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  #1  
12-06-2016, 10:05 PM
chris98891 chris98891 is offline
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Hi all,
It's finally time for me to suck it up and convert my parents home movies to digital. They've been stored well, and while disorganized, are in pretty solid condition.

I need help figuring out the best way to set up the project and efficiently buy converters/hardware. Here is what I have:

78 VHS-C from 1989 - 1997
~70 Hi8 from 1997-2009
1x Cheaper VHS player
2x VHS-C -> VHS converter

As you can see, I don't have anything that can run the Hi8 (the camcorder crapped out).

I've put in a request for a quote for the whole project, but would like to pit that against what it would cost for me to DIY. I'm computer literate and have a decently powerful desktop.

I would like to end up with a digital file for every video, that I could then edit, split, and file away and blackmail my cousins with at my leisure. However, if an "all-in-one" VHS to DVD converter is better (I've seen them for ~$300, I'd do that for ease of use and then just rip the DVDs eventually)

So I'm just getting started--what's the best route to go? Is there a decent player that could take both Hi8 and VHS-C? Run that through what I've heard is a TBC, and capture that on the computer?

I really appreciate any direction I can get here. I may just have to crowdsource the funds from the aunts and uncles and cousins to cover the costs, but I'm willing to spend to get the quality on these files that we'll keep forever.

Thanks,
Chris

Last edited by chris98891; 12-06-2016 at 10:35 PM.
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  #2  
12-07-2016, 08:01 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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While DIY is often alluring, due to the idea of being cheaper and "not that hard", it's not always true for everything. Video is one of those times where it's neither cheaper nor easier.

You have VHS-C tapes. That is a very fragile and uncooperative format. It has "VHS" in the name, but it varies in several important (not-good) ways. The format is very susceptible to being "eaten" by VCRs, especially when using an inferior adapter. The only safe VCR is the Panasonic AG-1980P, due to how the high-quality transport works. Acquiring a good working AG-1980 is about $300-500.

Those all-in-one "converters" (DVD recorders) are terrible quality, more often than not. And those combo decks will surely eat some % of your VHS-C tapes, guaranteed. The DVD will literally look worse than the VHS tape did, and that's a shame because a digital file can (and should!) look better than the original tape did. Very few DVD recorders were ever suggested for analog conversion, due to the LSI Logic chipsets in specific machines.

No, nothing plays both Hi8 (or any Video8 format) and VHS. Those are completely different video systems. You'll need a quality camera or deck for the Hi8. And no, the original camera that recorded the Hi8 may not be ideal. You need one with an internal TBC.

You must also have an external TBC, and that's another $200-400. And again, there are issues finding a properly working unit. This is needed to purify the signal so the capture card will accept it without errors or dropped frames.

A quality capture card is often $100, give or take.

We've not even discussed a computer yet. A new Windows internet-connected PC won't work for capturing. A special system must be built for video work.

Not to mention the learning curve for video. It's probably unlike anything you've ever dealt with. It has no commonality with general computing knowledge, and it's essentially audio knowledge multiplied photo/imagery knowledge.

If you want to go down this path, great! But you'll need up to $2k and at least a year of free time.

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- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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  #3  
12-07-2016, 08:13 AM
chris98891 chris98891 is offline
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Thanks for the detailed response! I'm still waiting on feedback from Digital FAQ on how much the entire project should cost--but do you have an estimate for how much I should expect to spend for good quality, without too much custom finishing?

I expected to spend around $1k to have somebody archive the whole shebang--how far off is that? Would a professional service be able to do a better job than I would regarding quality and speed?

With this kind of equipment needed, I imagine there is some intrinsic value to the things I would buy, seeing as how somebody in the same boat would want to buy it from me afterwards, so I wouldn't view it so much as a sunk cost. I'd surely take a little depreciation, but if I could buy the equipment all in for $2k and sell it afterwards for $1.7k, then I've only paid $300 (and my time) to back up the whole library, rather than sinking $1-2k into a service.

I'm interested in hearing why a decently high powered rig wouldn't be capable of capturing video with a nice capture system from BlackMagic or Elgato. Could you explain a little more?

Thanks again for the info.
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  #4  
12-07-2016, 08:55 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Blackmagic is not suggested for analog SD (has issues), nor is Elgato in most cases (more issues). You'll find many in-depth discussions of those devices in past threads from recent years. Blackmagic is essentially only for HD, and the SD abilities are a poorly-working afterthought. Elgato feedback varies on device. For VHS, that stuff is not at all high-end. At one point, we did suggest Blackmagic as an option, but since then, many issues have surfaced.

High-end SD capture = ATI, Aja, some Matrox, some Canopus

Depreciation depends on the device. Some will still command 100%, while others won't fetch 25%. Then there's the matter of condition, which is the bane of VCRs. You may sink $500-800 into a deck, but only be able to reclaim $400 or less. I think a 15% depreciation ($1700 salvaged from $2k) is too aggressive.

$1k for archive work is on target.

