Home Movies and Integrity

I have been taking home movies for over 10 years now, I now have an HDD image camera, but I still have loads of Mini-DV’s hanging around the house. I have always wanted to edit the material. I have searched for the right tool ages ago, but the moment that I chose my tool (Sony Vegas), I have been stuck. This was over 5 years ago 🙁

What I told myself is that I don’t know what format to save the files? Should it be 17GB/hour raw dv? Our perhaps 4GB/hour Mpeg-2? Or maybe 700MB/hour XVid?

The truth is that I have no integrity with the movies, although I did search for the right tools (that was really fun), I never really use them. I felt like someone who is looking for a job, but who just spends his time looking for a job, and not actually taking one, and just keeps on looking for a job. I spent my time looking for a tool instead of actually editing the movies.

Having no integrity with the movies, made me stop even thinking about editing (I never succeed so I might as well not try) and eventually film less (what will I do will all the tapes). Like a chip on my shoulder, I keep on reminding myself that I have to do something with the tapes.

So this week, 5 years later, I decided to clear the slate and work with integrity to solve my tape problem. I started by intending to talk to 3 people about the format that I need. I managed to talk to one and I finally decided: I will go for the 4GB/hour Mpeg-2.

I then intended to look for someone to do it for me, so I talked to 5 shops, but they where either too expensive or not professional enough (they could only convert DV to DVD, or they never answered my call)

So I then intended to do it myself, I plugged in all the hardware, and I started by capturing 1 hour onto the disk trying different Noise Reduction Filters and Mpeg settings, the clips are looking really good, and now I have written an automating script to render all the clips. (1 DV hour takes over 3 hours to convert end-to-end)

So now I intended to do 1 DV a day (when the computer is free), this way I will get all the clips on disk and they will be more accessible.

  1. Been having the problem for years. Would be interested in what software you ended up using and what you did to automate the process.

    Good luck for the rest of your tapes.

  2. I ended up using Sony Vegas. I used Premier for ages, and I tried Avid both are good, but the Vegas experience is soo much better, with instant rendering preview.
    I guess that they perfected the audio GUI and then just copied the experience to video too.

    I also added the excellent Noise Reduction Plugin, with this you can sample a ‘quiet’ segment and it will automatically clean that noise from the whole track! Just this boosted the quality of my clips.

    The biggest problem was configuring the MPEG encoder, I had to make sure that the input and output rates and size are the same as the raw data, and that the compression looked ok at the end. I converted the footage from interlaced to progressive so that it looks good when playing it on the PC.

    Now the process is:

    • Capture Video – With Automatic DV scene selection. This puts ~20 clips in the media pool.
    • Now I want to render each clip (with noise reduction and progressive).  To do this for each clip:
    • I have to clear the time-line and add the clip. The Noise Reduction filter was added to the Master Volume so nothing to do there and I saved the Mpeg setting as a template. So I just have to render it and put in the correct name.

    This can be annoying for all the clips so I wrote a script to render all the movies in the media pool.Here is a copy of the script.

    import System.Windows.Forms;
    import System.IO;
    import Sony.Vegas;
    var outputDirectory = "G:/Movies";
    // regular expressions used to match renderer file type names and template names.
    var rendererRegexp = /MainConcept MPEG-2/;
    var templateRegexp = /Eli MPeg/;
    var renderer = FindRenderer(rendererRegexp);
    var renderTemplate = FindRenderTemplate(renderer, templateRegexp);
    var newExtension = renderer.FileExtension.substring(1);
    var videoTrack =Vegas.Project.Tracks[0];
    var audioTrack =Vegas.Project.Tracks[1];
    for (var media in Vegas.Project.MediaPool) {
    var outputPath = Path.Combine(outputDirectory, Path.GetFileNameWithoutExtension(media.FilePath) + newExtension);
    if (CanWriteToFile(outputPath))
    var status = Vegas.Render(outputPath, renderTemplate);
    if (status == RenderStatus.Canceled) {
    } else if (status != RenderStatus.Complete) {
    throw "Failed on input file: " + media.FilePath;
    } catch (errorMsg) {
    MessageBox.Show(errorMsg, "Error", MessageBoxButtons.OK, MessageBoxIcon.Exclamation);
    function AddMediaToTimeLine(media: Media, videoTrack : Track, audioTrack: Track): void {
    var videoStream = media.Streams.GetItemByMediaType(MediaType.Video, 0);
    var audioStream = media.Streams.GetItemByMediaType(MediaType.Audio, 0);
    // if needed, add a video event and associate video stream
    if (null != videoStream) {
    var videoLength = videoStream.Length;
    var videoEvent = new VideoEvent(new Timecode(), videoLength);
    var videoTake = new Take(videoStream);
    // if needed, add a audio event and associate audio stream
    if (null != audioStream) {
    var audioLength = audioStream.Length;
    var audioEvent = new AudioEvent(new Timecode(), audioLength);
    var audioTake = new Take(audioStream);
    function ClearAllTracks(): void {
    // step through all tracks:
    for (var track in Vegas.Project.Tracks) {
    function AssertDirectoryExists(dirStr : String):void {
    if (!Directory.Exists(dirStr))
    throw "The directory ("+dirStr+") does not exist.\nPlease edit the script to specify an existing directory.";
    function FindRenderer(rendererRegExp : RegExp) : Renderer {
    for (var renderer in Vegas.Renderers) {
    if (null != renderer.FileTypeName.match(rendererRegExp)) {
    return renderer;
    throw "Failed to find renderer";
    function FindRenderTemplate(renderer : Renderer, templateRegExp : RegExp) : RenderTemplate {
    for (var renderTemplate in renderer.Templates) {
    if (null != renderTemplate.Name.match(templateRegExp)) {
    return renderTemplate;
    throw "Failed to find render template";
    function CanWriteToFile(fileName) : Boolean {
    // make sure the file does not already exist
    if (File.Exists(fileName)) {
    if (MessageBox.Show("Overwrite file: " + fileName, "Exists", MessageBoxButtons.YesNo) !=  System.Windows.Forms.DialogResult.Yes)
    return false;
    return true;
  3. warning: rant ahead 🙂

    i can relate to this story. what kills me is that the whole video editing story seems to broken. i’ve tried to get things working at home with several different software programs, and have not had much luck simply getting MPEG-2 out that Quicktime + iDVD like and will write to a DVD. although some of the stuff looks ok on the WinXP machine.

    in other words, i feel like the environment for doing video is still full of junk and it is way more work to get things working than it should be. i don’t even think paying $ for a ‘real’ program will be guaranteed to work, so i’d have to find one with a free trial to see if it can do the job.

    it just drives me crazy that humans produce so much apparently non-functional crap. it is partially because the technologists, for some good and some bad reasons, had to come up with a zillion different formats, i guess.

    end of rant.

    maybe i will try again, thanks for your post.

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