Quantcast How to identify these VHS artifacts? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
11-15-2020, 11:44 AM
Gillman Gillman is offline
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Hello,

I'm digitizing some old VHS tapes for a friend, and need a little help. Some of these tapes are over 30 years old, and a couple have some nasty artifacts. I doubt either of these tapes is an original, and who knows how many generations they are removed from the master. Here are links to the clips:

Clip 1
Clip 2

What I'd like to know is the following:
  • Do the artifacts have a commonly accepted name?
  • What might have caused the artifacts?
  • Is there any hope for restoration?
Thanks in advance for any help. I really appreciate it!

Gillman
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  #2  
11-15-2020, 03:03 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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It could be the tape itself mechanically faulty (bad rollers, bad tape), Recorded that way from a defective VCR or a combination of the above, If tape related a good VCR may play it better assuming you have a low end VCR since you havn't mentioned what hardware you are using which is necessary every time you want to facilitate and expedite other members' help.
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  #3  
11-15-2020, 04:44 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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During the tape recording there where some sync issues is my guess, and will look on any vcr the same, not any hope on quality inprovement, then you now see, i'm afraid.... you're in luck capturing did not stop.
You could try with a search on youtube or other platform, if there are better recordings of it with info you supply of that sport event.
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  #4  
11-16-2020, 02:22 AM
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Youtube has so overly compressed the video that I really can't see what's going on there.
All I see if bad video.

Nevertheless, in most cases, this is due to: bad VCR, bad capture card. Tapes are really not at fault as often as the equipment in the workflow is bad.

What gear are you using?

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  #5  
11-16-2020, 03:35 AM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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My guess about the sync issues, is because of that these issues are recorded into the tape recording, so there they where recorded with the generation of the next copy procedure, and yes, this low resolution video has been downgraded even more by youtube, you should first try play the tape(s) in question on an other vcr, but in short: the quality you're now looking at, will be the quality you get archived in digital format, and should not be watched on a big screen anyway.
Any other topnotch video capture card will not make this material any better, you will also run into audio sync issues, when/if sync of the video is interrupted/bad, to overcome audio sync issues, you could use a so called DV transfer box, this will transfer the video from the vcr by Firewire, with the correct settings on this box, audio will stay in sync is my experience with some bad tapes, the "box" i used was the ADVC100 from Canopus, the model i have, also could overcome Macrovision through a special button procedure, this feature will also help in case of the audio sync issue.
What you aslo could try, is to get hold of a DVD-recorder from the thrift-store, these are mostly available for a few dollars/euros, you connect the vcr to record it and make a dvd of it, so you can play it in a Bluray/DVD player, and is worth a try for that money, but dont expect too much with the source material you've got.

btw. any VCR or DVD recorder offered on eBay is way too exspensive, and you also have a risc to buy a dud, or gets damaged during (a costly) transport.

Last edited by Eric-Jan; 11-16-2020 at 03:57 AM.
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  #6  
11-16-2020, 06:13 PM
Gillman Gillman is offline
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Thanks everyone for your insight. I've tried these tapes on two different VCR's:
  • Sony SLV-798HF
  • Sony SLV-D350P
I'm using an Elgato video capture device to digitize it. The output looks the same on both VCRs.
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  #7  
11-16-2020, 06:36 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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The clips look a lot like what you get when a capture card using conexant chips (like the elgato) does when loosing lock on the video signal.

The solutions have been discussed a number of times on the forum - budget option is to get a panasonic (or newer sony/pioneer) dvr and send the video through it, top quality option is high-end SVHS deck + external TBC.
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  #8  
11-16-2020, 08:33 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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Buying another VCR for this source material ? i think you do not gain much with that, (since you already noticed the same "dirt" on two VCR's) i don't think any Super-VHS VCR will add quality where no quality is, only the TBC function (if present) on such a VCR can slighty bring more stability into the material, most of the "artifacts" which is video dirt, is baked into the recording during the copy de-generations, good external TBC's are rare and expensive, although you can resell such a device later.
Just accept the quality you now have, and archive, you've done your best sofar, any future good source material will be no problem for you next time.

