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  #1  
08-07-2015, 10:57 AM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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Hi folks,

I am in the process of digitizing home movies, VHS, VHS-C and Hi8 and am needing advice. My setup is the following:

Capture card: AverMedia C985 Live Gamer HD
VCR: Toshiba DVR620
Capture Software: AverMedia Recentral
OS: Windows 8.1

I am compressing directly to H.264 at a bitrate of 16Mbps. The video fee is being carried through HDMI with the addition of a splitter that scrubs the HDCP.

The end goal of this is to get the best quality I can without going too crazy on my budget. After reading most of the guides here, I am finding that people tend to prefer a more vintage approach to video capture by using AGP capture cards. Unfortunately, this isn't an appealing option for me since those computers that I have owned which have AGP capable motherboards have well gone in the bin. I have no qualms about capture through USB, although I am not sure about the quality versus a PCI-E capture card.

I have recorded 4 videos thus far. Three of them turned out rather well from around 1998 except for a thin line of noise at the bottom of the screen. I am okay with that. One video didn't do so well from 1992, had tracking issues.

I am wanting to store these in a final format to a NAS for playback to a Sony Bravia and don't mind if they are in final format as I won't be doing any editing. Color correction isn't as important to me as just getting clean video.

My questions are:

Is this acceptable hardware to be using or can I improve the quality for a similar price?

Is there a better VCR I can be using that supports HDMI output and has built-in TBC?

What drawbacks will I experience with my setup?

Any other recommendations or suggestions based on what you read would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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  #2  
08-07-2015, 01:19 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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Addendum:

I am not opposed to working with a different hardware setup that doesn't use HDMI. Using a setup like some posts have described such as a Canopus-> TBC-> ATI 600 would be fine too as well as making a different selection as far as my VCR is concerned (I got it because it had HDMI outputs, that was the sole reason). I just want to be sure that it will work well for my project and my budget which is around $400-$500.

I also am not terribly concerned with the format of the end product as long as it plays over wifi from my NAS to my Sony Bravia. If MPEG-2 works, that is fine. I only have about 8TB on my NAS to work with and a questionable amount of video content, that is to say, I can't gauge how much stuff I want to save. It could be a hundred hours, it could be more. I am having to watch a lot of video because my brother and I did dumb things like record TV shows on the same tapes as our home videos when we were kids. But, at the very least, I will have gone through this all so if one day I need to do this again, I will have marked the videos I want to save and it will make it much faster.
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  #3  
08-07-2015, 02:44 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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We would seldom recommend Canopus cards for analog capture unless you simply have no other choice.

Your problems start with the Toshiba combo player and escalate from there. All of them have notoriously poor tape transports whose performance is made worse by having no line-level tbc. As you mentioned "tbc" earlier, you should be aware there are two principle types. A line-level tbc corrects in-frame scanline timing errors, which results in a number of problems during capture that can't be repaired later, and which look like ragged, warped, or shaky edge borders, "bristly" edges on objects, wiggles and notches in angular lines, line and often frame jitter, and a few other nasties that affect stable color. A frame-level tbc, which is probably what you're thinking of, has no affect whatsoever on those scanline problems. Rather, a frame tbc corrects frame timing sync and helps ensure a steady, exactly timed frame rate that will not cause dropped frames, motion judder, poor audio sync, and any extra work required by an encoder that's trying to figure out what's going on while it encodes, thus eating up CPU. In addition, line timing errors create noise that eats bitrate.

Capture devices for analog input whether AGP, PCI, PCIe, or USB, aim specifically at the specific problems of capturing analog video and are usually the best for that purpose, as well as usually not very good for anything else. Many people assume that a player's HDMI output offers some sort of superior performance for analog playback, but that simply isn't true. HDMI is wire which simply transmits whatever gets fed into it regardless of the quality of the input, and gadgets that scrape off HDCP do nothing to improve the results. Capturing to losssless media with the right capture setup is one way of ensuring that the input isn't subjected to lossy encoded artifacts from the get-go. They are the best (and some the only) way to get workable captures for correction, restoration, and editing. But since you aren't interested in that, I suspect that lossless capture will likely be a waste of your time. Keep in mind that h264 is a lossy intra-frame format not designed for editing or recompression without problems.

