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  #1  
04-23-2019, 03:40 AM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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So I've taken on this project of archiving a ton of old VHS tapes for my brother in-law. Since the late-'80s, he's recorded between hundreds of VHS tapes, all filled with old and new wrestling shows.

I originally tried to copy the tapes directly from VCR to computer via a USB capture card. I've had problems with this method. On the computer, the scene would flicker every couple of seconds and flash a still frame from a few seconds prior. This re-occurs every few seconds, depending on how deteriorated the tape is. In most cases, this can happen over 100 times every half hour. So I was puzzled at first. The tapes played fine on the TV, but not through the adapter. What does the TV have that my capture card lacks?

So I pondered for awhile and did some research and that led me to discover (1) old VHS tapes sometimes require a Time Base Corrector to keep the image intact and (2) that TVs by-and-large have TBCs built-in to handle these issues. Since my TV doesn't have a video output, I can't simply route the connection.

For me, it just needs to look the same as how it looks when played back on TV. I've tried several VCRs and up to this point, the one I've had the best luck with is the JVC-XVC29. This was the one my brother-in-law used for some of his recordings and it has a “Video Stabilization” feature that helps remove most of the issues. But then came the next hurdle. How do I get a TBC? I can't buy one standalone because they're outrageously expensive and hard to come by when you live in Canada.

After some time had passed, I stumbled upon a forum (probably from here) and learned that DVD recorders typically have a TBC built-in. I bought one second-hand right away. The one I have is a Toshiba D-RW2. It's okay. It doesn't prevent every little flicker, but it cuts it down to about 15-16 flickers in a 2.5 hour span of footage which is much easier to tolerate and to fix in post-processing. Now you would think that it's smooth sailing from here, right?

Not really. I have a new problem. The old tapes come out looking very dim. Not only that, but it doesn't affect the whole tape for some reason. One tape for example, it only affects the first 2 hours and 12/13 minutes. When the next fight begins at that time, the brightness returns back to normal. The link below is a sample video I took demonstrating the issue. I tried a 2nd. VCR to plug the main one which plugs into the TV. That didn't help. Instead, I was gifted with what I think was Macrovision. The image looked like it was going through trouble with tracking every couple seconds. Off, and then on. Off, and then on. I had tried another DVD recorder. This one was a DVD/DVR from Panasonic and it also exhibited the same issue.

https://streamable.com/2u5fc. In this video, you'll briefly see how the prior footage was dim and then the last fight stripped the color entirely. After that, I fast-forward the tape to around 2 hours and 12/13 minutes in. At this time, the next fight begins and the brightness comes back to normal. Just to reiterate my point from earlier. The picture accuracy is on point when the connection comes straight from the VCR. Doesn't matter what output device I use (TV or computer). If I use the DVD recorder as a pass-through device, it'll also look dim on the TV.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I would like some feedback from you guys to see if there's anything I could do resolve this.

P.s: This issue does not affect all of his tapes. His recently-recorded tapes (those from his PVR) are fine. It's the old ones that give me problems.

-- merged --

Here is a list of things I have tried to do to resolve this from the beginning to now:

• Uninstalling and re-installing USB capture card software
• Tried different VCRs, cables, computers, USB capture cards
• Played with VCR settings
• Fast-forwarding the tape and then rewinding to the beginning before recording
• Tried different capture software (OBS, VLC, NCH Debut, icuVCR, MovAVI Video Editor 15)
• Plugging in USB capture card in different ports and unplugging all other USB devices
• Installed Windows 7 alongside 10 to see if it was a Windows issue
• Messed around with Windows codecs and installed new codecs, figuring it was a software issue
• Capturing footage using Linux (based on Ubuntu)
• Tried two DVD recorders because they may have an internal TBC and/or frame synchronizer
• Tried a Videonics MX-1 Digital Video Mixer. Didn't work. Output displays odd color scan lines on two different brand-name VCRs.
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  #2  
04-23-2019, 11:56 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Some tapes are in such poor condition or are recorded in such a way that you can't get a clean frame-level signal. The result is often false Macrovision effects. While it's true that some DVD recorders can be used as a tbc-pass-thru, their tbc's are obliged to honor Macrovision or be taken to court. My remedy was to use a frame-level tbc to clean up the signal for a clean capture.

