Quantcast Starting out with VHS to digital archiving - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-09-2018, 04:52 AM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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Hello,
Since I'm completely inexperienced with AV, I've been bouncing around the internet for information. But I have the feeling that I'm in one of those.. 'ignorant of my own ignorance' situations.

I'm hoping perhaps someone could point me to the relevant threads on this forum.

My primary goal right now is to digitally archive my VHS tapes to the ideal format future video restoration.

My tapes are 95% PAL. For equipment I have:
Panasonic NV-SD530
Canopus ADVC 110
I also have the original Sony handycam CCD-TR105E that most of the small tapes were recorded on.

Is that enough to get started or should I be researching different equipment to buy?

Thanks for the help and the patience!
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  #2  
05-09-2018, 10:34 AM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Is this a project (one-time), a hobby (ongoing), or a potential business? If the former, you might get better results by going to a service which will do the captures for you and send you the original lossless files on hard drive or similar (not just a simple capture on a DVD recorder). If the latter, one of the experienced members here should have recommendations on equipment and software to purchase.
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  #3  
05-09-2018, 10:46 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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- The VCR has no line-level tbc, essential for VHS capture.
- I note you've chosen a capture card designed for digital source instead of one designed for analog source. VHS to DV involves compression artifacts and data loss, as well as chroma and level problems. It also involves at least one more stage of lossy compression if you want final formats that are playable via standard means (TV, external media player). DV is PC-only.
- The highest quality archive or capture for VHS source is losslessly compressed video.
- Your camera is for Video8. You didn't mention Video8 analog tapes.
- How many VHS tapes do you plan to work with?
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05-09-2018, 02:14 PM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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This is strictly personal and perhaps for immediate family.

If going the service route, is there one that can be recommended above others?

I have about 25 Video8 and 25 VHS tapes.

The Canopus I bought many years ago at someone's recommendation when I was thinking about tackling this project. I heard that when the source is PAL the Canopus might not be as bad as if the source was NTSC.

I'm completely open to dropping a few $100 on either a service or different hardware if there are recommendations or threads that cover recommendations for either (have not yet searched lossless video capture devices, will try that later today).
I do remember once looking for recommended VCRs years back and at that time finding that they were quite expensive and often with little guarantees that they were functional.

Thanks!
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  #5  
05-09-2018, 03:48 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
My primary goal right now is to digitally archive my VHS tapes to the ideal format future video restoration.
DV is not an ideal format for restoration. It's a shoot-and-watch format never designed for restoration. However, if that's your choice you'll have to contend with artifacts and data loss in your archive. Not impossible, but it's not the ideal you think you're going to get.
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  #6  
05-09-2018, 04:07 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
This is strictly personal and perhaps for immediate family.

If going the service route, is there one that can be recommended above others?

I have about 25 Video8 and 25 VHS tapes.
Well, the owners of this board run such a service, although it would mean shipping your tapes overseas to the US. Don't know any comparable operations in the UK, although some other members might.

If you're thinking future restoration and processing then you don't want some service that just "transfers your tapes to DVD (or DV)" for cheap. You want the original capture files in a lossless format, and better expect them to run over 1 GB per minute. Best if you purchase a couple of blank 2 TB hard drives and send them to the service along with your tapes and expect them to send them back full. If they throw in a DVD or Blu-ray that you can pop in a player and show for fun as well, so much the better. But the original capture files are what you want to keep...and make sure they're backed up (to multiple locations)!
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  #7  
05-09-2018, 09:29 PM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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Thanks, I'll check out the service offered here.

I had a look at the required hardware. Would it be accurate to say that I would probably have to spend about $800 to $1k to in order to get lossless recordings from my VHS tapes?

And in the case of the Video8 tapes, would I only need the TBC and capture device assuming the old Sony Handycam still works?

