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  #1  
09-24-2009, 11:26 PM
thetoof thetoof is offline
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Hi,

I'm starting a small VHS-DVD/other business to put my avs knowledge to good use, but I'm utterly clueless when it comes to capture hardware.
I have used an old VHS player and the WinfastTV PVR card for a little while, but correcting the major problem such a crappy setup introduces is taking a LOT of time in avisynth (especially noise and luma mess-up)

So, a few questions here:
What would be your recommended models (complete setup as I'm starting from scratch here) for
1 - Optimal quality?
2 - Best quality/price ratio?
3 - Cheap solution?

About TBC, I've been using various avisynth stabilization filters which work quite well... but would a TBC be necessary when going for professionnal conversions? I may be underestimating what it does.

Last thing: is VHS+capture card really the best way to go or other solutions using firewire and whatnot would be worth considering?

If you prefer this discussion to be moved to the forum, that's all good to me and thanks for your time.


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  #2  
09-25-2009, 01:43 AM
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The first thing to realize about going into business is that what you do for yourself doesn't always work for a business. Your experience as a hobbyist will be severely tested when you experience tapes and videos owned/created by others. What you expect and what you get won't be the same. AVISynth knowledge alone will only be minimally useful.

The VCR is the most important piece, followed by a TBC, followed by other optional as-needed gear (and you WILL NEED IT for projects!!), and finally a high-end capturing device. Most consumer stuff will not work for you. For a pro job, you'll need pro or broadcast-grade gear.

For something of this magnitude, essentially being a personal business consultant -- and to give the best answer for your EXACT situation -- I'll need to know more. We'll have some back-and-forth conversation to get you setup. No generic advice, advice just for you.

After registering for the forum, sign up as a Premium Member, and then we'll walk you through the knowledge you'll need, and get your prepared for your new business.

After that's done, reply here, and tell me what sort of projects you either expect, will accept, or hope to work on. That's almost more important than the questions you asked. We'll get back to those after knowing more.

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  #3  
09-26-2009, 01:05 PM
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All done.

These are my actual clients (been doing stuff for free to learn, but now I'm switching to small business):
- Teachers who have been using VHS for years as learning material, meaning overused and damaged tapes (few seconds of blank here and there during playback, tearing at the top combined with heavy audio noise). Most of them are NTSC TV personal recordings. There are some rare commercial ones with no DVD available.
- Relatives with video camera recordings or personal NTSC TV recordings.

I'm looking into this as a complementary source of revenue as I am a university student... getting tired of underpaid partial time jobs.

Read about it, played with it, excellent avs scripter, but as you said, I'm basically entering new grounds here.
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  #4  
09-30-2009, 08:12 AM
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What sort of budget do you have?
Give both an ideal/hopeful budget, as well as the maximum budget you could possibly spend.

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  #5  
09-30-2009, 11:25 AM
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Ideally I'd be going for around 500-650$, though it wouldn't be too bad to go a little beyond a grand if it's really worth it. 1500 would be too much though, at least for now.
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  #6  
09-30-2009, 11:35 AM
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Even if it is out of my league for now, I'm still interested in knowing what an amazing setting would be (even if that's going beyond my current max).
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  #7  
10-04-2009, 09:20 AM
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What is your current line-up of hardware and software? Include any versions or models, please.

That should give me all the info I need to know, to assemble a "shopping list" or "wish list" for approaching the tasks and projects ahead of you.

Thanks.

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  #8  
10-04-2009, 11:27 AM
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VHS: wvcr-67003
Capture card: Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP
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  #9  
10-04-2009, 02:43 PM
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What about software?

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  #10  
10-04-2009, 03:14 PM
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Oh, right, sorry.
Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP's capture software (to uncompressed YUY2 720x480 29.97fps & mono wav) and then avs and vdub to edit and post-process. Sometimes Cool Edit Pro 2 for audio noise. TMPG for DVD encode.
Utterly basic and amateurish for hardware, capture and audio processing.
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  #11  
10-13-2009, 12:07 PM
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So, any news about all this?
I'm basically looking for something good for the VHS to computer transfer.

Thanks.
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  #12  
10-15-2009, 05:07 PM
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Working on an answer for you. Forthcoming soon.

