Quantcast Modern AV to HDMI is now the best method? - digitalFAQ Forum
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10-07-2019, 03:50 PM
tylannosaurus tylannosaurus is offline
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Hello everyone! I'm Tyler, long time lurker first time poster. First let me just say that I greatly appreciate all the work and dedication the members of the board have contributed over the years and that I'm so glad there is still healthy activity on here. I'm a professional filmmaker, my background is primarily in digital cinema, I work with cameras like the RED Epic, and Canon C200, I work with formats like ProRes, DNxHD, Cinema DNG, etc, so I'm no stranger to bit rates, colour space, and I make a living from pixel peeping, but I'm not a tape expert by any means.

I've been tasked with digitising my families endless collection of 8mm and SVHS tapes. With my background in film and television production I do have a good base of knowledge for the specific formats and the basic do's and dont's of digitising, but I can't help but overthink things sometimes and was looking for your thoughts.

From what I've gathered on here, the best home gamer solution is to find a good quality playback device (camera or deck) use S-Video cables whenever possible, use a decent Time Base Corrector (stand alone or integrated into one of the other devices in the chain) and capture with one of the all mighty ATI All in Wonder capture cards, amiright?...

I've read all the evidence for why the ATI All in Wonder capture cards are still considered the best out there but I also know how quickly technology advances and that over a 20 year span the features of a card will be shrunk down and improved upon so much over the older versions and replaced by a single chip that now costs $1 to manufacture and will eventually be included in everything as standard.

"Technology Connections," recently made a very interesting video about his capture method using a generic analog to digital video converter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC5Zr3NC2PY

An "upscaler" as they like to call it though good luck finding a data sheet that goes into any detail about what chips it uses or how it works. I've seen for my own eyes the result of some (not all, not most, but some) modern TV's taking analog video and it does appear that there is some mysterious chip that handles deinterlacing, time base correction, gamma, smoothing, noise reduction, etc etc, everything, and it looks to be about 95% of the quality possible from older formats like VHS or 8mm.

So by today's standards following Moore's Law there is every possibility that a single $1 chip can now do everything and more for analog video compared to the methods of 20 years past and give us 95% (I say 95% because I don't want to be chased out of here by pitchforks) of the quality. Could this new generation of AV digitisers finally have unlocked a better method?

Am I overthinking things? Has my friend from Technology Connections and I just not seen the light of the all mighty ATI all in Wonder cards? Does any of this really matter? Maybe I should be spending this time making new memories with my family instead of fruitlessly trying to preserve the old ones in the best quality possible? Alas... I am lost lol

What do all of you think?
Thanks!
Tyler
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  #2  
10-07-2019, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylannosaurus View Post
Hello everyone! I'm Tyler, long time lurker first time poster. First let me just say that I greatly appreciate all the work and dedication the members of the board have contributed over the years and that I'm so glad there is still healthy activity on here. I'm a professional filmmaker, my background is primarily in digital cinema, I work with cameras like the RED Epic, and Canon C200, I work with formats like ProRes, DNxHD, Cinema DNG, etc, so I'm no stranger to bit rates, colour space, and I make a living from pixel peeping, but I'm not a tape expert by any means.
Welcome.

Your experiences with cameras should (hopefully) give you an edge with the color work that is often needed for VHS. And you hopefully also understand the importance of calibration.

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From what I've gathered on here, the best home gamer solution is to find a good quality playback device (camera or deck) use S-Video cables whenever possible, use a decent Time Base Corrector (stand alone or integrated into one of the other devices in the chain) and capture with one of the all mighty ATI All in Wonder capture cards, amiright?...
VHS/S-VHS and Video8/Hi8 has a pretty easy formula.

- recommended JVC/Panasonic S-VHS deck with line TBC
- recommended Hi8 camera with line TBC
> recommended DataVideo/Cypress external framesync TBC
> recommended capture card, and you have some options here depending on OS

Straying from the formula almost always results in a quality drop, often significant. And this is generally done only due to laziness/cheapness. Attempting to use so-called "modern" hardware is largely a foolish endeavor.

LSI-based DVD recorders are also decent for DVD compressed versions. These days, DVD+archival is often done, a tandem capture, which creates both lossy copies to watch, and lossless to edit/restore/archive.

