime how and where to save your file by:
    • Naming your file in the “Export as” field
    • And selecting your memory device under “Devices.”

    QuickTime save location screenshot

    NOTE: You can stop your DV and/or miniDV tape at any time if you only want to capture part of the tape. DV and miniDV tapes can be 5 minutes to 2 hours long.

    Step 7: Describe with MetaZ

    • Don't let all this hard work go to waste. Adding metadata to your home movie will ensure that you have it for years to come!
    • Double click on the MetaZ icon.
    • Select your home movie.

    MetaZ write screenshot

    • Select "Home Movie" as the Video Type.

    MetaZ drop-down mennu screenshot

    • Enter the "Artist" name.
    • Enter the title.
    • The approximate date it was filmed.
    • Use the Short Description box to provide other important contextual information and technical information such as: Names, Places, Description of event(s), Rights information, and How it was originally captured (VHS, MiniDV, etc.).
    • To save your information, select the Write icon in the top left corner of the window.

    MetaZ write screenshot

    Step 8: You are done

    • Return the adapter to the Octavia Lab library staff.
    • Do not forget your tape and memory drive.
    diagram of DV transfer process

    What hardware are you using?

    1. DV Cam Deck: SONY DSR-1500A
    2. Cable: 6-pin to 9-pin FireWire
    3. Adapter: FireWire to Thunderbolt
    4. Computer: Apple Mac Pro with 27-inch Thunderbolt Display on El Capitan

    What software are you using?

    1. QuickTime
    2. MetaZ

    How to identify a DV

    icon of dv

    DV identification (PDF)

    Printable flyer on how to recognize a small DV tape

    How to identify miniDV

    icon of miniDV

    miniDV identification (PDF)

    Printable flyer on how to recognize a miniDV

    How much time will this take?

    For every 1 minute of video, it will take 1.5x to digitize it. Capture happens in real time, and then the file must be encoded, described, and saved to your hard drive to ensure it will last. For DV and miniDV, expect at least a minute of transfer time for every minute of video.

    "Too large for volume format" message

    If you are saving a file larger than 4GB on your flash drive, this message may appear.

    Helpful tips:

    • Buying a flash drive that is at least 32GB or an external hard drive that is 1 TB.
    • You might have to re-format your flash drive or external hard drive to MAC OS Extended (Journaled). You would only be apply to view your files on a MAC.
    • You can use QuickTime Player to split your clips into smaller chunks.
    • You can reduce file size by encoding in Handbrake at a higher quality (RF) rating, or choose not to deinterlace the file.