Quantcast Converting VHS tapes to digital format? - digitalFAQ Forum
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07-03-2018, 01:54 PM
CodeSchlocker CodeSchlocker is offline
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I'm sorry, all. I know this is a tired ol' topic, and have been reading many posts related to this process. My fear is, by the time I finish reading all of the good advice, my VHS machine will no longer be operable. I know from experience, that the elastic bands inside VHS machines eventually dry out and get brittle.

So, though I still plan on catching up on all this videophile posts, I'm hoping someone can help me get started.

First off, I have about 200 VHS tapes I'd like to convert and then toss. I have started the process already with various success.

My VHS player is a JVC HR-A591U and has only composite video/audio out, no S-Video jack. My capture hardware is a Diamond Multimedia One-Touch Video Capture VC500, with a USB connection to my desktop. The drivers for this hardware are flaky. I've gone to Diamond Multimedia's site and have downloaded the latest, but, still.

I have used VirtualDub, both the 32- and the 64-bit versions. VirtualDub used to work well, but, unfortunately, creates extremely large AVI files. These are so huge, that for a 2 hour recording, you can only store one per DVD.

I only have one or two commercial VHSs but free conversion software seems to recognize the copy protection on these after using VirtualDub, so, I'm not able to convert these files to a more compact size, such as MPEG-4.

I just plan on watching these converted videos on my computer monitor.

I have tried a commercial software product, only the trial version so far, called Movavi Video Editor. It seems to work OK, when I can get it to recognize the drivers for my capture device. The only problem there, well besides intermittently recognizing my capture hardware, is that it stores my videos in MKV. Can you convert MKV to MPEG-4?

Bottom line, I'm just looking for the simplest way to convert all of these VHS tapes so that I can get rid of them. I'm not too fussy about how accurate the reproduction is, as long as it's close to the quality of the original VHS tape.

Thanks in advance for the help, and I will be reading up on more posts from this site, and videohelp.com
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  #2  
07-03-2018, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CodeSchlocker View Post
I'm sorry, all. I know this is a tired ol' topic, and have been reading many posts related to this process. My fear is, by the time I finish reading all of the good advice, my VHS machine will no longer be operable.
So, though I still plan on catching up on all this videophile posts, I'm hoping someone can help me get started.
Welcome. That's why the forum is here.

Quote:
I know from experience, that the elastic bands inside VHS machines eventually dry out and get brittle.
My VHS player is a JVC HR-A591U and has only composite video/audio out, no S-Video jack.
So far, the VCR is the weak link -- as is the lack of any external TBC. At very least, you'll want a better VCR.
See: VCR Buying Guide (S-VHS, D-VHS, Professional) for restoring video
And BTW: For sale: JVC S-VHS VCRs with TBC (several models)

Quote:
First off, I have about 200 VHS tapes I'd like to convert and then toss. I have started the process already with various success.
Toss is a really bad idea. Even an attic, garage or basement -- all terrible places to keep tapes -- is still better that trashing the tapes permanently. Why? Because future advancements could always make it to where a not-great converted tapes could be made better. Of perhaps you notice a problem with several conversions at a later date, and now it's too late.

Quote:
My capture hardware is a Diamond Multimedia One-Touch Video Capture VC500, with a USB connection to my desktop. The drivers for this hardware are flaky. I've gone to Diamond Multimedia's site and have downloaded the latest, but, still.
Not my favorite card, but others here like it. And this is probably the first time I've heard about driver issues.

Quote:
I have used VirtualDub, both the 32- and the 64-bit versions. VirtualDub used to work well, but, unfortunately, creates extremely large AVI files. These are so huge, that for a 2 hour recording, you can only store one per DVD.
VirtualDub by default captures 75gb/hour uncompressed.
Install/use Huffyuv for lossless 35gb/hour files.
Lagarith is only 25gb/hour, but it doesn't always play nice for capturing, too much overhead.
A blank DVD is 4gb (SL) or 7.5gb (DL), and video must be compressed with MPEG.

Quote:
I only have one or two commercial VHSs but free conversion software seems to recognize the copy protection on these after using VirtualDub, so, I'm not able to convert these files to a more compact size, such as MPEG-4.
Not VirtualDub. The video hardware sees the anti-copy, which is due to lack of TBC. You'll find that many other of your not-commercial VHS tapes will likely be falsely flagged as "copy protected" as well. The anti-copy (Macrovision) is an artificial video errors, and real errors can often look like the fake ones. Hence the issue, and the need for some sort of external TBC (ideally DataVideo/Cypress, but ES10/15 usable).

Quote:
I just plan on watching these converted videos on my computer monitor.
For now. You'll change you mind in later years.

