Quantcast How I got my VHS digitizing perfect? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-26-2020, 05:11 PM
babanan babanan is offline
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Hi

I just want to share mye experiences I had while making a setup to digitize 50 PAL VHS tapes. I went crazy for weeks struggling with all the usual problems like dropped frames, out of sync, noisy video etc.

I might make a documenary based on some VHS-tapes from the 80s, so high quality was a big priority and I finally managed to get there. You should have my need for very high quality in mind when you read this post. I am not a familyfather who just want to watch my wedding in the living-room.

Well here we go:

First try:
Videoplayer: JVC HR-J658
A/D converter: Sony GV-D1000 (DV player, connects to mac with firewire
Result: Noisy sound, noisy videoimage, didnt like the fact that I had to use the DV-codec.

Second try:
Videoplayer: LG RCT689H (VHS/DVD recorder)
A/D converter: Blackmagic intensity shuttle to ProResHQ
Result: I used the HDMI out to the shuttle, the component dropped too many frames. The sound was better, but not optimal, and it gradually went out of sync. Image was cleaner than with the JVC but still too noisy for my taste, VERY saturated colors which I couldnt reduce before capture.

Third try:
Videoplayer: JVC HR-S7700EU w/tbc
A/D converter: Blackmagic intensity shuttle to ProResHQ
Result: I used the S-video out to Blackmagic. The sound was even better now, and the image-quality was surprisingly much better than the other two players. I could easily live with this quality, but like many others I had severe problems with dropouts/black frames even though the JVC had a built in TBC. When I digiticed through my DV-player/firewire I was able to get it all in sync but: The drop in image-quality from ProResHQ w/blackmagic, to DV was MUCH bigger than expected.

I started to look for a TBC and I was doing all kinds of experiments to get it all in sync. Nothing helped until I by coincidence got in contact with a collegue that had a Sony professional VCR which I could use for a couple of weeks.

Fourth and final (succesful) try
Videoplayer: Sony SVP-5600p w/TBC (a really good one)
A/D converter: Blackmagic intensity shuttle to ProResHQ
Result: The result blew me away. I couldnt belive my old shitty VHS-tapes from the 80s really could look that good. Even though I was satisfied with the imagequality from the JVC HR-7700, this was miles ahead. First and foremost the big difference was less noise. Both on audio and video. Until I tried this VHS-player, all my attempts looked like.....well VHS. With the professional Sony it kind of looked like old film if you know what I mean. I have now digitized more than 30 tapes, and this huge difference in quality is best seen on the older ones from the 80s. On the tapes from around year 2000, the JVC can stand the competition a lot better, but the SOny is still superior.

These are important learning points for me after a quite extensive testing period:

1.
There are huge quality-differences between different players. Much bigger than expected. First and foremost: Bad VHS-players gets a lot more noise both in audio and video than good ones.

2.
I have heard many say that I could use a DV-player/firewire since the imagequality from the VHS is so bad to begin with. Dont listen to them like I did in the beginning. The difference is not subtle, it is big when it comes to noise.

I will post some example-videos/pics later.
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  #2  
05-26-2020, 05:51 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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I'm a bit surprised the JVC HR-J658 was noisy, I got one and I find it tends to overly smooth the image, same with it's bigger SVHS brother (same main video chip) the HR-S8500, but that one has an edit option that turns off the noise reduction.

Got the same LG model as well, haven't tested component or HDMI on it (other than on a monitor) but the S-Video out seemed to output a clean signal even with video missing on the tape so interesting that you got frame drops/sync issues with it. The internal video chip doesn't do much to correct horizontal wiggling though, so the quality is a bit meh anyway.

The TBC in the HR-S7700 and most other VCRs work to correct wiggling and reduce noise, but don't buffer full frames and create a fully new video stream like stand-alone TBCs and DVRs do, so you risk getting frame drops without an external TBC of some sort. The blackmagic usb is especially bad at handling this, so it's not surprising that the DV method did that better. Maybe the TBC in the Sony do a bit more than the TBCs in prosumer VCRs and is capable of outputting a fully stable video signal. Seems it can also blank out the vertical blanking interval where macrovision stuff can reside, like stand-alone TBCs can do.
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  #3  
05-26-2020, 08:26 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Thanks fort showing our readers how you screwed up your videos. Yet another ugly BM disaster. Let us know how it's going when you learn to capture VHS capture VHS properly without wrecking them. Another prroblem with BM suckers is that they always boast about their work but don't know how to post. They're painfully unknowledgeable from the start.
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  #4  
05-26-2020, 10:11 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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You are lucky with some good tapes, When you hit some weird tapes that the VCR cannot correct for or when you capture over an hour footage and you see that you have 2 seconds of sound drift that's when you realize that the BM IS is the wrong choice. The good news is you can always place a DVD recorder in the stream or you might be forced to get an external full frame TBC and those suckers are not cheap.
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  #5  
05-27-2020, 12:40 AM
babanan babanan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Thanks fort showing our readers how you screwed up your videos.
I used 4 different unimportant tapes in the test-period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
You are lucky with some good tapes, When you hit some weird tapes that the VCR cannot correct for or when you capture over an hour footage and you see that you have 2 seconds of sound drift that's when you realize that the BM IS is the wrong choice. The good news is you can always place a DVD recorder in the stream or you might be forced to get an external full frame TBC and those suckers are not cheap.
I had all kinds of problems with the BM shuttle. Also some nor covered here. That said: wth the Sony 5600p I had no sound drift and no black dropout through the entire 32 tapes digitzed so far.
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  #6  
05-27-2020, 01:43 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is online now
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That Sony VCR does not have full-frame, but rather full-field like the Panasonic AG-1980P/NV-FS200. It does not output corrected frames, and can still cause drops -- nay, WILL allow/cause drops, when confronted with non-perfect tapes. Do not let your initial impression skew reality. Capture several hundreds of tapes, of varying origin, and get back to me.

