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  #1  
02-17-2016, 10:13 PM
pdalton pdalton is offline
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We have A LOT (maybe 200 or more - most probably have only a few minutes of content) of old family videotapes in several formats (going back to about 1980) that we want to convert and store in digital format.

We have the video recorders on which these were made and they seem to playback fine. These include a Canon HiFi "portable" VCR, a Sony Video8 Handycam, a Sony Hi-8 Handycam, a Sony Digital Handycam, as well as a Mitsubishi S-VHS VCR that we used to transfer some videos from those camcorders onto VHS and SVHS tapes.

I'm guessing I have (or can locate) cables to directly connect some of these devices, but I suspect I also will need some sort of interface conversion box, too (for example, to get an S-VHS or component video signal into the computer). In that regard, I also don't know whether I should be trying to input the video signals via one of the USB2, USB3 or HDMI ports on my computer. Can someone explain the difference between these options and recommend any devices I should consider for handling this?

Something else I really don't know is the difference (if any) it would make in the quality of the converted and stored digital files if I also get and use one of the devices I see referenced here as a TBC unit?

If that is something I need, I would appreciate it if someone would please recommend a relatively inexpensive TBC unit that might suffice for these family video conversions?

I do have Adobe Premiere Elements software, but I wonder whether there may be other software or hardware I need to do this that I'm not thinking about?

I would love to be able to box all of these up and send them for conversion, but I suspect that's not an affordable option with all of tapes and the disparate formats we have. So I think I'll just have to invest the time to try to do it myself.

Thank you
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  #2  
02-18-2016, 11:28 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Welcome to digitalfaq.

Your questions cover a lot of territory, all discussed at length in this forum. You haven't mentioned your operating system or PC, which will determine your available choices. You didn't mention whether your tapes are NTSC or PAL. But you listed a Mitsubishi SVHS, so I assume you're working with NTSC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
We have the video recorders on which these were made and they seem to playback fine. These include a Canon HiFi "portable" VCR, a Sony Video8 Handycam, a Sony Hi-8 Handycam,
The tapes mentioned are analog source. You'll get the best results playing them with the camera that created them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
a Sony Digital Handycam
Tapes created with a digital cam are already digital, but they're on tape. DV isn't captured or re-recorded. DV is transferred to a PC as an unaltered 1:1 copy using Firewire. Keep in mind that DV is PC-only playback. DV is not supported by external players, SmartTVs, or the internet. DV must be re-encoded for playback by other devices to final delivery formats such as DVD, standard definition BluRay/AVCHD, and other encodes. DV is a lossy format: okay for simple cut and join operations, but any filtering or other image modifications will result in more generational loss unless DV is decoded to lossless media for restoration work. But since DV doesn't have the multitude of problems found in VHS, it's possible to go directly from DV original source to more universally usable formats without a lot of cleanup work. There is no way to go from analog source to DV without quality loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
as well as a Mitsubishi S-VHS VCR that we used to transfer some videos from those camcorders onto VHS and SVHS tapes.
It's a shame they were duped to tape. Hopefully you still have the originals. If not, working with generational noise and distortion will be a chore. You'll have your work cut out for you, but we can help.

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Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
Something else I really don't know is the difference (if any) it would make in the quality of the converted and stored digital files if I also get and use one of the devices I see referenced here as a TBC unit?
There's no "if any" about it. But I assume that you know what tbc's do. There are two types: line-level tbc's, and frame-level tbc's.

Line-level refers to correction of the bad timing of individual scanlines during analog tape playback. Different VCRs have different levels of bad scanline sync due to the way playback slows down and speeds up and doesn't maintain an exact timing of output lines. The result is distortion (among other things).

A motion comparison of the effects of bad line sync corrected with a line tbc device:
http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/3...=1#post1882662

Images comparing bad line output sync with corrected line sync:
http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/3...=1#post1983288

People use players with built-in line tbc or external tbc pass-thru devices to correct bad line timing. Players with built-in line tbc's have more powerful correction, but certain pass-thru units can do a very creditable job.

The second type of tbc is a frame-level tbc that corrects frame-to-frame output timing. Bad timing here results in dropped or duplicate inserted frames and often involves poor audio sync among other things. Frame tbc's don't correct line timing within individual frames. There is debate about whether a frame tbc is needed at all times. Whether it's needed all the time is really moot: a frame tbc will be needed sooner or later for problem tapes and the inconsistent playback from most old VCRs. One plus for pass-thru units is that the recommended models have some level of frame-level sync. But unlike better units they don't bypass copy protection if that becomes an issue.

