mac video input

Dear Lazyweb, what's the easiest, cheapest way to put a video input on a Mac?

What I care about:

  • RCA jack on one end;
  • Firewire cable on the other;
  • Recognized as a video input by Quicktime Pro, iMovie, etc.

What I don't care about even a little bit:

  • video output;
  • TV tuner;
  • HDTV tuner;
  • Hardware MPEG encoding;
  • Bundled DVR software;
  • Any other kitchen sinkery.

I've used a "Dazzle Hollywood DV Bridge" in the past with success, but those are A) discontinued, and B) more complicated than I need anyway.

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28 Responses:

  1. jkonrath says:

    This probably falls under kitchen sinkery, but I've had a lot more luck with a shitty mini-DV camcorder that has video-in RCAs than I ever did with any of that Dazzle crap.

    • matthew says:

      Seconded. I have a little Canon dv cam that has a pass-through mode. You pipe in RCA and it spits out mpeg video on the firewire port.

  2. kraquehaus says:

    (Pardon my first post of this comment. I didn't realize that the original image off MOTU's site was such a high resolution they just resized inline.)

    Are you 100% tied to firewire instead of USB 2.0?

    Also, you mention what you don't care about, but do you mean, "I don't care," or "I definitely don't want these included"?

    There are some pretty cheap TV tuner type cards that do this sort of thing that I have seen. i.e., I think you might be best getting some of the features you don't care about if you are looking to save money. I think getting something that ONLY does what you want may be too specific and end up being niche.

    Here is some gear lust that you probably have ZERO interest in purchasing due to its high end nature, but you might want to drool over:

    • jwz says:

      I don't care what cable it uses as long as it works.

      You realize your comment contained zero information, right?

      • kraquehaus says:

        I realize it contained "zero information" because your request didn't contain enough information. I have to determine exactly what you are asking in order to determine if I have information that will help.

        I had previously wanted to get video into my mac, but nothing I saw except very high end was firewire. Since you specified firewire, I had to ask. Otherwise Apple itself sells a slew of video input devices off of their store:

        I don't have the time to scour them all to see if they match your other loose requirements, but I believe I recall seeing a few models that will do what you want.

        (I am assuming that your use of singular "RCA" means composite and not component video since they both use RCA. I wanted component so my focus of attention is probably different than yours.)

      • mhoye says:

        The "Elgato EyeTV Hybrid" listed here is a rebranded Hauppauge HVR-950 that you should combine with their add-on AV cable, and which gives you RCA audio- and video-in and S-Video-in via USB2, as well as the ATSC and NTSC tuners you don't care about. Costs about $140 all-in and works like a fucking charm, too.

  3. You want one of these:

    It shows up as a DV video camera to your Mac. I don't think it even comes with software.

    I, uhh, don't think they make them anymore, but eBay has one.

    • dr_memory says:

      I'll second that. A former employer used dozens of the things and they were dead simple and unkillable.

      ...and I happen to have one sitting around gathering dust at the moment here in SF if you'd (jwz, that is) like to borrow or buy it. (Not sure if I've still got the PSU though.)

  4. joakzieg says:

    There are various converters, what you want is a "composite to dv converter". Canopus makes several, like the ADVC55, which I found from 177 dollars on, and seems to do exactly what you want (it's similar to the Dazzle box you mentioned) but as someone else mentioned, you can also use some DV camcorders, or a DV deck like the Sony DSR-11. It depends a bit on whether you need something to do this all the time and be hooked into a permanent system, or just something to use now and then.

    • osi says:

      i second the canopus suggestion. i have a ADVC110 that I use for just video-in.

      • ckd says:

        Thirded; we have and like the ADVC100. The 100, and possibly later models, has a semi-secret "ignore Macrovision" cheat code, though I haven't actually bothered trying it out since nothing I have that's old enough to only be on VHS is that interesting.

    • cjensen says:

      I have an older model Canopus ADVC-100 that works fine with iMovie, so I'd recommend newer Canopus stuff too.

    • edouardp says:

      Yeah - I bought an ADVC55 a few years ago. To be honest I hardly ever use it, but it was small, simple, and produced good quality DV from the s-video input (and what you would expect from the composite input).

      Camcorders work OK too, but are bigger, pricier, and more likely to get broked if you take them with you somewhere. The ADVC55 seemed like a perfect complement for my 12" powerbook at the time.

      • edouardp says:

        Oh, and it is bus-powered too. Useful with a laptop, and kinda nice not being able to lose the power brick even with a desktop system as well.

  5. drreagan says:

    As an aside.. what sort of responses to you "Dear Lazyweb" type questions actually give you useful responses?

    • pozorvlak says:

      Standard JWZ rules are something like

      • Don't recommend any gear/technique of which you don't have personal experience
      • Don't suggest a string of search terms to try or huge documents to read - be more specific
      • Answer the question he actually asked - don't try to second-guess (or at least, be very cautious when doing so)
      • Don't recommend changing distro/OS, even in jest. Especially not in jest, come to think of it.

      There may be other rules that I've forgotten.

  6. joakzieg says:

    Everything that outputs DV over Firewire "shows up as a DV video camera to your Mac". The magic of DV being a standard (although not a very good one in terms of quality). And since it's Quicktime handling the input, every program that uses it on the Mac (everything, basically) will be able to capture from it.

    Looking at the Canopus thing a little more closely, it's almost certainly what you want. It's very simple, and doesn't even need a power supply (drawing power over the FW cable). It's also a lot cheaper than the other options suggested.

  7. you say that youve tried the dazzle before. If you like them i've got a couple laying around you can have. I'll just charge you shipping.

  8. multitimbral says:

    I've used the Interview adapter to pull in video from my Hi8 camera into a PowerMac G5. They have three devices that use USB 2. They are much cheaper than other options and very easy to use. The Interview 3 is $79.

  9. feral_robot says:

    But the video quality is superb compared to the cheaper solutions I've tried. Works great with both OS X and Win XP.
    ADS PYRO A /V Link

  10. rev_matt_y says:

    I picked up a nice ADSTech box for about $150 about two years ago. RCA inputs, firewire out. I'm sure it came with software, but I just plugged it in and fired up iMovie and it works just fine with it. I moved all our home movies from VHS to DVD pretty painlessly as well as all my concert videos. It also helps in getting stuff off the crippled DirectTivo (no network or usb support).

  11. gkra says:

    I have a box at home that meets exactly these requirements, and it cost me ~$150 last year when I got it, and for the life of me I cannot remember what the hell it is. It's the size of a 2.5" external hard drive, has S-Video/Composite and Audio inputs (RCA) on one end, and a firewire jack on the other end. I used it to pull video off my Sony Handicam (whoo Hi-8!) when I got footage from the roof of our building of the local SWAT team doing a training drop on the next building over. Worked like a damned charm with iMovie.

    I think it may do hardware MPEG2 encoding, as I think you have to do SOME type of encoding to MPEG to conform to video-over-firewire standards, but it worked no-fuss with no additional software on my powerbook with iMovie. Plug'n'Play, done right.