Quantcast Advice for beginner - VHS to digital on Mac? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
03-27-2015, 02:37 PM
Rafa_Chaves Rafa_Chaves is offline
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Hello dear fellows,

after I bought a crappy Avermedia AverCapture M card that produced TERRIBLE results, I'm researching for better options.

I've read a few topics here on this excellent forum and I'm still reading the even greater guides, and noticed that your best recommendations for capturing VHS is use an antique Ati All-in-Wonder capture card.

Well, I was a big fan and actually had one of those maybe 10 years ago or more. It was an All-in-Wonder 128 Pro AGP. But I sold this machine a long time ago and happily said goodbye to PC world. I never missed PC's until now. Now I have an Apple iMac 2011, and i'm not into digging the market for an used computer and specific graphic card. I live in Brazil and will not be easy to find. I'll have to manage this enjoyable task with the iMac itself.

So, what you professionals suggest for me to achieve best results to secure and keep my dear VHS family memories? I have about 35 tapes, including 10 VHS-C. (Also 1 Mini DV and 1 Hi8 which I have no idea how to capture.) But the main goal is VHS and VHS-C.

I have a "decent" VCR in very good shape Sony SLV-EX8S and my tapes are pretty much ok too. No mold or anything wrong noticeable. I know you strongly recommend a TBC, but I wouldn't know where to find one, even on eBay they are rare and expensive, so I'll probably skip that. I was thinking in connect my VCR into a LG DVD recorder DR175 that doesn't work for recording anymore, just to use the S-video or component output to capture card. Will this improve something?

I was thinking in use the Canopus ADVC-110 (or maybe ADVC300 if you think is better for the filters) or the newer Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt (My sister has a 2014 Macbook Air with thunderbolt connection). Which one you guys would recommend the most for my purpose? A friend recommended me the Honestech vidbox for Mac, but i have a feeling that will produce same crappy results as AverMedia. I don't want to spend a huge amount of money... I'll have to by one of these.

Of course I want to achieve best quality possible but I don't want to stress myself a lot.

My goal is to keep digital files as definitive backup and upload Web Version to a private channel so my hole family can watch anytime. At first, i'm not willing to record DVD's... Just capture in good quality, split the events recorded in separate files and let my VHS die in peace.

As far I know, the Canopus will output DV files in big size, so i'll have to convert to a more suitable format. And what about the blackmagic? Are these options better than simply use VCR DVD combo recorder?

Thank you so much!

Last edited by Rafa_Chaves; 03-27-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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  #2  
03-27-2015, 08:19 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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I always cringe when a person wants to capture video with a Mac. You have few choices.

It's like trading in a truck for a compact car -- and then asking how to haul a trailer. It's just the wrong tool for the job. Like hitting a nail with a screwdriver, and hitting a screw with a hammer.

Mac has always been a very DV-centric workflow, using the IEEE1394/firewire port for all capture cards. Some now have Thunderbolt, but it's mostly still firewire. With few exceptions (like Aja), no Mac internal cards exist. Lossless is not really possible, and even something as ubiquitous as MPEG is not an option.

In essence, you're stuck with a Canopus ADVC DV box. You'll just have to live with the reduced quality of DV.

Get the 110 from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=U...G6K3V3NOB3OFCF

Blackmagic Designs has some Mac cards, but advanced testing has shown a dropped frames issue.

The Honestech is indeed garbage. It's a generic cheap card, not much different from many low-grade brands (AVerMedia, etc).

Aside from the card, you need a good VCR and TBC.

See also:
- VCR Buying Guide (S-VHS, D-VHS, Professional) for restoring video
- What is a TBC? Time Base Correction for Videotapes

How many video tapes is it? For under 50 tapes, I'd suggested just sending it to a service. We do this, so contact us. It will look better, be the same price (or less) than the DIY method, and best of all, you don't have to spend any time on it. No stress that way! We can capture as lossless file editable on Mac -- it doesn't have to be on DVD.

