Quantcast Why so much noise in Video8 transferred tapes? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
07-28-2018, 01:41 AM
RyfromNY RyfromNY is offline
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I had several Video8 home movies transfered by a service to MP4 spanning from 90 to 95. Last year, I had a VHS from 90 (shot originally by the same camera, master tape lost) done to MP4 by another service.

A few things: -The 94 Video8 tape has been transferred several times, first to VHS in the 90s, then to DVD twice prior to this -The June 90 VHS was transferred to DVD once and then to MP4. -The late 90 Video8 was transfered once to VHS in the 90s, once to DVD, before being transfered to MP4. -The file size for the June 90 VHS is over 8GB (but the tape is 40 mins), whereas the file size for the two Hi8s I just had done is 4GB (but the tapes are 2 hours long). The June 90 was done to a Quicktime MP4, the other two to standard MP4.

I have noticed a pooorer level of video quality and a lot of "noise" on the Hi8 transfers that isn't there with the 90 VHS:

Is the noise the result of:
A) Too many transfers of the Hi8 causing massive visual loss
B) Bad transfers by the new company with too much compression
C) Age


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  #2  
07-28-2018, 08:18 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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The image links did not make it, at least to my system.

It is most likely a combination of A and B. Age could be a factor for low quality media and poor storage conditions.

Unless the subject material was extremely well lit and shot with good gear home video will have lots of noise in it. Compression will degrade images, especially with high compression ratios. Noise makes compression difficult.

Each generation of analog coping adds noise, reducing the S/N ratio. While the video signal is copied 1:1, the internal noise of the recorder (typically around -40 dB for VHS which I believe was a design point considered as just acceptable level for home video viewing when VHS was invented) is added to the noise already in video signal being copied. Assuming random noise and similar equipment; if the original recording has a noise level of -40 dB, the first generation copy will have a noise level of -37 dB and the second generation -35 dB. Frequency response (video resolution) will also suffer greatly.

Playback a tape should not cause appreciable image degradation as long as the playback gear is in good condition and the number of playbacks is reasonable; e.g., not hundreds. Storage conditions would be a greater concern. Cool room temperatures and moderate humidity, with no temperature/humidity swings are best. Quality tapes should be good for 20+ years, but low budget generic tape may degrade much faster. (I have VHS recordings on RCA tape from 35+ years ago that play OK.) The main additional issue with Hi8 tape playbacks would likely be increasing dropouts with repeated playbacks, especially with ME formulation tapes.
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  #3  
07-28-2018, 09:59 AM
RyfromNY RyfromNY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
The image links did not make it, at least to my system.

It is most likely a combination of A and B. Age could be a factor for low quality media and poor storage conditions.

Unless the subject material was extremely well lit and shot with good gear home video will have lots of noise in it. Compression will degrade images, especially with high compression ratios. Noise makes compression difficult.

Each generation of analog coping adds noise, reducing the S/N ratio. While the video signal is copied 1:1, the internal noise of the recorder (typically around -40 dB for VHS which I believe was a design point considered as just acceptable level for home video viewing when VHS was invented) is added to the noise already in video signal being copied. Assuming random noise and similar equipment; if the original recording has a noise level of -40 dB, the first generation copy will have a noise level of -37 dB and the second generation -35 dB. Frequency response (video resolution) will also suffer greatly.

Playback a tape should not cause appreciable image degradation as long as the playback gear is in good condition and the number of playbacks is reasonable; e.g., not hundreds. Storage conditions would be a greater concern. Cool room temperatures and moderate humidity, with no temperature/humidity swings are best. Quality tapes should be good for 20+ years, but low budget generic tape may degrade much faster. (I have VHS recordings on RCA tape from 35+ years ago that play OK.) The main additional issue with Hi8 tape playbacks would likely be increasing dropouts with repeated playbacks, especially with ME formulation tapes.
These are more stable links to captures from the tape.

https://imgur.com/Ef8G7iT
https://imgur.com/C5zT0P9
https://imgur.com/X0TZhQ7
https://imgur.com/TSC8Kcv
https://imgur.com/d9acYFp

I did not notice any dropouts. Just the noise you may see in the captures of the video. I cannot really tell if it's image loss at play here, or way too much compression by the guy who transferred them causing lower image quality. I'm not good with this stuff but I've read that an uncompressed 120 minute Hi8 transfer should result in a file around 30GB in size. These were roughly 120 min long, but the resulting MP4 was 4GB.

