Wednesday 19th November 2008
Dire FireWire Problems
As you may remember, back in November 2007, I bought my first camcorder. So far I've only managed to record three one-hour tapes in that time. I had always planned to burn these to DVD and then reuse the tapes. Having done a bit of research, I discovered that the DV out port on the camcorder was actually a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port. I knew that my computer didn't have this port so I decided to buy a FireWire PCI card, which has two external ports and one internal port (not that I needed more than one) and a cable that would fit the card and camcorder (6 pin on one end and 4 pin on the other) for around £17 from dabs.com (now BT). I installed the software 'Picture Motion Browser' that came with the camcorder.
My desktop computer has a habit of crashing at the most inconvenient times for reasons that are a mystery to me - mainly after a while of playing games (although it is only the game that crashed rather than the whole system) or when watching TV while using my USB external hard disk. So when I tried to copy a video on to my computer for the first time, it got about twenty minutes in and then the computer crashed - resulting in an automatic restart. After restarting, the computer did not recognise the camcorder at all and the video captured so far didn't play. I thought this may either be a problem with the card or the camcorder. I then tried to install the Picture Motion Browser on my laptop, which does have a FireWire port (this meant I had to buy another cable for £15). As my laptop only had around 3GB of space left (a DV tape takes around 13GB), I thought I'd use my external hard disk, but I was unable to do this as the laptop doesn't support USB 2.0. I then thought I could plug the external hard disk into my desktop computer and then save the video from the laptop over the network, but for some reason the Picture Motion Browser software does not support network drives or paths. I deleted some space from the laptop's hard disk, but as the laptop is so slow, it meant frames were dropped. So it turns out that the camcorder is fine, but the FireWire PCI card must have developed a fault.
Having run out of options using the equipment I own, I decided to visit my dad who recently bought a new computer from Dell. Unfortunately it does not have any FireWire port. We then went to see whether his DVD recorder by the TV had a FireWire port - unfortunately not on the model he owns.
So there you have it, much effort and little result. Looks like I'll have to buy some more Mini DV tapes until I can think of or afford something else.