For future projects a DVR/DVD-recorder is always a good investment, always use the RCA connections/cables, (not the SCART) when possible, keep cable lengths short, aprox. 1 meter, when inserting a different tape always check if tracking is optimal before capturing,(check if there's an auto-tracking feature) start capturing a few seconds before the actual moment you want to have captured, so you can clean/precise edit that, what you want to archive.
check if audio levels are good (not to high or low) and even throughout the capture.
Tapes that have been stored for a long time should be at room temperature when handeled, and is best have fully fast forwarded and back, before playing, maybe also check for mould first, when stored in damp or cold surroundings.
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  #9  
11-17-2020, 05:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
Thanks everyone for your insight. I've tried these tapes on two different VCR's:
Sony SLV-798HF, Sony SLV-D350P
I'm using an Elgato video capture device to digitize it. The output looks the same on both VCRs.
Those are just low-end consumer VHS VCRs, quality of output won't be great. Some Sony decks are better than average, but still low-end. (I had a Sony deck, rarely used it, power outage took it some years ago.)

Elgato earned the nickname "Elcrapo". It's a really horrid problematic capture card. A better capture card is required. ATI 600 USB is the usual suggestion here. What OS are you using?

You lack any sort of TBC whatsoever. That will not work. Ideally, you want an actual framesync TBC (TBC-1000, etc), with a JVC/Panasonic S-VHS deck with line TBC. The alternative is a TBC(ish) paired with good VCR (actual good, not a random opinion of what "good" is), generally a non-TBC JVC S-VHS deck. However, in this case, I'd say to go ahead and try the Sony. The ideal TBC(ish) is the DVK+ES10/15, but you can try the minimalist ES10/15 only (however expect a fail rate, as it's NOT actually a TBC, no real frame TBC).

Remember, about gear costs: buy it, use it, resell it. It holds value.

VHS conversion has a recipe. Follow it. VCR > TBC > capture card
Not just any random VCR/TBC/card, but models/items know specifically for quality, problem-free usage.

Always remember to check the marketplace subforum. Don't just run to eBay, and buy a "tested" or "working" (ie, never actual tested or working) item, as sold by a non-video-user knucklehead that wouldn't know the difference between the inside of a VCR and insides of a toaster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
The clips look a lot like what you get when a capture card using conexant chips (like the elgato) does when loosing lock on the video signal.
Not just Conexant, but lots of other crappy chipsets, like eMPIA (not bridge, but capture chipset) and all the reversed-engineered/generic NXP chips.

Quote:
budget option is to get a panasonic (or newer sony/pioneer) dvr and send the video through it,
No. Not just any random model. Specific models. In NTSC, that means ES10/15. PAL is also ES10/15, but adds a few other models, apparently/supposedly a few more brands (Sony).

Quote:
top quality option is high-end SVHS deck + external TBC.
Quoted for emphasis.
If you have lots of tapes, trying budget methods will yield a larger fail rate, add lots of headaches, and time screwing around with making it all work rather than just using it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric-Jan View Post
Buying another VCR for this source material ? i think you do not gain much with that, (since you already noticed the same "dirt" on two VCR's) i don't think any Super-VHS VCR will add quality where no quality is
The main difference in the JVC S-VHS decks (even non-TBC models) and those consumer Sony decks will be the transport, which does heavily affect timing issues. The ES10/15 can correct many, but it cannot easily overcome a truly crappy VCR. That all said, these specific Sony decks he has are worth trying in a budget workflow, if money means more than quality.

Quote:
only the TBC function (if present) on such a VCR can slighty bring more stability into the material
Line/field TBC, and it's often more than just slight. It can be night-and-day quality difference. An unwatchable video becomes both watchable and enjoyable.

Quote:
most of the "artifacts" which is video dirt, is baked into the recording during the copy de-generations,
It really depeds on the exact error, which is judged by samples.

Quote:
good external TBC's are rare and expensive, although you can resell such a device later.
Yep. Buy it, use it, resell it.
External = frame TBC, and only specific models, not just any random TBC.

Quote:
Just accept the quality you now have, and archive, you've done your best sofar, any future good source material will be no problem for you next time.
No, that's bad advice.

Tapes have a 35-65 year lifespan, and we're now into that 35 years. About 15-20 years, companies were scaremongering people for business, spreading myths about media longevity. But now it actually becoming true. I've seen this happen on some my own tapes from the early 80s now, mostly BASF.

And then there's all the wasted time. Just do a good job the first time. Buy what's needed now (as it will only cost more later), use it, then resell it. Project is done.

Quote:
a DVR/DVD-recorder is always a good investment
I don't know about projects, but having a working DVD recorder is useful just to quickly grab something off TV. DVRs/TiVo are too unreliable. Streaming (Netflix, etc) is nice an all, but sometimes I want a copy of something to keep, no retail release exists.

