Quantcast Capture codecs, bit depth, and software? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
08-12-2020, 10:11 AM
Lee B Lee B is offline
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OK, I've finally got my S-VHS rig ordered and will soon be ready to capture.

Originally I was going to get the Pinnacle 710-USB capture device (thread here), but in the end I opted for the cheaper Hauppage USB-Live2 (which I have now ordered) which gives me the extra money to buy a frame TBC (which Lord Smurf has very kindly supplied me with). I also have a Panasonic MR-ES15 line TBC.

So now I just have a few questions about codecs and software… If anyone has any thoughts on any of these, please let me know.

1. Software
I'm planning to use VirtualDub to capture, is that recommended, or should I stick to Hauppauge's bundled software?

2. Bit depth
I would love to capture in 10 bit or higher (for vastly better color correcting results). I'm sure that will not be possible but thought I would ask if there's any way?

3. Capture video codec
Which is better for lossless capture: Lagarith or Huffyuv? By 'better' I mean reliable/efficient. File size is irrelevant as I won't be keeping the lossless files.

4. Capture audio codec
Same question again for capturing lossless audio? I love FLAC and always use that, but not sure if it's best with video?

5. Final render codec
While I will be keeping the audio lossless, I'm not planning on keeping the video lossless as the files will come to about 5tb and that's too big. I'm therefore planning to convert the video to a very high quality codec. I was thinking Grass Valley HQX, but I've also considered Cineform or H.265. Any thoughts?

Compatibility with current technology isn't particularly important to me, but what does matter is having a very high quality format that will last long into the future, for my posterity to be able to watch. This makes me wonder if H.265 would be best?
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  #2  
08-12-2020, 01:26 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Use vdub, AmarecTV or CaptureFlux not the supplied software.
Your capture device's ADC may not support 10bit.
I use HuffYUV just a personal preference.
FLAC? If size doesn't matter as you said why don't you just capture in PCM 48/16 (or 24bit if the card supports it).
H.264 can have audio compatibility issues for anything over 192Kbps. If you want future proof strategy keep the lossless files and encode to whatever future format might be.
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  #3  
08-12-2020, 01:42 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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Very high quality ? we're talking about VHS ? and audio if these tapes have a HiFi stereo track,(if it's analog audio/linear track, you can't do much about that anyway) then that's the least of your problem, just try something, what suits you best with your hardware, the different options will put more or less strain on your hardware you've got, a codec like h.265 will not add extra quality, only smaller files, for your end result.
Some hardware (CPU/GPU) support h.265 already so it doesn't put strain on your OS
FLAC audio codec is a complete waste of time for VHS sound, and makes your files only big in the end, you can check audio quality with a spectrum analyzer, you will notice that quality does not come above 16KHz, most recordings will even be much lower, so forget FLAC, and do some basic research first, that saves you money and time for your captures
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  #4  
08-12-2020, 05:23 PM
traal traal is offline
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HuffYUV uses less CPU than Lagarith so it will be less likely to drop frames with slower CPUs.

VHS Hi-Fi audio goes up to around 20-22+ kHz, so 48 kHz is an appropriate sample rate. Just capture to uncompressed PCM to avoid taxing the CPU.

For the final render codec, keep it lossless (perhaps ffv1 422p) so you can easily rerender to the codec of the day (H.265, VP9, etc.) without making the quality worse. I also like to keep the original capture files (an 8TB drive is $130 so a 30GB capture file costs about 49 cents) and VirtualDub's .vdscript file.
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  #5  
08-14-2020, 08:01 AM
Lee B Lee B is offline
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Thanks for the answers, guys.

I'm definitely going to stick with Vdub + HuffYUV, based on your answers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
If you want future proof strategy keep the lossless files and encode to whatever future format might be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by traal View Post
For the final render codec, keep it lossless (perhaps ffv1 422p) so you can easily rerender to the codec of the day
Thanks guys, but that's not the kind of future-proofing I want. I'm not interested in compatibility within my own lifetime. What I'm looking for is a format people can work with long after I'm dead! (As a Christian, I believe I'm going to be resurrected at some point in the future so I'll want to access my videos hundreds of years from now.)

By the way, I assume '422p' is some quality setting, not picture resolution!

