Quantcast Dropping Frames on X800AIW Card - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
12-09-2005, 03:29 AM
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Hello. I have problems with dropped frames when digitizing VHS to my hard drive. I use an ATI X800AIW card, Pentium 4 3.0GHz processor, 1GHz RAM and Creative Audigy 2ZS soundcard. I use separate hard drive to record. ATI settings are at your recommended levels (with no Videosoap) for movies. I use WinTasks to limit programs running in the background and disconnect the internet from the computer. I'm still dropping 15-20% of frames. Help! Thanks. JCR
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  #2  
12-09-2005, 03:42 AM
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I think the Creative Audigy 2ZS soundcard is the problem. There are known issues with AUDIGY cards and video capture cards. Something about the way it has to handle the audio is a problem. This is a classic flaw of the Audigy cards. Though I hate to tell people to go spend money, I'm afraid there's no way around this, being a hardware error. Go get any $25-50 audio card, preferably one by Turtle Beach, or a SoundBlaster that is not "Audigy" and see how that works out. Most of the time, that will fix it. Just be sure to buy it from a store that is local, just in case you need to return it, in the unlikely event that this does not correct your audio sync issue.

That's the first plan of attack to address the problem.

The next likely culprit, in case you want to try it first, would be the version of ATI MMC that you've got running. ATI MMC 8.7 and 9.02 were the most stable ones to date. Do you have 9.03, by chance? There are varying flaws in that software, and I believe audio sync has been reported as one of them.

But I honestly think it's the audio card. As soon as I saw the word "Audigy" all the alarms went off.




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  #3  
12-09-2005, 04:46 AM
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Ah, and here we spend a lot of EXTRA money to buy the supposedly better sound card (which I do want to use for highest quality audio-only capture). Well, I guess the one to try is the Turtle Beach Catalina -- but it doesn't have an on-board DSP, which I assume will impact performance.

Complicating matters, I currently have two soundcards installed --the Audigy 2ZS, which I use to record and power my computer speakers, and the Audigy 2NX, which is an external card that I use to connect my computer to my big audio system.

Do I need to remove both (i.e., is the mere presence of the cards, or the Creative software, on my computer a problem), or merely install yet a THIRD audio card (or merely replace the 2ZS and keep the outboard NX)?

If the soundcard changeout doesn't work, I do in fact use MMC 9.03. If you think I should go back to the older 9.02, where do I find it, and what IS the right way to reinstall it over the 9.03? I have some unique glitch with the native AGP (?) video on the motherboard, in that if the ATI card becomes inactivated, I can't see anything on my screen -- so any suggestion as to the way to roll back (if required) to 9.02 without deactivating the ATI card as the video display source would be appreciated.

Thanks. JCR
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  #4  
12-09-2005, 05:30 AM
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I have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz in my main computer. I used to have a SoundBlaster, but the drivers were incompatible with Windows XP and my combo of RAM/CPU. Replaced it when I had to move to XP.

I don't know if it's the mere presence of the Audigy card, or the attempted use of it that causes the issue. For the sake of elimination, it would be best to remove it for now and see if the Turtle Beach card works. If so, and that fixes it, then feel free to try and put the SB card back in, see if it makes a difference.

I've also got a computer that acts badly with AGP video off the motherboard trying to horn in, but I've successfully upgraded and downgraded MMC a few times. It's my test system. I would say to just uninstall MMC, don't reboot if it prompts you, and then move right along with installing the older MMC. I do not think MMC alone will mess around with the graphics card anyway, as we're really not changing any graphics drivers. Just video capture software, and maybe the related video capture drivers. Sometimes ATI MMC acts finicky with being uninstalled or upgraded, but that's really a minority of the time, usually no issue.

As far as high quality audio cards go, I've never been impressed by the quality of SB cards, and Creative has lied to consumers dozens of times, dating back to its earliest cards, regarding specs and quality. They are really not all that super. I think my Turtle Beach recordings sound better than my SB ones did. Prior to the SB card, I had a studio grade card from the early 1990s. The "fancy" cards these days are mostly for output, things like 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, etc., and not so much the input.


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  #5  
12-13-2005, 02:58 AM
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Okay, here is the current status. I've got the Turtle Beach Catalina card installed. I left the two Creative cards still installed as well and tried out recording through the Turtle Beach card.

The first test (with no Videosoap) yielded a dropped rate of around 1% over a five minute period. Wow, a big difference!

My euphoria was tempered, however, with subsequent tests. The dropped rate is all over the board. One test dropped frames at almost a 30% rate. Others dropped 10-12%. Another started in the 12% range, then fell as low as 4% before starting to rise up near 8%.

