Quantcast Forum Etiquette - Free vs Premium, When to Post, etc ? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
12-21-2010, 09:30 PM
jmac698 jmac698 is offline
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Hello,
I'm new here, and I'm sorry but I can't find a forum for general discussions. I've been looking around trying to understand the nature of this forum. It seems to be a commercial venture supported by ads, membership and donation.
Therefore, before I offer any more free advice I want to make sure I'm not offending anyone (the owners) who are tryiing to make a living.
I come from a very technical programming side so my approach is bound to be somewhat different than what I'm seeing here. I realize that automatic hardware fulfills a need. However, if someone wants to make an effort, there is a software approach. I offer my advice because I like to help people, and I realize these are mostly precious home memories.
thank you.
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  #2  
12-21-2010, 09:48 PM
juhok juhok is offline
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I've been wondering in this same path of thoughts just recently, upon commenting threads that in some sense are between "paying customer" and "customer service". On a matters where I have different perpective but I have nothing solid to offer to the "customer" here and now, should I say nothing or keep it on different forums? I shuffle thru half a dozen forums daily and comment where I see something interesting, but I don't want to scare people who've paid to get support. It's been studied that people are more happy when they don't have too many options to choose from
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  #3  
12-22-2010, 11:08 AM
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kpmedia kpmedia is offline
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Hi, thanks for posting, and welcome.

Most of this would probably become apparent after understanding
(1) the history of the site,
(2) how it fits into the services portion of the business, and
(3) our philosophy behind even having such a site.

But before I jump into that long explanation (in the next post), let me make a few brief comments, which should provide some immediate clarity:
  • The sharing of quality information is always the primary goal. All members are welcomed and even encouraged to give their input, share their knowledge and education, share their experiences, and provide their opinions.
  • The purpose of Premium Memberships is to assure the person that they'll get a quick response from a Site Staff member, and with as much detail as is available and possible at that moment. That's not to say others cannot answer, or that Site Staff won't eventually answer Free Member questions. There are some other perks, too.

And then I'll reply to some of your statements...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jman698
I can't find a forum for general discussions
For future reference, the News and Announcements sub-forum is for "General forum information, non-topical discussions, forum rules and other important announcements." Anything not on-topic is safe to go there.

Quote:
seems to be a commercial venture supported by ads, membership and donation.
The "commercial venture" is primarily video encoding and restoration services, most of which is B2B with various studios, both large and small, as well as independent videographers. There's also web development, photography and print projects.

Sponsors like EuroVPS, Checkoutstore and GotMedia, are excellent companies that provide top-quality products, and at reasonable prices. To us, they're not just plain advertisers, these are valuable relationships with quality merchants.

Ads? Yes, you can easily see the Google AdSense spots, as well as some others from time to time. Unlike our sponsors, we're not always 100% sure what's going to show up from a plain ad. When people click on these, it generates some funds that supports the site.

Premium Memberships are an advanced form of supporting the site. Compared to a magazine or a book that probably doesn't 100% help you, the $20 we currently request for one-on-one help is a bargain.

Affiliate programs, such as Amazon sales, share a tiny % of their profit with us. It's not much, but it can add up. But unlike many (most?) sites, we don't let affiliate sales influence our advice. If a good product or service doesn't share profits, so be it -- it's still getting our recommendation because the goal is to help people. Our ethics mean more to us than a few dollars in commissions.

Donations are a way to support what we do here without becoming a member, buying anything through an affiliate link, or using our services. It's a financial thank-you, to fund the guides and information that have surely helped that person.

Quote:
make sure I'm not offending anyone (the owners)
This is a difficult task, I assure you. The only real way to offend us is to be completely unethical or to bullheadedly spread propaganda. For example, there are a number of sham video services that use VCRs and DVD recorders from Walmart, charge huge sums of money ($25-30/tape), and then brag about it online. Or those who insist you must use "gold" media or your data will disappear in 2-5 years -- complete poppycock!

Quote:
I come from a very technical programming side so my approach is bound to be somewhat different than what I'm seeing here
Excellent.