Two popular external frame tbc's are the AVT-8710 and the TBC-1000. Both have pros and cons, the AVT being more affordable but lately suffering QC problems. Older ones are better, if available and still working. And "still working" is the big problem nowadays. The TBC-1000 is no longer made, along with a lot of other similar devices. My AVT was bought in 2004 and still works (knock wood!) but users report that for either of these models you have to do some searching for a properly working unit. Sites like Amazon still sell so-called video stabilizers: the only thing they stabilize is the makers' profits. Don't even think about using these cheapies.

Some cameras have onboard tbc's, but your model numbers weren't mentioned. For DV-to-DV direct transfer, no TBC is needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
I'm guessing I have (or can locate) cables to directly connect some of these devices, but I suspect I also will need some sort of interface conversion box, too (for example, to get an S-VHS or component video signal into the computer). In that regard, I also don't know whether I should be trying to input the video signals via one of the USB2, USB3 or HDMI ports on my computer. Can someone explain the difference between these options and recommend any devices I should consider for handling this?
Hm. I'm guessing you didn't look over the forum's capture guides too cosely. If not, they start here: http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video.htm.

DV is transferred 1:1 via Firewire and software designed to accept the input. Analog tape is captured with devices designed for analog input. I'd suggest that you not use a DV device to capture analog sources: analog looks bad enough without adding DV compression artifacts and other glitches to the equation. Analog to DV capture is not lossless, will reduce chroma resolution, and has all the noisy problems that come with analog tape plus DV's difficulty in handling it. Analog is usually captured with an AGP, PCI, PCIe, or (nowadays ) a USB device that can capture analog input to YUY2 color in lossless media, usually losslesly compressed with something like huffyuv or Lagarith. Capturing to YUY2 4:2:2 color is equivalent to the way analog tape stores data as YPbPr. Lossless capture is as close as you'll get to a true representation of the input source, without added artifacts or other losses. Lossless media is recommended for correction/restoration work and fancy edits (transitions, overlays, color correction, timeline). After finishing a project a lossless capture can be archived using any of several codecs deigned to reduce compression loss while reducing file size.

There are HDMI capture devices. They're not cheap, and almost none of them capture to lossless media. But you need an HDMI source to use them. If you want component video, those are available too at a cost, and you still need a component source. Analog tape is usually captured using s-video. If only composite video is available, you risk serious dot crawl and other problems unless you can chain in a device that has decent y/c comb filtering. I believe your SVHS machine has s-video output, which you can use for VHS as well as SVHS (SVHS and "s-video" are two different things, neither are related). Some cameras have s-video output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
I do have Adobe Premiere Elements software, but I wonder whether there may be other software or hardware I need to do this that I'm not thinking about?
That depends. It has no provision for cleanup, denoising or other restoration. Its color controls are primitive and often do more harm than good. PE works in RGB and does not make the conversion from YUV analog or DV formats properly. It can work well with fancy edits using lossless media, if you can find a lossless compressor that it will work with.

The primary tools for restoration are Avisynth and Virtualdub. Both are a long way from the typical NLE. Analog-8 and DV won't be that much of a problem. VHS and SVHS are a different story. On the other hand, if noise or bad color or image defects are not a problem for you, and you would prefer to avoid any detail work, PE will likely do the job. But you have to live with the results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
I would love to be able to box all of these up and send them for conversion, but I suspect that's not an affordable option with all of tapes and the disparate formats we have. So I think I'll just have to invest the time to try to do it myself.
The majority of members here do all that on their own. But anyone will tell you that it takes time, learning, and patience. Time, especially. Just capturing analog source takes as much time as it takes to play the original tape. 1 hour of analog tape = 1 hour of capture. Fixing problems is where most of the learning and patience enter the picture, followed by any fancy edits you want to do, and ending with encoding which is not an instant process. The workflow can be considerably shortened at the capture stage by having a competent shop (digitalfq being one -- and I'd like to add that I don't work here, LOL!) make your lossless captures for you with the right hardware and software. They won't do all the cleanup for you at that price but you won't get anywhere in the first place without a good capture.