It's like this:
WorkflowQuality vs. original tapes
Lossless Huffyuv AVIbetter (restorable, editable without loss)
ATI All In Wonder 15mbps MPEGsomewhat better (high bitrate)
JVC LSI chipset DVD recorderssomewhat better (removes chroma noise)
Canopus DV (PAL)transparent
Canopus DV (NTSC)somewhat worse (color loss due to 4:1:1)
DVD/VHS recorder combodrastically worse

VHS tapes are already bad enough, without having a workflow that actually makes the tape look worse.

This still assumes a suggested VCR and external TBC are in use. If those are not used, the quality will be lousy low-grade quality regardless of the capture card workflow.

Canopus files are only 13gb/hour. Lossless is about 35gb/hour (varies). MPEG varies on bitrate, but is often the same or less than DV.

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  #3  
03-27-2015, 09:18 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
after I bought a crappy Avermedia AverCapture M card that produced TERRIBLE results....
No. surprise. The forum capture guide recommends against them. Your best choices for VHS capture, cleanup, and archiving are those antique ATI cards. If you want to get as good or better for that task, be prepared to move into 4 figures for a capture device alone, or get one of the few available second-best ATI USB spinoffs and learn to capture losslessly with Windows software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
So, what you professionals suggest for me to achieve best results to secure and keep my dear VHS family memories? I have about 35 tapes, including 10 VHS-C. (Also 1 Mini DV and 1 Hi8 which I have no idea how to capture.) But the main goal is VHS and VHS-C.
Professionals would recommend that you have your tapes captured to losslessly compressed,unencoded media for proper initial capture and cleanup processing in Windows with Avisynth and Virtualdub. You can work the rest of your edits, fancy transitions, cut and join, encoding, burning, etc.on a Mac if you want but there are any number of Windows tools that can do as well unless you're willing to go with high priced NLE's like FCP or Premiere Pro to get decent results on a Mac.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
I have a "decent" VCR in very good shape Sony SLV-EX8S and my tapes are pretty much ok too. No mold or anything wrong noticeable. I know you strongly recommend a TBC, but I wouldn't know where to find one, even on eBay they are rare and expensive, so I'll probably skip that. I was thinking in connect my VCR into a LG DVD recorder DR175 that doesn't work for recording anymore, just to use the S-video or component output to capture card. Will this improve something?
Not a chance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
Of course I want to achieve best quality possible but I don't want to stress myself a lot.
It's only natural to want the best for those valuable memories. But if you don't want to put any work or learning into it, that would preclude "highest quality" from the outset. You won't get it using the equipment, methods, or platform you've mentioned. Most pros and experienced members here would recommend against most or all of it. Stress is a required component of properly transferring VHS to a suitable playback format and archive. To avoid stress, you have two choices available:
(a) Have a pro shop (the one recommended by digitalfaq is a good one) transfer the tapes properly to lossless media that you can use for anything you want, at your pleasure, whether you do any cleanup or not.
(b) Buy a good DVD recorder and capture the tapes directly to high-bitrate MPEG2. The results won't be fantastic, but they'll be quick and convenient, and they would be no worse than doing as you propose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
Also 1 Mini DV and 1 Hi8 which I have no idea how to capture.)
Hi8 is analog captured in the same manner that you would capture VHS, but usually requires a camera that can play it properly. MiniDv is digital. It isn't "captured". It's transferred as a 1:1 copy with no alteration to a computer via Firewire. If you lack the means for transferring these two formats, a pro shop can do it properly for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
As far I know, the Canopus will output DV files in big size, so i'll have to convert to a more suitable format.
VHS to DV is stage one in your proposed chain of quality reduction. DV is a lossy format. DV is not "converted" to other formats. It's re-encoded. Re-encoding the compromised quality of VHS-to-DV captures would be phase two of the quality loss you propose, and more cleanup processing such as color correction or noise reduction (there will be plenty of that) will call for more quality-loss re-encoding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafa_Chaves View Post
And what about the blackmagic? Are these options better than simply use VCR DVD combo recorder?
Neither or recommended for your source or your purpose.

