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  #1  
10-24-2017, 07:04 PM
VHSnake VHSnake is offline
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Hello,

I am trying to archive a LOT of VHS tapes (NTSC, PAL, and even SECAM) over to a digital file with as little loss as possible. I read the VCR Buying Guide, as well as the ATI All-in-Wonder guide, and I still have just a few more questions.

First, I purchased a JVC HR-S5800U because the guide said that these are good for tape transport for tapes not requiring TBC (most of mine don't). It was damaged during shipment, but I opened it up and it seems to be fine. It also plays back tapes fine, too. Except for tapes recorded using the VCR itself, which I find to be a bit weird. The colors are off by just a little bit (light blue looks like teal), and changing the "EDIT" switch from OFF to ON seems to change the colors to what they should be. But then again, I'm afraid of that tampering the output in some way. Also, the sound seems to be lowered an awful lot, and mainly coming out the right speaker. Playing that same tape on another, lower-cost VCR makes the colors & audio appear fine. For the record, I live in the US and the tapes I tested were NTSC.

Additionally, so far I've tested out Santa Clause, some Batman VHS, and The Rescuers Down Under, and those all seemed to play fine, without any copy protection issues. I'm not sure if it's just that those tapes don't have any protection on them to begin with, or my setup is bypassing it. Either way, I'd like to bypass any copy protection I may face (may sound obvious to some, but I just to clarify).

I also read that, to get the tapes over to digital I would need to get an ATI All-in-Wonder card from the list of recommended models. I followed up by purchasing an ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 128MB AGP card and threw it into an XP machine I had lying around.

FYI, my entire setup is using S-Video and composite stereo audio.

Another thing to add is that, with VirtualDub, doesn't saving as an .AVI file introduce loss? I don't want to deinterlace my video, by the way. Just want a raw, untouched input with a raw, untouched output.

After all of that, I looked elsewhere and found someone on a different forum discussing the exact same thing I'm trying to do back in February of 2017. Other people recommended him to go all out and get one of those medical-grade VTRs, and then get either a Canopus ADVC-110 or one of those Blackmagic Intensity Shuttles to record the video to.

What I'm wondering is, what would be the best option for me to choose? Is there a certain model of VCR/VTR that I should get, or a few that you recommend I should get for each situation I may fall into? Is my current setup of a JVC HR-S5800U and an ATI AiW 9600 good enough to get what I'm looking for? Money isn't an issue. I want to get the absolute best out of my tapes.

Thank you

EDIT: After some more checking, I would say about 50% of the tapes don't need a TBC, while the other half do. Also, I discovered that the colors & sound are off no matter what tape I play. But oddly enough, a tape recorded with my JVC HR-S5800U appears fine on a different player (but still, not the JVC one).
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  #2  
10-25-2017, 06:17 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is online now
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Welcome.

Hm, a lot to think about here....

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I am trying to archive a LOT of VHS tapes (NTSC, PAL, and even SECAM) over to a digital file with as little loss as possible.
Good choice. Rather than "as little loss as possible", how about no loss? That automatically dictates working with lossless media and with components optimised for lossless capture from analog tapes. Your 9800 AIW is particularly well suited for that purpose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
changing the "EDIT" switch from OFF to ON seems to change the colors to what they should be. But then again, I'm afraid of that tampering the output in some way.
With that player, EDIT mode disables most of the tampering except tbc and was designed for dubbing, including capture. Using other modes depends on how much tampering of the original signal you're willing to work with. Sometimes the dnr of other modes will smear a noisy tape or kill detail, sometimes it will output a signal that's cleaned up at optimum. Or sometimes it's better in the long run to skip built-in denoising and use more sophisticated methods in post processing. It depends on the tape and the player.

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Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I'm not sure if it's just that those tapes don't have any protection on them to begin with, or my setup is bypassing it.
Not all capture devices will honor copy protection. Some do, some don't. Many flavors of analog copy protection are often ignored, but visible side effects do occur (luma variations, color anomalies, various types of chroma noise). Depends on the tape, the capture components, and the extent of the copy protection lab boys' determination to foil your efforts.

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Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I followed up by purchasing an ATI All-in-Wonder 9600 128MB AGP card and threw it into an XP machine I had lying around.
Good choices. I have a 7500 AIW, a 9600XT AIW, and two old XP machines for capture. I've been offered a king's ransom for them, but they're not going anywhere while I still have tapes left.