Why it takes exactly the time span you mention on a tape to reach a clean area is a complete mystery. True, Macrovision errors don't show up on TV, but it's not because tv's have tbc's -- it's because they just don't respond to Macrovision errors when tapes are played as you're playing them. There's a lot of specific info you haven't mentioned. "Different codecs?" Which codecs? "Different capture cards"? Which capture cards? There are devices and methods that we recommend, and there are devices and methods that we recommend should be avoided. We would not recommend the JVC player you're using. The Toshiba pass-thru you mention is barely adequate with a very weak tbc (I used to have that model and tried using it as a line tbc).

I realize that some of the gear needed to properly undertake such a project is likely to be expensive and/or difficult to find. This forum is often a frustrating experience for me, because I work soley along lines recommended in our guides and never had problems, so when "different" hardware or software causes issues I'd like to have the answer but don't have one. Meanwhile I, too, have difficulty keeping up certain equipment, especially high-end VCRs, but that's what is required and so that's what I use.

Anyway, much of your problem appears to be false copy protection response. It wouldn't hurt to have a better player, although in my case I was getting copy protection errors from a couple of tapes that were recorded from a corrupt cable tv signal -- and I used high-end players to play them. The only fix was an external frame-level tbc. They are often on sale here in our marketplace forum.
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04-23-2019, 01:35 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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On the dim part of the video, you can see some heavily flashing colour on the right side of the image. It could be that this is related to the dimming and color loss somehow. I know both VCRs and A/D chips will typically have a "color killer" circuit that will mute the colour signal if it thinks it can't decode the color properly which could be causing the color to disappear if the color is too bad. I suppose whatever is causing the colour flashing may also be causing some issue with the gain control of the DVD recorder, or making it think there is a macrovision signal. Some DVD recorders will recreate a macrovision signal if they think they detect it, while others will simply mess up the image. They will also refuse to record so maybe you can see what they say when trying that. A/D chips vary in how they deal with bad signals, so I suppose the one in the TV is handling it better in this case.

I suppose this may be one case where you really need a powerhouse TBC to get a proper image.

I do spot some white strips at the very top of the image, which suggests there is something in the blanking area which isn't normally visible.

I believe the video mixer you mentioned is capable of stripping much of the macrovision signal and stabilize the signal somewhat, don't know if the one you got is faulty somehow, or if it too is reacting badly to the tapes. Does it cause the mentioned issue on all tapes?

Also, what USB capture card have you got?
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04-23-2019, 07:29 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Quote:
What does the TV have that my capture card lacks?

Read more: VHS archiving project, nothing but problems?
TV sets are generally designed to tolerate very sloppy video signals, and they ignore the Macrovision signals, while VCRs and most digitizing equipment is designed to respect it. Further most ditigitizing hardware expects a good in-spec video signal, and often a VCR output signal may be "too sloppy" for good capture.

In general TBC's will strip out most of the Macrovision signal but may leave some artifacts behind. Macrovision works in part by messing with (fooling) the AGC in VCRs to make the image alternately too bright and too dim, and that can result in messing with AGC built into some capture devices.

Some cable TV set top boxes were designed to put Macrovision on their analog video outputs if the broadcasts were so encoded. Early pay-for channels/programming on some cable TV used similar protection schemes.

How was the MX-1 connected in your setup?The result viewed? Not sure I understand your description of its output.
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04-24-2019, 01:03 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Yes, you're seeing timing/timebase errors. TBC needed.

