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Welcome to Dijemeric Visualizations

Where photography and mathematics intersect with some photography, some math, some math of photography, and an occasional tutorial.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recapturing Your Pre-digital Memories

Remember Hi8 video?  If you are like me you will have several 20+ year old pre-digital analogue video recordings you may wonder what to do with.  You could just forget about them for several more years and let someone else worry about what to do with them or you could convert them to a digital format, put them on a hard drive, and even edit them for the memorable segments like your daughter's first steps, your visit to Paris in 1990, or the historic footage you shot and is now no longer possible because the old factory has been replaced with condominiums.

Having 30 Hi8 tapes representing over 50 hours of video, I decided it was time to recover some of the past and to perform the remastering from analogue to digital myself.  My setup for the process includes an iMac computer, a Sony TR700 video camera (the one originally used to shoot the Hi8 videos), a Elgato Video Capture converter, and cabling to connect camera to Elgato.  The Elgato takes both S-Video and Composite Video inputs and provides a USB output.  It records in the H.264 mp4 format, which maxes out at 640x480.  Seems low rez by today's standards, but Hi8 is not today's standard.  Elgato is simple to use but lacks on-the-fly controls although you can batch control brightness, contrast, etc through the Preferences settings.  More info on Elgato at

So far I've remastered some 20 hours of video and am mostly satisfied with the quality.  Some actually looks a bit nicer than the original when played directly from the camcorder to TV monitor.  Some of the converted footage exhibits 'jitters' which are generally not overly noticeable.

Once a tape has been converted to digital video (DV), it's possible to edit selections.  I used iMovie for that purpose.  I selected a 30 min segment from a 2 hour tape then edited it to a 7 min video, The Scotia Sawmill - 1993.  Scotia was a company town dominated by the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO).  See for more information.

You may need to convert the video format and/or compress it for posting on your blog (Blogger limits file size to 100MB).  MPEG Streamclip, free software that will convert formats and compress video files is available for both Mac in PC at 

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