Quantcast Macrovision tapes and white balance? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
12-30-2017, 07:12 PM
MrEightThreeOne MrEightThreeOne is offline
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Hello y'all. It seems we meet again.

So, unfortunately this is where my "it's good enough" attitude comes back to bite me right in the rear. I've been doing video transfer for quite a while...and one thing that has always bothered me about my already poorly-regarded capture card (The Dazzle DVC100) is the fact that, on Macrovision-protected tapes (I know some of you will ask why I care on commercial tapes when most of them are movies already on DVD; for some tapes, this isn't the case, or they may have content that has otherwise never been given a digital release), for the most part it's able to feed them through alright...with one major caveat. The white balance is completely off. I'm guessing due to a problem with the way it parses the signal, the color gets a bit wonky and isn't read properly. Note that this happens *only* on tapes that are copy-protected by Macrovision; otherwise, they're usually put in fine. A "classic" example of this happening in action can be seen below:



This is the classic "Sorcerer Mickey" opening on most Disney tapes; the primary reason I chose this one is because, well, the problems are quite apparent with hand-drawn stuff. Just for starters, Mickey's eyes almost seem to be the exact same color as his face. On his hat, you're supposed to see two stars and a moon, but they're near impossible to make out here because of how bad the white balance is. You also can't see any of the lining on his gloves. Add other little problems into the mix, such as how his robe looks more pink rather than red, and it's a bit of an eyesore. This problem, as I said, consistently happens on every tape protected by Macrovision; I know MV tapes can be problematic in general, but given the wide range of experience I've seen across this forum, I'd be curious to know if other people know of any cards that don't have this problem. I have tried to solve this problem too, but unfortunately it's to no avail; the white balance is so bad that trying to correct it in post-production still doesn't fix the excessive bleeding.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm on the market for a new card, given that this is my biggest qualm with it and I've generally learned other issues that it has (bad audio sync, poor colors in general...). Unfortunately I don't have easy access to a Windows XP machine at the moment so an AIW card can't really suit my needs right now. But are there any USB capture cards on the market that are any good? And if any of you have the ability to try, do they suffer this same white balance issue?

I've already ruled out the Elgato card (it can only do 640x480 and does low-bitrate MP4 hardware encoding, which is bad) and the Diamond VC500 (it has the white balance issue too, as a friend of mine was able to confirm), but what else is around that any of you know of? I use a modern Windows 10 setup, and USB would be preferred.


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File Type: png vlcsnap-2017-12-30-18h31m31s575.png (483.0 KB, 65 downloads)

Last edited by MrEightThreeOne; 12-30-2017 at 07:26 PM.
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  #2  
12-30-2017, 07:57 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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If that image is indicative of how you control (or don't control) input levels during capture, don't blame Macrovision. Can't offer much help anyway, as yourt image isn't directlym from the video and has already been converted to RGB.

What we could work with is an unfiltered short video from an original capture in its original colorspace, which you can make with Virtualdub (ask if you don't know how).

White balance from VHS is never correct, whether Macrovision is there or not, even with the best players. It always requires corrective work in post processing.
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12-30-2017, 08:54 PM
MrEightThreeOne MrEightThreeOne is offline
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Hm, turns out it may not be MV after all. Whoops. My bad.

Either way, this still seems to happen on a lot of tapes that are MV-protected, incidentally. Some look perfectly fine and others don't. It's totally random either way though. Seems like it happens most often on tapes released in the 90s. But again, it never happens on any non-protected tapes; whether it be a TV recorded tape, a home video, or a commercial tape with no MV, it will never happen.

I have tried controlling the input levels in the capture, but unfortunately this card has no option to change the white balance, which is doubly frustrating. But yeah, that screenshot is fairly representative of how it looks even before any real capture; the amount of color bleeding varies depending on how severe it is, but this is a good case of where it's so bad that even post processing doesn't fix it.

I'll go ahead and attach a little snippet; unfortunately I don't have access to the tape I originally got that screenshot from right now (it's back at college and I'm home right now), but the snippet I'm showing is one tape that's a particularly bad offender -- it's so bad, in fact, that even the green FBI warnings don't look right. It's from a trailer of The Brave Little Toaster; since it shows a lot of scenes in the span of a few seconds, I thought it'd be a good catalyst. This snippet was done on the original color space (YUY2) and is on the Lagarith lossless codec, so literally no compression will throw anything off. In particular, look at that first snippet on the sky -- the snow top on the mountain bleeds together with the sky, the sky itself almost being completely white. A few other inconsistencies -- the blanket (on the far left in the shot where they're all lined up) has a very bright yellow color instead of the more warm yellow he should have, the Toaster himself lacks a lot of the distinct purple hue, and in general the colors are insanely washed out. Outdoor scenes in general look terrible across most tapes; the darker scenes look alright-ish, which is why I say it's the white balance causing this problem.

I have quite a few other tapes that have this issue -- Star Wars 4 and 5, the 1995 releases (also MV protected), nearly every Disney tape bar a few (Aladdin is one of the rare ones that doesn't have this issue, which is incredibly weird), and just about every Viacom tape I've ever tried.


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  #4  
12-30-2017, 11:18 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Actually, that is a very typical Macrovision.

The "too bright" test is one that I run when testing hardware, specifically when it comes to anti-copy protected tapes.

