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  #1  
03-30-2021, 08:45 AM
vhsgrex vhsgrex is offline
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I'm working on an unusual art project and ran into a puzzling problem for any VHS/RCA buff out there:

- I want to record a digital HDMI signal onto VHS (weird, I know! bear with me!) -- more on the signal flow below

- When I record the signal using a VCR, I only get a black-and-white recording

- But when the signal just passes through from source to the VCR to a TV, it's in color

- When I play back any old VHS tape on the same VCR using the same RCA cables, the playback on the TV is in color too (meaning: it can't be the cable connection between the VCR and the TV)

- I have tried this on 3 separate VCRs; all produce the same problem. The VCRs only have composite (yellow-red-white) inputs/outputs; they are regular American NTSC VCRs (2x Sony, 1x Toshiba)

Any advice on what could cause recording to be in black-and-white ... while the pass-through is in color?


Signal Flow:

1. The HDMI comes from a Mac; I'm downscaling it to 480i59.97 using a Decimator MD-MX

(I have tried downscaling to other resolutions like 480p59.97, 720i, etc - same black-and-white recording problem)

2. The downscaled HDMI goes into a HDMI->RCA converter. I've tried both of these:
- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QB8JV8V/
- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TWPXH9C/

3. From the RCA converter, it goes into the VCR via regular composite cables

4. Another RCA cable goes from the Video OUT of the VCR to a TV with RCA inputs

5. When all connected, a color picture + sound correctly flows from the Mac to the TV. When I record and then play back the recording from the same VCR with the same cable connections, the playback works ... but the recording is in black and white.

Any thoughts on what might cause this? I'm so baffled, and curious!
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  #2  
03-30-2021, 12:15 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Have you noticed that there is a switch on the box labeled NTSC-PAL?
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  #3  
03-30-2021, 12:31 PM
vhsgrex vhsgrex is offline
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Yes, thank you for the suggestion -- there is a switch on both converter boxes, but neither makes a difference (in one case, the picture becomes distorted on the PAL setting, as to be expected; in the other case, it doesn't change the pass-through picture at all - but the recording is black-and-white either way)
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03-30-2021, 12:41 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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I don't know about those cheap boxes but I used Aja, BM and Gefen and never had a problem, I just make sure when I record 480i/60 I set my VCR to NTSC and when I record 576i/50 I set my VCR to PAL. If you have sources at 480i/50 fps that could be a problem. I use a media player that converts everything to PAL or NTSC on the fly so no 480i/50. Check your video source.

Before the media player I've also used this with my laptop HDMI output and has all the standard conversion options, but didn't like the fact that my laptop graphic card leaves black borders on all 4 sides when playing back videos in full screen, so switched to a HDD media player instead.
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