Quote:
I offer my advice because I like to help people, and I realize these are mostly precious home memories.
And that is why this site even exists. We feel the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by juhok
in some sense are between "paying customer" and "customer service". On a matters where I have different perpective but I have nothing solid to offer to the "customer" here and now, should I say nothing or keep it on different forums?
Yes and no. Indeed, part of the benefit for our Premium Members is the very idea that they'll get qualified advice! If that comes from non-Staff, great! If Staff and members disagree, then ultimately it will be a choice that person has to make, as to which advice he/she feels will work best in that situation. I would rather have multiple views (assuming the contrary view isn't myth) than a single view. Sometimes staff can learn from members, too. As college biology classes proved many years ago, there really is more than one way to skin a cat! (Ewww, right?)

Quote:
but I don't want to scare people who've paid to get support. It's been studied that people are more happy when they don't have too many options to choose from
It's really not a worry. If we see a person getting confused, we'll work to provide the clarity they need. And then remember that the forum is only half of the site -- the main site guides and articles already provide edited methods for doing certain tasks, and more are on the way. The forum works well as a proving ground for some of that content, too, so easy and complex info is equally encouraged.

Hopefully that provides some immediate clarity.

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  #4  
12-22-2010, 11:08 AM
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[reserved for future reply, to expand on this topic at length]

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  #5  
12-23-2010, 12:47 AM
jmac698 jmac698 is offline
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Hello,
It is refreshing to see a welcome attitude, such as open-mindedness to learning, and a willingness to deal with differing of opinions. With an intent to help, our motivations remain true.

I did look at this forum, which mentioned non-topical discussions, and I didn't post - the reason is that, at a glance, it seemed only to be site announcements and no general discussion in the first page (or two). Now I realise that this isn't a very active board.

I have had people in the archival industry recommend MAM-A Gold, but I haven't seen a definitive study on this, so I can see there is some confusion. I like to read www.cdr-info.com as they regularly review burners and media using industrial testing devices, as well as consumer programs to monitor bit error rate.

I don't have an issue with using cheap equipment to do transfers. I would have an issue with certain attitudes in the advertisement of the services.

I have a big interest in calibration myself, and have measured my stack of VCR's and media with everything from custom-made diagnostic videos to Right Mark Audio Analyzer. And I have no issue with "cheap" equipment.

Comparing my worst, oldest tuner card with my newest, the only really noticable difference is dot crawl and noise. But you need to understand my approach in restoration, where 99% of the power lies in the software and techniques. I am completely against spending money for hardware, which in my opinion, is obsoleted by doing the same technique in software.

I do have one of the recommended JVC high-end S-VHS VCR's, and have measured video frequency response and a few other things on it. However my favorite VCR is a cheap RCA I have. I have definitely measured technical differences between my machines.

In some cases, the differences between VCR's are insignifcant compared to the actual problem. You'll see this as I offer my alternative opinion in the forums. Feel free to decide for yourself!

Thanks
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  #6  
12-23-2010, 03:21 AM
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Quote:
Now I realise that this isn't a very active board.
Part of this has to do with the history of the site. The forum was started in late 2003, and was paid-access only until late 2008. We decided to open it up after moving to the vBulletin platform, which gave more levels of access and admin features. It was also expanded beyond the DVD Projects sub-forums, which is where most of the posts still are, as the site has historically been very much a "digital video" site as opposed to the current goal of "all digital media". (Any older posts you see in other sections were moved there from an older "General Discussion" sub-forum.)

Quote:
I am completely against spending money for hardware, which in my opinion, is obsoleted by doing the same technique in software.
Replace hardware? I don't know. I'd be curious if you've found a way to mimic or otherwise improve upon (1) chroma noise reduction, as found in LSI Logic DMN chipsets, or (2) S-VHS/D-VHS VCR timebase correction. I've never seen either one done well in software. There are also times where analog-domain proc amp work surpasses software color corrections. And I don't know how one could easily replace bad frames to clone the steady sync created by an external TBC (frame synchronizer), which can generate new frames out of the buffer when sync is lost.

What intrigues me would be the use of hardware combined with various software methods you've come up with (hardware = pre-processing, software = post-processing). This is something we do daily, and are always looking for new techniques, free or commercial, hardware or software. Hardware can only really tackle some of the most basic of issues (relatively speaking, of course), whereas software is pretty required for the more advanced ones (serious color correction, noise removal, audio distortion, etc). There's also something to be said for the improvement of workflow speed, when using hardware.

Indeed, post away. People come here daily/weekly seeking video advice, much of it based on the need to restore video to better condition, with whatever means necessary.