Audio

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
FLAC? If size doesn't matter as you said why don't you just capture in PCM 48/16 (or 24bit if the card supports it).
You're right, FLAC just adds unnecessary CPU demand. I'll just capture it as PCM and compress it later, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
H.264 can have audio compatibility issues for anything over 192Kbps
That's interesting. I assumed video and audio would be totally independent. But you're saying I can't just pair up any video with any audio?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-Jan View Post
FLAC audio codec is a complete waste of time for VHS sound, and makes your files only big in the end
Fair point. FLAC will be about 60gb total for all my videos, which may be pointless if the original audio is poor. I'll have a listen to the quality of the PCM and decide whether lossy compression may be better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-Jan View Post
Very high quality ? we're talking about VHS ?
To clarify, I didn't mean a great looking image, I meant a very good reproduction of the original source, including the tiniest speckles of noise, and details beyond visible perception.
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  #6  
08-14-2020, 08:47 PM
traal traal is offline
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If you want details beyond visible perception, then you'll need to go lossless, because lossy formats such as H.264 achieve their high compression ratios by removing details beyond visible perception.
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  #7  
08-14-2020, 11:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee B View Post
1. Software
I'm planning to use VirtualDub to capture, is that recommended, or should I stick to Hauppauge's bundled software?
Yes, VirtualDub.
No, not WinTV, or any other bundled junk included.

Quote:
2. Bit depth
I would love to capture in 10 bit or higher (for vastly better color correcting results). I'm sure that will not be possible but thought I would ask if there's any way?
Consumer analogs like VHS, Video8, Hi8, Betamax -- and semi-pro S-VHS -- all have a near equivalent of 6-bit dithered color. 8-bit is fine. 10-bit and higher does nothing but bloats files with zero quality gain. This is one of those dumb things that you see these days, not much different from wanting 1080p or even 4K for VHS.

Quote:
3. Capture video codec
Which is better for lossless capture: Lagarith or Huffyuv? By 'better' I mean reliable/efficient. File size is irrelevant as I won't be keeping the lossless files.
Lagarith requires more CPU. So Huffyuv is more stable.

Quote:
4. Capture audio codec
Same question again for capturing lossless audio? I love FLAC and always use that, but not sure if it's best with video?
Just capture PCM, no compression., not even lossless.

Quote:
5. Final render codec
While I will be keeping the audio lossless, I'm not planning on keeping the video lossless as the files will come to about 5tb and that's too big. I'm therefore planning to convert the video to a very high quality codec.
Broadcast birate MPEG2 @ 4:2:2 for video, low GOP, with high bitrate AC3 (Dolby).

Quote:
I was thinking Grass Valley HQX, but I've also considered Cineform or H.265. Any thoughts?
Compatibility with current technology isn't particularly important to me, but what does matter is having a very high quality format that will last long into the future, for my posterity to be able to watch. This makes me wonder if H.265 would be best?
I'd strongly suggested against something proprietary like HQX or whatever; I already dealth with that PITA at my studio gig some years ago, funky nuisance now-unsupported formats. Back then, I hated Flash, but they insisted on FLV streams in addition to the MP4 -- what a waste of time (and their money).

I firmly believe that H.265 is a failed format, and will forever be relegated to niche usage. Divx/Xvid was superior to MPEG-2 in some ways, but where is now? Gone. MPEG had a delicate balance of compression time, decompression power, etc -- something that was improved on with H.264. But H.265 doesn't have that balance, it's beast of CPU requirements. H.265 is HEVC, aka High Efficiency Video Codec/Coding, but in a grander picture it's really not efficient whatsoever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-Jan View Post
FLAC audio codec is a complete waste of time for VHS sound, and makes your files only big in the end
My bigger concern is compatibility on decode/playback and muxing options. Lossless audio is really not in use whatsoever in video. Either do PCM uncompressed, or go high bitrate "lossy" (but no really lssy at all at reasonably high bitrates).

Quote:
Originally Posted by traal View Post
For the final render codec, keep it lossless (perhaps ffv1 422p)
I don't much care for FFV1, but 4:2:2 is an important aspect to keep, and I'm glad to see that others are taking heed of this. It's the 4:2:0 compressed (or worse 4:1:1) that really tanks quality of master files. For compressed viewing, great, 4:2:0 all the way. But not archives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee B View Post
Thanks guys, but that's not the kind of future-proofing I want. I'm not interested in compatibility within my own lifetime. What I'm looking for is a format people can work with long after I'm dead!
Then you need to stick to mainline formats. Currently, that means either MPEG-2 or H.264, and nothing else. No frilly offbeat formats, nothing that "may" catch on (aka "the next big thing!"). Follow the majority to have something that most people are willing to still develop legacy products for. As analogy, make vinyl records, not sound cones or reel-to-reels.

Quote:
By the way, I assume '422p' is some quality setting, not picture resolution!
4:2:2

Quote:
That's interesting. I assumed video and audio would be totally independent. But you're saying I can't just pair up any video with any audio?
Correct, must be muxable (multiplex-able).

Quote:
Originally Posted by traal View Post
If you want details beyond visible perception, then you'll need to go lossless, because lossy formats such as H.264 achieve their high compression ratios by removing details beyond visible perception.
Everything from remove, to complete cover in a blur (lack of bitrate).

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  #8  
08-15-2020, 12:28 AM
Lee B Lee B is offline
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Wow, that is why you're the "Lord"!

