New to DVD's and video have a few questions

Hello, I love your forum there is a ton of great info I will be using in the future. I do have a few questions of my own though.

I hooked my camcorder up to my pc with a DV cable and used windows movie maker (vista version) to import the 60min tape. It worked great and uploaded it to a avi file, but its 13gb!. I figure when I use movie maker to burn it to a DVD it will automatically convert it to mpeg?

The real issue is I want to keep some kind of backup of my family home movies on my pc, but not at 13gb a clip I just don’t have hard drive room for that.

So what I did next was opened movie maker and imported that huge avi file and published it to my computer and it converted it to a 1gb wmv file. That I can backup but is this a correct method? Is something easier?

Can I just open my new smaller wmv file in movie maker and burn it to a DVD-Rom? and delete the original huge avi?

Welcome to CD Freaks.

What’s happening is that no compression codec is being used by WMM. What you could do is to compress the 13gb file using VirtualDub & either the Xvid codec or Divx codec.

Obviously you need one of these installed and then open the video file in VDub and take the Vidio option at the top. Selecting Compression will then allow you to select the codec you want and then to configure the compression required. I’d start about 1.8 if you use Xvid.

Then just “save as…”. Recompression will take a while but a 60min tape would come done to 600-700mb with very good quality still.

You might even be able to capture with Vdub directly from the camera, actually that’s a big maybe.

What type of file would that “save as” be?

A compressed .avi file or something else I would have to convert in the future to put back onto a DVD?

You would “save as” Divx or Xvid files…good compression rates for these codecs.
For example:

“Snow.avi”… Save as “Snow.divx” (Assuming that the program will then do the conversion)
A good freeware program is “Super”…get it here:

It would be a compressed avi file which can be viewed on the PC or a Divx compatible DVD player.

Conversion later to a DVD is straightforward. WMM I believe would do this as it would with a wmv file.

As far as your large & small wmv files are concerned you need to compare the quality of the before & after to see whether or not you’re happy to delete the 13gb one.

Most cameras these days supply decent PC software for doing all this without using WMM. Did your’s not have any or is it a Vista compatibility issue?

If you have a camcorder which uses tape cassettes, save the original tape cassette. While you can save a compressed file to your HD, it is better to save it uncompressed.

2 things,

If I use that Super program what should I convert the .avi too? (to make it smaller and not lose too much quality) I just want to make sure that whatever I convert it to can go back on a DVD if need be.

Yes my camcorder records to mini cassette tapes (60min), should I just save those as my backup instead of compressing into some kind of media file? How long will the video stay on the cassette before it’s starts to dematerialize?

If you keep your mini-dv tapes out of direct sun light, and keep them in a climate controlled area, they should last a long time. I’ve seen estimates of 10 to 20 years for mini-dv. DVD life is still an unknown. Some claims state that good quality dvd’s should last 20 - 50 years. I would keep them on mini-dv, and if they are important, every 5 - 10 years, copy them to your HD, then copy back to another (new) mini-DV tape. Best option, but not the cheapest, is to save in lossless format to a HD, then store the HD in a safe place. Also make a copy of the HD. But that can get spendy. You can store them on good quality DVD’s, and recopy them every 5 years as well. Only problem there, is if you want to edit and reauthor the dvd, you will have some minor quality loss with each conversion.

Personally, I save my master mini-dv tapes, I save the lossless capture on an external HD, and then I have a couple of copies in MPEG2 format on DVD. I keep my external HD in my gun safe. I plan on recopying the actual dvd’s (using dvdshrink or dvdfabdecrypter), every 5 years, or upon starting to see signs of the video degrading when it is being played.