I've been thinking about shooting some Hi8 tapes for a while now. I really like the look of it and would love to record some stuff with it. I was born in 1999 so I never had the chance to actually experience the analog era which still amazes me to this day. We also have some family tapes shot in Hi8 that have been digitized in '05 or so and while they look good - the mpeg 2 compression sometimes shows blocky artifacts (for example when filming water). I want to re-digitize them so they can be stored in a better codec. Unfortunately our old Hi8 camcorder stopped working so I need to start from scratch. I don't want to film in Digital8 or DV as it has some of the "digital" look to it (I also prefer film over digital).
My plan is to buy a Hi8 camcorder to record fresh tapes and a Digital8/DV camcorder to digitize the cassettes. I don't plan on shooting with that camera, it's purely for capturing/digitizing. One would say that this is a stupid move but it's probably the cheapest option since I do not need to buy a capture card/video grabber, especially when Hi8 cameras only had a S-Video or composite/cinch output. I spent some time researching and DV seems to be the best option for digitizing Hi8 tapes. Quality issues aside, most S-Video capture cards/grabbers are roughly the same price as a Digital8 camcorder (the cheap ones only do mpeg which I try to avoid) and tend to low bitrates.
My goal is: capturing Hi8 tapes with minimal quality loss. I want to do all the cropping, deinterlacing and encoding in post so I'd need a lossless file or the closest I can get to that. Ideally a 540p (?) 50fps progressive video output using the H.264/AVC codec with a "high enough" bitrate is my end goal after post. What people don't seem to realize (and it's one of the reasons why I encode my DVDs with a higher bitrate than the majority of people) is: the lower the resolution, the more a high bitrate is important - especially when you upscale the content to a 4K TV.
However my PC does not have a FireWire port, but I need that to connect the Digital8 camcorder to it. I read somewhere here that USB to FireWire adapters won't work, however I found this Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter (I still have my old MacBook with a Thunderbolt port), but what does it even do? Why would FireWire to Thunderbolt work while FireWire to USB won't? Is this adapter (which has a hefty price tag btw) even suitable for my use case? Or would it be better to just buy a PCIe card with FireWire ports for my PC?
I appreciate all the help and thank you for reading this far.
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"I've been thinking about shooting some Hi8 tapes for a while now." I wouldn't do it. Just buy a GoPro and have fun. If you read some of the forum posts about trying to transfer Hi8 tapes to a computer you will soon learn that it isn't fun anymore. Most of us have moved on. But I'm sure there will be some here that may chime in and try to help you.Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence -Carl Sagan
I started learning about high quality analog video capture because I also wanted to shoot on Hi8 and VHS camcorders. There is a lot to learn about transferring analog video into workable digital files, but it is a satisfying hobby.
You will want to look into purchasing a higher end camcorder with features such as a built in Time Base Corrector [TBC for short] which stabilizes the video coming out of your camcorder, and an S-Video connector which allows you to capture color and brightness information with much greater detail.
There are also specifically recommended capture cards and software that will yield much better results than others. For example, avoid EzCap [many call this EzCrap] and BlackMagic Design.
One forum user, lordsmurf, runs a website called digitalfaq.com which contains all of the information you could ever want to find about analog video capture. Make sure to read the pinned posts and welcome to the fascinating world of analog video!
The only reason to own hi8 camera is to transfer valuable home tapes to digital, even mediocre smart phone records better quality and res videos than hi8 camera. Using analog camera in 2021 is ridiculous
mammo1789, do you have experience as a cinematographer? In 2021 there is a need for video producers to have working knowledge of analog video formats. Look at commercials for contemporary fashion brands and even Beyoncé's "The Lion King: The Gift" on Disney+. A significant portion of that film was recorded on 8mm film.
Filming new projects on old formats is not about technical quality, it is about authentically emulating a specific visual aesthetic.
Forced authenticity has some charm but it is ultimately superficial.
And there are altogether too many folks who have unwarranted nostalgia for nostalgia. IT DIED OUT FOR A REASON. SEVERAL, to be precise.
If you want to do a "Hi-8" look, it is easy to accomplish, downgrading HD or 4k digital material. But if you start with that, you can never get back what quality you didn't capture in the first place.
If you already HAVE hi-8 stuff, by all means transfer it ASAP to digital. But only experimental, avant garde artists trying to make a historical statement would put the bulk of their eggs in that old analog basket.
Also, @JPMedia, Hi8 video is not in the same league as 8mm film (which has the potential of greater contrast/latitude and inherent resolution than any of the consumer SD video formats).
But the movie you refer to, "The Lion King (remake)" was a CGI movie, and "The Gift" was merely the soundtrack album. Perhaps you are referring to a music video.
Last edited by Cornucopia; 13th Feb 2021 at 23:26.