But not just any TBC. It's a loose term, can mean many things. Line will tackle the image issues, but it needs to be a line known to resolve those problems. Not just any line, or something claiming to be line.

TVs don't have TBCs. pre-HDTVs just ignore certain errors, as well as help the signal generate what's needed for good display. Not just VHS, but any signal.

JVC-XVC29 is just a consumer VHS VCR combo, no line TBC.

The Toshiba DVD recorders don't have line TBC. At least nothing powerful, and TBC(ish) at best. But as you see, it doesn't do much. The Panasonic ES10/15 is a minimal TBC(ish), will probably remove most of the errors you see. Read up past post on it, so you know what it is, what it does.

Brightness up/down is either anti-copy or false anti-copy. For that, you need framesync TBC, in additiona to line TBC.

Attach sample clips to forums.

Which capture card? Some are excellent, many are junk.

Only use VirtualDub. Never VLC, NCH, MovAVI. OBS and iuVCR only if VirtualDub refuses.

What codec? Use Huffyuv.

I know some have "good" (unqualified) results with the MX-1, but others have not, and I've never been impressed. It's not a TBC, it's a video mixer that claims to have TBC (and again, claims can be BS or fudged).

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04-24-2019, 06:55 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Quote:
I know some have "good" (unqualified) results with the MX-1

Read more: VHS archiving project, nothing but problems?
I am among those that have had success with the MX-series. It is a two source sliding window frame synchronizer, intended for mixing and transitions between two input video signals that are not externally genlocked. It does provide TBC-like effects provided the input signal meets the necessary minimums for the device. It is effective on Macrovision too. I say minimums for the device because it may not be effective on signals that are "way off" standard that it cannot interpret. I've not had problems, but the tapes and VCRs I have worked with were not all that bad (mostly AG-1970 and AG-1980 and camera original tapes).

The MX-1 was designed to meet Hi-8/S-VHS signal bandwidth and the newer MX-Pro to meet the DV signals bandwidth. It could be controlled by the Videonics AB-1 Edit Controller in a linear editing setup.

It is worth trying if you have one, or access to one, but may not be equal to the recommended dedicated TBCs. If memory serves, the MX-1 needed clear, unobstructed air flow around to avoid overheating effects during long sessions.
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05-08-2019, 04:21 AM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Some tapes are in such poor condition or are recorded in such a way that you can't get a clean frame-level signal. The result is often false Macrovision effects. While it's true that some DVD recorders can be used as a tbc-pass-thru, their tbc's are obliged to honor Macrovision or be taken to court. My remedy was to use a frame-level tbc to clean up the signal for a clean capture.
Is a frame-level TBC the same thing as a frame synchronizer? I've heard these two names before, but I'm not sure if they're the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Why it takes exactly the time span you mention on a tape to reach a clean area is a complete mystery.
Tell me about it. I know that these tapes were not filled up all in one day. He would record one fight and then the next time the show came on, he would bring the tape to where the end of the last fight was and begin recording the new content. So it could very well be that the footage was somehow corrupted and the other fights weren't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
True, Macrovision errors don't show up on TV, but it's not because tv's have tbc's -- it's because they just don't respond to Macrovision errors when tapes are played as you're playing them.
Well that's assuming that the cause is in fact false Macrovision errors as you mentioned above. What I can't get over is that fact that the TV can handle the incoming signal from the VCR. So, using the logic I know of, it would seem to me like the TV is doing something that is helping the signal remain intact. I wonder why USB capture cards cannot simply do the same thing as the TVs and ignore the video errors and just move along. I just pondered at the possibility of Macrovision because of how the image appeared when using two VCRs connected to each other. It could also possibly be visual loss from using two VCRs