Using a lossy codec for capture, even if at a high bitrate, has its own problems. There will be no improvement by more lossy encoding to other formats. Re-encoding to lower bitrates to get smaller files involves another quality hit.

The good news is that servers can handle many types of video, so it really doesn't matter what final format you choose as long as the network can handle it. Most can handle the most common standard formats, even if all of them don't handle "everything". The other good news is that despite any problems in playing or capturing as you are doing, most viewers have low expectations of VHS to begin with and simply look on noisy, wiggly videos as being the best that analog can offer -- despite the fact that more appropriate capturing and a good restoration workflow can vastly improve them and make better use of moderate bitrate encoding.

At this point, and considering your interests and the more convenient time investment you mention, I'd say your best bet is to sink a few hundred into a much better VCR with bult-in tbc that's in good shape and well maintained. Finding one will in itself will take time. You might try tGrantPhoto's website, where many better vcr's are being rebuilt for various prices, including tbc units from JVC and Panasonic. If your tapes are recorded at slow 2-hour or 4-hour speeds, JVC would not be a good choice. Getting one from sources such as eBay is iffy and would probably cost you a bundle in money and frustration in the long run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
Is there a better VCR I can be using that supports HDMI output and has built-in TBC?
With tbc, but not with HDMI. The best VCRs haven't been made for years.

Last edited by sanlyn; 08-07-2015 at 03:02 PM.
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  #4  
08-07-2015, 03:09 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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Thanks for replying to my post. I had a feeling that the combo VCR I picked up wouldnt be the greatest, but until I started researching a bit, I didnt realize that they woulnd't really suit my needs at all.

I want to reiterate that I am not opposed to lossless formats, I am not interested in formats that won't play via wifi to my smart TV. I figure with some good care, I can probably keep the media and the VCR around for quite some time until I have some more money to throw at it and restore it in a better way. The main goal right now is to get them backed up in case something happens to them or they degrade further before I can get around to it. If AVI is supported, I have no problems with keeping them in AVI. I do have an aversion to DV though from what I have read so far. From what i understand, DV isn't meant for playback and I'd like these to be working copies.

Second, I understand that there are VCR's with TBC built-in. Does this mean I do not have to find an external TBC as well or no? Or, alternatively, if I get an external TBC do I not have to find a VCR that has TBC?

Third, I am considering a USB capture device such as the ATI 600. Would this be a suitable device for capture? I was thinking of running an S-Video configuration and it says it has S-Video on it, but the pictures make it look like it only has one coax input. It would certainly be cheaper than what I have.

Finally, I do have some 4-hour speed tapes. in fact, I think most of them are because we recorded a lot and tended to buy tapes that could hold a lot. Would that mean I should look for Panasonic?
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  #5  
08-07-2015, 04:10 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
I want to reiterate that I am not opposed to lossless formats, I am not interested in formats that won't play via wifi to my smart TV. I figure with some good care, I can probably keep the media and the VCR around for quite some time until I have some more money to throw at it and restore it in a better way. The main goal right now is to get them backed up in case something happens to them or they degrade further before I can get around to it. If AVI is supported, I have no problems with keeping them in AVI. I do have an aversion to DV though from what I have read so far. From what i understand, DV isn't meant for playback and I'd like these to be working copies.
DV is indeed playable, but I know of no external player or device that plays them. They were designed for PC-only or in-camera playing. A high-bitrate h264 archive if fairly clean is used by many people and is playable on most devices except DVD players.

"AVI" is a container rather than format, but if you mean losslessly compressed huffyuv, Lagarith or otehr lossless codec, they work only in setups that have those codecs installed and can use them. Lossless AVI has to be encoded to standard formats that can be recognized by external players outside of your PC.