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  #13  
10-15-2009, 05:59 PM
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Great. Thanks.
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  #14  
10-17-2009, 02:47 PM
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One more thing...
What are the specs of your current computer? (Or computers, if more than one.)

Assembling a list of suggested items is easy.
Assembling a list of suggested items WITHIN A BUDGET takes a little more finesse and decision making.

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  #15  
10-17-2009, 07:52 PM
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CPU - Q6600-2.4/8M/1066
MB - P5K-DX/WF, ITL P35/ICH9R, S775, 3PCI, 2PCI-EX, 4 DDR2, A+L, 1333FSB, PCI EXPRESS
GPU - BFG PC8800GTS 320 MB DDR3 TV+DVI
TV-Card - Leadtek Winfast TV2000XP
RAM - PC2-3400 DDR2 Titanium XTC Dual Channel OCZ2T800C44GK (4GB total)
Pwr supply - Antec TruePower Trio 650 Watt
2x Dual layer DVD burner
3x1TB WD10EADS + 500GB, all S-ATA
Logitech Z-5500 Digital
Acer AL2416W

Sure, thanks for your time. Ignorance lead to mis-evaluation of the request.
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  #16  
10-18-2009, 08:39 PM
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Alright, let's start at the beginning.

The first thing a tape sees is a VCR. So from that, you need the best VCR you can get. You need one that can reliably play the most tapes, as well as filter the signal. The output from the professional VCR should look better than the consumer VCR. On a consumer VCR, you can often tell it's a VHS tape playing. On a pro VCR, you're often hard pressed to see if the signal is coming off cable or from a tape -- it's that clean and clear.

Now then, the problem is not all VCRs act the same with all tapes, so you often need at least 2-3 VCR decks. The best all-around deck to own is probably the JVC 7000, 9000 or SR series, latter gen models. Some of that is already covered on this forum (and copied onto another forum by the writer). See http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/show...uide-1567.html


.... Have to step away, will come back and add to this thread again soon....

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  #17  
10-19-2009, 02:58 AM
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Alright.

However, since I can do most (if not all) the "cleaning" (denoising, chroma shift correction, dehaloing, interfering frequencies removal, levels ajustments, color correction, detail enhancement and so forth; I can upload images to show what I mean) with avs, wouldn't the most important part be about what can't be corrected later on by software? i.e. tearing, white streaks, dropped frames (or the VCR does all that anyways...?)

Though I'm always looking for ways to reduce the time taken by the correction, I'm wondering if the extra bucks are really worth it. In other words, is the correction applied good enough - no detail loss, almost no further ajustments needed, etc, etc.

I have not yet been introduced to good hardware correction since I've done everything by software (since I mostly corrected DVD and DV up to now), so I tend to doubt it more than I should.

This correction (http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/show...erted-315.html) looks very good, but I'm confident I can do it with avs (though by spending some time tweaking and testing...).
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  #18  
10-21-2009, 07:20 AM
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Nope. While there are definitely several ways to filter video and audio, the best methods generally come from up-front hardware. Some errors can ONLY be corrected up front with hardware. Others can only be done in software. In most cases, it takes a mix of hardware AND software to effectively "professionally" clean up video and audio.

Knowing AVI Synth is useful, but it is definitely not the end-all/be-all as a number of rabid scripers tend to portray it (as found in various video forums online, hobby sites). Note that I don't refer to you here, but to things you've probably read online, touting (over-touting) the miracles of AVI Synth. Great software, but sometimes fans can be tunnel-visioned a bit. Apple Macintosh, anybody?

As an example, chroma noise is best dealt with in hardware. Once the signal is digitized with the chroma noise intact, software can only reduce it, often with blurs as a side effect. Hardware can remove it 100% in most cases.

The signal needs to be tracked, stabilized and timebase corrected in professional/broadcast hardware -- in the VCR. No software can replace this.

Going back to the last post I made, the JVC series is generally the best machine for cleaning up the visual quality, and stabilizing the signal. In the cases where it fails, it's usually tracking related, in which case a Panasonic AG-1980P would be a great machine to have on-hand. Maybe an AG-1970P as a second choice Panasonic. These don't work the same way as the JVCs do -- which is good in some ways, and bad in others. For example, good in how precise it can track an aged SLP mode tape, but bad in how it can compress the color palette or blur temporally.

