How to Download Mini DV Tapes to the Computer

Written by alan donahue
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Mini DV tapes provide consumers with high-quality videos at a fraction of film cost. Mini DV camcorders also make it easy to connect to a computer for uploading, editing and converting to another format. The tapes provide such a high uncompressed quality that you need to follow specific steps to ensure the best and safest way to upload footage without losing quality or footage.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • DV cable
  • External hard drive
  • Video Editing software
  • DV port

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  1. 1

    Connect an external hard drive to the computer. Using Mini DV footage on a computer's built-in hard drive will cause the computer to lag because it takes so much space and the hard drive is overworked when trying to access and play the video. A 200-gigabyte, 500-gigabyte, or 1-terabyte (1,000-gigabyte) hard drive will work well with footage.

  2. 2

    Make sure you have an editing program that can capture Mini DV footage. On Windows-based computers, use the free Windows Movie Maker or purchase another program such as Adobe Premiere. Use the free iMovie software or Final Cut Pro on a Macintosh computer.

  3. 3

    Plug the DV cable from the camcorder to the computer's DV port. Use a mini-pin DV cable for laptop computers and a full-sized DV cables for desktop computers.

  4. 4

    Open the video editing software and click on the "Capture" menu. A new window pops up with a blank or blue screen. Power on the camcorder and wait for the computer to read and load the camera content.

  5. 5

    Use the on-screen controls to navigate through the Mini DV tape. Press "Pause" or "Stop" once you find the spot you want to start recording from.

  6. 6

    Select an "Output" folder for the uploaded video. Click on "My computer" to access the external hard drive or choose "My videos" if you choose to use the same hard drive.

  7. 7

    Press the "Record" button. The Mini DV tape plays automatically and starts the capture. A timer shows how much footage is uploaded and the footage streams live on the computer screen.

  8. 8

    Limit each upload to 10 minutes. Anything over 10 minutes could create audio delays because the alignment gets messed up through the data transfer. Do not worry about overlapping shots through each file because the footage can be editing together into a single file after uploading.

  9. 9

    Exit out of the capture screen when all of the footage is completed. Test the captured clips in the video editor to make sure the sound and video play correctly. Disconnect the camera and power it down when completed.

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