An advantage of lossless originals is that encoding them to delivery formats is only one encode in the production chain. Multiple lossy encodes are not involved. You can encode to any format you wish as well as rework them for web posting. The lossless original remains intact.

If you didn't have bad scanline errors to worry about, you could improve the h264's by decoding them to lossless media working files and cleaning them up with Avisynth or VirtualDub. They can be edited as lossless media in NLE's from cheapies like SONY Movie Studio to big guys like Adobe AfterEffects, but NLE's are poor restoration or repair tools. On the other hand, restoration and repair tools aren't any good for fancy features like menus, titles, soundtracks, etc., or even encoding. Each tool has its place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
Second, I understand that there are VCR's with TBC built-in. Does this mean I do not have to find an external TBC as well or no? Or, alternatively, if I get an external TBC do I not have to find a VCR that has TBC?
Herein I'll quote myself from the previous post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
A line-level tbc corrects in-frame scanline timing errors, which results in a number of problems during capture that can't be repaired later, and which look like ragged, warped, or shaky edge borders, "bristly" edges on objects, wiggles and notches in angular lines, line and often frame jitter, and a few other nasties that affect stable color. A frame-level tbc, which is probably what you're thinking of, has no affect whatsoever on those scanline problems. Rather, a frame tbc corrects frame timing sync and helps ensure a steady, exactly timed frame rate that will not cause dropped frames, motion judder, poor audio sync, and any extra work required by an encoder that's trying to figure out what's going on while it encodes, thus eating up CPU. In addition, line timing errors create noise that eats bitrate.
High quality prosumer VCR's with tbc have some level of steady frame output if the machine is in good shape, so an outboard frame tbc isn't always required. Not that they're a bad idea. I've had to use one now and then for really crummy tapes that not even a tbc-equipped tank could do anything with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
Third, I am considering a USB capture device such as the ATI 600. Would this be a suitable device for capture? I was thinking of running an S-Video configuration and it says it has S-Video on it, but the pictures make it look like it only has one coax input. It would certainly be cheaper than what I have.
The input lug on the USB device connects to a larger dongle with s-video, composite, and audio inputs. Diamond Multimedia makes a similar "Live USB HD" product (it isn't HD, by the way. Just clever marketing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
Finally, I do have some 4-hour speed tapes. in fact, I think most of them are because we recorded a lot and tended to buy tapes that could hold a lot. Would that mean I should look for Panasonic?
I'm a Panasonic guy, but I did go thru three high-end JVC's over the years. Playing my Ep tapes with a JVC was like watching them thru a fogged up window. That isn't really JVC's fault entirely. JVC invented VHS, but they never fully supported slower tapes ("inferior" to SP they said, and it is). That seems odd to me, because the best JVC I ever owned was a 1991 high-end model that recorded and played EP like a champ, and I have old captures to prove it. Like an idiot I let that JVC go when I married...what does a wife want with 6 VCRs in the living room? Something had to go.

Later JVC's didn't match that EP performance. For one thing, enhancing low-quality EP takes special circuitry and different type video heads, which costs more $$$. Panasonic and its clones did take on EP pretty well in about 1996 or so and with the "AG" series. But by 1998 when VCR's were becoming junk goods, EP circuitry simply overjuiced and oversharpened EP until it looked truly horrible -- impressive on an old CRT with a soft picture, but really ugly when you see those players used today with EP tapes. Panasonic managed to avoid that with the 1995-96 models and the AG series takes special care with EP without making it look gross or oversharpened. I have a rebuilt non-tbc Panny PV-S4670 SVHS machine from 1996 that does make slower tapes look a tad sharpened but without juiced-up contrast, saturation, or color bleeding; lowering the sharpen control on my capture card a bit takes care of that. The AG-1980 is probably the cleanest EP playback I've seen. It takes a lot of circuitry and high cost to get those results. No, it doesn't look like SP, but it's pretty clean and clear. Expect some visible noise from EP, no matter what you use. At least the 1980 doesn't try to make it look "enhanced" like later players did.

