Import A Mini Dv Tape

Capture DV video using free native software.

Recording live action with a digital video (DV) camcorder these days is as easy as pointing and shooting. Even the oldest models using mini-DV tapes are a simple matter of looking through an eyepiece or flipping open a view screen and pressing the “record” button. However, getting the video recordings from the mini-DV tape to your computer for editing and sharing can be a bit of a challenge. Native software that comes pre-installed with a Windows or Mac computer makes importing a digital video easy.


Windows Movie Maker

1. Double-click the Windows Movie Maker icon on your computer’s hard drive to start the program, or click the “Start” button and enter “Windows Live Movie Maker” into the search window to find the program. The program comes pre-installed on all Windows computers.

2. Connect the digital video (DV) camcorder to the computer’s universal serial bus (USB) port with the cable included with the camera, known as an IEEE 1394 cable, then turn on the camera. Fast forward or rewind the video tape until you get to the part of the tape you would like to record. Press stop and leave your camera in “playback” mode.

3. Click the button marked “Movie Maker” in the program window, then select “Import From Device.” Select your DV camera when the “Import Photos and Videos” window pops up, then click “Import.”

4. Click “More Options” on the “Import Video” page, then select the format desired and the location to save the video. Enter the name of the video in the appropriate space, then click “Choose parts of the video to import.” Use the camera control of the screen to find the exact starting point desired on your DV, then click “Import.”

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5. Watch the video as it plays, then click “Stop” when you have reached the end of the video clip you want to save. Click “Finish” and the DV clip will be saved to your computer’s hard drive as an .AVI file.


6. Double-click on the iMovie icon on the computer’s hard drive to start the program. As with the windows-based system, the program comes pre-installed free on all Mac computers.

7. Connect the DV camcorder to the computer using the cable that comes with the camera, whether USB or Firewire, then turn on the video camera to view the digital video stored on the tape inside it. Fast forward or rewind until you get to the starting point of the video you’d like to capture, then hit “Stop.” Leave the camera in this “playback mode.”

8. Click the “Camera Import” button in the iMovie window, it looks like a little video camera, then click the fast forward or rewind button in the pop-up window that appears to get to the exact starting point of the video. Click “Import” and watch as the video is played while it is being recorded to the hard drive. Click “Stop” once you have reached the end of the clip you want to save, then click “Save.”

9. Pull down the “Save to” menu to choose the location to export the video. Click the button next to “Create new Event” and enter a name for the video clip. Drag down the “Import video as” menu to choose the size you’d like your clip saved as, then click “Import” to save your DV video as a .MOV file on your computer’s hard drive.

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