Another Noob question, since I'm doing this for just a handful of tapes, could I get away without the TBC if I'm monitoring the whole process anyway? From what little I know the video could glitch and the capture hang. If this were to happen a few times per tape, I wouldn't have an issue with manually moving past the problem point and starting the capture again. Or does the TBC solve a lot of other issues too?

Lastly, if I do end up delaying the archiving for now, and just do some captures using the lossy DV from the Canopus, are there things I can or should be looking at doing to help with the process, or quality, or fixing issues, etc?

I also had a look at the recommended list of capture cards (AIW alternatives) on this forum. I see the Canopus is on there, so I'm assuming not everything on that list will capture lossless? Is that list still fairly up to date?
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  #8  
05-10-2018, 02:46 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
I had a look at the required hardware. Would it be accurate to say that I would probably have to spend about $800 to $1k to in order to get lossless recordings from my VHS tapes?
That's a close minimum, but let's start with the likely cost of a worthwhile VCR. In good condition, such VCR would cost 1/3 to 1/2 that figure. Let's face it, no one makes those things any more, so the only decent source is a rebuilt model -- and that's where most of the cost comes in. Such a VCR has a built-in line-level tbc, which is another essential, so the cost of that is included.

An outboard frame-level tbc is probably on the list as well, but you can get an affordable workaround by using a recommended Panasonic DMR-ES10 or DMR-ES15 as a frame-sync minimal frame tbc. That's a fraction of the cost of a frame tbc such as a TBC-1000 or working AVT-8710. It won't defeat retail tape copy protection, but it will help get a perfectly timed, frame-accurate signal into your capture chain. An ES10 or ES15 can be had, with remote (you'll need it), for $100 or less. As a bonus, the ES10 or ES15 also has a powerful line-level tbc that can be used as pass-thru with a Hi8 camera if the camera doesn't have line-level correction.

You can get a decent lossless capture card in a Diamond Multimedia VC500 for less than $50. The card has many cheap copy cats and lookalikes which aren't even worth their cheap price. The VC500 is a popular product with drivers for XP to Win10. It doesn't have all the convenience of a $350 ATI All In Wonder 9600XT, but it's been tested and makes perfectly acceptable lossless captures with VirtualDub or AmarecTV. Also comes with some generic giveaway software, which you can ignore, but you do have to install its capture drivers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
And in the case of the Video8 tapes, would I only need the TBC and capture device assuming the old Sony Handycam still works?
Most such handicams have a built-in line-level tbc. As mentioned, you can get both line-level and frame-level tbc with a pass-thru unit such as a Panasonic ES10 or ES15.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
Another Noob question, since I'm doing this for just a handful of tapes, could I get away without the TBC if I'm monitoring the whole process anyway? From what little I know the video could glitch and the capture hang. If this were to happen a few times per tape, I wouldn't have an issue with manually moving past the problem point and starting the capture again. Or does the TBC solve a lot of other issues too?
That paragraph leaves me convinced that you don't know what an external tbc does. It corrects signal timing errors. If you don't have a perfectly timed signal at both the scanline and frame level, you're simply wasting your money and effort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
Lastly, if I do end up delaying the archiving for now, and just do some captures using the lossy DV from the Canopus, are there things I can or should be looking at doing to help with the process, or quality, or fixing issues, etc?
If you're highly skilled with things like VirtualDub and Avisynth filtering and cleanup methods and are really good and patient at cleaning DV's chroma problems and plastic effects, and if you really want to live with third-rate video that has been scrubbed to death to make it look like a clean digital job, it's your choice. I gave DV a chance years ago and have seen a great many results since. I wouldn't recommend it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
I also had a look at the recommended list of capture cards (AIW alternatives) on this forum. I see the Canopus is on there, so I'm assuming not everything on that list will capture lossless? Is that list still fairly up to date?
I refer to earlier comments on the VC500. That product had not been tested when the digitalfaq post was written, but it has been tested by other users since that time and compared favorably to the other lossless contenders.