Also, the tape was transfered directly from the master (first gen) Hi8 tape to MP4. I'm not making copies of copies.

Last edited by RyfromNY; 07-28-2018 at 10:30 AM.
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  #4  
07-28-2018, 10:44 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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The images do have the typical underexposed dimly lit indoor look and grain, so that is probably at least part of it. The compression is noticeable, but not massive. Using the JPEG format for the images will add some extra artifacts though.

Compression, tape copies, recording gear and cameras can add different types of noise:
  1. Some examples of compression artifacts. These are JPEG images, so the artifacts may be slightly different, but it should give an idea of what it looks like. You can especially notice the blockyness, and ringing/noise near edges.
  2. VHS generational loss. The noise here is quite different, notice especially the colour getting smeary and flickery. (Of couse since this is a yt. video there are some compression artifacts here as well.) How much the image is degraded is going to depend on the equipment used for creating the new tape though, it can be better or worse than this example.
  3. Example of grain from underexposure when filming (exaggerated by compression). I didn't have a VHS sample handy, but the effect is similar
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07-28-2018, 10:51 AM
RyfromNY RyfromNY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
The images do have the typical underexposed dimly lit indoor look and grain, so that is probably at least part of it. The compression is noticeable, but not massive. Using the JPEG format for the images will add some extra artifacts though.

Compression, tape copies, recording gear and cameras can add different types of noise:
  1. Some examples of compression artifacts. These are JPEG images, so the artifacts may be slightly different, but it should give an idea of what it looks like. You can especially notice the blockyness, and ringing/noise near edges.
  2. VHS generational loss. The noise here is quite different, notice especially the colour getting smeary and flickery. (Of couse since this is a yt. video there are some compression artifacts here as well.) How much the image is degraded is going to depend on the equipment used for creating the new tape though, it can be better or worse than this example.
  3. Example of grain from underexposure when filming (exaggerated by compression). I didn't have a VHS sample handy, but the effect is similar
Would you say grain seems to be the biggest factor here, along with compression artifacts, then, rather than signal loss from the tape itself? The film has virtually no dropouts (I think when reviewing the tape I spotted one, near the beginning of the video, which I've read is the part of the video most susceptible to aging).

I could upload a Yt copy of the video if it would help diagnose the issue more clearly and lead to a solution
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07-28-2018, 06:51 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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The stills look typical of what I would expect from a simple transfer from analog tape without any restoration and image cleanup effort. Do you have any information as to what the transfer provider was to do the the video beyond capture and encode to MP4?

What is the system you are using to view the MP4s?

The problems not seen on SD systems can become very apparent when viewed on a HD system. That is because typical SD TV sets and playback systems from the 1990s have limited bandwidth and automatic image "correction" features that can make things look nicer and mask/hide some noise.

4GB for 120 minutes of SD video in MP4 format corresponds to about DVD quality in terms of data rate, allowing for the differences between MPEG2 and MP4 compression.

FWIW uploads to Youtube and similar sites don't reliably tell the full story due to image processing at Yt.
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  #7  
07-28-2018, 08:01 PM
RyfromNY RyfromNY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
The stills look typical of what I would expect from a simple transfer from analog tape without any restoration and image cleanup effort. Do you have any information as to what the transfer provider was to do the the video beyond capture and encode to MP4?

What is the system you are using to view the MP4s?

The problems not seen on SD systems can become very apparent when viewed on a HD system. That is because typical SD TV sets and playback systems from the 1990s have limited bandwidth and automatic image "correction" features that can make things look nicer and mask/hide some noise.

4GB for 120 minutes of SD video in MP4 format corresponds to about DVD quality in terms of data rate, allowing for the differences between MPEG2 and MP4 compression.

FWIW uploads to Youtube and similar sites don't reliably tell the full story due to image processing at Yt.

To be honest, I was unaware cleanup or restoration was even doable with analog tape transfers. I figured any stuff shot on a film medium was able to be restored. So it was just a simple transfer from the master to MP4. I don't even know that the provider would've been able to do so, their outfit seemed to be a simple transfer service. I do know I asked them to give as little compression as possible and provided them with a 2TB External hard drive with the instructions that large file sizes were no issue.

My system is a little older: Acer Aspire 64 Bit E1 532 4629 laptop running Windows 7. Program used to view them is Windows Media Player.

