Why do you want to transfer mini-DV tapes to computer? You want to convert the analog format of the video content into a digital format. This digital format will be playable in devices that support digital video.
The digital video playback devices would include computers, smartphones, tablets, TV boxes and HDTV, among others.
In order to do that, you would need the following equipment.
Mini-DV Playback Device
Since you can’t pop in a mini-DV tape into a computer and play it directly from there, you would need a mini-DV playback device.
The best mini-DV device available to you, as you would have already known is your mini-DV camcorder.
But what if you don’t have a mini-DV camcorder at hand or are saddled with a faulty camcorder?
mini-DV to Digital Conversion Service
The obvious solution is to use a mini-DV to digital conversion service in your neighbourhood.
Two things can be holding you back from resorting to such an option.
First, you may not want to trust your precious family memories with a third party.
The tape to digital conversion may not be a stone’s throw away from your house. You may need to courier your mini-DV tape(s) to the conversion service.
This is a risk you might not want to take. As reliable as courier services are, anything may happen. You tape may go missing or end up damaged.
You would not mind this with any other replaceable item. Not with a tape containing irreplaceable precious family memories, especially if it’s the only copy you have.
If you don’t want to take the risk and end up losing precious memories and have some cash to spare, here’s a solution.
Transfer mini-DV Tapes to Computer without a Camcorder : mini-DV Player
You can transfer mini-DV tapes to a computer without a camcorder by using a mini-DV tape deck. You may not have heard about it, much less seen one. That’s because a mini-DV tape player is not something commonly found even during the mini-DV heydays.
For one, the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) was extremely steep.
Take for instance the Sony DHR-1000 mini- DV VCR Player Recorder deck. It cost a whooping $4200 when it was released.
A mini-DV deck or tape player looks very much like a VHS tape player, only that you can play inly mini-DV tapes on it.
Mini-DV players are no longer in production. However, if you really want to transfer mini-DV tapes to computer without a camcorder, you could look for a unit withing your budget. A good number of them are available at eBay or Amazon.
If you’ve used a VCR player, you would know how convenient it is to pop in a tape or eject it from the VCR.
You enjoy the same convenience with a mini-DV player. All you would have to do is pop in your mini-DV tapes and play, rewind or fast forward them.
If you had used a mini-DV camcorder to do this, you know how inconvenient this is.
Procedure to Transfer mini-DV Tapes to Computer without a Camcorder
So, you’ve your mini-DV player VCR deck. That’s only the first step.
Next you would need to connect the mini-DV player to your computer.
The best way to do it is through a Firewire connection. mini-DV players come with a Firewrite (IEEE 1394) port.
Through it you can transfer high-quality video to your computer on one condition.
Your computer, too, must have a Firewire port.
Not all computers come with Firwire ports. Almost no newer computers are Firewire-ready in these days of HD video. Unless you’ve an older computer which comes equipped with a Firewire port, you would have to add this accessory.
If you’re you’re using a desktop model, you can buy a Firewire card and get it installed into your motherboard.
If you’re using a laptop, then check to see if you’ve a PCMCIA or Express Card slot. If you don’t you may have to use a video capture device which comes with a Firewire port.
You want to take a look at the video below for guidance to this end.
The cheapest option is installing a Firewire card into your desktop computer.
Firewire cards are quite affordable with a price range of USD20 upwards.
If you’re using WIndows 8 or Windows 10, your system may have issues getting the Firewire connection to work.
Check out the video below for a possible driver solution.
Download the Firewire driver at the Edius site;
Transferring mini-DV Footage to Your Computer
Once you have a Firewire port ready in your computer, you would need a Firewire cable to connect your mini-DV player to your computer to capture footage from the mini-DV tapes.
Check to see what kind of Firewire cable your mini-DV player supports.
Here’s what you do after you’ve inserted your mini-DV cassette and powered on your mini-DV player.
Launch your video editing software and see whether it can detect the video source from the mini-DV player.
If you’ve made your connections right. the software should be able to preview the video source.
You can then proceed to capture video through your video editing software.
DV capture in the AVI format in Windows would take up about 13GB of hard disk space, for your information.
Visit this Firewire DV Capture Guide to learn more.