Consider the cost of the right equipment. You need a capture device for analog source, a machine with Firewire (or a Firewire PCI card) for DV, and a tbc of some kind. During analog capture you need to correct inappropriate IRE levels and illegal luminance levels that result in clipping and detail loss. This involves a proc amp (again, not cheap) or the level controls in your capture drivers, as in Virtualdub, and a histogram or other measuring device to check your settings. If you have Windows 7 or later, your capture choices are severely limited along with many free standby software apps that won't work in anything past XP. Windows 8 and 10 are all but nearly impossible for serious hobbyists trying to get quality results. Premiere Elements might be okay if you're working with lossless material, and Avisynth, VirtuaDub, and things like lossless codecs are free along with a great many free encoders -- so software cost won't amount to that much.

But what about your PC? You need more than one hard drive, as video processing using the same hard drive that houses your OS is a bottleneck. You'd need external drive(s) to at least contain the captures, even if drives these days don't cost as much as they used to. Cleanup time is also a cost, and as I say it depends on your expectations and whether or not analog defects are a problem for you. There are considerations that at first appear very minor but still take time: for example, what do you want to do with the typical bottom-border head switching noise or off-center borders from tape playback? There are safe and simple ways of handling it, but there are ways that can screw up everything. So, restoration time is another factor.

You might consider having someone make your captures, which can save the cost of hardware you'd never use again, save lots of capture time, and get clean captures by pros with the best capture gear and methods.
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  #3  
02-18-2016, 04:12 PM
pdalton pdalton is offline
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Wow! Thank you very much for the detailed information! Just a few follow-up questions, if you don't mind.

1. You mention that some players have built-in TBS. How can I find out whether or not any of my units has built-in TBC? They are: Mitsubishi HS-U770; Canon VR-40; and Sony Handycams CCD-TR5, CCD-TR65, and DCR-TRV20.

2. Assuming some or all of my units do not have built-in TBC, will either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 make whatever TBC corrections would have been made by a player/camcorder that DID have built-in TBC, or - if not - should I be looking at a different TBC unit that has more capabilities than either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 has?

3. Copy protection will not be an issue at all. Everything I need to convert are our own recordings.

4. My PC has both USB2 & USB3 ports (and an HDMI port, but I have determined that the HDMI port is output-only) and I use Windows 8 (probably Windows 10 soon). How does all that impact what additional hardware I need?

Thank you.
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  #4  
02-18-2016, 06:43 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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No.4 first:
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
4. My PC has both USB2 & USB3 ports (and an HDMI port, but I have determined that the HDMI port is output-only) and I use Windows 8 (probably Windows 10 soon). How does all that impact what additional hardware I need?
I was afraid you'd say that. Forum threads have capture card recommendations for VHS/SVHS/analog-8 capture, which number only a handful. At last report none had Windows 8 drivers. A lot of good video software won't work in Win8 and reports are that Win10 is worse. The last known "good" capture OS was Windows 7, and that had many limitations. WinXP is still the winner as the most workable capture Windows OS ever, and legacy All In Wonder cards are still recommended as competitive with a very few older $1K-and-up capture devices for XP. Many still use XP for restoration and edits using the vast tonnage of free and paid video software made for it. One reason I keep XP is for my copy of AfterEffects CS3, an $800 professional package that I won't throw out just because Microsoft had an insane moment with Vista.

It's possible to get captures made but do your own cleanup, edits, and authoring in Windows 8. A lot of older video software won't work in W8, but they aren't so essential that they'd be missed. There are already reports that many graphics apps that worked with Win7 and 8 won't work in 10. The old WinDV that was free for DV-to-DV transfer via Firewire won't work after Windows7. The situation won't get better. It's still the norm for serious hobbyists and pros alike to dig up old XP machines to rebuild or find legacy motherboards and build new XP PC's, as I did a few years ago when Vista's debut showed me the writing on the wall about home video processing.

I have no other answer for you concerning Win8. My wife has a new Win10 that, for all I can see, is useful only for email and word processing -- which, really, is the way most people use computers now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
1. You mention that some players have built-in TBS. How can I find out whether or not any of my units has built-in TBC? They are: Mitsubishi HS-U770; Canon VR-40; and Sony Handycams CCD-TR5, CCD-TR65, and DCR-TRV20.
MM, I think you meant "TBC", not "TBS". But, then do I ever make typos? Don't answer that, LOL!