At this point you might ask, if I had high-end JVC's and Panny 1980's, why do I still have other players? Fact is, some tapes handle better on different players. I had tapes with so much cable transmission and cheap tape noise, DNR on the high-end players was smudging things to clean it up. A lesser player with low-octane dnr avoided that, even if I had to clean up tape noise in post-processing and had to use a line-tbc pass-thru device for tbc. Anything was better than smearing. If you don't know that a few very specific legacy DVD machines can be used as tbc pass-thru boxes, that's another (long) story. Not as good as built-in, but better than nothing.

On most high-end players tbc can be turned off, but dnr is tied into it. So disabling tbc also disables dnr. As with most matters, you can't have everything.
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08-07-2015, 04:26 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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tGrant has both Panasonic 1970 and 1980 listed on their website. I took a look at the difference and the 1970 looks just a tad softer. Not sure if it's worth another $200 for something rather trivial. Any other advice you can give on the differences between these two decks? I'm looking to buy as early as tonight if I feel enough confidence in it.
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08-07-2015, 04:42 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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The 1970 is a solid machine. Weaker tbc but it does work, dnr is nothing to write home about. But no oversharpening or fancy enhancement, just clean output with nice color and a good tape transport. Yes, the 1980 is worth more, but let's face it -- it does cost more and, frankly, it's tougher to maintain and can get kinda touchy. The 1970 is a decent prosumer player, far better than what you have now or could buy new today. Those combo units usually create more noise than they actually play.

TGrant is a reliable outfit. They guarantee their stuff and they really do rebulld and check those things, unlike eBay sellers who only claim to do so. Several members here and in other forums recommend his shop.
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  #8  
08-07-2015, 05:22 PM
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Quote:
We would seldom recommend Canopus cards for analog capture unless you simply have no other choice.
All right... only if a customer absolutely in DV AVI it wants to have then we use the ADVC110 or the ADVC300.
The first 2 ADVC300 [in 2003 + in 2005] had mistake.
With last from 2008 I have not tested yet a lot.

Quote:
Many people assume that a player's HDMI output offers some sort of superior performance for analog playback
There I am to other opinion......

An example:
For a few tapes device a Pana AG MD83x or a Pana AG4700 was selected as the best reproduction. [is only one example]

Now the signal goes by Y/C plus audio to a Pana DMR EH65 or a DMR EH595...
Now this Pana gives the inside digitally filtered signal directly by HDMI, so digitally further to the PC.

If I used instead of both abovementioned Pana a DMR ES10 or a DMR ES15... so this would spend the signal this inside also digitally, however, it is filtered in analogously.

2 times encode... by analogy with digitally and then from digitally again too analogously........ so, however, the picture becomes not better, on the contrary.

What me something... why here in the forum nobody surprises a Canopus DV Storm starts, one can use that under Win XP and cleanly in UYVY capture.
In the German Canopus forum I have as the first Rau-found and there were something more than 5000 members.

A little better. and with some filter is the Canopus NX already old now map... also of it I have never read here what...
nevertheless, it is produced also in the USA... exactly immediately like my Goldwing GL1800.
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  #9  
08-07-2015, 05:43 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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I realize you have some experience in this area, but I must respectfully disagree. Noisy Analog garbage captured to DV compression is a bad decision and more trouble than it's worth. I stopped trying to clean up VHS-DV capture years ago. Will never try it again, even when asked by friends. If DV is the only choice, the best thing to do is to remux it into a different container so that it can be played on something other than a PC, and essentially leave it unprocessed.

I know, however, that everyone follows their own inclination and preferences. It is their privilege to do so.
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08-07-2015, 05:57 PM
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Yes. I also do not want in DV-AVI [Microsoft or Canopus DV-AVI] capturen.

However, I have written... if the customer this just wants because he, for example, still with the bad Pinnacle studio 12 / 14 or 15 works... then I pay off... the customer.