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
There's a lot of specific info you haven't mentioned. "Different codecs?" Which codecs?
I can't remember all of them, but the USB capture cards I've tried all use the YUV2 format. So I tried to uninstall and re-install the codec, figuring that perhaps it was that that was causing the problems. I also used other programs with different codecs to see if that would fix things. It didn't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
"Different capture cards"? Which capture cards?
• Startech SVID2USB23
• DigitNow Master AVcap BR117 (horrible one, don't recommend. Also horrible customer service)
• Diamond Capture VC500

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
There are devices and methods that we recommend, and there are devices and methods that we recommend should be avoided. We would not recommend the JVC player you're using.
I have looked at the VCR guide on the forum that lists different brands. In Canada, it's hard to come across those VCRs unless you're ready to dish out a took chunk of change because they mostly come from the US. The only reason I've been using the JVC model is because this is the one that my brother in-law uses and because it is the only one that cleans up the image the best. All of my other VCRs performed worse than this one and they didn't have any options to clean up the image either (i.e. “Video Stabilization” and “Picture Control”).

I'll try to keep an eye out if one becomes available for cheap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
The Toshiba pass-thru you mention is barely adequate with a very weak tbc (I used to have that model and tried using it as a line tbc).
Yeah, it is a weak TBC, I must say. I tried turning off Video Stabilization on the JVC and then play back the footage and it had a tough time keeping the image intact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
I realize that some of the gear needed to properly undertake such a project is likely to be expensive and/or difficult to find.
Exactly. It's not so much the expense that gets me, even though that is a factor. For me, it's the hassle of finding one. I'm used to going to a store and picking one up. Or if I use local second-hand services, I can at least see it in person first and test it out before buying it. Like I've said, I don't need the picture to be better. Just the way it comes out on TV, minus the frame drops. As of late, I've been wondering if I should try a TV/VCR combo. My theory is that if the VCR is built-in, then the components would be shared between the VCR and TV. What I mean is, if the output on the TV is fine, then if I run outputs from the TV, the picture might be identical to what the TV projects, since the two devices are all in one (specifically, the component in the TV that ignores video errors).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
This forum is often a frustrating experience for me, because I work solely along lines recommended in our guides and never had problems, so when "different" hardware or software causes issues I'd like to have the answer but don't have one. Meanwhile I, too, have difficulty keeping up certain equipment, especially high-end VCRs, but that's what is required and so that's what I use.
I understand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
Anyway, much of your problem appears to be false copy protection response. It wouldn't hurt to have a better player, although in my case I was getting copy protection errors from a couple of tapes that were recorded from a corrupt cable tv signal -- and I used high-end players to play them. The only fix was an external frame-level tbc. They are often on sale here in our marketplace forum.
I'm still on the fence about whether it's Macrovision. In this video, I have the JVC VCR routed directly to the computer and the issue I have there isn't really a Macrovision problem (AFAIK [according to my knowledge of Macrovision symptoms]). It just drops frames constantly and I think it's because the tapes are older and deteriorated and so the capture card doesn't know how to deal with time base errors. My brother in-law told me that a lot of these tapes recorded in this era (late-'80s to early '90s) were recorded off of satellite cable. I would also note (in case I forgot) that within the last 15 years at least, he's been recording his content off modern cable boxes. Before I moved this past January, I had cable in my room and I used to record shows off the PVR directly to the computer using the capture card without any video problems. And I did test the tapes with newer content on it and there were no visible issues with the image.