Ideally you'd want 2-3 VCRs, but on a budget, you have to pick more selectively. If you plan to mostly have tapes made in home movie cameras, then the JVC would be my pick. If, however, you're planing to work on a lot of EP/SLP tapes, made in all kinds of different VCRs, then I'd opt for the Panasonic.

A good VCR will eliminate tearing (embedded line TBC), not have streaks (clean professional-grade heads), and reduce dropped frames. To eliminate dropped frames, you need a full-frame external TBC after the VCR.

In many cases, a good VCR, TBC and proc amp entirely reduce the need to process further (for the VIDEO!) in software. Audio is another story. Even with a decent audio board ($200-ish) pre-processing incoming audio to de-hiss and fix EQ, software is often still needed. VHS tapes loved to soak up hiss, buzz and hum. SoundForge is an ideal tool for this, but the freeware Audacity and low-cost Goldwave can do a number of decent filterings for you.

Your computer is quite good. Capturing to HuffYUV with your Leadtek card should be fine. Capturing using VirtualDub, I assume?

TMPGEnc Plus has some good filters for video, VirtualDUb does too, as does AVI Synth. With those 3 programs, there's not much filtering-wise that you can't do. In fact, it pretty much exceeds professional tools like Premiere and Vegas, for filters. NLEs just were not desired to clean up some of the mess that we come across. Hobby software, however, is.

I've already mentioned audio software. Unlike video, pro audio software is often designed with clean-up in mind. Sony SoundForge and DiamondCut Live Forensics are great programs, albeit pricey. Audacity and Goldwave are the intro versions, and are still quite good.

The VCR is going to eat up half of your budget ($250-300). Full TBC, such as the AVT-8710 ($200) or used DataVideo TBC-1000, will eat up most of what's left. After that, you may have $100 left to spread around on a used proc amp, and Goldwave.

With that small selection of tools, you'll be ahead of where you are now -- a serious video person. But I'd still consider it "hobby level" -- advanced hobby level, but still not professional.

I actually have a like-new JVC HR-S7900 that I plan to sell soon. If interested, private message me, or e-mail me.

At a future date, when you want to upgrade, a broadcast grade proc amp would be good -- either an Elite Video BVP-4 Plus (BVP4+) or a SignVideo PA-100.

Closer to professional would be owning several VCRs to always test which gives the best signal output quality.

Audio boards are good too, stereo in and out, with at least 3-4 EQ's minimum, if not 7-10 or more. Really work to clean up and pre-process the audio before it's committed to digital -- noise, bad levels and all. Having those in the loop would definitely be professional -- that's above most hobby setups for sure.

There's also PAL to consider. Also Betamax, streaming video, 8mm, Hi8, DV, D8, Betacam, Digital Betacam --- you'll find yourself hit up by a lot of requests beyond NTSC VHS tapes, if you plan to open for business.

I'm in no way trying to discourage you -- just preparing you.

This thread here -- http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/show...erted-315.html -- refers to the "error" that isn't really an error. The video was already pre-cleaned in hardware before any of those images were made. The original video's timebase could not be fixed in software. TBC-like AVI Synth filtering is just not possible. The thread you see is just showing overscan. The proc amp adjustments shown at the bottom of the first post can sometimes be repeated in software, but sometimes not.

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  #19  
10-21-2009, 01:44 PM
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Great, thanks. I know about the other transfers I may come across when opening for business, but I'm not ready yet to invest in the required equipment, since my actual clients only need NTSC VHS transfer. I'll most probably pass by later on for this.

From what I read somewhere (can't recall exactly where), a line TBC is preferred to a full-frame TBC, which is what the Panasonic one has. What about it?

I was unable to find either TBC (or proc amp) you mentionned at a decent price (except on signvideo's website, is it really worth 450$?); would you have any good place to refer me to? I know some have been sold in this forum... but it seems like none remains.

Capturing using VirtualDub, I assume? No, actually I have used Leadtek's capture software. Will most probably switch to vdub. Any reason for using HuffYUV instead of Lagarith?

Question about AR, probably noobish:
This made me wonder about the discrepancies between capture cards; is it the same with VHS and VCR? If yes, what can be done?
Actually, most importantly, does all this really matter??