I capture rather in YUY2 or in Lagarith............... can recognise, unfortunately, Pinnacle no YUY2 no UYVY no Lagarith.

Here Pinnacle I had to test because of the MJpeg CoDec.
Here analogous directly in DV-AVI to capture a death is a sin..........., however, the customer is king
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08-07-2015, 08:30 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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I appreciate your inputs on this issue. before I pull the trigger on the Panasonic, I would like it if a site staffer would weigh in on the Panasonic as well.
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08-07-2015, 09:53 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Of course.

I don't think you'll find anyone who would doubt that the AG-1980 is superior. No one would accuse its earlier AG-1970 of being a slouch compared to the mainstream consumer VCR's of its day or even in the current market where decent name-brand VCR's haven't been made since the late 1990's. Rebuild for rebuild, the AG-1980 is better in several respects. Seems odd that Panasonic also made a pro studio AG-5710 that sold for less, being an exact copy of the 1980 but without a tuner section. Good luck finding a 5710 that still works. 1980's have caught on, but no one seems interested in rebuilding AG-5710's.

The 1970 and 1980 are on the list of recommended VCRs here VCR Buying Guide (S-VHS, D-VHS, Professional) for restoring video. JVC made nice machines, too, but only for SP, and better for tapes that were recorded on the same JVC. Many people love the soft-focus filtered look of JVCs, but after a while of using mine I got tired of watching smeared motion. It's said that the Panasonic/JVC debate is about a love-hate relationship: everybody loves one and hates the other, and vice versa. It comes down to personal preference and how much loot you have to spare.
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08-08-2015, 06:07 PM
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If that Toshiba DVR620 is like the DVR630KC I briefly tested, it actually does have a line TBC. But it's inactive except when you dub from VHS to DVD. Then the passthrough output runs through the DVD side of the unit and is stabilized. Very weird. I didn't get to check the HDMI output. Maybe it's always TBC'd over HDMI.

It seemed to play VHS through a composite signal path; even the direct disc recording had dot crawl. So its VHS playback is still inferior to an S-VHS machine.

JVC did make two DNR&TBC models with HDMI output (part of their D-VHS line). But I share Sanlyn's opinion of "foggy" output from JVC units. Lordsmurf disagrees with us.

Attach a sample of the results you have achieved so far, though. That should give us an idea what can improved.
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08-08-2015, 07:19 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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In recent news, I may have access to a computer that might give me some more options. I am building my parents a new machine and they have an HP Pavilion media center PC from 2006 that came with Windows Vista model m7657c. It does not have AGP but does have some older PCI slots on it. Might this come in handy?
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08-08-2015, 09:16 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldwingfahrer View Post
Yes. I also do not want in DV-AVI [Microsoft or Canopus DV-AVI] capturen.

However, I have written... if the customer this just wants because he, for example, still with the bad Pinnacle studio 12 / 14 or 15 works... then I pay off... the customer.
Yes, we often have a language translation problem, so I misunderstood your earlier post. Now I see your meaning.

In about 1900 the American retailer Marshall Field was famous for using the slogan, "The customer is always right". R.H. Macy added in the 1920's, "Even when he's wrong". The slogans might not be good logic, but they seem to be effective politics.
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08-10-2015, 02:22 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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I meant to point out that the AG-1970 I have is not good for EP tapes. It makes them overprocessed regardless of the setting of the sharpness control. I guess it could just be a problem with my particular unit, but it's good for SP tapes.
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08-10-2015, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
I meant to point out that the AG-1970 I have is not good for EP tapes.
With my identical Pana NV FS200 EP's impossible because other playback devices must be selected.

Who has taken previously on VHS in LP or EP or even on VHS-C in LP thinks probably we digitizer can make horse droppings right and beautiful apples.

Most have then chosen the cheapest tapes and not very good quality tapes.

Gruesome what I so see ....... even S-VHS-C films with cheap recorder on cheap VHS dubbed tapes.
When I ask ..where are the original tapes ..... is there that were thrown away ... who do not know that there are good setter in which you do not need adapters.