You just need a TBC, and done.
If you want a quality TBC, PM me, I have a few still available: For sale: TBC-1000, TBC-3000, green AVT-8710, more

I do hate that Dazzle card, and it has problems, but color isn't one of them. There are worse cards (EZcrap, AVermedia, etc). Use VirtualDub, not the junky Pinnacle Studio that was included with it, and drivers are not fun (worse that ATI). You also need to watch audio values, as it tends to distort/redline the audio. I forget if it's easily tweaked to sane value, or a simple registry hack is required (like with the ATI 600 USB). From what I remember, it did have some issues with signal integrity and dropped frames, and was too touchy for VHS. My last testing of this card was around 2009. I think that review was one of the documents lost from the site, and I've not yet restored it.

If you want a better card, I also have an extra ATI 600 USB. Again, PM me about it.

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12-30-2017, 11:41 PM
MrEightThreeOne MrEightThreeOne is offline
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...so I was right then. Huh. So then back to the original question -- are there cards you know for sure don't have this problem, and is the ATI 600 USB one? If not, that's fine, but I'm just curious. Glad to know this wasn't just me being clueless. I have a hunch for figuring out things like this.

Sadly I'm in no place to afford any sort of external TBC right now; perhaps once I actually get out of college this will be on the radar (I know, I'm young), but for now it's a little out of the question. And yeah, after getting more and more experience with the Dazzle, I think I see where your hatred comes from, heh. Thank you for the help! Really appreciate it!
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12-31-2017, 12:00 AM
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Actually, you know what, I do have a specific Tevion that ignores Macrovision. I keeping forgetting about it, buried at the back on the hardware cabinets. PM me about it.

The Jim Carrey flick "Liar Lair" is one of my main test tapes for this exact error. (Note that some MV tapes behave different from others, so it may specific to my exact tape, and not title-wide.) The Tevion consistently ignores the MV issues. Since Tevion is a Europeean company, and this was a European-made card, I'm not surprised. It's mostly North America and Japan that gets hit by MV "requirements" (threat of legal action, not an actual requirement).

However, lack of TBC still affects dropped frames, regardless of device.

Yes, definitely young. But always nice to see Millennials/GenZ appreciating the VHS era that we of GenX grew up with.

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12-31-2017, 08:46 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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You can hook up all the external tbc's you like. It won't correct the illegal levels here; consistently, the black point is too high and brights are off the chart. There appears to be no attempt at brightness or contrast control during capture. A tbc might fix the dropped frames in the beginning of the sample clip, or even correct some of the jitter and frame hops, but this VHS is known to have bad luma and chroma flicker, line twitter, and a jumpy image (seen in posts on the VH forum).

The VC500 was mentioned. Tests by msgohan in another forum indicate that the VC500 ignores Macrovision -- at least it does on the well-known Titanic VHS which is often used for such tests.

I'll echo lordsmurf: whether you have Microvision or not, you still need a frame-level tbc.
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01-02-2018, 05:45 PM
MrEightThreeOne MrEightThreeOne is offline
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@lordsmurf: Thanks for letting me know! After looking around a bit more on the site, it seems the 600 USB also ignores Macrovision. May go ahead and just use that. I always use VirtualDub to do my captures, so whether or not the software works is completely irrelevant to me, just so long that the driver is recognized.

I've seen around on here that only a specific Tevion card is recommended, but all the eBay postings are outdated and the pictures aren't around anymore, so I can't tell which one. Consistently, there's two models I'm seeing; any idea which is which?

@sanlyn: Actually, a friend of mine with a VC500 has run this test too and he gets very similar results. In fact, he ran the test on a commercial DVD with the Macrovision flag enabled (The Rugrats Movie), so I *know* it wasn't a bad tape. Same issue -- horrible white balance everywhere. You could pretty easily tell the video looked off. It wasn't as bad as a tape would have been, but it still was far from perfect.

The dropped frames, as I'm aware, is a consistent issue with the Dazzle (just one more reason I'm looking to replace it). Literally every capture I've ever done on this piece of garbage card drops 7-8 frames at the beginning. Even the official software it comes with is nice enough to point this out.

And again, I do wish I could nab a TBC right now, I know it adds a lot of nice conveniences; sadly, I'm just in no place to afford one until after I land a paying job. But it is a priority once I can reach that point. Thank you for all the advice everyone!
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02-04-2018, 01:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrEightThreeOne View Post
@it seems the 600 USB also ignores Macrovision.
Not sure where you got that. It's not correct.

Quote:
I've seen around on here that only a specific Tevion card is recommended, but all the eBay postings are outdated and the pictures aren't around anymore, so I can't tell which one. Consistently, there's two models I'm seeing; any idea which is which?
It's essentially the one that you never see available for 10+ years ago. Tevion never had models or anything, just cards with the brand name. It's also not uncommon for stock photos to be used, and then you get something else. Seen that a lot.

Quote:
And again, I do wish I could nab a TBC right now, I know it adds a lot of nice conveniences; sadly, I'm just in no place to afford one until after I land a paying job. But it is a priority once I can reach that point. Thank you for all the advice everyone
When that day comes, I'll help you find a good one. Finding a good TBC is like a minefield in recent years. And an expensive minefield at that!

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