Quote:
I have tried a commercial software product, only the trial version so far, called Movavi Video Editor. It seems to work OK, when I can get it to recognize the drivers for my capture device. The only problem there, well besides intermittently recognizing my capture hardware, is that it stores my videos in MKV. Can you convert MKV to MPEG-4?
That's terrible software. In fact, it's spyware. If you install the Sphinx Windows 10 Firewall (version 10 of firewall, not "Windows 10"), you'll see it phoning home all the time to report on your activities. That stuff needs to be blocked at least, but ideally just uninstalled.

Quote:
Bottom line, I'm just looking for the simplest way to convert all of these VHS tapes so that I can get rid of them. I'm not too fussy about how accurate the reproduction is, as long as it's close to the quality of the original VHS tape.
Capture lossless, encode to interlaced MPEG (preferably high bitrate, not compress DVD specs), and using freeware VirtualDub (capture) and Avidemux (encode).

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  #3  
07-03-2018, 03:45 PM
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I just got through with the first page of this thread from 2005 and read a lot of your posts, Lordsmurf. Good to see you're still around!

OK. I've a real problem with acronyms. TBC?

And, I did download Huffyuv, after reading the thread from 2005. Fine, but, how do you add this Codec to VirtualDub? I see below the Huffyuv download post, these instructions:

rundll32 C:\Windows\System32.......

but, since I don't understand what I'm doing, although I'm pretty computer literate, it sounds daunting to me.

I tried to use Handbrake to convert a video file from AVI, one that I captured with VirtualDub, and it balked. Then I tried Pazera MP4 Converter, same thing.

OK. I got your bottom line. Capture with VirtualDub, using the Huffyuv Codec, and convert to MPEG, I assume MPEG-2? using Avidemux.

Thanks again, lordsmurf!
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07-03-2018, 04:44 PM
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That's not it, not about software alone. You need a better VCR at minimum.

TBC = time base correction.
Read this: What is a TBC? Time Base Correction for Videotapes

Installing Huffyuv depends on OS. So .... what OS are you using?

MPEG-2, yes, not MPEG-1.
And interlaced like the source!
Note: "MPEG-4" isn't a format, just a wrapper (MP4, usually for H.264 encoding).

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07-03-2018, 06:04 PM
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Thanks, Lordsmurf,

Windows 10, 64-bit. Forgot to add that in original post. I am getting into Linux, but, I don't even want to think about the effort that chasing down drivers for that would cause.

I don't want to buy another VCR. It's not just the cost, it's that I'm trying to divest myself of things in life that collect dust. After I convert all of my tapes, both the tapes and machines are going in the dustbin.

Now, mind you, for everything I throw away, my better half finds room to add more.

-CodeSchlocker

P.S. Is a TBC software, circuitry? Is it an output to some VCRs?
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07-03-2018, 07:15 PM
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When it comes to buying hardware, think of it as a temporary purchase. Buy it, use it, resell it. Good gear has value, always has, and likely always will. It's the required tool for this task. A plain consumer VCR will yield terrible results, and honestly makes a VHS>digital project completely pointless.

TBC is hardware, not software.

Windows 10 is a lousy OS for capturing, and problems happen more than not in the past years. MS updates have seemingly screwed up a bunch of things.

For Win Vista/7/8/10, however, Huffyuv install is the same, and simple.
Easy step-by-step install: Cannot install HuffYUV on Windows 64-bit Vista or Win 7 [solved]

In fact, depending on the tape contents, mostly old TV shows and cartoons especially, there is a market for "used blank VHS tapes". So depending on what you have, selling (eBay, Craigslist, etc) may be better than the trash bin. Trade your trash for dollars!

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  #7  
07-03-2018, 08:30 PM
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lordsmurf,

You probably know 1000X more about transferring VHS to digital, than I'll ever know. But, from my efforts so far, using my existing VCR to transfer to digital, when it works, looks just fine to me. I don't even look at these videos all that much. It's just a few programs I recorded, crafting and gardening programs for my wife, and some TV series like "Cosmos" and "The Prisoner" I taped for me. I am not a videophile. My point is just to transfer what I have so that I can rid myself of all of my VHS tapes and make some more space in my office.

That being said, I believe you're right about Windows 10. Maybe, the flaky behavior that I think is caused by the driver for the Diamond Multimedia One-Touch Video Capture VC500 device is not the issue. It probably is a Windows 10 issue.

I just followed the instructions for installing HuffyUV64. I did not get any errors after the command line command, so, it probably loaded successfully. However, when I fire up VirtualDub, I don't see huffyuv listed. What should it be under? Compression.

As far as I can figure, with the driver installed for my capture device, VirtualDub just displays Conexant Polaris Video Capture (Direct Show). Now, when I select that, I'm not even getting video anymore. However, when I select Microsoft WDM Image Capture (Win32) (VFW), I get video, but no audio. It's things like this, which makes me believe, that my drivers are flaky. But, the Windows 10 OS is just as likely a culprit.