Glad to have you.

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  #7  
12-23-2010, 04:23 AM
jmac698 jmac698 is offline
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Thanks for your words of encouragement! This is mostly a hobby for me, I just like learning new things. For some reason, restoration inherently fascinates me. Though I may seem to have some scripting skills, compared to the folks over at Doom9 I am humbled

You are correct that TBC is easier with hardware. However, I have done software TBC which can be used in certain places. In fact one of my projects is exactly this. I came up with a test signal, recorded to VCR, and a program automatically determines the x offset each line ended up with. Therefore I can statistically measure and characterise the jitter under various conditions. For example my favorite VCR shifts each line left or right by up to 3 pixels on a good recording.

I can also purposely create the black lines problem and measure it. Black lines occur on a transition from dark to light.

This is one of the principles of engineering; you characterise, model, then fix the problem.

One thing you have to understand about hardware is that it is really software. All chips are programmed in one of these languages: VHDL, Verilog, or System C. The hardware just runs the program. The LSI chipset is running a program, but we don't know how it works. If we could recreate it, we could do *exactly* the same thing in software.

To me, all hardware is just software running on a purpose built computer. The only real difference is, does the hardware have information about the signal that we don't see at the tuner card, and if so, can we guess or work around this limitation?

In the case of TBC, we don't have the sync signal itself, however we can measure the similarity between lines or the consistency of straight edges, and in this way guess at a correction. There are approaches that are very successful and in fact I was in touch with the author of a mathematical paper on this, and I'd like to program it.

In other cases you can use relative TBC which is quite simple. For example if you capture the same video twice, you can align the two videos line by line for perfect registration, then average the two copies to reduce noise added by the playback itself. Any signal averaged enough times will recreate the original despite any disturbances added to it. If you didn't do this registration, the result would be blurry because in fact you are overlaying each line with a shifted copy of itself, statistically speaking this would result in a Gaussian blur, which reduces noise in itself - however - not the way I want to do it. With registration the result is sharp and clear.

Bear in mind the original can be noise itself; no matter it will be recreated perfectly, then we denoise with other means to reduce that as well.

Sorry for babbling - I'm an ideas personality

ps and yes I would love to collaborate on some real problems, even in old film etc. that would be (one) of my dream jobs. And I'm cheaper than a PhD in image processing
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  #8  
12-23-2010, 07:47 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmac698 View Post
In other cases you can use relative TBC which is quite simple. For example if you capture the same video twice, you can align the two videos line by line for perfect registration, then average the two copies to reduce noise added by the playback itself.
...and in the process doubled your capture time (since you have to capture twice) and added additional post processing time. Great if you have the time and the hard drive space, not so great if you have hours upon hours of video to process. A hardware TBC takes care of the issues the first time around, in real time and is simple and straightforward to use... just plug it in or turn it on (if built-in). Yes, they cost money, but are much, much cheaper then they used to be.
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  #9  
12-23-2010, 07:59 AM
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To me, the value in a "software TBC" would be to correct single (or merge multiple) instances of a digital file for which the original analog source tape is now unavailable (destroyed, missing, etc). However, I have yet to see one in practical form, which is disappointing. I've read about some advanced forensic methods implored by law enforcement, but it's always using a algorithm dedicated to a short clip's exact errors, and therefore not practical to wider implementation.

Indeed, software TBC would be a form of masochism given the relative ease of buying a $215 AVT-8710 or good VCR, when your tapes are in relatively decent condition (not perfect, yet salvageable), but a software breakthrough in the above scenario. I've seen a theoretical paper on it, and the math is way above my clearance level, but it's never been practically implemented that I've seen -- and what I saw was written at least 5 years ago, maybe 10.

There are also those tapes that have embedded errors, copies of copies of copies, for which no amount of hardware will fix it. And in some cases, hardware correction actually makes that image worse, because it's correcting the signal and not the image. The old "image vs signal" issue that is discussed in the TBC thread. Software TBC would undoubtedly be image-based in how it corrects. Or so I would think.

Forum etiquette probably dictates we should not make threads go off-topic. Haha

Time for some new threads, methinks.


EDIT: Off-topic restoration conversations have been continued at:
- Software vs Hardware TBC
- VHS Generation Loss, what it looks like over several generations

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