I will have to look into the marketplace side of the forum to learn more about obtaining an external frame-level TBC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
On the dim part of the video, you can see some heavily flashing colour on the right side of the image. It could be that this is related to the dimming and color loss somehow. I know both VCRs and A/D chips will typically have a "color killer" circuit that will mute the colour signal if it thinks it can't decode the color properly which could be causing the color to disappear if the color is too bad. I suppose whatever is causing the colour flashing may also be causing some issue with the gain control of the DVD recorder, or making it think there is a macrovision signal. Some DVD recorders will recreate a macrovision signal if they think they detect it, while others will simply mess up the image. They will also refuse to record so maybe you can see what they say when trying that. A/D chips vary in how they deal with bad signals, so I suppose the one in the TV is handling it better in this case.
You may be right about that. Now I wonder if it's more-so to do with the tape being deteriorated and/or how the content was recorded in the first place, rather than Macrovision. I can't say for sure, but it seems more plausible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I suppose this may be one case where you really need a powerhouse TBC to get a proper image.
Yeah. That may be the case. I'm not sure how to proceed from here if specialized equipment is needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I do spot some white strips at the very top of the image, which suggests there is something in the blanking area which isn't normally visible.
I don't recall all the facts, but I vaguely remember something about how many lines VHS scans and if that's not something you see on TV, then perhaps it is to do with something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I believe the video mixer you mentioned is capable of stripping much of the macrovision signal and stabilize the signal somewhat, don't know if the one you got is faulty somehow, or if it too is reacting badly to the tapes. Does it cause the mentioned issue on all tapes?
When I use the Videonics MX-1, the image color is restored. However, I get this weird scan line-like effect. I've never seen this before, neither on the capture card, TV or DVD recorder. This is a Videonics-exclusive issue. See the video for a sample. I looked in the manual and the best thing I can find is an Advanced Setup area that's hidden away. On page 24, it states that there are 5 options in this area:

• Headphone Volume
• Input/Output Frame Rate Lock Disable
• Noise Filter
• Black Level
• Composite Chroma AGC