I should note that the films were shot on a Sony Handycam that was already 4 years old in 1994 and was beginning to have issues focusing and such. The same camera bought new in 1990 was in use on all films until 2000. I know in the very tape the stills you see come from my mother references just having had the camera fixed (in 94).

What would you suggest I do? At this point, I would like to do all of them myself or send them to someone who won't do a crap job, as I feel I was gypped. A data rate of a DVD is not what I paid for. I am planning on getting a new laptop soon. I know it is hard to answer given you don't have the master tape or even the video in front of you, just stills, but would it be possible, in your opinion, for me to get a better image quality than what I got? I realize due to the limitations and relatively low image quality of Video8 and High8 it won't ever be HD, but could I get something which looks reasonably cleaner and crisper and less...aged...looking than what the stills show? Less grainy? I feel like either my master tape's visual info has lost a lot of signal, or I was simply given an overly compressed digital file which while being named an MP4, visually may not be such.
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07-29-2018, 07:00 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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What is being restored is the video signal, not the media. Restoration can do a lot to improve the way video looks when viewed. And it can correct brightness, contrast, and color, reduce noise, address other flaws in the signal resulting from playback errors in systems.

I am NOT an expert on restoration; others who operate this side and contribute here are much more into it.
Read the various threads here. They address the tools and techniques used, many of which are low cost.

What I would also suggest is to decide on what your budget is (both time and money), what deadlines you may be up against (especially if this is for aging parents), and how good is good enough.

As to data rate, for SD material DVD format and data rates (even with its lossy compression) can look quite good for purposes of viewing on suitable equipment. Lossless formats are mainly used for archive and restoration/processing where repeated compression/decompression with each step would otherwise introduce artifacts. It is worth noting that general purpose computers are not optimized for video viewing (they are designed with computer graphics in mind), especially older laptop screens (although I am not familiar with your model).
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07-30-2018, 02:51 PM
RyfromNY RyfromNY is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
What is being restored is the video signal, not the media. Restoration can do a lot to improve the way video looks when viewed. And it can correct brightness, contrast, and color, reduce noise, address other flaws in the signal resulting from playback errors in systems.

I am NOT an expert on restoration; others who operate this side and contribute here are much more into it.
Read the various threads here. They address the tools and techniques used, many of which are low cost.

What I would also suggest is to decide on what your budget is (both time and money), what deadlines you may be up against (especially if this is for aging parents), and how good is good enough.

As to data rate, for SD material DVD format and data rates (even with its lossy compression) can look quite good for purposes of viewing on suitable equipment. Lossless formats are mainly used for archive and restoration/processing where repeated compression/decompression with each step would otherwise introduce artifacts. It is worth noting that general purpose computers are not optimized for video viewing (they are designed with computer graphics in mind), especially older laptop screens (although I am not familiar with your model).
I know you said YT is problematic, but here you go

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkrEECs7vro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qhqQabQ8-8
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  #10  
07-30-2018, 07:21 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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I looked at a bit of the posted video. It looks about what I would expect from a simple transfer to digital from analog sources. The noise in many segments is typical of video shot in poor (for the camcorder's capability) light. The noise becomes much more apparent when viewed on HD gear compared to older SD TVs.

As a point of reference, how much did you pay for the transfers (e.g., per 2 hour tape)?
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  #11  
07-30-2018, 08:52 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is online now
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If you want me to look at things, you need to attach images/videos to the forum.
Not Imgur, not Youtube, etc.

As a quick guess, you said the videos were converted to "MP4", which is already telling. Such transfers are rarely quality, for several reasons. If you wanted quality conversions, you needed lossless. Using those files, you can edit or convert to disc/streaming on your own. And in better quality.

What company was used? I know that LegacyBox is craptastic. Overpriced and under-quality is how they roll.

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  #12  
01-30-2019, 06:22 AM
videotape_retro videotape_retro is offline
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For what it's worth. It's already an old post but still ... Restoring vhs, video8, hi8 and all consumer formats is a time-consuming and difficult process. It starts with the capturing. These sample videos are captured with a AJA capture card in uncompressed 10bit 4: 2: 2 corlor space. Then edited with all kinds of filters in VAPOURSYNTH to HD50P (it is pal video) see here some results:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdSzRO13MUI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb0pT3yT03I

watch them in HD, ena of course the compression of Youtube, I can not change that.
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