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Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
with VirtualDub, doesn't saving as an .AVI file introduce loss?
AVi is neither a format nor a codec. Avi is simply a container, and like mp4 and mkv, etc., it can accept many codecs both lossy and lossless. For advanced hobbyists and pros alike, analog tape is captured to AVI containers using a YUY2 colorspace (which more closely resembles the YPrPb system used to store video data on VHS tapes) using lossless compressors like huffYUV (easier on a CPU than the others), Lagarith, or UT Video. Lossless media can be decompressed, filtered, edited, used in multiple colorspaces for various processing methods, etc., etc., and recompressed with zero compression loss. What you put into it is what you get back. That's what "lossless" means. What you get from a lossy codec is less than what goes into it -- the initial loss in not recoverable, and each time you compress/recompress you lose accummulatively more. That's what lossy means, and that's why it's called "lossy".

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I looked elsewhere and found someone on a different forum discussing the exact same thing I'm trying to do back in February of 2017. Other people recommended him to go all out and get one of those medical-grade VTRs, and then get either a Canopus ADVC-110 or one of those Blackmagic Intensity Shuttles to record the video to.
Similar recommendations have appeared many times, usually from authors who failed at lossless capture, never used lossless media, or didn't want to bother learning how to work with it. Why would someone advise using a Canopus or other lossy DV device to capture analog source to a format that was never designed for restoration or additional lossy re-encoding and processing without serious compression damage. Black Magic gear isn't recommended because it's basically designed for HD and digital source, isn't optimized for the characteristics inherent in standard definition analog capture, and is known to drop frames all over the place. And no one would recommend a medical lab VTR for VHS! But the lossless-vs-lossy debate continues after all these years, with no end in sight. If you wish to endure the hassles of dealing with what the February 2017 author and his predecessors recommend, it's up to you. But the title of your current thread is "Backing up VHS tapes with as little loss as possible", not "How much loss and under-optimised results can I tolerate?". We've all seen the results of the methods you mentioned. Frankly I've been under-impressed, and the results are often just plain ugly or too noisy to contend with.

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Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
What I'm wondering is, what would be the best option for me to choose?
I'd say you're already on the better path with what you have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
Is my current setup of a JVC HR-S5800U and an ATI AiW 9600 good enough to get what I'm looking for?
Both are good choices. The JVC has its limitations. You're not likely to find a better option than 9800/XP for lossless capture unless you're willing to go well into 4-plus or more likely 5 digits for professional shop gear and can afford the ancillary lab equipment and the training to use it. The prices will make BlackMagic look like something from a used goods charity store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
EDIT: After some more checking, I would say about 50% of the tapes don't need a TBC, while the other half do. Also, I discovered that the colors & sound are off no matter what tape I play. But oddly enough, a tape recorded with my JVC HR-S5800U appears fine on a different player (but still, not the JVC one).
Most advanced users the world over are painfully familiar with tape playback problems and different VCRs, which is why most of them own and use more than one player (I have 4, and no one tape plays the same way through all of them). If any of your tapes are slow-speed recordings, JVC isn't recommended. You would have to go into Panasonics for those.

The best way around the shortcomings of any single player is to do the best you can with it and use an alternate player when necessary. Lots of users have found themselves in that situation. My primary player is a rebuilt Panasonic AG-1980. But I've had to use a non-tbc Panasonic with a Panny tbc pass-thru unit in tow because of a maverick tape that simply refused to make nice with the 1980, and got better results. It usually means doing more denoising later, but it's better than dealing with a tape that won't behave.
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  #3  
10-28-2017, 10:34 PM
VHSnake VHSnake is offline
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Quote:
Rather than "as little loss as possible", how about no loss?
yes, that's what I meant

Quote:
With that player, EDIT mode disables most of the tampering except tbc and was designed for dubbing, including capture.
So, to clarify, I always want EDIT to be turned on for untampered video/audio? I can post some screenshots or video snippets when I have the chance. And, my unit (afaik) doesn't have a TBC built in.

Quote:
Many flavors of analog copy protection are often ignored, but visible side effects do occur (luma variations, color anomalies, various types of chroma noise).
I totally forgot to check for those other examples, I was just looking out to see if the video would be overridden with the "MACROVISION" logo. But, also, from what I remember seeing on the tapes, I don't recall any of the above happening.

