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I have some home videos stored on MiniDV media and am currently able to watch them by connecting the camcorder's RCA cable to my TV. However, I am looking to digitise my collection of home videos, and, as such, am seeking a reliable and cheap method for doing so.

I am aware that products like the EasyCAP aim to solve this by allowing you to access the stream via USB using special software. After doing some research, I was pointed towards this software designed for macOS which aims to allow functionality for Mac computers. However, there was a note on the website which says that:

2015-10-31: Reports indicate EasyCapViewer doesn't work on OS X El Capitan. This would be a good time for other developers to pitch in. I will spend some time investigating too but no guarantees.

As the note suggests, I believe the software will no longer function with later releases of macOS including macOS Mojave. I am unwilling to buy one of these devices, have it shipped, install the software and test it only to find it is no longer supported as stated on the website.

Whilst I am aware that a possible solution may be installing a virtual copy of Windows on a program like VirtualBox, I feel this is overcomplicated and may bring up even more issues especially with regard to interfacing with the device through the virtual machine.

As a result, I am curious to find out if anyone is aware:

  1. Whether or not the EasyCAP software will work with macOS Mojave

  2. Whether there are other, currently supported, softwares for doing the same thing on macOS Mojave

  3. If not, what is a reasonable alternative (preferably below £30)

Any help would be much appreciated as I am desperate to back up these videos before they are lost, broken or damaged.

Thank you in advance for your help,

Kind regards, Rocco

P.S. I could also access the video via FireWire (4-pin on the camcorder), however, I do not have any devices in my house with FireWire ports. My personal computer, MacBook Pro, only has Thunderbolt 3 ports and this would require numerous expensive adapters in order for this method to work.

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    It has been a long time but my old MiniDV camera had a firewire port and iMovie would recognize the device natively with the correct cable. In my case Mini-Firewire to Firewire 400. I wonder if iMovie will recognize your camera if it is attached to your PC via USB or any other interface your camera and your Mac have in common (or with a suitable dongle) – Steve Chambers Jan 23 at 20:57
  • @SteveChambers Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, following some research, it seems that straight up FireWire to USB cables will not work as they have a different approach so serial communication. As a result, you would need an even more expensive capture card, similar to the EasyCAP, but for FireWire instead of RCA. – Rocco Jan 23 at 21:05
  • @rocco You cannot connect firewire to usb - you need firewire in both ends . If your Mac is too new to have firewire you can purchase a thunderbolt adapter. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 24 at 0:13
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I've transferred dozens of my own MiniDV cassettes so let me share the methods I used and what I think makes sense for you. I'll preface by saying that this was a project that took me DECADES to get started, precisely because there are so many options and variables to consider. However, once I began I did it all at once, and was relieved to do it. This is an investment of time and money, but one you'll agree is worthwhile for unlocking and securing your tapes' contents.

First, to answer your question, if users were reporting that EasyCapViewer wasn't running well on El Capitan, then it almost certainly won't run well on Mojave. For what it's worth I downloaded EasyCapViewer and it launched without any errors on Mojave, but you can't know how it functions with that capture card hardware until you try it out. EasyCap isn't a 64-bit app, so it's definitely not optimized to run on modern versions of macOS like High Sierra or Mojave, but it does technically run. If you're dead-set on using that software, you could always get a copy of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, install it on a disk partition or external drive, and work with it from there.

Second, if your priority is to capture the highest quality of these videos, then my recommendation for you is to go the Firewire route, because it's the only option that transfers the pure digital signal from tape to Mac. If your intention is to archive and back up these tapes for posterity, you'll want to capture the highest quality version of that video, and Firewire is the only way to do that. But be aware that importing raw digital video can take up a lot of storage space, so depending on how many tapes you have you'll want to have a fair amount of disk space, and/or a backup drive to hold them all. The alternative is to important analog video, via this EasyCap tool or one of the many other options like it (there are many analog hardware and software tools just like EasyCap, so I encourage you to check those out if EasyCap doesn't sound like it has the support you're looking for). Just keep in mind that when you import analog video the video gets compressed, so you won't get the same quality video out of the analog transfer as you do with digital Firewire. You may not notice or care much about that difference, but just be aware that importing via analog will result in a loss of some quality that you would otherwise retain through a digital transfer. On the positive side though, since analog video files are compressed they do take up much less storage space.

Back to Firewire: As you noted, this setup requires a few adapters. In your case you would need a Firewire Cable (assuming your camcorder takes the small 4pin plug, like mine did, you'll need a 4pin to 9pin Firewire 800 cable). Then depending on whether you have a USB-C hub for your Mac (some of which do offer Firewire 800 ports, or else Thunderbolt 2 ports) you'll need an Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter. If you don't have a hub you'll also need to add an Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter to make the direct connection to your MacBook Pro. Like most Apple dongles, these are overpriced, but you can find the same products on Amazon or eBay for half that.

Economically, buying a hub and/or a bunch of adapters would probably cost more than just picking up an old used Mac, like a Powerbook G4, and doing the video transfer with that. It sounds crazy but you actually might consider this option, since those models have built-in Firewire and often come installed with Tiger or Leopard, which would also be compatible with the EasyCap. Oddly enough it could be less of a headache than trying to make all the old hardware/software fit with your new MacBook Pro.

Lastly, a note (and warning) on tape damage: be aware of the possibility that your tapes may have video/audio artifacts or disruption (several of mine had sections like this, and they were painful to watch). Hopefully yours don't have any, but if they do I'll just save you the trouble of investigating the Why: it can be connected to recording in LP instead of SP, or using different brands of tapes whose tape lubricant doesn't get along well with other tape brands. A corrupted digital signal can make those sections virtually unwatchable, and importing those clips via Firewire looks terrible. In that case the best alternative for importing those sections is to use an analog tool. The one I used was Elgato's EyeTV to import those damaged sections of video via S-video or Composite video. Importing damaged sections via analog isn't great either, in that it won't get rid of the artifacts, and for some reason it reduced my LR sound channels to mono sound, but the damaged sections do import better with analog than with digital, so I used analog imports exclusively for that purpose.

I know this is a lot of info, but hopefully some of it is helpful for you. Good luck with your continued efforts!

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    I noticed that movies I transferred long ago in iMovie without visible distortion, has that now. I don't know why, but suspect that the codecs have changed. Perhaps to be stricter? – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 24 at 0:15
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    Thank you for your detailed answer! Whilst I agree that the FireWire adapter route would be the best for compatibility and quality, I feel the number of adaptors I would have to get is excessive and expensive; its a shame there's not a straight FireWire to Thunderbolt 3 adapter. I think I'll go for the EasyCAP option; I installed the software and it opened fine on Mojave like you did, but I don't know if the incompatibility comes when trying to connect to the device. If the program doesn't allow interfacing on Mojave, I'll install an older OS on a partition like you suggested. – Rocco Jan 24 at 7:23
  • @Thorbjørn-Ravn-Andersen same here. Some tapes were distorted from the beginning, others showed distortion later. For me it likely occurred because I had recorded a number of those tapes in LP mode (that extra 30 minutes per tape seemed like a great idea at the time...) but didn’t know there were inherent problems with LP recording, namely that it can introduce problems in the tape, and that the tape may be unplayable on any camera other than the EXACT brand+model it was originally recorded on. Distortion can also be introduced by slight head misalignment, or differences in tape lubricant. – cecil444 Jan 25 at 3:13

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