The assistance so far is greatly appreciated.
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  #20  
10-22-2009, 01:19 PM
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The full-frame TBC in the Panasonic AG-1980P acts like a line TBC, in terms of how it cleans the visual image similar to what is done in VCRs from JVC, Mitsubishi and others in the higher-end S-VHS class machines.

Be careful what you read online. Remember that what you're reading is often limited by the knowledge of the writer. I'm surely not immune to this, but I do take care in avoiding misinformation, by doing research and making corrections when needed.

Doom9 has some interesting information, and there are a number of knowledgeable people who write at that site, be it in articles or at the forum. But they are known for getting carried away by numbers and details that many (most?) videographers find unimportant. In some cases, it's simply an issue of theory vs practice.

Yes, chipsets vary. No, they don't vary so much as to panic and have to break out a pixel-length ruler every time you make a new video.

The worries about slight geometry distortions in the capture are rather pointless when you consider the geometry issues of the VCR output or the original cameras that made the video. The same is true of IRE levels, resolution and so many other factors. It's easy to get lost in the math, if you analyze video by the numbers. The old saying of "you gain 10 pounds on TV" is a reference to the geometry distortion that can happen before you even have a chance to record the video. Grandma won't notice if her video of Johnny eating peas at 5 years old is distorted by 8 extra pixels on her cheap Walmart TV (which she probably keeps on 16:9 at all times, even on 4:3 content).

Keep everything in perspective. Do your job at cleaning the video at a professional level, but don't overdo it or over-think it. Chroma noise, grain, audio hiss -- those are the enemy -- not an possible AR issue of less than 1%. The only folks who really need to worry about that level of detail are working for large studios. Of course, it's not a real issue for them either -- they're not converting VHS tapes!!

Ken Rockwell, a somewhat well-known professional photographer -- at least to other pro photographers and serious hobbyists -- uses the term "measurebating" to describe this phenomena surrounding digital numbers. At some point in the past 5 or so years, video and photo has moved from visual emphasis to number-based emphasis. People look at megapixels instead of glass quality, or video resolution and theoretical engineering math instead of the video itself. It's a huge mistake, one made almost completely by Joe Consumer and newbies -- or stubborn hobbyists and pros.

Sometimes they just get it wrong. For example, the assertion that "no filter can fix this" on the Doom9 guide concerning chroma noise top-of-screen flickers. True, there is no "remove this specific chroma noise perfectly" filter, but a mix of hardware filtering (be it VCR w/TBC, or LSI-based DVD recording -- or both!), followed by a chain of VirtualDub temporal and chroma noise filters, can surely make it fade more into the background where you don't even notice it. I hate this particular error -- probably my MOST hated error -- and I find myself filtering it several time a year, often with great results for either myself or our clients.

Lagarith may be fine, but HuffYUV works better in terms of decoding speed (especially on single-core CPUs). it's a "lossless" codec, great for capturing or as an intermediary step during a long editing/restoration workflow.

I don't have any leads on good proc amps right now. New, the SignVideo unit is worth $450, sure. It used to be $300-350, but inflation is kicking our butts these days. You may be able to find a used Elite Video BVP4+ in the $300-400 range in good condition, and I'd opt for that one over the SignVideo. It really depends on availability (eBay and Craigslist, mostly), and whether you like new or used (personal preference).

One of the best things I ever did for myself, some years and years ago at this point, was to subscribe to industry magazines, such as DV, VideoMaker, Broadcast Engineering, and others. While these won't help much on VHS to DVD in 2009, they do shed light on basic theory, often in articles where this theory is applied to current trends. Right now, it's all about HD shooting and HD workflows, as well as web streaming conversions. After you start to read some of these things, you'll begin to realize how clueless and off-base various bloggers and forum users can be, on these topics.

I mention a lot of this because wanting to be professional means you need to learn to discern between teenagers and amateurs braindumping to the Web, and factual information -- and where they agree, disagree, or share a gray area. In some ways, also understand that video is more like voodoo than anything else, with several ways to get to your goal, so be wary of those who insist "this is the only way it can be done". Being familiar with AVI Synth, I have no doubt you've come across these folks.

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