With heavy, or salt-and-pepper 17%, Videosoap, the dropped rate seems to come in around 30-40%. So, that certainly isn't adequate.

Still using MMC 9.03 at this point. I'm also using SpeedUpMyPC to free up RAM just before starting the recording.

I'm not touching a thing and just watching the dropped frame rates. Why such a large deviation, and how do I get it low, and keep it low. And what is considered an appropriate percentage of dropped frames so as to not affect watching? Thanks. JCR
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  #6  
12-17-2005, 08:09 AM
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I would still say you need to eliminate as many variables as you can. That would insist on the removal of the SoundBlaster cards. At least for the testing, while we try to narrow the list of potential problems.

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  #7  
12-18-2005, 04:21 AM
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Yes, understood. Perhaps I will first try to disable the Creative drivers before physically pulling those two soundcards out of the box.

Also, to add to the list of variables, I've read your recommendations and ordered a new S-VHS player (the JVC HR-S9911U) and the Datavision TBC-1000. I've been using an $80 JVC S-VHS player (a 2000 series unit), which I assume could be contributing to issues. I've also added a new hard drive (the Maxtor II one touch 300Gb, 16Mb cache, 7200 RPM) dedicated just for video. I'll report back.

New development a moment ago. My new hard drive fried on first use. Nothing about this project is easy. JCR
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  #8  
12-18-2005, 07:26 AM
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Was it by chance a MAXTOR hard drive?

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  #9  
12-18-2005, 07:54 AM
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But, of course. Maxtor II One Touch, 300GB, 16MB cache, 7200 RPM. Get this. So, I have another outboard hard drive (a Lacie one) that was still formatted FAT32. So, I thought, I'll just copy over all of the files from the Lacie to the new Maxtor drive, reformat the Lacie drive to NTFS and then copy back all of the files from the Maxtor to the Lacie. The Lacie-to-Maxtor copying went fine -- a whole bunch of .SHN and .FLAC live music files, along with a bunch of live video stuff. In the process of the copy back, wham, the Maxtor shows zero bytes in RAW storage -- the NTFS file system is gone. Of course, everything is gone from the Lacie drive as well after I deleted and reformatted that drive. What a mess (and what a loss)!

I've downloaded the free trial of Ontrack Data's datarecovery software, which allows searching for the missing stuff, and then you have to make the purchase to retrieve it. It looks like it is identifying a lot of things (13,889 files across 841 folders, at this juncture, 25 minutes into the 4 hour countdown). It's probably good that the Maxtor drive was empty when I put on this first stuff.

Anyway, I digress. You've obviously either had bad luck with Maxtor drives, or a different suggestion how to fix it. And, with what I'm describing, did I do something wrong software-wise, or do I really have a bad drive that I should return to my nearest retailer that'll take it back...JCR
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  #10  
12-18-2005, 08:54 AM
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Maxtor is a horrible hard drive company. The only reason they still exist is they sell dirt cheap drives and people still buy them. Many of them unsuspecting of the infamous quality problems. Western Digital and Seagate are the only decent choices in hard drives, they rarely fail, at least compared to Maxtor or other budget companies.

Sorry that you lost all the data, that's unfortunate. The Ontrack EasyRecovery Professional edition is something I have access to, and I had to use it when my last drive failed. A Maxtor, of course. The only reason I had the drive to begin with was because it came in my computer and I was dumb enough to use it. Even though the drive was still under warranty, and I qualified for a free replacement, I passed. I did not need another drive that would likely fail. That was back in spring 2003, I believe, maybe 2004. I was spared the expense of buying Ontrack, I took my drive to a friend's house, who owns the software because his company purchased it for him. It was able to restore about 99% of my files. I was only missing a few things, most of which was easy to replace or re-create without much effort. I also have exhaustive DVD-R backups of my system and work files, so that helped fill in gaps too.



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  #11  
01-01-2006, 04:21 PM
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Happy New Year! An update for you:

1. I got back all the data on the failed Maxtor drive. However, the fee from Kroll/OnTrack to do it was $1,200. Maxtor has yet to email an RMA to me -- but, you are right, I'm not sure I want another one.

2. I received the JVC HR-S9911U player and the Datavision TBC-1000 I last reported on order. I hooked them up with 1M-length Monster 3 Cables. I used the Turtle Beach soundcard, but without pulling out the two Creative soundcards. I went for it, setting the Videosoap for Heavy. Voila! I have successfully made my first DVD with menus and chapters. There were NO lost frames out of 2 hours, 10 minutes of material. What was nice is that with your recommended video and audio capture resolutions, the whole show fit on a single DVD.