Last edited by sanlyn; 05-10-2018 at 03:20 AM.
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  #9  
05-10-2018, 03:21 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Most such handicams have a built-in line-level tbc. As mentioned, you can get both line-level and frame-level tbc with a pass-thru unit such as a Panasonic ES10 or ES15.
This is one of the older cameras that don't have a line TBC i believe, so an external TBC ES10/15 or other capable DVD-recorder as pass-through may be useful. Video8 with no sort of TBC (line or frame) captured directly tends to be quite jittery.
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05-10-2018, 07:14 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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The line and frame tbc circuits in an ES10/15 pass-thru will work and have been lifesavers for many projects. They also avoid having you locked in, so to speak, to a single VCR that develops problems. You have to disable the noise reduction in those pass-thru's -- they are overdone and cause smearing and posterizing. Otherwise the line function is powerful and the frame-level circuit is decent, far better than no frame sync at all.
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  #11  
05-10-2018, 03:57 PM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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Thanks for the input guys and thanks Sanlyn for that additional details.

I will investigate the options you mentioned tonight. Is it safe to assume that all ES10 and 15s do both PAL and NTSC (some units on ebay specify it, some don't mention it)?
I already had a cursory look on the marketplace and didn't see one for sale. Is buying one of those on eBay as risky as getting a VCR, or are there fewer things that can go wrong (since we're mostly looking for TBC functionality)?
I went ahead and ordered the VC500 since the price point and your recommendation make that one an easy decision.

It occurred to me that I haven't actually fired up the Handycam to see if it still works, so I'll try that tonight as well. After thinking about it for a bit, I figure the majority of the things I care about will be on the Vid8 since more than half of VHS tapes might just be copies of those.
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  #12  
05-10-2018, 05:04 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
I will investigate the options you mentioned tonight. Is it safe to assume that all ES10 and 15s do both PAL and NTSC (some units on ebay specify it, some don't mention it)?
No, there are NTSC-only and PAL-only models. If you're on eBay in Europe or the UK you'll not likely find an NTSC unit listed. Likewise, in North America you won't see any PAL units. It's possible a stray Panny might get lost somewhere in the wrong country, but it wouldn't be common.

The rush for capture components -- meaning everything from AGP cards, VCRs, pass-thru's, tbc's, proc amps, etc. -- has been on for some years now. It's a difficult time to take up capture and restoration if you didn't start at least 5 years ago. I started in 2002, although I always owned premium vcrs starting in the late 80's. Over the last few years I've watched eBay VCR listings decrease to a fraction of what they were just 5 years ago. As it is, eBay is a very chancey source, chancey indeed. Still, people somehow manage to get optimal gear together, even today. There is also a marketplace forum where a great many pieces of prime hardware still appear.
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05-10-2018, 08:14 PM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
No, there are NTSC-only and PAL-only models. If you're on eBay in Europe or the UK you'll not likely find an NTSC unit listed. Likewise, in North America you won't see any PAL units. It's possible a stray Panny might get lost somewhere in the wrong country, but it wouldn't be common.
That's good to know. Though I am in the US, most my tapes are PAL, so I might have a hard time finding a PAL unit.
If you had to choose between the ES10/15 and the AVT-8710, which would you go for? I know you had mentioned the 8710 briefly earlier and I saw in a past post that lordsmurf had posted a link to one for sale at B&H. I don't mind spending $300 for something very useful, specially if it's new-in-box.
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05-10-2018, 08:53 PM
Dominik78 Dominik78 is offline
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I just realized you had said "working AVT" in your previous post. After reading through the post about the AVT issues, I guess getting a new unit on B&H might still be a gamble today.
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  #15  
05-10-2018, 10:35 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominik78 View Post
I just realized you had said "working AVT" in your previous post. After reading through the post about the AVT issues, I guess getting a new unit on B&H might still be a gamble today.
Sad to say, even from B&H it's very poor odds. It's the maker's fault, not B&H. You'd have better luck tracking the forum's marketplace listings.
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