If you still want a DIY, I've not yet had time to post these in the marketplace:
- two fully-loaded ATI capture systems (about $550 each)
- a set of studio-grade speakers ($100)
- and one last green AVT TBC ($350)

^ I'm hoping to put them on the marketplace today. That leaves only the VCR you'd need, and I have some leads on those for under $500.

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12-07-2016, 09:01 AM
chris98891 chris98891 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Blackmagic is not suggested for analog SD (has issues), nor is Elgato in most cases (more issues). You'll find many in-depth discussions of those devices in past threads from recent years. Blackmagic is essentially only for HD, and the SD abilities are a poorly-working afterthought. Elgato feedback varies on device. For VHS, that stuff is not at all high-end. At one point, we did suggest Blackmagic as an option, but since then, many issues have surfaced.

High-end SD capture = ATI, Aja, some Matrox, some Canopus

Depreciation depends on the device. Some will still command 100%, while others won't fetch 25%. Then there's the matter of condition, which is the bane of VCRs. You may sink $500-800 into a deck, but only be able to reclaim $400 or less. I think a 15% depreciation ($1700 salvaged from $2k) is too aggressive.

$1k for archive work is on target.

If you still want a DIY, I've not yet had time to post these in the marketplace:
- two fully-loaded ATI capture systems (about $550 each)
- a set of studio-grade speakers ($100)
- and one last green AVT TBC ($350)

^ I'm hoping to put them on the marketplace today. That leaves only the VCR you'd need, and I have some leads on those for under $500.
Awesome! Thanks for the info. I'll begin shopping around, but if the depreciation could really be that high, I'd likely take the $1k option to have somebody else do it and save my time/space on the computer desk.

Are there any other recommended services that I should be shopping around for? Of course there are always local places, but it's so hard to know who to trust with such a goldmine of memories--it's one of things that points me to DIY.
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  #6  
12-07-2016, 09:21 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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You need to really be careful about services. Some have no more experience that you do, and see video conversion as a lazy way to make $$$. And you get crud in return. Many outsource your videos, sometimes even to places like India. You need to really grill them on the hardware being used, and question their methods. No answers = no good.

We use the same gear that we talk about on the forum, so you're good with us.

The hardware I have available should retain most of its value. You can't just eBay it, because the average eBayer is dumb, often expecting a bargain (FYI: why many "bargains" have problems), and you won't get quality price. You need to resell it in a place populated by video user, like our marketplace forum, and give it some time to sell (few weeks or months, not days like eBay). The only gamble would be on the VCR. But if you buy it from a place like TGrant, you should get at least 75% return, assuming it's still in top condition when you're done.

The enemy of a VCR is gravity + time. If it sits there for too long, unused, bad things happen. But, even if used, gravity tends to screw with alignment. You have to service a VCR (maintenance) every few years. So as long as you don't drag your feet, and take forever, you'll be fine.

DIY is viable, as long as you have proper expectations -- and quality tools.

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  #7  
12-11-2016, 04:41 PM
chris98891 chris98891 is offline
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As the budget from relative's participation shrinks, I'm re-evaluating DIY.

Based on Hi8 being typically easier to work with, would it be any cheaper to set up a capture system for only the Hi8 tapes? It sounds like the VHS-C are much more fragile and would probably be better left to a professional.

Would a Hi8 camcorder with internal TBC also require an external TBC? (Like the AVT TBC above)

Would one of the ATI capture cards above, the AVT TBC, and a GV-D200 D8 or EV-S300 or EV-S7000 comprise a complete and quality setup for converting Hi8 tapes?
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03-17-2017, 06:38 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
No, nothing plays both Hi8 (or any Video8 format) and VHS. Those are completely different video systems. You'll need a quality camera or deck for the Hi8.
In Japan, Sony made some combo (S-)VHS + Hi8 machines. The WV-ST1, for example, is one with DNR. But I don't think any include TBC.

Sony WV-ST1.jpg

They still sell at crazy prices for some reason. Typically around $250 for working units; sometimes much higher. Middleman fees + shipping to get one sent to North America could easily add $150 or more.

So I only mention it as a funny curiosity.


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03-22-2017, 08:59 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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I've recently used a GV-D200 (dates to ~2000)for 8mm/Hi8 capture and it worked well. It has IEEE1394 (aka: iLink & firewire) output, so if you are willing to work with DV format AVI files (not ideal for restoration work due to compression and 4:2:0 color) and are satisfied with the results it becomes a simple solution with no need for a separate analog capture card (just an IEEE 1394 port).

I've also tried used a EV-S7000 (dates to ~1994) recently, but I wonder if might have a touch of the capacitor issues of that era. The image it output to a HDTV's s-video input contained more chroma noise than the GV-D200 at any DNR setting tried.

All that means is that legacy analog gear is subject to significant variation in condition.

It all boils down to how much you are willing to invest in time (both learning and doing) and cash, and what your threshold is for "good enough." Time spend trying to restore old home video recordings is time not spend doing something else that may, or may not, be more enjoyable or productive. That is your call.
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