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  #1  
02-13-2015, 03:32 PM
anyango anyango is offline
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Greetings,
Just first wanted to thank everyone for the excellent information on here. I am volunteering for the town I live in, to to convert approximately 350 vhs tapes of government meetings dating back to 90's to both a digital format and likely a DVD for future archiving (reduction of storage space as well).

The town's local gov channel has a playback system that uses MPEG2 so that will likely be the end format digitally (this system also is capable of converting the MPEG to h.264 for internet VOD). The town will be purchasing the equipment they don't already have (mainly the capture card and a decent TBC). We have a few AG1980s as well as a few JVC professional decks.

Unfortunately its nearly impossible for the town to purchase used equipment. So the ATI series is pretty much is not an options. I saw the AJA Kona, Black Magic and matrox listed as alternatives. In terms of editing, it would be nice to mask the overscan and just trim the start and end. Other than that I don't see any other corrections happening.

Can anyone suggest a card given what we are trying to do. Also would virtual dub work or would we need something else?

Also we are trying to achieve a simple workflow as it will be all volunteers some of which are high school video students.

Going to setup 2 workstations.
Budget for capture card: up to $1600/card
Obviously its vhs so I don't want to go overkill but I need to purchase new and don't want to waste labor.
Thanks!
Derek

Last edited by anyango; 02-13-2015 at 03:36 PM. Reason: Add info
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  #2  
02-13-2015, 04:06 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Sounds like they would prefer payware rather than freeware/shareware as well. If nothing else it avoids the potential copyright (for anal town lawyers who do not understand the various software distribution models) and support concerns.

Easy to use can mean having a GUI and no need to learn scripts, etc. While the youth can probably learn quickly, the adults who supervise could be another story (e.g., the death of the home VCR meant one less device flashing 12:00).

The simplest workflow if no image processing or color correction is planned would be to get a DVD recorder (some are better than others) and record directly to it. No need to transcode to DVD format or to author DVDs. The resulting DVD can be ripped to provide other formats as needed. The DVD can be copied to other archival media as desired.

Most recorders will allow you to create simple menus/titles and chapter points for navigation. You can load the files into a program like TMPGENc Authoring Works if more complex menus are needed.

I use a BM Intensity Pro card for capture on a Win 7 box for further editing. Works well for me.

Unlike archival quality paper, parchment, stone, and some photo technologies, ALL digital electronic media (with the possible exception of the M-DISC if one is to believe the ads) is short term storage, maybe 100 years at best) so a plan should be in place to refresh the media periodically before it starts to fail. Further, the ability to read a specific type media is contingent on the availability of usable readers in the future. (So much for archiving to 8-track cartridges.)
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  #3  
02-13-2015, 11:42 PM
anyango anyango is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Sounds like they would prefer payware rather than freeware/shareware as well. If nothing else it avoids the potential copyright (for anal town lawyers who do not understand the various software distribution models) and support concerns.

Easy to use can mean having a GUI and no need to learn scripts, etc. While the youth can probably learn quickly, the adults who supervise could be another story (e.g., the death of the home VCR meant one less device flashing 12:00).

The simplest workflow if no image processing or color correction is planned would be to get a DVD recorder (some are better than others) and record directly to it. No need to transcode to DVD format or to author DVDs. The resulting DVD can be ripped to provide other formats as needed. The DVD can be copied to other archival media as desired.

Most recorders will allow you to create simple menus/titles and chapter points for navigation. You can load the files into a program like TMPGENc Authoring Works if more complex menus are needed.

I use a BM Intensity Pro card for capture on a Win 7 box for further editing. Works well for me.

Unlike archival quality paper, parchment, stone, and some photo technologies, ALL digital electronic media (with the possible exception of the M-DISC if one is to believe the ads) is short term storage, maybe 100 years at best) so a plan should be in place to refresh the media periodically before it starts to fail. Further, the ability to read a specific type media is contingent on the availability of usable readers in the future. (So much for archiving to 8-track cartridges.)

Not opposed to freeware/shareware. Biggest challenge would be getting them to acquire used gear, unless the person will accept a purchase order Thats why must go new. In fact I prefer not to use something like Adobe, Avid, etc.

As far as easy to use, I guess I more mean easy to reproduce the process (follow directions). So if it requires some scripts to be built but then they can be used throughout the majority, that would be okay.

I had first considered the VHS->DVD but the gov meetings vary in length. Going this route we would loose the trimming ability on DVD. I supposed we could still trim the ripped MPEG2 It would also require someone to man the VHS for the 1-4 hours the tape may contain.

Very true on the archiving side.

To mask the overscan, would I need capture to avi, then transcode to MPEG2 after?

Do some of the pro cards listed, like the aja, black magic work with Virtual Dub and some of the other freeware, I couldn't seem to find definite answers?

dpalomaki, what do you use for capture software with the black magic card? Thanks again!
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  #4  
02-14-2015, 12:05 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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Find some old Pentium 4s with AGP slots laying around (most government buildings have a pallet of old Optiplex GX270s laying around for some reason) and purchase the cards out of pocket and get reimbursed.

"Its easier to ask for forgiveness then permission" in this case. Oh, and it'll land up being cheaper for them than any of the new stuff. For archiving. if they were serious, I would go beyond discs. A nice RAID 6 NAS storing a live copy of the data would be nice, plus their VOD system can pull from it if needed.

