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Making DVDs of rehearsals and performances

So many wonderful ideas. Thanks to all who helped!

David Griggs-Janower

Original post:

We need equipment (inexpensive, of course) that will allow us to videotape

performances (all sorts) and lectures and then EASILY transfer them to DVD.

We'd like to be able to upload whatever we record to computer, then download

to DVD, store the files etc. The key isssues:

We need good (or at least decent) sound, not just good video, for things like

voice recitals, so students can hear what they did, but we must have video as

well, for conducting students...

We have no money


1. Go to Costco (lifetime warranty on all appliances except computers) and purchase a MiniDV camera
recorder ($200-300), and a pack of MiniDV tapes ($10). Forget all the fancy bells and whistles and
features, except "stabilization" to keep the camera "jiggle" to a minimum.

Buy or borrow a cheap tripod, (new or used).

If the camera has a "firewire" port (it should), you can export the video directly to a
computer, and then burn a DVD of the highest audio and video quality.

If you hve a newer Apple computer, you already own all of the software you'll need to
import, edit, and burn the DVD.

This simple setup will save you the most amount of time and money, and give you the
highest quality audio and video.

2. Get a Canon ZR200 Digital Video Camera. ($200) It records on to little digital video cassettes.

Get a computer called an imac from ($1400). Make sure it has a DVD burner on

The computer will come with a program called imovie and idvd.

It is the easiest program in the world to use. If you still feel stupid, use the
tutorials. I really don't think you'll need them though.

By a "DV to Firewire" cable. ($30)

Connect the camera to the computer using the cable.

I figured this out on my own so you can too. Plus I owe you one for your help in
selecting my Hanukah music for last year's program.

Burn your audio to a CD OR your video to a DVD... Whatever you want.

So, for about $1630 you can have a system that will do this.

It sounds like the only problem is that you have no money. Buy it with personal money
and have the organization pay you back over four years.

It will be worth it. I do SO many things with this system.

3. If you have to continue to use the VCR based video recorder, then the best suggestion would be
a direct transfer device. You insert the VCR tape and it will transfer the contents of the tape to
DVD. There are several on the market for less than 500.00. The downside is that editing is limited
for the DVD.

Second option. Replace the old style video camera with a digital camcorder. They are widely
available for less than 500.00. Be sure to get one that records to a mini-tape, such as a Super 8

Also, make sure the camera includes Firewire (it is also called IEEE

1394) This is the way the camera connects, via a cord, to a computer for transfer of the video to
the computer. Firewire is best for video, as opposed to USB2.0, at least in my opinion. Finally,

sure there is an "audio in" option on the camera. With this you can

input sound from another mike.

On the computer side, the simplest and easiest to use vide programs are iMovie and IDVD
which come preloaded on all new Apple computers. (Mac Mini's run from 600.00 to 800.00) If you
already have an Apple computer you can buy the programs for about 80.00. Just check the
requirements for the programs to be assured it will work well on your computer. I know there are
several free programs on the net for both Windows based and Apple computers but usually you get what
you pay for, and in this case, not much.

The bottom line is that it is not possible to transfer old-style video (analog) to DVD
(digital) without some kind of device to convert the content.

4. You can find a DVD Camcorder pretty much anywhere now (yes, even at WalMart). THis will allow
you to record directly to DVD or, with a USB cable, record directly onto a computer. They range in
price so it is really up to you how much to spend.

5. Easiest thing is to get a video camera that stores on DVD's. They came out with those last
summer . . . anything else will involve a little bit of computer know-how.

6. There are DV (digita video), HD (high definition), mini-DVD, and HD (hard

disk) camcorders available on the market.

7. I recommend Harddisk (HD) camcorder. It connects with easily with computer for edit and burning
DVD and the recording time is much longer (20 to 30times) than other type of camcorders.

If you need great sounds, there are some stereo microphone available for optional.

8. If you truly have no budget for this, then you've got to rely on what you can (a) do with your
existing equipment, (b) borrow from friends...

A miniDV camcorder would be ideal, and may well be borrowable. Anybody who has bought a
camcorder in the last couple of years will have got a miniDV model.

To use that with a computer, the computer must have a firewire interface.

There are fairly common on recent computers (particularly Macs), or can be added to an existing
system at moderate cost.

Failing that, you have to use your existing camcorder, but that will require you to find
a computer with a video card that can handle analogue video input and output. These are a bit less
common than firewire, and a bit more expensive.

For microphones and stands and cables, you simply have to find the best you can, and
plug them into the camcorder. With most camcorders, plugging an external mike in is enough to have
that sound recorded instead of the sound from the internal mike. The sound on MiniDV tape is
excellent. The sound on analogue tapes is not good, but may still be adequate.

For software on the computer, you have to make to with whatever you find on the system.
On recent Mac and Windows systems, you'll find something basic but usable. If you're enlisting help
from a friend, they may well have much better software, and they'll know how to use it.

For recording the DVDs, the computer needs a DVD recording drive. These are fairly
common nowadays, and not expensive if you need to upgrade a system. They come in dozens of
varieties, and there are compatibility issues. Once again, I suggest you make do with whatever you
can find. However, a domestic DVD recorder (such as you use with your TV, if you can imagine
wanting to preserve anything broadcast on

TV) can be used very effectively for this job. In fact, I see a good many people using it for
preference when they have the choice.

Actually, I'd be inclined to do without a computer. I would borrow a domestic DVD
recorder, and set it up next to your old analogue camcorder. I'd connect the two with analogue
cables. Then I could record direct from the camcorder onto the DVD. I wouldn't be able to do any
useful editing, but that needn't be a big problem, and it would save a lot of time.

David Griggs-Janower


228 Placid Drive

Schenectady, NY 12303-5118

518/356-9155; 518/442-4167 (w)

Albany Pro Musica

PO Box 3850

Albany, NY 12203-0850

Ph: (518) 438-6548

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Berthold


"Although nature has gifted us all with voices, correct singing is the result

of art and study." Aristotle

"Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can just listen to the B Minor

Mass?" Michael Torke

"The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet

sounds, Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils. The motions of his spirit

are dull as night And his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be

trusted." Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (and Vaughan Williams Serenade

to Music)