Quantcast VHS capture hardware setup, need validation (Hotronic TBC) - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
09-27-2018, 08:39 PM
bmasephol bmasephol is offline
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Hi All, been lurking a while and finally going to post and ask for a little confirmation and validation of my setup.

I've been piecing together my setup for about a year now when I have time and money. Started by getting a VHS player from Goodwill and quickly decided that I needed slightly better stuff and now have a full featured setup, I believe.

I'm trying to follow the guide here
Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]

My current hardware setup:

JVC BR-S800U -> Hotronic AR31 (TBC/proc amp) -> Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle (USB3) -> PC (Win 10) -> Virtual Dub

Based on my research the Hotronic AR31 isn't very common on these or any forums. The one I purchased on eBay powered on but didn't work, just got a black screen from it. I did a ton of research and troubleshooting and found that most likely the power supply was not putting out the required voltages. Tested with a multi-meter and confirmed. I found a replacement internal power supply for it thanks to a discussion about a centrifuge power supply replacement that used the same power supply. It is really just a PC card in a case with wires soldered to the power points on the PC interface.

Got a lot of information from this site too.

http://greyghost.mooo.com/hotronic-tbc/

My first question revolves around the Hotronic device. It was night and day when hooking that into my flow with some of by older tapes. I'm attaching the manual in case somebody wants to look at it.

The device has a remote for adjusting things. I'm not a video expert and working on learning so I'm a bit confused by the labels of Video, Chroma, Hue, Setup. I can tell by changing them that the video changes on the output.

My first question is should I be adjusting the video using the processing amp of the Hotronic device or should I leave that at the "factory settings" and adjust the video in software processing after the capture to AVI is complete?


Attached Files
File Type: pdf Hotronic AR31 Manual.pdf (3.10 MB, 3 downloads)
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  #2  
09-28-2018, 12:26 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Welcome.

And thanks for attaching the manual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmasephol View Post
Hi All, been lurking a while and finally going to post and ask for a little confirmation and validation of my setup.
Well, unfortunately, you may not get it. Each item in your workflows has known issues.

The BR-S800 lacks features of suggested VCRs -- no TBCs, nothing. It's what I call the "big Bertha" type ancient editing deck VCRs. It's usually SP only, and comes from an abusive (broadcast) or nasty (hospital) environment.

Blackmagic capture cards have known issues with unreported dropped and repeated frames for SD sources.

That Hotronic TBC is not one I'd suggest. Given the age (ISA card! ), and cost at the time, I don't agree that this was a consumer item, as stated on that others site you found. It's definitely a broadcast/studio type TBC, but made for low-budget operations like local cable stations (at the time, not now), colleges, and high schools. Those places generally dealt with S-VHS at worst, a Betacam at best. So, given that, it probably chokes on VHS sources if not excellent, as other broadcast TBCs do. Broadcast TBCs can also react oddly to copy protection, as not all blank out that portion of the signal. Yeah, sure, it may work for you, but just as easily may not.

Buying location also matters:
- Goodwill gear almost always has issues, with poor maintenance (not clean equipment) being the main concern.
- eBay is especially bad for gear, as the sellers are almost always recyclers that have no idea what they're selling. Getting the wrong power supply is common, and can be dangerous if the wrong polarity is plugged in.

Honestly, the worst item in your collection is the VCR. If anything, I'd look to replace it. Yes, the TBC is iffy, and the capture card may mess up the captures, but at least the better VCR would be yet another "night and day" sort of observation. You can gamble on eBay (unwise, especially if you're not well versed in what VCR problems to look for), or acquire one known to work from the marketplace forum of this site from members that know VCRs.

A better capture card can be had for about $75, so not a big investment there.

At most, you can keep the TBC, at least for now, until problems arise.

Quote:
My first question is should I be adjusting the video using the processing amp of the Hotronic device or should I leave that at the "factory settings" and adjust the video in software processing after the capture to AVI is complete?
Proc amp, as in the color/contrast/brightness/etc settings? If so, only do that if your monitor is calibrated. Otherwise I'd assume the device is correct, and your monitor is not.

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  #3  
09-28-2018, 02:35 PM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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The BlackMagic Design Intensity Shuttle has issues with USB 3 chipsets, BMD has a list of motherboards that will work with the Intensity Shuttle, the issues with dropped frames is caused by the signal source > VCR the VCR must give a good signal, (stable) to have also a good capture, that's normal with a good capture device like the Intensity Shuttle, I use the Thunderbolt 2 version, with a Macbook Pro 13"(early 2015) 8GB RAM, so i can talk out of experience, I use the Panasonic DMR-ES35V combo machine, (DVD/VHS) the JVC HR-S8960 will also work, The Panasonic has a 2MB (frame?) buffer,
I'm using the component video (YUV) output, which i think is the best option, You can set the video levels in the (BMD) Video Desktop Setup utility, also the audio levels you should adjust, in my case audio was way too high, video levels for the component input where too flat in my case.
If you allready can detect the Intensity Shuttle in your setup, look for a good VCR, I don't use an external TBC in my setup,
what ever the quality the VHS tape, i have no dropped frames, and have the Intensity Shuttle set for to stop with capturing, if frames are dropped, so i guess due to the 2MB buffer there's always a stable video signal.
There's nothing wrong with the quality of the Intensity Shuttle, In Davinci Resolve i scale up to 1280x720 which looks nice, i allready capture in progressive 50 frames (PAL in my case) because i can set my VCR to that, the component output of the VCR is meant for a flatscreen, but can also set to interlaced in my case.
So i guess your system detects the Intensity Shuttle as a USB device, and the Media Express also detects it as a capture device ? then that part should be okay in your case, and you need a good VCR or DVR, a DVR you can use as a "passthrough" for your VCR, if the external TBC will not work for you a DVR has also some form of stabilisation, because it has to "store" on DVD or hard drive, a Super VHS can also be solution, because it has better elctronics than a regular VCR.
I hope you can get hold of a better VCR or DVR, it's a world of difference.

Last edited by Eric-Jan; 09-28-2018 at 02:48 PM.
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10-07-2018, 07:13 PM
bmasephol bmasephol is offline
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Sorry about the delay in posting back, life happens, which is why these projects drag on for years

Anyways, appreciate the feedback from both of you. I did some research on the Intensity Shuttle before purchasing. It is actually compatible with most computers, there isn't that many USB3 chipsets out there, most are the same base chipsets but it is usually a driver issue to ensure it is working correctly, which in my case I can't just let Windows install the default drivers, I have to force it to use the correct drivers from the chipset manufacturer. But I'm a software engineer so that kinda stuff is easy for me to deal with.

I don't have any dropped frame issues with the Intensity Shuttle since introducing the Hotronic TBC device.

I'm going to work through a few videos with my existing setup. I've noticed huge differences since slowly integrating and improving my equipment since what I started with (cheap USB capture device...).

I'll keep working through these forums digging for more information about the capture and post processing steps. Thanks!
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10-09-2018, 10:20 AM
Eric-Jan Eric-Jan is offline
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Using a VCR/DVR combo with component video output really makes a difference, i experienced, where s-video gives a foggy image compaired with the component video output, of the ES35, which gives a sharp image, even my JVC Super VHS can't match that, which has more VHS artifacts, compaired.
The Panasonic DMR-ES35v i have, is still for sale on some sites, The Intensity Shuttle has the advantage that you can set the video specs in the Desktop Video Setup, Gamma, etc....
Using a ES10 as a passthrough has no use, because you only got composite and s-video inputs that way to connect a VHS VCR as source.
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