Quote:
Tapes that have been stored for a long time should be at room temperature when handeled,
Yes, very important.

Also run a non-important tape in the VCR, to heat up the heads some, at least 10-20 minutes of playback. I've rewatched (mostly listened to in background) my Pizza Hut X-MEN tapes over and over again, in winter months (like now!) as a warm-up tape. Also Back to the Future, in segments.

Cold heads on any temperature tape can peel off the oxide.

Quote:
and is best have fully fast forwarded and back, before playing,
NO!
DO NOT DO THIS!

As mentioned, tapes are aging. I've come across many tapes now, my own and others, where it's one-and-done attempt. If you FF that video, then it cannot be captured later. It's ruined. You had one chance to play that tapes while it degraded in the deck, and you blew it. It doesn't oxide shed, but it will oxide flake on 1st pass. Those flakes create dropouts on 2nd. Each play results in more flakes, until eventual shed. The flakes are tiny, and you won't really see these in the VCR, which is why head cleaning is abnormally needed after just a few tapes that exhibit oxide flaking.

Quote:
maybe also check for mould first
Always before sticking any tape in a VCR. If the clamshell doesn't have a window, then open the tape clamshell. Never guess, never assume. Verify.

Quote:
when stored in damp or cold surroundings.
Never store in attic, garage, outdoor storage, heat, cold, humid, moist. Tape aging gets accelerated. I do think this is the main reason for those early tapes. I do know that some of my 80s BASF were held by a family member in unknown conditions for years in the 90s, before returning in the 00s.

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  #10  
11-17-2020, 08:17 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Quote:
Streaming (Netflix, etc) is nice an all, but sometimes I want a copy of something to keep, no retail release exists.
A bit off topic but the workflow I use for for this is HDMI out from the PC (typically my laptop, but sometimes the Set Top Box) to an HDMI capture card (I am using a BM Intensity Pro). I capture using BM's MediaExpress, then typically burn to BD and/or transcode to whatever media format I need. While the streaming feed is typically not as good as an original commercial BD disc, it works for my old eyes. It also allows offloading stuff stored on a STB DVR to make space.
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  #11  
11-17-2020, 03:42 PM
Gillman Gillman is offline
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Thanks for all the details.

Quote:
What OS are you using?
I'm using MacOS Mojave.
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  #12  
11-17-2020, 06:31 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
Thanks for all the details.
I'm using MacOS Mojave.
More important is, which MAC are you using ? A macbookpro ? which year ? it will give you options, because the Mac's changed interface wise, USB generations or Thunderbolt generations or PCI for the desktop Mac's
Depending on the hardware of your Mac, you can also upgrade/downgrade the OS for better capture performance, keep also in mind that certain tools/software that are 32bit have no updates for the 64bit MAC OS.

I now have 2 MBP's one with Sierra (32bit) and one with Catalina (64bit) the file systems are also different between these two... some important 32bit software still have no 64bit version or they doo, and the new 64bit versions won't run on the 32bit OS

btw. with good source material i mean good recordings, the tapes themselves are fine when stored properly like i said, Maxell, TDK, etc.. are good brands, BASF ? i only have few of those, but no problems sofar.
Only the unknown brands (SONAR comes to mind) and some pre-recorded tapes show many drop-outs due to bad make/material, and these tapes where stored at room temperature, but degraded over the years
There are/were fake statements about the longevity of the vcr tapes, i have lots/all of my tapes dating from the 80's that are still in good condition, and they will be for more years, i have more fails with CDr's and DVDr's ... most of the time these have thin lable sides and are pulverized because of that

Last edited by Eric-Jan; 11-17-2020 at 07:09 PM.
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  #13  
11-17-2020, 06:52 PM
Gillman Gillman is offline
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It's a 2018 Mac Mini. I still have one or two 32-bit apps I need to migrate, and that's why I haven't moved to Catalina (or Big Sur) yet.

I also have an old Win7 machine ... I guess I could use that in a pinch.
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  #14  
11-17-2020, 07:14 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
It's a 2018 Mac Mini. I still have one or two 32-bit apps I need to migrate, and that's why I haven't moved to Catalina (or Big Sur) yet.

I also have an old Win7 machine ... I guess I could use that in a pinch.
VirtualDub isn't available on Mac, so the Win7 machine would be an advantage for that.
Which 32bit apps do you still need ? I did find many good replacements on the Mac OS that i needed, but not yet for all of them though... great advantage i find the ProRes422 codecs on Mac OS, only notable lossy after several copy generations...
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