I want to download all 6 tapes, split them up at the point where the camcorder started and stopped so I have a massive collection of clips, saved as individual avi files. I could then name these, organise in folders etc so I get a collection of all the video we have in a logical order. Also I guess delete any of the clips that are just plain poor.
What would I need to do this and is it sensible to do it this way ?
God yes! The thought of wielding a 12 Gig video file around makes my PC crash at the very thought...
I would do exactly as you suggest - capture all 6 tapes to their individual clips.
This is exactly what I do when I start a project. I edit in Premiere, but first capture all the footage using a freeware utility that I found - WinDV (http://windv.mourek.cz/).
This is a super programme. Hook up the cam, set the tape running, hit 'capture' in WinDV, and then go and make a cup of tea. It will auto detect scenes for you, naming them by reference to their timecode. (eg 06-08-12_12-17.00.avi) (ie year-month-date_time).
You can also preface each file name with any other text (eg Holiday Project.06-08-12_12-17.00.avi).
You end up with a heap of individual DVAVI files of varying sizes, ready for importing into a project.
I usually preview the clips within windows explorer first. Re-ordering them by size allows you to quickly identify those 1 second 'mistake clips'. Ordering them by name and turning on thumbnail view in explorer lets you see each clip, represented by a poster frame, in order of shooting. This immediately gives me a 'feel' for the sort of shots/assetts that I have.
I then use a simple media previewing program to quickly scan through the clips that I've got, binnining any that are a definate no-no, and flagging those that are particularly good.
All this before I even open Premiere.
I know that some of the purists in here will scoff. They will argue that the way to capture is to firstly review the footage, identify the bits that you want to use, log them, and then use batch capture to capture them directly into a project using the editors built in capture interface. I've tried it, but found that it isn't any quicker than my DIY method, and puts too much wear on my camera's tape transport through stopping, starting and fast forwarding.
6 tapes will obviously yield a lot of clips, but I'm sure you will devise a way of grouping them within folders etc. I would divide the pile up initially by either theme or time period (eg 6 month spans). I would divide each main folder into 3 subfolders: 'good', 'maybe', and 'no way'. Review the clips and put them in the appropriate folder.
Never delete the 'no ways' until the project is complete - you never know.
If you have too many 'goods' (and you will), be more ruthless.
It will take you a while to sort the good clips from the bad, but that serves you right for allowing 6 unedited tapes to build up!
Hope this helps.
PS - don't think that you have to turn 6 tapes into 1 supermovie.
Consider a series of smaller films. Easier to manage, easier to edit. Makes for a better DVD too.