Of course, everything you've suggested will definitely result in a digital copy of your tapes that you can edit, author to disc or store on a server or hard drive, and deinterlace (which almost everyone does using some of the worst and most destructive methods available) and post it on the web or a network.

Last edited by sanlyn; 03-27-2015 at 09:46 PM.
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  #4  
03-28-2015, 10:02 AM
Rafa_Chaves Rafa_Chaves is offline
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Hello my esteemed colleagues, first of all, Lordsmurf and Sanlyn, thank you for the answers that came so quickly! You were very kind indeed.

Well, I have to confess it was extremely surprising to me to find that a Mac is such an inappropriate tool for this task that I once assumed (big mistake) was a simple thing to do. I always assumed that Macs performed tasks related to video better than any other computer.

However, assuming that the iMac will actually be my only option, do you think is more worthy to buy a new ADVC-110, or even a second hand ADVC-300 and use them WITHOUT A TBC or simply take the tapes to a store that will transfer to DVD through a recorder without major special techniques? What will produce the best result? I can't tell which device they would use, but I imagine it's nothing spectacular. Probably a Funai or Toshiba unit. I'm not aware of any shop here that could perform a job even compared to yours. I simply don't think they have the knowledge.

I would love to send the hole content to you, Lordsmurf, but I live in Brazil and I believe that the complete process would be very, very expensive, including the international shipping to send and have it back and the cost of service itself, since a dollar is worth me more than 3 reais (my currency). But without any doubt that would be the best option, as I'm very impressed with how much you know about this subject and video in general.

And I confess that my heart was willing to dig the market for an old PC and stick a beautiful Ati All in Wonder card on it and face the process! I even started to research. Those cards are beautiful! I love the beautiful drawings that come on them. But I have only these 35 tapes to convert, and once I finish them off, all this equipment would be unused, gathering dust.

So, my friends, the moment of truth: I have an uncle returning from the United States in a few 10 days. Do I ask him to bring one of the Canopus units and perform the capture here using my limited resources? Or do I take it to the rental store and authorize them to copy everything to DVD using no fancy VCR DVD combo recorder and let in the hand of gods? (Second option will probably cost a bit more and I'll still have to encode the DVDs to computer after)

Ps: Will the Canopus produce a much better result than an Elgato Video Capture (based on general reviews, seems to be the best option in crappy & dummy capture world)?

I'm asking because I'll have to encode the DV files to a smaller size to store the recordings for life.

I already accepted that is kind of impossible for me to hit the BEST quality transfer possible in the world.

A thank you for you all!

Last edited by Rafa_Chaves; 03-28-2015 at 10:47 AM.
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  #5  
03-29-2015, 04:33 PM
svhs90 svhs90 is offline
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Rafa,

The folks above have given you great advice. I have followed this forum for several years and have it the best around. Lordsmurf and the others that responded are much more experienced than me. For what it's worth, I'll share with you my Mac setup for VHS capturing.

I use a Matrox MX02 mini connected via PCIe card to my 17" Macbook Pro. The external hard drive is a Hitachi G drive (1 TB, 7200 RPM) using firewire. My capturing software is Quicktime Pro 7.

I capture to an uncompressed format, and export to x264. Final copies are burned to Blu-ray media.

I'm in the process of converting my setup to run on a new Mac mini, and will purchase the PCI to thunderbolt adapter. All new MX02 minis include this, but it wasn't offered at the time.

Not an inexpensive setup, but it works for me. Hope this helps!
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  #6  
03-30-2015, 09:38 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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The Matrox MX02 is indeed nice, but a Mac desktop is required. Sadly, Mac desktops are a dying breed, and they were already rare as it is.

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