The two that interest me the most are Noise Filter and Composite Chroma AGC. The noise filter setting can be adjusted from 0 to 3. I've tried playing around with the VCR, turning off Video Stabilization, playing around with different picture modes and different levels of the noise filter. None of my attempts so far have fully removed those weird-looking scan lines. The other problem I have is that different portions of the tape respond better than others. There's one particular fight in the tape that has virtually no scan lines. The image is stellar. But carry on to the next recorded footage (recorded at a later date at the end of the last fight) and the scan lines come back. The beginning of the tape is particularly bad. Moving on to Chroma AGC, it can be only set from 0 or 1 (off/on accordingly). The AGC controller doesn't need to be on because the color accuracy is already pretty good, but I leave it on anyways because it appears to enhance the color better and brightens it up a little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Also, what USB capture card have you got?
I have 2 USB capture cards at the moment. I moved this past January. I was originally using the StarTech SVID2USB23 capture card for about 2-3 years. After I moved in, it stopped working properly. I replaced it with one I saw off Amazon by DigitNow (Master AVcap BR117). Back then (in February), I was convinced that it was the capture device that was the problem, because I archived my other VHS tapes months back and didn't have this weird frame drop/flicker issue. I managed to get a refund from DigitNow without having to send it back, so I still have it. Later on I discovered that it wasn't actually the adapter's fault. Before I discovered this, I went and ordered another StarTech SVID2USB23 adapter and I have that here as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
TV sets are generally designed to tolerate very sloppy video signals, and they ignore the Macrovision signals, while VCRs and most digitizing equipment is designed to respect it. Further most ditigitizing hardware expects a good in-spec video signal, and often a VCR output signal may be "too sloppy" for good capture.
Yeah, I believe that now. At first I was deadset on it being the capture card's fault, because I've been doing VHS archiving for a while. I had a bunch of my own tapes that I archived using my Startech SVID2USB23 USB adapter. I never experienced this type of issue before, so at the time, I blamed it on the adapter. If I put in his new wrestling content, it'll capture it just fine. It's the old ones from the (late) '80s and '90s that give me problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
In general TBC's will strip out most of the Macrovision signal but may leave some artifacts behind.
Well like I've mentioned above here a few times, I'm not entirely sure that it's Macrovision. You see, when I play the content back from the VCR to the computer, I get a frame-drop/flicker issue. If I run the DVD recorder as a pass-thru device (with Video stabilization enabled on the VCR), then the flicker problems mostly goes away, but the brightness goes down at the beginning portion of the tape (about 2hrs and 12/13 minutes in). If I run the Videonics MX-1 as a pass-thru device, the brightness remains the same, but I get these weird scan lines that I've never seen before at all. See this video for a sample of what I see when using the Videonics as a pass-thru device.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Macrovision works in part by messing with (fooling) the AGC in VCRs to make the image alternately too bright and too dim, and that can result in messing with AGC built into some capture devices.
That part I'm aware of. I saw a video demonstration a while back. There's also a few different versions of Macrovision with each one causing a different effect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Some cable TV set top boxes were designed to put Macrovision on their analog video outputs if the broadcasts were so encoded. Early pay-for channels/programming on some cable TV used similar protection schemes.
That could very well be the case. The footage on the older tapes were recorded from poor satellite cable. And they were PPV wrestling channels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
How was the MX-1 connected in your setup?
The output of the JVC VCR goes to the MX-1 via composite and outputs from the MX-1 to my capture card via S-VIDEO. It's supposed to be a high-quality S-VIDEO cable because it's quite thick.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
The result viewed? Not sure I understand your description of its output.
Here's the video of the output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Yes, you're seeing timing/timebase errors. TBC needed.
You're right. I thought the Videonics MX-1 would fix this, but it creates a new problem with the scan lines that appear in the output. See this video for a sample of the output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
But not just any TBC. It's a loose term, can mean many things. Line will tackle the image issues, but it needs to be a line known to resolve those problems. Not just any line, or something claiming to be line.
Ok. Yeah, well since the Videonics isn't producing a clean image, I'll have to use another device with a TBC built-in, or a standalone TBC. I will say, the latter is quite expensive. I've seen some of them run into the thousands and they look like server racks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
TVs don't have TBCs. pre-HDTVs just ignore certain errors, as well as help the signal generate what's needed for good display. Not just VHS, but any signal.
Well that's just it. Whatever the TV is doing, I need to recreate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
JVC-XVC29 is just a consumer VHS VCR combo, no line TBC.
I realize it's a normal, consumer VCR. I just thought that it had a TBC inside, because of the “Video Stabilization” feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
The Toshiba DVD recorders don't have line TBC. At least nothing powerful, and TBC(ish) at best. But as you see, it doesn't do much.
I know that with the DVD recorder, there were no scan lines. Just a dark image and a fraction of the frame drops/flickers that I originally saw with the direct connection from the VCR to computer. The scan lines appear when I run the VCR to the MX-1 using composite and then outputting it to the computer via S-VIDEO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
The Panasonic ES10/15 is a minimal TBC(ish), will probably remove most of the errors you see. Read up past post on it, so you know what it is, what it does.
Yeah, I recall that one from here. I've heard about it a few times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Brightness up/down is either anti-copy or false anti-copy. For that, you need framesync TBC, in addition to line TBC.
I don't experience drastic changes in brightness. The only thing that I suspected of Macrovision was when I hooked up to VCRs to each other, one being the JVC and the other a Toshiba. Every few seconds, the second VCR would display what looked to be horizontal tracking lines (two of them) that would come and go every few seconds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Attach sample clips to forums.
I've attached some samples here. I wasn't aware of the option to upload videos directly, so I used an external site for uploading. Links to these videos are available in this post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Which capture card? Some are excellent, many are junk.
• Startech SVID2USB23
• DigitNow Master AVcap BR117 (horrible one, don't recommend. Also horrible customer service)
• Diamond Capture VC500