How long are the tapes? Most Pro/Industrial VHS tapes are usually T-30 or T-60 length. I can't imagine them recording at anything other than SP speed. Even if its T-120, its going to be 2 hours a tape or roughly 2 DVDs per if you max out bit rate when encoding. What I normally do before a large job is re-tension the tapes with a full fast forward and rewind (assuming they are in good condition) and check the tape timer to see how long the recordings are on each tape and note it on each.

For VHS home movie jobs, I never do menus unless requested (and for an extra fee). Even then I request the person identify the contents of the tape so it can be divided and labeled. Otherwise it autoplays with no menu with chapter markers every 5 minutes.

For prepping VHS to DVD, I run everything through a basic Avisynth script that masks the overscan in black. I always capture to a lossless codec and then transcode to MPEG2/4/etc. direct from the output of the Avisynth script.
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  #5  
02-14-2015, 03:03 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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dpalomaki and NJRoadfan both gave excellent advice.

DVD recorder > rip, re-process > back to DVD is not a good method. And you can't buy a good recorder anyway (it's used!), so forget about that.

Purchase orders are so ridiculous. That's an 80s/90s style of doing business, and it's always insisted on by small(minded) government bodies. I'm surprised they're even going digital. Many places now refuse POs, and I don't blame them. Why? Many don't actually pay, and it was especially an issue in the 2008 recession. You'd think they'd learn the year is now 2015, and that method of commerce is as dead as the VHS format. Business (including governments) can get, and often already have, credit cards for buying online. We were contacted last year by a city to do their VHS transfer work. They wanted it done cheap AND did not want to pay until it was finished and delivered. I told them to take a hike.

When you're backed into a corner like this (for zero rational reason), just buy something and cross your fingers.

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  #6  
02-14-2015, 09:00 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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The Intensity Pro comes with BM Media Express as its default capture utility. It supports SD and HD analog capture, including s-video, composite, and component. Virtual Dub can also capture from it, and a number of NLEs can use the Intensity Pro for I/O as well. I use it with Edius Pro.

One could always buy the used gear and possibly donate it for a possible tax deduction at what ever fair market value you can declare if you can't get paid for it.

About how much time per tape? 370 T120 tapes of government meetings could easily run to 700 hours or more and that translates to 700+ hours of real-time just to capture the meetings. Not a 2-weekend project

The issues boil down to:
- How good/bad is the source material (have you sampled tapes from the way-back)?
- What quality final product do you need (how good is good enough)?
- Are there any specific standards, legal or otherwise, that this archive process must meet?
- What skill sets are reliably available in the people who will be doing this over the life of the project.
(e.g., does it have to be simple and fool-proof enough for the mayors brother-in-law to run, will there be staff turnover, is technical support available)?
- What is the condition of your AG1980s? other players?
- What is the time frame within which to complete the various transfer phases?
- How sophisticated is the community in general and the involved government in particular?
- How will the archive be maintained once established and the conversion process is completed?
- How will you deal with any damaged tapes?
- Did you price out commercial capture (a good talking figure to show efficiency/economy)?

It is common within most government organizations for success to have many parents, while failure is an orphan. For a project of this scope it would be worth developing a requirements document to clearly identify the must haves, the nice to haves, and don't really needs, and the proposed way to address each, and project milestones/schedule. This could be presented to the responsible government officials to get their buy-in and ownership of the project (and results). It also justifies the budget, provides a plan against to which measure progress, and takes it out of the realm of "hobby shop" to a serious business effort.
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  #7  
02-18-2015, 10:28 AM
anyango anyango is offline
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Okay so based on advice, I have purchased ati aiw 9800 pro and a tbc1000 from ebay. If I can't get reimbursed, I will use it to capture my own vhs tapes and then donate it or sell it at the end. I have found an old optiplex 270 which should have the required AGP slot.

Also just as a side note, the local gov entities hate the PO system just as much, however state law at least in my area requires goods to be received before payment is sent.

Is there anything else I should consider getting?
Thanks
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  #8  
02-18-2015, 08:49 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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You'll need quality S-VHS VCRs with internal TBC.

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  #9  
02-18-2015, 09:09 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Storage, if you haven't already! Determine your storage requirement based on you planned workflow and formats. ~350 tapes is potentially a lot of video. Even at 2-hour DVD compression rates you are talking about several TB of final product, not allowing for capture and intermediate files for any editing, clean-up, and authoring.

As you probably already know capture generally works best if to a fast drive separate from the system drive. If this is a "salvaged" PC, consider a fresh OS installation on a clean drive. Windows PCs tend to accumulate a lot of ash and trash over time that can get in the way of performance. And maybe lay in a spare PC if you can while they are available. It is a long project.
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  #10  
02-18-2015, 09:19 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Yes, eSATA is your friend.

Get this PCI card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815287006
Not just *any* card, but that one -- it has a good chipset. Don't forget to change the pins. The default setting is internal, and the pin swap use the eSATA. You won't use the RAID, ignore it.

And 2tb max for the drives, or else you could have severe issues on older (non-new non-Win8) systems.
These are the best you'll find: http://dfaq.us/fantom2tb

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