I used Sandisk's new V-mate to digitize home movies from my first video camera, one that's old enough to feature just composite video output with a lone RCA plug (and a second one for mono sound).
The process works like this:
1. Plug camcorder into power supply. Don't rely on batteries; they'll run out.
2. Attach camcorder to V-mate, and attach the V-mate to the tv screen. The tv screen is needed so that you can see the V-mate's menu items.
3. Set up V-mate for video recording. Insert video cassette into camcorder, and press Play.
4. Click OK on the V-mate's remote control to start recording. The V-mate has three LEDs that alert you to its status:
- green = power on
- blue = memory card is correctly inserted
- red = recording.
A bug in V-mate means that you cannot monitor the camcorder's output on the tv screen; when the V-mate is recording at 640x480 resolution, the tv screen is black, except for a red "Recording" word. So you need to rely on the camcorder's monitor, which in my case is a 1/2-inch monochrome image.
The recording is done in real-time, which means it takes two hours to record a two-hour tape. The problem is that a 2GB memory card holds 1.5 hours worth of 640x480-resolution video recorded at Good quality level. So, you'll need to do two recording sessions per tape, if longer than 1.5 hours. (Alternatively, purchase a 4GB SDHD memory card, although those are still quite expensive.)
Recall from my earlier entry that the V-mate records videos in MP4 format, which might not be read by some video editing software packages. I found a freeware video converter, MP4Cam2AVI, which converts MP4 files to a variety of other formats, including WMV and AVI. Unlike the dismal video conversion software provided by Samsung, this software converts the 1.5-hour video in under ten minutes.
I have several video editing packages, all consumer grade. I first tried muvee autoProducer and it choked. Even though it claims to read MP4 and AVI (and others), it mulled over my video file, and after a while decided they were unsupported formats. I suspect the problem is with file size of 2GB, which might overwhelm it.
Second, I tried the free MovieMaker software included with XP. It does not read MP4 files, but when I imported the AVI file, it took the Microsoft software nearly a half-hour to import the 2GB file. But at least it worked.