Amazing the difference that the right equipment can make. Many thanks for your good counsel on this thorny project. JCR
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  #12  
01-01-2006, 05:31 PM
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A $1,200 bill would utterly wipe out my budget for a while. I feel for you, that's terrible. On the other hand, you got your data back, and that can be virtually priceless, depending on what it was.

I would suggest you buy a Western Digital or a Seagate if you want a reliable drive.

I was under the impression we had already eliminated the video signal as problematic, but maybe not. The JVC VCR and TBC definitely fixed any signal error, as well as helped in other ways, so that was a wise investment.

There are at least 20 separate common issues that can cause dropped frames. Really all that means is a video signal error, or a connectivity/compatibility error in computing hardware, but it can be tricky to find. So I'm no longer sure if the Turtle Beach card helped any, though Audigy cards do have known issues, so you never know (see how complex all this can get?). It was the cheapest solution, however, and could probably be returned if unneeded. My advice in the end is "it works, don't touch it!"

It is good to hear you've got everything under control. I hope you get a lot of good use from the ATI card. If at any time you don't like the quality of your recordings, knock the bitrate up by around 500k. For every time you do this, the trade-off is you'll lose about 20 minutes of space on the disc. I value quality over spatial compression, and most of my personal recordings range from 1 to 3 hours per disc using ATI hardware, depending on content.



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  #13  
01-02-2006, 03:23 AM
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Well, I had my business laptop backed up on the failed hard drive, along with a lot of audio and video music material. So, getting it all back was important to me -- just a big waste of a lot of money. At least I know that OnTrack does seem to know what they are doing.

In replacement, I've ordered the CMS 400GB Velocity hard drive. PC World rates it as the number one external hard drive. Hopefully, that will work fine.

Yes, I certainly will leave things as they are, since they now seem to work perfectly. But, let me understand correctly your advice about knocking the bitrate up by around 500k. Are you referring to the target or max bitrate for video capture in the ATI card, or are you referring to the audio capture?

The first project that I digitized, using the settings I indicated, was a rock concert video -- a commercially prepared videotape not released by the record label except for its internal use (lucky me to get to see it). The 2:10 show was spread over three videotapes. Did I shortchange myself quality-wise by using the standard settings, which enabled the entire show to fit on a single DVD? Or, is it merely the function that S-VHS quality is less than true DVD quality and an excellent level archive can occur at the standard settings? It sure looks fine, but I don't know what redoing the capture at a different video, or audio, bit capture rate would do. JCR
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  #14  
01-02-2006, 03:56 AM
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Oh, and I forgot to ask: what do you recommend as the best head cleaning device for the HR-S9911U player, and how often should it be used? Thanks. JCR
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  #15  
01-02-2006, 06:46 AM
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If it looks good to you, and somebody else, then there is really no reason to redo it. The only real requirements on video quality from VHS is to leave it interlaced, and then to make sure the DVD does not have blocky video, nor grainy video. You did not mention these flaws, so you are probably fine.

Your 2:10 long VHS tape should be fine using the settings on this site (not the ATI MMC defaul settings, those are horrible). THe bitrate would be around 5000k for 2 hours of clean video, and you could easily pick 352x480 as the resolution since the source resolution was no better. That would easily result in a high quality DVD, plenty of bitrate.

When I refer to adding 500k to the bitrate (five hundred), and it would be added to both average and max. My normal 3-hour setting is 3400k. If the quality was not good enough for some reason, I'd pump it up to around 3900k. If that was still not good enough, I'd go up to 4400k. Most of the time, my normal setting is fine. It largely depends on the quality of the source. This first DVD you made was only around 2 hours, so it was easy to just flood the disc with bitrate. Fill the disc up, don't leave blank space, the extra bitrate can only help.

The best way to clean a VCR is to open it up yourself, go get some non-cotton foam cleaning swabs (cotton is fine too, but can be more abrasive, slightly), and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol from the drugstore. This is what electronics shops use. There is a lot of grease inside a VCR, so don't act like Monk (the detective on USA, if you've never seen him) and clean everything. You only want to wipe do the parts of the unit that touch a VHS tape. Generally the large silver heads need it, simply hold the alcohol-moistened swab against the head, and from the top, gently rotate it with your hand. If you not sure what other parts of the units touch a VHS tape, carefully plug in the unit while open, and insert a non-important VHS tape, hit PLAY and watch what it does. Hit STOP, eject the tape, unplug the power, and then clean the various posts. A heavily-used VCR really only needs a cleaning every 6 months. Most people can get away with once a year. If you don't do it at least every 18 months, it will start to damage tapes by the time you reach 24 months. Many consumers run VCRs for 5 years or more without a single cleaning and then wonder why the VCR acts up. It's really no different that running a car for 10,000 miles without changing the oil.



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