I'm not a Windows man, and, I'm not going back to Windows 7 anytime soon, other than install it as a Virtual Machine on my Windows 10 Desktop. I have dabbled in Linux, as I stated in a previous post, but, I cannot even imagine what I'd have to do to get the driver for my capture device.

Well, thanks for all of your time, I guess I'll just have to keep searching for an answer. Right now, I'm ready to uninstall VirtualDub and start from scratch.

-Mike
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07-04-2018, 07:35 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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The VC500 actually works out of the box in linux (at least in the latest versions of ubuntu and debian). It actually behaves a bit differently (not sure if it's driver or firmware differences) than in windows, a bit less vertical jitter, but more sensitive to dropping frames on bad signals. I don't think there is anything as polished as virtualdub for capturing in linux though.

"Conexant Polaris Video Capture" should be the correct capture device to select in vdub (at least that's what it shows as here.) If you suspect driver issues you can check if capture works with the bundled EZGrabber program (though I wouldn't use it for any serious capture work.) I've found that some times I had load that up once and set some basic settings (e.g NTSC/PAL) before the card worked in virtualdub.

As for huffyuv, it like huffyuv64 is the 64-bit version, so it will only show up with 64-bit virtualdub, for the 32-bit version of virtualdub, you will need the 32-bit version. Alternatively, you can try with the utvideo codec instead, which has a nice graphical installer.
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07-04-2018, 10:51 AM
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Thanks so much, hodgey. I really needed to talk to someone who has experience with the VC500 to compare notes.

What menu option in VirtualDub allows you to select huffyuv?

There has been an update to the drivers on the Diamondmm site. Do you still use the original drivers that were on the CD supplied with the VC500?

I will load up EZGrabber once more, and see if I can get it to work. Maybe it's Windows 10, but I swear, EZGrabber has different results every time I try it. Setting changed, etc.

-Mike
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07-04-2018, 01:40 PM
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Hodgey,

No, I'm not getting any video with EZGrabber. I uninstalled EZGrabber and the drivers for the VC500, reinstalled from CD. Nothing seems to work. The driver on CD is 7.0.127.71.

I've worked on this for two days now, time for a break.

-Mike
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07-04-2018, 03:23 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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The video codec is set under "video->compression". If huffyuv is installed correctly it should be one of the options there.

I've used the drivers from the website. Don't think I've ever had any major issues with them. I'm on holiday right now so I can't show my exact setup, but I haven't had to adjust anything other than setting input format (e.g PAL/NTSC/SECAM) and input port (composite or svideo) for it to work.

The quirks I have encountered:
-Some times on a fresh install I've had to start EZGrabber (and close it afterwards) to set up things before it worked properly
-Changing between NTSC and PAL can some times be a bit clunky, requiring me to change capture resolution to 320x* and back to normal to work properly.
-Input is broken if the computer goes into sleep mode, restart fixes it
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07-04-2018, 03:58 PM
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Thanks so much, hodgey.

My system is totally hose right now. I really don't know what to do. It's 1.) a Windows 10 issue, 2.) a driver issue, or 3.) I'm doing something real stupid, and haven't caught it yet.

Right now, I can't even uninstall the USB 2.0 Video or Audio drivers.

-Mike
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07-05-2018, 02:56 AM
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Handbrake should be able to read Huffyuv encoding from virtualdub. At least mine has no problems.

If you're not getting video signal it could be if the software is set to a wrong format. In I don't know if this goes for EZgrabber, but in virtualdub I had no image before i changed to pal b(europe) from ntsc(america) in 3 different places.

One thing I noticed. I couldn't see the huffyuv in 32 bit virtualdub, presumably because I used the 64bit version of the codec when installing, so be sure that you're using the same amount of bit software and codec. If you installed the 64 bit huffyuv, use the 64 bit virtual dub. And vice versa with the 32 bit options of both. It also might be worth for you to look into the newer version of virtualdub, in case some of your issues are bug related. Oh and a final note. I read somewhere that If you installed the 32 bit huffyuv and then the 64 bit one, you might no longer be able to see huffyuv in virtualdub. I haven't tried this so I don't know if that's the case or not, but it was for someone else.

I'm a complete noob too so I don't know if anything I said here helps, but those are the issues I've had so far that might relate to your issues.
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07-06-2018, 12:47 AM
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Thanks Specific,

I'm having mega-problems with my capture device, my VC500 right now. I get no video in EZGrabber. In settings, the display, that is the settings dialog box, is just blank, no NTSC, no PAL, etc.

VirtualDub, if I remember right, just hangs. I still don't see huffyuv as a selection under Video - Compression, although, I can see it installed under Control Panel - Programs and Features.

As I posted above, it's a driver type problem, a Windows 10 type problem, or else I'm just doing something stupid, and can't figure it out. It seems like, in trying to get something to work in Windows 10, I'm always fighting with drivers.

-Mike
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