Firewire, otherwise known as IEEE1394 (or if you are Sony, iLink) is dead.
We all know that, and a number even lament it. SD cards are the new media king and MiniDV tapes are to be forever banished to the archives of video history.
Some folk I know still have a DV deck they can, if needed, get back the old footage when necessary or nostalgia steps in, but for most who transferred those precious tapes to a PC or Mac via a camcorder and Firewire cable, these same tapes are destined never to be used – or seen – again.
Or aren’t they?
Like many, I have a LOT of tapes from 10 – 15 years ago that mainly cover trips I was lucky enough to be able to take back then, such as my version of Top Gear’s Best Driving Road through Europe, taking in the UK, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Italy and France in a fast Mercedes.
Or my two trips to Japan and one to New Zealand for media launches when such a thing still existed. I was also lucky enough to travel to Vanuatu, Fiji, Norfolk Island and do a motoring tour of Tassie among many, many others.
Thankfully, a lot of the footage I had the presence of mind to put to hard disk prior to my PC with a Firewire card dying a death and / or camera simply expiring. But many others I didn’t, and I simply didn’t have the resources or the time (or too much inclination) to get them professionally transferred.
So, I though they would stay in their airtight box forever.
You see a small package turned up from MAGIX in Germany labelled Rescue Your Videotapes and this contained a CD with some software on it, a couple of RCA cables, a SCART cable and most importantly, a USB based video converter.
I dug out my trusty old Canon HV20, found a tape of the white tiger show at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast from 10 years + ago and started to install the software from the CD.
It failed. Three times I got an error message.
Now, there is a lesson here my friends. If the dialogue screen says it is best to shut down all apps as otherwise the installation may fail, take my word for it, whilst sometimes it makes not a jot of difference, sometimes it does.
Similarly, if it says NOT to plug a device in before installing the software (and drivers), they might actually mean that too.
Once I had this sussed, installation went through like a cool breeze on a desert island in summer and all appeared well in the world.
Next, I hooked all the cables up, popped the tape in, fired up the software, selected the MAGIX converter as the source and pressed play on the camera.
And it worked. Really it did! First time.
I could capture the footage via the RCA out ports, and whilst not pure DV quality, it is pretty damn good!
There is an editor built into the package where you can then either save to your hard disk, export to a mobile device, burn to DVD or export to SD card or even connect straight to social media channels.
Beforehand, you can stabilise footage, rotate it, adjust colour, saturation, brightness and contrast as well as backlight correction, add some templates (if you must) or even increase or decrease speed (0.25 to 4x). You can reverse the video too if you wish.
Further, you can add a soundtrack, include photos or even different footage.
Formats supported for export are MP4, MPEG2 or Windows Media in either DVD (720 x 576) or HD (1280 x 720) or Full HD (1920 x 1080) quality.
Of course, I could then bring it into VegasPro (or whatever) for further editing. I also added it to Kyno for catalogue archive purposes.
Sure, it only captures in real time, but this is better than nothing when it IS the only option. And at the cost of professional transfer, the price of Rescue Your Videotapes at about AUD$150 (actually €99) considering you can also actually do any videotapes you have, I reckon it’s a bargain!
For more information, go to https://www.magix.com/au/video/rescue-your-videotapes/