Quote:
AVi is neither a format nor a codec. Avi is simply a container, and like mp4 and mkv, etc., it can accept many codecs both lossy and lossless.
Ah, ok. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

Quote:
For advanced hobbyists and pros alike, analog tape is captured to AVI containers using a YUY2 colorspace (which more closely resembles the YPrPb system used to store video data on VHS tapes) using lossless compressors like huffYUV (easier on a CPU than the others), Lagarith, or UT Video.
I see. So what settings would you recommend I use in VirtualDub? I'm fairly new to the software and am not quite sure on what settings would be best for optimal capture/exporting.

Quote:
Similar recommendations have appeared many times, usually from authors who failed at lossless capture, never used lossless media, or didn't want to bother learning how to work with it...Frankly I've been under-impressed, and the results are often just plain ugly or too noisy to contend with.
Ah, ok, I understand. I was unaware that using either of those devices introduced loss. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will definitely stay away from those options and just stick to what I have. I'd rather jump through a bunch of hoops to get good quality than to go the easy route and have the post-product ending up looking like rubbish.

Quote:
Most advanced users the world over are painfully familiar with tape playback problems and different VCRs, which is why most of them own and use more than one player (I have 4, and no one tape plays the same way through all of them)...It usually means doing more denoising later, but it's better than dealing with a tape that won't behave.
Thanks for all of this info as well! I currently own the VCR I stated earlier, as well as a JVC HR-S3500U (S-VHS player w/ S-Video out) and a Panasonic Omnivision PV-9400 (VHS player w/ Composite out). I'm on the hunt for more players, and now I know which ones to spot out! I'm also thinking on getting a really low grade VCR just to see how the tape playback fairs on it. I recall somebody somewhere else on this forum say that they had a cheapy RCA VCR that was the only VCR they were able to play back some incredibly damaged tapes on. Could it possibly be because it was designed to work with lower-grade tape, as opposed to the higher-grade units?
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  #4  
10-29-2017, 07:49 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
So, to clarify, I always want EDIT to be turned on for untampered video/audio? I can post some screenshots or video snippets when I have the chance.
I'd say EDIT mode most of the time unless you have a really noisy looking tape. Even with retail issues, noise levels vary from tape to tape. I don't know how aggressive the noise reduction is on your player (on my old 7600 unit dnr was rather destructive with really poor tapes). If dnr is too strong in other modes, you're better off with EDIT and learning to work with more sophisticated denoisers such as with Avisynth in post-processing. But since you have poor audio in other modes, it indicates a need for some VCR maintenance. Audio in non-EDIT modes shouldn't be drastically affected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
And, my unit (afaik) doesn't have a TBC built in.
Yes, you're right. You also mentioned that 50% of your tapes don't seem to need it. What about the other 50%? We often see claims that some non-tbc players track so well that they don't need a line-level tbc. But on closer inspection of samples some subtle but easily visible line sync errors appear and tend to persist throughout the capture. I have an old well-kept Panasonic PV-4564 from 1996 with a tracking mechanism that's built like a tank, and at first use I would have said it tracked well enough and needed no line tbc. Indeed, it perfectly tracked scenes damaged by a JVC player that a Panny PV-9668 couldn't negotiate without producing 4 to 8 frames pf pure static (with broken audio, too). But after more use my eyes apparently improved. Some angular lines and borders revealed subtle bends and notches -- they didn't move very much or wiggle, but the effects persisted through the capture in the same locations. They didn't appear with a tbc pass-thru device (a Panasonic ES10 DVD-R), nor did they appear with a Panasonic AG-1980's tbc. But your evaluation could still be be correct -- when it comes to many specific players, you never can tell. Still, what will you do with your other tapes? Probably a pass-thru tbc device will fill the bill.

Posted examples of a really bad player that needs a line tbc, solved with a pass-thru unit: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...=ES10+line+TBC.

A common but rather mild example of line "wiggles" produced by typical scanline errors is here: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...bo#post1882662.

Long discussion thread of other units tested for line tbc use (usually with less serious distortion present): https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...hat-do-you-use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Not all capture devices will honor copy protection. Some do, some don't. Many flavors of analog copy protection are often ignored, but visible side effects do occur (luma variations, color anomalies, various types of chroma noise).
I totally forgot to check for those other examples, I was just looking out to see if the video would be overridden with the "MACROVISION" logo.
VHS copy protection schemes don't dislpay a logo.

