That Retro Video Look, Without The Tapes

We’re lucky to live in an age of rapid technological advancement, lucky in more ways than one because as well as receiving a constant supply of new things, we have the benefit of the older tech that once we lusted over, at knock-down prices. [Luke Baker] spent his youth as a skateboarder, and the cameras of desire in that community were the high-end MiniDV models. They may not have high definition but their output has a Millennial aesthetic that captures the period, so he’s brought one into the 2020s by adding a digital SD card recorder designed for a multirotor to it.

On the face of it this is a pretty straightforward job of coupling an off-the-shelf recorder to a battery and the camera’s analogue output terminals. But the resulting spaghetti on what is supposed to be a portable device is hardly attractive, so he’s created an all-in-one 3D-printed enclosure that is attached to the camera’s handle with a set of cable ties. It’s shaped to fit the recorder and has a sliding lid over the battery compartment, and he’s added a handy on-off switch. Whether or not he takes it to the skate park in a bid to roll back the decades, as you can see int he video below the break it’s a well-executed piece of work that should serve to remind that there’s still life in some of this easily-available old tech if you’re prepared for a bit of lateral thinking.

This isn’t the first vintage video hack we’ve seen, back in 2016 we were treated to the grainy period feel of a vintage 8mm camera through the eye of a Raspberry Pi.

11 thoughts on “That Retro Video Look, Without The Tapes

  1. Great hack. It’s nice to have off the shelf components to solve that quickly.
    The “video look” cannot be achived convincely in software.
    I always wonder if you can hook up a better brain to one of those cameras to record at higher resolution or bit rate (by incorporating better ADCs and faster ICs).
    Most of those cameras have CCD sensors that are quite good, but is the camera that can’t read all those lines fast enough to have a better video quality.
    Most old Sony Z Series (like Z1 Z5 and other like those) had “upgrades” to record in SxS cards and they achive better quality due the faster recording media being capable of higher bitrates. But they were quite expensive.

    1. There’s already an S-Video jack on the camera, which is better than the composite output he’s using by separating the color from the B&W signal. There’s probably also component signal outputs – all of which could be recorded with a USB 3.0 video capture card. They’re good enough these days to catch anything up to 60 fps because people use them to stream gaming videos.

      I’d rather do that and chuck a small laptop in a backpack with a cable connected to it. Saves on putting on so much stuff on the camera.

  2. I had an attempt at this a decade or so back, would have qualified as a fail of the week… the cheap crappy digicam I ordered off eBay turned out not to have the advertised AV INput. Out only. Was supposed to be a DVR for a camcorder that had a good night mode, so combined with screen it would be a ghetto night vision, while taking over the recording from the knackered tape mechanism. Messed around with it for ages, because it was one of a family of camera SOC, where AV input capability existed on some versions, but could only find full data on two of them specifically and it was in mandarin. In the end I still wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be autodetected or software switched.

  3. DV cams are producing digital video, with an 400 dots per line quality, but this trick only gets the 240 dots per line analog output, lowing the quality. To get the best image on those, you must use the IEEE 1394 port, witch is an 4 pins Firewire.

    1. I doubt these numbers. Where did you find them?

      DV cameras probably use the sampling specified in BT.601 since there are (and were) lots of off the shelf components that can handle this. That’s a 13.5 MHz pixel clock, which results in 702 pixels for the 52µs active area of PAL and 716.43 pixels for the 53.07µs active area of NTSC. The images encoded in DV are 720×576 for PAL and 720×480 for NTSC like on DVDs, so there is a bit of the front and back porch at the edge.

      1. Wow, I just did this for my vx1000, but instead of to an sd card, there is an s video to USB capture card straight to my phone. Bolted a selfie stick holder onto the tripod thread and it works wonders

        1. Hey man, i could really use your help right now i have a vx2100 with a tape deck issue so im tryna bypass it. Im from south africa and right now with the lockdown i cant buy that dvr recorder but i do have an s video to usb capture card( easycap) please explain thoroughly what you did cause it could be of great help to me thank you🙏🏿

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