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DIY Memory Lab - Transfer DV/miniDV

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NOTE: Our equipment only supports DV/miniDV recorded in Standard Play (SP)

Step 1: Connect DV deck to the computer

  • Our DV deck (Sony DSR 1500A) is in the rack.
  • Make sure the FireWire cable labeled DV/miniDV, is plugged into the FireWire port on the Mac Pro.
Thunderbolt adapter

Step 2: Turn on DV deck

  • Make sure the power conditioner and DV cam deck are on. The power button is on the lower 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 ​iMovieiMovie icon

Note: iMovie is Apple's proprietary software for video editing. We choose to use it because it is already on the iMac and the user interface is easier to navigate than many other capture software.

  • Once you have logged onto the Mac computer, double click the iMovie icon in the dock.
    Note: If the icon is not in the display, search for iMovie and double click the icon that pops up.
  • iMovie will open to this screen where you can Import Media.

Import Media iMovie screenshot

Step 4: Import your media

  • When you click on the Import Media button on the screen, iMovie will recognize the deck and show you an image.
  • Click the blue button that says IMPORT at the lower right-hand side of the screen.
  • If an image does not pop up, make sure that SONY DSR-1500A is selected.
  • Click STOP IMPORTING to stop recording.

Import Media iMovie screenshot

Note: You can stop your DV and/or miniDV tape at any time if you only want to capture part of the tape. If you want to capture the entire tape there will be a black screen when the video is done. DV and miniDV tapes can be 5 minutes to 2 hours long.

Step 5: Save your video file

  • Save your file by clicking FILE > SHARE > FILE
  • Import Media iMovie screenshot

  • Name and describe your title. Your setting should be the following:
    • Format: Video and Audio
    • Resolution: 640 x 480
    • Quality: High
  • Import Media iMovie screenshot
  • Remember to save to your USB or external hard drive.
  • When your file is done, iMovie will let you know with this message:

Share Successful iMovie screenshot

Step 6: 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 in the Dock.
  • Click on the plus sign at the bottom left and select your home movie. Import Media iMovie screenshot
  • Select "Home Movie" as the Video Type. Import Media iMovie screenshot
  • Enter the artist or creator 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.
Import Media iMovie screenshot

Step 7: You are done

  • Return the adapter to the Octavia Lab library staff.
  • Do not forget your tape and USB.
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. iMovie
  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.

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