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I've read all the evidence for why the ATI All in Wonder capture cards are still considered the best out there but I also know how quickly technology advances and that over a 20 year span
Realize converting tapes is a legacy task, and is largely locked to the technology we had in the 2000s. Hardware/software in the 2010s almost always does SD/analog video poorly, as it's an afterthought, if even a thought at all. HD cards are lousy at SD, cheap Chinese USB cards/toys are lousy, and various upscaling devices are probably the worst at screwing up quality (DVD recorders, etc).

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the features of a card will be shrunk down and improved upon so much over the older versions
No.

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and replaced by a single chip that now costs $1 to manufacture and will eventually be included in everything as standard.
Never.

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"Technology Connections," recently made a very interesting video about his capture method using a generic analog to digital video converter.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC5Zr3NC2PY
To be blunt, that guy is a moron. He makes lots of absurd assertions in his videos, and it's quite obvious that he (at best) has a loose grasp of video technology. He's been discussed on both dFAQ and VH in the past, and virtually no member was impressed by his "findings". Only a gullible newbie would fall prey to his ramblings.

I actually replied to that exact Youtube video:
Quote:
Your "from this to this" has blacks that are severely crushed, and highlights that are so blown out that the chroma is lost. The red hand went from red to neon pink. That's not good.

By deinterlacing, you're throwing out 50% of the motion and image data. This may not be obvious on a phone or tiny Youtube screen, but it becomes very obvious on large HDTVs that everybody uses these days. You have very obvious jagged edges on diagonal lines, and jerky motion. More refined deinterlacing methods, such as QTGMC (which is easy to use in the freeware Hybrid by selur, Avisynth not needed), will either retain all motion as 59.94fps (NTSC) or 50fps (PAL), or at least run a complex algorithm that avoids artifacts like jaggies and jerkiness for 29.97fps (NTSC) or 25fps (PAL)

Capture cards do not "approximate as a CRT would draw it". Capture cards digitize the signal, and has nothing to do with a CRT. (The CRT merely displayed the signal.)

Capture cards don't "create RGB values" from analog video. You can capture with YUV, or more accurately YCrCb (as YUY2 or UVYV), which is a direct approximation of the YPrPb on VHS tape. Yes, you can capture as RGB, but that would be a boneheaded move to destroy image quality.

Interlacing is still done, it's how you receive broadcast HDTV. Interlacing is not a "problem". It saves on bandwidth. Even SD is still done on many channels, not everything is HD.

LCDs still have flicker, be it phone, computer monitor, or HDTVs. This is easily seen by trying to photograph a screen.

"Washed out" is often the source tape at fault, as consumer camcorders were junk at white balance and levels. VHS is inherently lacking in black, often giving you charcoal grays at best. This is why proc amps are suggested. But it can also be the capture values, either a known-bad card, or just user error.

"Blocky" is from lack of bitrate, generally either MPEG or H.264, and neither should be used for capturing editable material. The noise is compounded when using cheap VCRs that lack TBCs.

Quality analog starts with a quality VCR or camera, using internal line TBC. Not a low-end consumer Sony VCR.

Broken video files rarely stitch together perfectly, and often have visual jumps or audio pops. There is a lag between ending/starting a new file, more than 1/60th of a second, so it can (and often does) miss something. So that's not good.

Jagged deinterlace lines usually get more jagged when the aspect is wrongly capture at 16x9, then squished back to 4x3.

Analog videos are rarely centered. There is often CC/etc data at top, head switching noise at bottom, and broadcast/camera pillars on the sides. You never saw this because it's in the overscan, but captured video shows the entire edge-to-edge image.

For quick clips for Youtube videos, I'm sure the method works. But for home movies, or archiving tapes for any reason, this method is ghastly. Not at all suggested if quality matters.
In summation, he doesn't know his ass from his elbow. Most of his videos are essentially reading aloud Wikipedia, and then making some truly absurd conclusions and comments on analog video technology. He even still believes in revisionist myths like "VHS won the format war because of porn" (false). Youtube is rarely a place that you'll find authoritative data, and you'll more likely find clickbait, which is the case here.

Video myths and misinformation are a peeve of mine, and I am not kind towards it.

Quote:
So by today's standards following Moore's Law there is every possibility that a single $1 chip can now do everything and more for analog video compared to the methods of 20 years past and give us 95% (I say 95% because I don't want to be chased out of here by pitchforks) of the quality.
No.

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Am I overthinking things?
More like "sidethinking" things, because you're being led astray from really bad/stupid advice.

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Has my friend from Technology Connections and I just not seen the light of the all mighty ATI all in Wonder cards?
Even if you completely ignore ATI AIW for now, he makes so many mistakes that it's just technobabble jabberwocky. Video folks see him as the charlatan he is, pretending to know about analog video. Only newbies are bamboozled.