Here's a link to a sample video that displays side effects from copy protection (chroma flicker and periodic red/green color changes, especially visible in bright areas) as well as distortions in the histogram that throw a cyan color cast into neutral gray areas, resulting in grubby looking colors. The capture was made with a 1998 Panny with no tbc or noise reduction, because players with aggressive dnr simply smeared everything and made the made the side effects slightly worse to work with: B_flicker_samples_after.mpg . The line-tbc pass-thru unit for this capture was a Toshiba XS34 DVD-R. The external line tbc to defeat copy protection was an AVT-8710, 2004 vintage.

The repair of that chroma problem was B_flicker_samples_after.mpg, but it's partial and not very satisfactory IMO. I still had to tweak that one later. Side effects weakened as the tape played, and disappeared about 20 minutes into the movie. Thank goodness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
So what settings would you recommend I use in VirtualDub? I'm fairly new to the software and am not quite sure on what settings would be best for optimal capture/exporting.
Notes and An updated guide for VirtualDub capture are here: .Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I will definitely stay away from those options and just stick to what I have. I'd rather jump through a bunch of hoops to get good quality than to go the easy route and have the post-product ending up looking like rubbish.
Actually it's tougher to get quality results from lossy media than from lossless captures. At least lossless captures don't have luma and chroma compression artifacts or other glitches to deal with, which cause even more loss because of the filters needed to clear those artifacts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
I recall somebody somewhere else on this forum say that they had a cheapy RCA VCR that was the only VCR they were able to play back some incredibly damaged tapes on. Could it possibly be because it was designed to work with lower-grade tape, as opposed to the higher-grade units?
The opposite would apply. Higher-grade VCRs are designed to work better with various grades of tape. -- most of the time, anyway. Better VCRs have more robust tracking mechanisms. In the case I cited, the non-tbc VCR in question had a tape transport very much like the tbc unit. Much of the technology of that particular line of 1996 Panny machines was used in the higher-priced versions. In the end, you never can tell until you try it when the situation warrants.

I'd say you have enough lower-tier VCRs to work with. I'd put my investment in a premium unit such as JVC 9800 series or the Panasonic AG series. This assumes the units have been brought up to spec, which is difficult to find from auction sites. Better to get something from a pro shop that knows what's it doing (https://www.tgrantphoto.com/sales/in...fessional-vcrs is recommended).


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  #5  
12-13-2017, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
I'd say EDIT mode most of the time unless you have a really noisy looking tape.
All VHS tapes have noise, especially chroma noise. For that reason, you should leave it in AUTO or NORM as much as possible. I rarely use EDIT mode, as that disables the filters -- the reason I bought the expensive JVC S-VHS decks. Sort of counterproductive. Line TBC alone cannot fix everything, and the better S-VHS transport is wasted if you don't take advantage of the more-stable (thus filterable) signal now being output.

We'll probably always disagree on this, but that's what I've done since the 90s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VHSnake View Post
After all of that, I looked elsewhere and found someone on a different forum discussing the exact same thing I'm trying to do back in February of 2017. Other people recommended him to go all out and get one of those medical-grade VTRs, and then get either a Canopus ADVC-110 or one of those Blackmagic Intensity Shuttles to record the video to.
That was horrible advice. Medical VTR have multiple issues, and were never intended for playback (just recording). The Canopus box lowers quality quite a bit, as it's low-end DV. Yuck.

Quote:
Is my current setup of a JVC HR-S5800U and an ATI AiW 9600 good enough to get what I'm looking for? Money isn't an issue. I want to get the absolute best out of my tapes.
Good capture card, mid-grade VCR. The 7600+/9600+/SR is better, high end series.

Quote:
EDIT: After some more checking, I would say about 50% of the tapes don't need a TBC, while the other half do. Also, I discovered that the colors & sound are off no matter what tape I play. But oddly enough, a tape recorded with my JVC HR-S5800U appears fine on a different player (but still, not the JVC one).
All tapes need external TBC. If you're having troubles with image and audio sync, it just reflects that more. If a tape only plays well on the machine it was recorded on, then it was flawed (misaligned), and all tapes created with it are signal damaged. However, you can misalign a better VCR to match without too much effort.

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