Wrong world.

German:
Mit meinem baugleichen Pana NV FS200 geht EP doch gar nicht,da müssen andere Zuspieler ausgesucht werden.

Wer früher auf VHS in LP oder EP oder sogar auf VHS-C in LP aufgenommen hat meint vermutlich,wir Digitalisierer können aus Pferde Äpfel richtige und schöne Äpfel machen.

Die meisten haben damals die billigsten Bänder ausgesucht und nicht qualitativ sehr gute Bänder.

Grauenhaft was ich so sehe.......sogar S-VHS-C Filme mit billigen Rekorder auf billige VHS Bänder überspielt.
Wenn ich frage ..wo sind die original Bänder.....heisst es die wurden weggeschmissen...die wissen nicht dass es gute Zuspieler gibt bei denen man keinen Adapter braucht.

Verkehrte Welt.
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08-11-2015, 09:29 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Having seen some videos from the AG-1970, I did see some amount of sharpening on EP but nothing like the horrible oversharpening from later consumer VCR's. I noted that the 1970 tracked some problem tapes better than the AG-1980 or a high-end JVC. The 1970 doesn't have the capacitor problems or tracking issues that you get with the 1980 with aging. Nor does it have the 1980's weird quirks and the maintenance cost. Been through two 1980's, both spent a lot of time in the shop occasionally for required maintenance. To me the 1970 seems to play like my old PV-S4670 SVHS, which has no tbc at all but is still a mighty stable player with great color and less of the absurd chroma bleed you get with lesser machines. A tech at videohelp who has worked with just about every VCR ever made has characterized the 1970 as nearly indestructible compared to other players, including the temperamental 1980 and JVC's that stubbornly defy efforts at keeping them in alignment.

Another observation: even with my AG-1980 (and my former prosumer JVC's), noisy old tapes still need cleanup in post-processing. Every tbc/dnr machine I used had problems with motion smear and ghosting when trying to clean up bad tapes during play. Cleaning noise is one thing but there's no fix for smearing, and ghosting is a nightmare. The 1980 is still my main player, but on some tapes it just isn't the best choice. Even when it appears it's been working perfectly, it can suddenly screw up everything with weird color bursts or sensitivity to voltage variations that didn't happen last week.

There's no perfect player, naturally. I'd think any higher-end player would put the typical consumer VCR or combo to shame when it comes to getting a decent capture to work with.
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  #19  
08-12-2015, 05:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theglenlivet12 View Post
vintage approach to video capture
This phrase has been sticking with me for days, and I grit my teeth every time I think about it.

A decade ago isn't "vintage". To me, vintage is an Apple IIe, or a Commodore/Amiga with Video Toaster. That's vintage.

Anything prior to around 2001 is either vintage or just plain outdated (non-Radeon ATI, for example). ATI and Matrox really came out with some game-changing hardware in 2001, with Canopus later copying them (not the DV boxes). Within just a few years, by around 2005, video capture had finally matured. But by 2010, it all went downhill, as DVR style hardware took over.

It's just a decade old. That's not vintage. I have clothes and shoes that I still wear from last decade, and that's not what I'd call vintage.

I would not grab a computer from 2001-2004 (low-end single-core P4 or AMD+), but anything from 2005 and beyond tends to be great (single-core 2.5ghz+ or dual-core). As recently as 2009, you were able to buy new hardware that had legacy slots for AGP. The ATI AIW PCIe cards were still sold new.

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  #20  
08-12-2015, 12:37 PM
theglenlivet12 theglenlivet12 is offline
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Perhaps my definition of vintage is a bit different than yours.

At any rate, I am sitting here waiting for the mailman to show up with a Panny AG-1970, I've got my Pavilion m8000 downstairs waiting and I'm going to restore it to factory and move on to software research. I suppose I should look into if I need a monitor as well since I think everything is HDMI. And cables....lots of cables...
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