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Does any of this really matter?
If you want any degree of quality from the conversion, the answer is definitely "yes".

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Maybe I should be spending this time making new memories with my family instead of fruitlessly trying to preserve the old ones in the best quality possible?
Do both. In fact, sharing old photo/video/audio memories in itself can be an activity that creates new memories. I know it's been true with my family.

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  #3  
10-07-2019, 06:00 PM
tylannosaurus tylannosaurus is offline
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Thank you so much lordsmurf for your prompt and detailed reply. I must say again how amazed I am at the wealth of knowledge on this forum and from it's members. It is great to see the legacy of the broadcast industry being preserved with such attention to detail.

I should have prefaced that my title of "Modern AV to HDMI is now the best method?" was mostly clickbait to get someone's attention to help stear me in the right direction. Please don't take offense to my accusations of old hardware, I was playing devil's advocate. I was very skeptical myself of the method used by Technology Connections but wanted to see what some experts thought.

My family originally wanted to send all of our tapes off to Costco to have them transferred and I put a stop to that very quickly and decided to take over this as a pet project. The tapes have been stored very well, sealed in large ziplock bags and in a cool dry place for the last 20+ years. My dad said that he always recorded in SP for better quality and only bought the high end tapes from the Sony store, so I have confidence in the source material being good.

As a present day professional filmmaker, I am very eager to play around with editing, colour correcting, and sharpening the raw footage myself. I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money on hardware because at the end of the day one can always re-sell everything when finished hoping to break even, and certainly as much time as is needed.

I'm also considering making my own YouTube video documenting the process to combat the cesspool of videos out there showing the wrong way to do things.

I do have a couple more questions, and my apologies if they have already been asked on here over 9000 times before.

My tapes are mostly a mix of Video8, Hi8 and a couple Digital8, so it appears that a Digital8 camera such as a more affordable Sony DCR-TRV240 that does have S-Video is probably my best one stop shop option for a playback device, correct? I can do Video8 and Hi8 through S-Video and Digital8 through Firewire to DV.

Now the topic of a TBC, the manual for the Sony DCR-TRV240 does say it has one built in, is it any good? Would I be better off finding a stand alone TBC, and if so, what do you recomend?

For a capture card, I don't mind going through the trouble of finding a good ATI All in Wonder and I do have a large collection of legacy PC hardware that I should be able to build a working system out of to use it. I happen to have a Kworld V-Stream TV tuner / capture card, it has S-Video, and it uses the Conexant Broadcast Decoder cx23883, but I've read mixed reviews on that particular model compared to the all mighty ATI All in Wonder cards.

Thank you again for your time!
Tyler
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  #4  
10-07-2019, 06:30 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylannosaurus View Post
Thank you so much lordsmurf for your prompt and detailed reply. I must say again how amazed I am at the wealth of knowledge on this forum and from it's members. It is great to see the legacy of the broadcast industry being preserved with such attention to detail.


Quote:
My family originally wanted to send all of our tapes off to Costco to have them transferred
Oh no! Odds are the tapes would be ruined. Horrible low-quality service.

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sealed in large ziplock bags
Not good at all. It will trap moisture, cause the tapes to mold.

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My dad said that he always recorded in SP for better quality
That will mostly help with playback, not necessarily quality.

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and only bought the high end tapes from the Sony store,
Eh. Sony wasn't always the best tape.

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so I have confidence in the source material being good.
Probably.

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As a present day professional filmmaker, I am very eager to play around with editing, colour correcting,
I figured as much.

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and sharpening the raw footage myself.
Rarely is this a good thing for VHS-based or 8mm-based tape formats.

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I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money on hardware because at the end of the day one can always re-sell everything when finished hoping to break even, and certainly as much time as is needed.
Yep, that's what I often suggest. FYI, I have some hardware still available in the marketplace (suggested VCRs, TBCs, capture cards), but I am running low.

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I'm also considering making my own YouTube video documenting the process to combat the cesspool of videos out there showing the wrong way to do things.
Excellent, do it.

While I'd like to add videos to Youtube, I just do not have the time for it.

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I do have a couple more questions, and my apologies if they have already been asked on here over 9000 times before.
Now 9001.