I haven't used consumer cameras. Members here who are familiar with those models can advise. But from other forums I'd guess that most such cameras do have tbc's on playback. Your user manual would have that information.

The HS-U770 has no tbc. Back in the mid-1990's, only semi-pro and pro vcr's had them, and even at that a tbc was a new idea. The HS-U770 had excellent SVHS performance, but was rather pedestrian with VHS. I use a couple of 1996-era Panasonics myself, but they were rebuilt a few years ago -- something that I'd say is impossible today. Even pro JVC's and Pannies haven't had new parts for years. Repair parts by a few pro shops are scavenged from discarded machines. People started buying up premium VCRs by 2000 or so when consumer VCR's were more like junk recycled from old toys. Mine are non-tbc units; I use an ES10 and ES15 for tbc pass-thru. I was using a rebuilt Panasonic AG-1980 until now, but maintenance on pro machines are a nightmare. U770's with age develop dropout problems and tracking slippage, as most old VCRs will do when their capstan rollers harden and belts get out of shape. Even a good tbc will have problems with seriously spastic playback. The only way to find out is to use the Mitsubishi and see what happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
will either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 make whatever TBC corrections would have been made by a player/camcorder that DID have built-in TBC, or - if not - should I be looking at a different TBC unit that has more capabilities than either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 has?
Again, the AVT and the TBC-1000 are frame-level tbc's. They have no line-level functions. The built=in tbc's of high end VCR's are primarily line level, with at least a modicum of good frame timing but not as accomplished as external frame tbc's in that respect. For analog tape, a line level tbc is essential. A very few legacy DVD recorders have decent pass-thru functions. A pass-thru device is simply "played through". The VCR is connected to the unit's input, then the unit's output goes directly to a capture device. The recommended devices are Panasonic DMR-ES10 and DMR-ES15 recorders. A few other legacy units have been used but with less than impressive results.

The AVT and TBC-1000 are likely your best bets for frame level, other than a pass-thru unit. Any other external TBC that has both line and frame functionality would be a shop unit -- hideously expensive, often requiring ancillary equipment for use, and costly even when sold as used.

possible VCR problems aside, Windows 8 is your biggest obstacle, even for USB2 DV capture drivers, not to mention analog sources. The only USB capture card for analog video to lossless media with Win8 drivers would be the Diamond Multimedia VC500. There are worse choices (believe me, there are MUCH worse!). But overall it's a poor second to devices usually recommended.

Any Windows 8 users out there with more ideas?
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  #5  
04-26-2016, 05:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
The tapes mentioned are analog source. You'll get the best results playing them with the camera that created them.
This is only true for non-VHS sources.

All the 8mm-based Sony tape (Hi8, Video8, Digital8), DV, and others (MicroMV, etc) are the ones that work best on the original camera, if available. It's not 100% true, but mostly true.

Quote:
There are two types: line-level tbc's, and frame-level tbc's.
My easy explanation:
- external TBC cleans the signal
- internal VCR TBC cleans the picture

You need both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdalton View Post
1. You mention that some players have built-in TBS. How can I find out whether or not any of my units has built-in TBC? They are: Mitsubishi HS-U770; Canon VR-40; and Sony Handycams CCD-TR5, CCD-TR65, and DCR-TRV20.
Camera TBCs don't do much, or even anything at all.
- doesn't stop dropped frames
- doesn't fix timing jitter/wiggles

Quote:
2. Assuming some or all of my units do not have built-in TBC, will either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 make whatever TBC corrections would have been made by a player/camcorder that DID have built-in TBC, or - if not - should I be looking at a different TBC unit that has more capabilities than either the AVT-8710 or the TBC-1000 has?
TBC is TBC ... but not TBC. See?

In other words, the internal camera TBC isn't the same as an external AVT-8710 or TBC-1000. Different functions.

Quote:
3. Copy protection will not be an issue at all. Everything I need to convert are our own recordings.
False anti-copy is always an issue.

Quote:
4. My PC has both USB2 & USB3 ports (and an HDMI port, but I have determined that the HDMI port is output-only) and I use Windows 8 (probably Windows 10 soon). How does all that impact what additional hardware I need?
The ATI 600 USB cards would work, and we're getting confirmation that it works fine in Windows 10 x64.

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