I find most nostalgia comes from people who weren't even alive at the time. And that's fine.
I still shoot 35mm film for fun, self-process. Simply going through the motion brings back memories of darkrooms. But my dSLR cameras crush whatever the film can do, even the super-duper slide films. I mostly do film for some creative stuff that isn't as easily replicated with digital (or is obviously fake with digital).
Hi8 is probably the best quality consumer analog format. The biggest issue is finding a camera where the optics are not ruined, and the zoom function not broken.
For a list of good cameras, see this camera guide.
I do nothing but deal with old media all day (I digitize and restore media as a hobby/living). I'm old enough to have played 78 rpm records, for real, when I was young.
Having said that, I have to agree that most old formats have no advantage over modern formats, and this is especially true of analog consumer video formats, specifically Beta, VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, 8mm, and Hi-8. I cannot think of one thing that would draw me back to looking at them, other than the memories which are stored on videos taken by my family.
I therefore agree that it is a waste of time to shoot anything new on Hi8. Heck, even DV is obsolete and when I needed an extra camera for a shoot and hauled out my DV camera, I ended up throwing away all the video and only using the audio.
By contrast, a few of other old (non-video) formats do have looks which cannot be duplicated and which are still superior in some ways to their digital counterparts.
As one example of this, my son-in-law is a world-famous outdoor photographer who uses $10,000 Canon DSLRs for his work. His photos are stunning. However, whenever he see photos I took back in the 1960s using Kodachrome 25, he is struck by the colors which he cannot duplicate, even after manipulating a RAW image on a calibrated monitor in Lightroom.
So I am 100% in agreement with Lordsmurf that 35mm film still has its place. Unlike Hi8 video, 35mm film is still worth shooting.
I have some B&W Tri-X that's been sitting in the fridge and I've been meaning to get out my 1958 Leica (which my son-in-law refuses to let me sell on eBay even though I could get several thousand for it). I still have my developing tank and Photoflo, so all I'd need is some Microdol-X or D-76 and a little fixer and I could duplicate what Lordsmurf is doing.
I actually still have six 35mm film cameras, including the 1936 Contax which I inherited when I was ten, and was how I learned to take pictures.
[OT, sorry] Hey, anybody know of a place that develops & can digitize - in Color - the last few rolls of exposed Kodachrome & Ektachrome that I found in storage? [/OT]
@sebastiaaan, if you do care about high quality transfer of your old Hi8 material, going the D8 cam route is NOT the way to do it.
You are totally sunk with the Kodachrome. I have 3-4 rolls in the fridge, and also have the mailers I paid for (you pre-paid for the development and mounting via the mailer purchase). I have looked several times in the past few years to see if some company has done something similar to the project that has (sort of) resurrected Polaroid film, but the only thing I know of is a service that will attempt to recover a B&W image (rather poorly from all reports).
The problem with Kodachrome is that it was a patented process which Kodak never licensed to anyone else. As I understand it, color was actually added as part of the development process, so it was substantially more complicated than the removal process that most development chemicals perform.
By contrast, Ektachrome is a simple E-6 process which any lab which still processes film can handle. Back when I had access to a decent darkroom, lots of people were developing their own Ektachrome slide film.
Just do a Google search.
Yeah, was more concerned about the Kodachrome. I figured with resurgence of other old tech that there might be a lab that took this on (reverse engineer?). Probably gonna have to bite the bullet and get it done in B/W.
Not cheap, but hard to be too choosy.
The film rescue site makes some disturbing statements about Gen3 film. This is usually reversal film, and that film can be done by any of the remaining mini-labs (Costco is in the process of shutting down their nationwide minilab network). As a result of what they state about Gen 3, I wouldn't use them without first doing quite a bit of research.
Both of the outfits rightly point out that, in many cases, the biggest problem is that the film is so old that it won't develop. I ran into this with some Polaroid OneStep film that's been in my fridge for over twenty years. I pulled it out and took some photos. The lithium battery worked just fine and the film ejected, but the exposure was extremely spolotchy, and the colors, even by Polaroid low standards, were pretty poor.
I then bought some modern film that was created to be usable by these old cameras. The quality was absolutely horrible, showing that these old chemical processes were pretty complicated and, because they were proprietary, nearly impossible to duplicate.
Last edited by johnmeyer; 23rd Feb 2021 at 19:49. Reason: grammar
Some people like the look of old formats. Warts and all.
I get that. I usually use a ton of tricks to get from vhs to dvd type color grading. It's ok, people are happy, etc. But yeah the old sensors, lost/distorted colors is a thing. The only advice I'd give is go truly nuts on capture. Like a studio ingest card, they're not horrific used. Ignore anything usb. That'll capture nearly perfectly what you're looking for.