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My tapes are mostly a mix of Video8, Hi8 and a couple Digital8, so it appears that a Digital8 camera such as a more affordable Sony DCR-TRV240 that does have S-Video is probably my best one stop shop option for a playback device, correct? I can do Video8 and Hi8 through S-Video and Digital8 through Firewire to DV.
You don't want to convert Video8/Hi8 to DV. That loses quality, and it will be extra important for editing and restoration. I think the TRV320 has dual playback, leaving analog as analog on output (with s-video out), and D8 as DV. Not sure about the 240, some models compress output to DV.

Note that I dislike DV "capture"/transfer, too touchy. Consumer optics were craptastic, something you probably know as a pro shooter. So if you want to capture the DV as analog over s-video, you really don't lose any quality. The resolve of the consumer DV codecs and optics was arguably not 720x, just theoretical.

Quote:
Now the topic of a TBC, the manual for the Sony DCR-TRV240 does say it has one built in, is it any good? Would I be better off finding a stand alone TBC, and if so, what do you recomend?
Internal line TBC correct the image.
External framesync TBC corrects the signal. DataVideo/Cypress recommended, see marketplace subforum.
You need both.

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For a capture card, I don't mind going through the trouble of finding a good ATI All in Wonder and I do have a large collection of legacy PC hardware that I should be able to build a working system out of to use it.
What sort of motherboards do you have available? Brand/model. Preferably quick description on availability of AGP/PCIe/PCI so I don't have to look it up (again, not lots of free time lately, busy catching up on video after month+ of recovery, running me ragged right now).

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I happen to have a Kworld V-Stream TV tuner / capture card, it has S-Video, and it uses the Conexant Broadcast Decoder cx23883, but I've read mixed reviews on that particular model
All CX chips were terrible. Kworld is a cheap rebadger.

Quote:
Thank you again for your time!
Tyler

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  #5  
10-08-2019, 02:51 PM
josem84 josem84 is offline
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Those A2D converters/upscalers are absolute CRAP. I'd look first at a decent S-VHS unit for playing back the tapes and start from there. The first thing you have to do is testing your tapes and see how good/bad they are. If they are in relatively good condition, a full frame TBC can be avoided. The line TBC within your S-VHS and any of the recommended DVD recorders will be more than enough. Buy an ATI AIW capture card (this is key to get the best results).

Quote:
I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money on hardware because at the end of the day one can always re-sell everything when finished hoping to break even, and certainly as much time as is needed.

Read more: Modern AV to HDMI is now the best method?
Don't expect to resell everything and break even... I'm thinking of TBC's in particular. There's too much hype right now around them and prices are at the very top. Prices we're seeing in today's market are not sustainable in time. Unless you can find something affordable I'd be very cautious spending big money on these devices thinking that you will be able to resell everything and get your investment back.

Again... Test your tapes first and continue from there.
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  #6  
10-08-2019, 07:59 PM
tylannosaurus tylannosaurus is offline
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Thank you for your input josem84, and again a thank you to lordsmurf for his continued input.

I do have a S-VHS camera with S-Video in decent condition for all my S-VHS tapes

I recently bought a Sony DCR-TRV240 Digital8 camera from a colleague, It has S-Video out, and I referenced the manual to find it will play Hi8 and Standard8 tapes. So that's covered. I've played back a couple tapes in the camera and the quality seems to be very good, josem84 as you recommended I may not need the TBC after all if the tapes have minimal issues. I've looked at the prices for the recommended TBCs and $500+ may be more than I want to spend on a 5-10% quality improvement.

I should also mention that I live in Canada so by the time a $500 thing gets to my door it will actually be more like $700 or $800 for me.

I also have a pile of MiniDV tapes and I still have a DVX-100b from my early days as a filmmaker for that. I also use Premiere for my day job so I can just capture DV with that, thankfully I kept a version of CC17 on the MacMini because Adobe has been striping legacy functionality from newer versions.

lordsmurf you asked about computer hardware, my current PC is an AMD Threadripper build so it only has PCI-E, I have a Mac Mini with Firewire 800 and I just ordered an adapter cable for that to DV so I can transfer the MiniDV and Digital8 tapes.

I have an older PC build of a Core2Quade and 790i chipset that has a single PCI gen 1 slot. That chipset will run Windows XP no problem and that's the computer I'd put an ATI AIW in if I can find one.

There is a wealth of information on here about the AIW cards but it can be a bit overwhelming, what is my best option for a PCI based All in Wonder card? I'm very curious to do a side by side comparison between the Kworld card I have and an All in Wonder.

Thank you again lordsmurf and josem84 for taking time out of your day to answer my questions.
Tyler
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