It's odd that you saw video/audio noise with the JVC HR-S7700. Something is wrong. I'd have to see samples. The dropouts and "black frames" was 100% from the not-suggested Blackmagic card choking, not the VCR at fault.

You would not have had some of these issues with a better capture card in the workflow. There is a reason that Blackmagic is not at all suggested.

The Sony having an "old film" look doesn't strike me as a positive. "Old film" is generally grainy, and had luma/chroma levels issues. Again, I'd need to see samples.

Whoever said that DV is "good enough" (a phrase I detest, BTW) because "VHS is bad" is a moron. While true that VHS does use a color-under method of recording, the chroma quality still exceeds that of DV. In PAL (4:2:0) the difference can be negligible, but in NTSC (4:1:1) the colors get cooked and degraded. DV is the best home technology of the 1990s (not even as good as MPEG, also from the 90s), the era of Pentium II and III computers. The 2000s and 2010s gave us lossless formats, use them.

BM is surely a decent HD card, but a POS for SD capture work. It is not meant for consumer sources like VHS, but instead pro sources like BetacamSP. And it shows.

ES10/15 in the stream does indeed correct as partial TBC(ish), bit you also get the downsides of its processing (posterization, forced NR even when "off"). The ES10-15 can still get overrun, has weakness, purposely has holes carved in the processing for MV (and thus false anti-copy, aka natural tape errors).

Please do post the samples.

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  #7  
05-27-2020, 04:43 AM
babanan babanan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
That Sony VCR does not have full-frame, but rather full-field like the Panasonic AG-1980P/NV-FS200
Thanks for the info.
Could you explain this a little further? And how I could notice the errors it causes?
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  #8  
05-27-2020, 07:24 AM
babanan babanan is offline
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And one more question to Lordsmurf (or others):

What is it other VCR are doing better than the Sony pro one which I have got? To my eyes the results I am getting is much much better than expected. Everything is in sync, images are less grainy than with other options I have tried, my eyes cant see problems with dropped frames and so on.

It seems like you maybe dont like that Sony VCR? So if you could chime in with other recommended VCRs and what they do better it is hoghly appreciated?

Btw. I will try to provide samples soon. (a bit busy atm)
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  #9  
05-27-2020, 08:11 AM
babanan babanan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
It's odd that you saw video/audio noise with the JVC HR-S7700.
I was actually quite satisfied regarding video/audio with the JVC HR-s7700. I felt that I had nailed it when it came to the VCR. The reason for going further to the Sony 5600p is that the Intensity shuttle couldn't handle the s7700 signal without TBC.

It wasn´t before I tried the Sony 5600p that I started to think of the JVC 7700s as noisy. The IQ from the Sony was so much cleaner with less grain/noise. I still regard the 7700 as a good VCR, its just that the 5600p beat the hell out of it on bad VHS tapes. As mentioned, on good VHS tapes the difference between the to was not that big.

I also see that you, and a lot of others, don't like the Blackmagic Intensity shuttle. I kind of do the same to because I have had loads of troubles with it. (Some I have not mentioned here). But the thing is, with the Sony 5600p it seems to work perfectly. Unless though, you can lead me on to find errors I might not have discovered myself.

Last edited by babanan; 05-27-2020 at 08:37 AM.
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05-27-2020, 08:33 AM
babanan babanan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I'm a bit surprised the JVC HR-J658 was noisy...
I think the one I used was old and heavily used. I cleaned the video-head but it still was bad.
The audio was terrible. Maybe it was defect?

The LG wasn't to bad, but the color-saturation was vivid to say the least. That definitely set it apart from the other 3 VCRs, and I couldn't find a way to turn the levels down. I could do that in the Intensity though, but id rather do it in the source.

If I get the time (between work and 3 kids) I will try to make a comparison-video between the 4 VCRs for you to see. I have loads of digitized VHS-material from all of them. With both good and bad VHS tapes, using different cables (HDMI/S-video/component) and with different A/D-converters.

What you will see in this video is quite big differences in colors, noise, white-clipping, image-clarity and audio-hum between the VCRs. Further, it will show how bad the DV-codec is for VHS compared to ProResHQ. I know the theory behind the DV-codec and its flaws, but I didn't expect it to be as visible as it actually turned out to be.
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