Sunday 28 November 2021

Importing/capturing digital video (DV) for FREE on a Mac in 2021

Like many others, I have a giant box of Mini DV video cassettes from 10+ years ago that I fairly-urgently need to get onto a more long-term-safe medium. As it's a pretty tedious job I have tended to do this in batches, when I can be bothered getting all the necessary bits together. Fortunately my trusty 2012 MacBook Pro has Thunderbolt ports that with just a couple of cheap adapters, can connect to the 4-pin Firewire port of my still-functional Panasonic NV-GS27 camcorder and do the job.

But while the hardware is willing, sometimes the software is not. It's all too easy to get on the upgrade treadmill and forget about applications you only use once every couple of years. In the past I used Vidi, which was minimal but $0, and thus excellent. But it won't work on 64-bit MacOS and appears unmaintained so I needed something new.

All I needed was something that could capture the raw data from each cassette and dump it into a .dv file that I can stash away on a hard drive.After a very dismaying tour through Google and YouTube made me think I'd either need to pay for a software package, or kludge something together using libdc1394 (which would be massive overkill) I finally found what I needed by searching Github directly: vrecord by AMIA Open Source.

vrecord works beautifully on my Catalina (OSX 10.15) MacBook Pro - follow the Basic Usage guide and you'll be capturing those precious memories in no time.