Stunning answer! I've learned so much! So glad I asked these questions now!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Consumer analogs like VHS, Video8, Hi8, Betamax -- and semi-pro S-VHS -- all have a near equivalent of 6-bit dithered color.
Gosh! I had no idea this was the case! I've always just assumed that analog = continuous. Starting to realise how little I know about video!

And "H.265 inferior to H.264"!? There was I, foolishly thinking that 265 was "one better" because it's a higher number! Thanks so much for the warning sir!

I just have one more question…

When I was digging out my tapes recently I was pleasantly surprised to find that the quality still looked good, in fact, better than I remembered.

But I found one tape that seemed completely blank. Nothing on it but noise. It was labeled as having home movies on it, but I guess it's possible the tape was misplaced or mis-labeled, or even somehow recorded over.

But what I'd like to know is… is there any possibility that while all my tapes aged well, this one tape has somehow massively degraded to the point that it seems to be blank? Is that even possible?
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  #9  
08-15-2020, 12:42 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Lagarith: I have a 10 year-old i5 750 (12gb of RAM) and have just captured 50 hours of VHS through an ES-15 and didn't drop one frame. CPU was never more than 35% and averaged about 25% with 197 processes running under Windows 10. I don't think dropped frames due to slow CPUs are an issue these days.
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  #10  
08-15-2020, 12:44 AM
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On the topic of bit depth...
If you want to read the tech details on color-under: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterodyne
And that's a brief version.
Which explains why the digital "bit" equivalent is so low. Essentially, color bandwidth is compressed and truncated. That's why it's sub-8bit (but with posterization, so 6-bit dithered). And why 4:2:0 is acceptable (though it does compress more). Note that s-video vs. composite also has some affect on color, but also noting that excess negativity is usually a statement on the device and not the carrier itself.

Memory betrays us. You never know if it was labeled with the intention of being used (and never was), or something else that resulted in a blank video.

Natural degaussing is unlikely, but it may have been subjected to a strong magnetic field in past decades. For example, right next to a speaker, for an extended time (years). What you must always do is list possible hypothesis, NEVER jump to conclusions (as that's how myths start), and then test those hypothesis (aka the scientific method). Stuff like "tape fade" is nonsense, not scientific whatsoever, but is still often parroted online.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
Lagarith: I have a 10 year-old i5 750 (12gb of RAM) and have just captured 50 hours of VHS through an ES-15 and didn't drop one frame. CPU was never more than 35% and averaged about 25% with 197 processes running under Windows 10. I don't think dropped frames due to slow CPUs are an issue these days.
My tablet drops frames on Lagarith. It's an i7 fanless. Not that I capture to my tablet at all, but I do use it for Win10 card testing. Note that it's not your average tablet. IPS matte, Wacom, etc. Not many tablets cost $1k+

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  #11  
08-16-2020, 07:51 AM
Lee B Lee B is offline
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Thanks again for all the info.

Color-under is over my head, but I'll take your word for it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Natural degaussing is unlikely, but it may have been subjected to a strong magnetic field in past decades.
No, all my tapes have always been kept stacked together (vertically) in plastic containers, so if one had been near a strong magnetic field, they all would have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
You never know if it was labeled with the intention of being used (and never was)
That's a good hypothesis, I hadn't thought of that! :-)


Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Stuff like "tape fade" is nonsense, not scientific whatsoever, but is still often parroted online.
Gosh, I had no idea that was a myth. I can't tell you how many times I've seen TV shows and articles talking about the phenomenon!

A quick Google search led me to this:
https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/201...-deteriorating

Which led to this:
https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub54/2what_wrong/

Presumably, these kind of articles make you cringe?
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  #12  
08-16-2020, 08:32 PM
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The nonsense term "tape fade" doesn't appear in either link. That's the asinine idea that the image "fades" or otherwise "degrades" (less sharp, color loss, etc), which is not possible. The signal is either there, or it isn't. The quality is 100% about the VCR and transfer method being used. In other words, "tape fade" is user error, the person is using cheap garbage hardware.

However, the Refinery29 article refers to the bogus date range of "15-20 years" for degradation. The actual range is 35-65 years, which is why we're starting to see more and more early 80s tapes have issues. That article author has credits for all sorts of random nonsense, and is extremely likely not qualified to write on this topic.

The NPR article quotes a person who has fear without merit, nor a scientific basis in fact.

That Refinery29 article further also leads to a CNET article giving horrible transfer advice. The entire Refinery29 article appears to be a sham "article" meant to drive visitors to the single transfer business mentioned at the bottom.

Be smarter.

I'd bet most of those people will have zero understanding of basic concepts like overscan.

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  #13  
08-17-2020, 05:50 AM
Lee B Lee B is offline
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Thanks for the clarification. In a world so full of misinformation and clueless 'experts', I'm glad I found you!
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