Using a Sony Handycam CCD-TRV59E
How difficult can it be to transfer camcorder tapes onto DVD? Maybe I’ve made a mountain out of a molehill but it seems a lot more tricky than I’d have thought.
Plan A : Direct transfer to DVD Recorder
Just plug the camcorder into a DVD recorder and record DVDs direct. First hurdle was to find a working recorder and failing that one I quickly moved to video capture on PC.
Plan B : Use PC to edit and create DVD
I’ve tried three USB convertors over the years, two from Hauppauge and one from Startech – all failed through a combination of poor software and over optimistic capture capabilities of the convertor and/or PC speed.
Having upgraded my PC gear to a Windows 10 platform, I tried a Startech USB2HDCAP unit which has this general description:-
This USB 2.0 external video capture device lets you record 1080p HD video and stereo audio to your computer system. With multiple video inputs including HDMI, DVI, VGA and component and composite, the capture card can record original content from various sources such as computers, camcorders, security systems, POS terminals, and servers. With a framerate of 60 FPS (frames per second) and H.264 encoding, this is the perfect solution for capturing high-definition video for editing, compiling, and archiving.
The capture device comes with VivaStation as the capture software and despite hitting issues described below I now think the software is easy to configure and use. Also bundled with the device is Cyberlink Power Director software but as this isn’t the full version I wouldn’t recommend it; its probably better to review paid for products.
Convert mono audio to stereo (two channels the same)
The first obsticle is that the best output from my Sony Hi8 camcorder would be via s-video and separate mono audio. The capture device has stereo input and Windows 10 is unbelievably daft in providing no mono conversion.
The plethora of splitter cables available on ebay etc might work but not wanting to cause potential failure of the circuits involved through being presented with the wrong impedance I decided to make a splitter network that would work either way around: mono to dual-channel and stereo to mono.
I built the network in an old Raspberry Pi plastic packing box and put it in circuit – voila, I have stereo (dual mono channels of course really) and nothing has broken!
Camcorder – Capture device compatibility
The Camcorder could be fed into a TV or monitor via s-video or composite to show quality video from Video8 and Hi8 tapes. s-video has higher quality so I fed video that way from my Camcorder to the USB2HDCAP.
Whilst Hi8 tapes transferred ok. I found Video8 tapes suffered from frequent freeze frames. My assumption was that any problems with capture must be with the capture device as they showed ok when the Camcorder was connected direct to TV. This was incorrect!
Configuration that worked
Sony Handycam CCD-TRV59E -> s-video -> USB2HDCAM
For audio, I’m using the composite black audio plug feed into a stereo-to-mono network I built (above) to feed left and right to ‘audio in’ on USB2HDCAM
Settings on the camera:-
EDIT was OFF previously, I now set to ON which suggests it reduces picture deterioration when over dubbing titles on the camcorder.
TBC (time base corrector) was ON previously, I now set to OFF which doesn’t correct jitter.
Settings on VivaStation:-
Using s-video as the source and everything else is set to defaults.
Set up of