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Only use VirtualDub. Never VLC, NCH, MovAVI. OBS and iuVCR only if VirtualDub refuses.
I recall having problems with VirtualDub right out of the gate. I couldn't use Debut anyways as it is incompatible with the DigitNow adapter. I do prefer OBS, but I will re-install iuVCR again. I uninstalled it a while ago because the free trial ran out and forgot the name of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
What codec? Use Huffyuv.
I'm not sure if this helps, but I know that in OBS, it seems like the capture card only takes the YUV2 format. I tried to install K-Lite Codec pack to see if I could use other codecs, but I didn't get far. I did notice that YUV2 was broken, but I repaired it and nothing changed in the output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
I know some have "good" (unqualified) results with the MX-1, but others have not, and I've never been impressed. It's not a TBC, it's a video mixer that claims to have TBC (and again, claims can be BS or fudged).
That could be true. I'm not too impressed with this machine. Also, I bought it second-hand in the city and the guy I got it from didn't have the original AC adapter for it. The plug he gave me is the same type, but instead of it outputting 2 amps, it only puts out 1.2 amps. Tonight I was fooling around with it and I noticed every few minutes it would hard reboot itself. It's done that before, but not in such a quick interval. I'm not sure if I want to invest money in getting the right AC adapter for it if it's not going to do what I need it to do.

Last edited by DevonT; 05-08-2019 at 04:33 AM. Reason: Spelling errors and missing information in one of the quote responses.
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05-08-2019, 05:53 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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What I can't get over is that fact that the TV can handle the incoming signal from the VCR. So, using the logic I know of, it would seem to me like the TV is doing something that is helping the signal remain intact. I wonder why USB capture cards cannot simply do the same thing as the TVs and ignore the video errors and just move along.
It would certainly be possible to make an USB capture card that could do the same as the TV or a TBC, the LCD panel is receiving a digital video stream after all. Same with TBCs (other than really ancient ones), they have some A/D chip, memory and a FPGA, and the output is sent back to a standard digital-to-analog converter. It could as well have been routed to a computer instead.

It seems most usb dongles have been rather cheaply put together, and with a minimum effort put into driver development as well. It also seems most the higher-end chips have only ended up in TVs, DVD-recorders etc. There seem to be some differences in how they handle lack of video signal lock, TVs, DVDrs, etc seem to often simply blurt out something no matter what, while the USB dongles seem to prefer to freak out and not output anything instead.

That said it seems to vary a bit between TVs too, what model of TV do you have?

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• Startech SVID2USB23
• DigitNow Master AVcap BR117 (horrible one, don't recommend. Also horrible customer service)
• Diamond Capture VC500
Hm, seems the Startech card has similar hardware to the well-regarded ATI 600 USB card. Granted manufacturers do change insides without changing the branding sometimes so can't say for sure.

The VC500 has a good quality image as well, but it's not very good at recording directly from a VCR.

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As of late, I've been wondering if I should try a TV/VCR combo. My theory is that if the VCR is built-in, then the components would be shared between the VCR and TV.
I highly doubt that would be of any use. A TV/VCR combo would presumably have a old-school CRT monitor driven by an analog signal. Never seen a TV/VCR combo that has a LCD panel (though I have seen images of a VCR with an integrated LCD panel).


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In this video, I have the JVC VCR routed directly to the computer and the issue I have there isn't really a Macrovision problem (AFAIK [according to my knowledge of Macrovision symptoms]).
It looks like there are some serious issues with the timing of the horizontal synchronization signal at the top of the image, you can se the image is really bent. It may be something where a Panasonic DMR-ES10/ES15 could help with but I don't know.

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This is a Videonics-exclusive issue. See the video for a sample
Hmm, it almost looks like it's being mis-corrected by the MX-1. Does this happen on other tapes that don't have the other issues? I had a tape once where the VCR TBCs and the ES10 all the image on some sections of the tape way worse than without any correction of the lines, granted it looked a little different to this. (It was video from the cockpit of a fighter jet, so not very surprising it was not super clean and stable. )
As for the DVD-recorder, some have adjustable brightness and AGC settings, don't know about the models you used though.

Quote:
The Toshiba DVD recorders don't have line TBC.
Some do, my RD-XS24 very noticeably straightens up the image, and sanlyn has demostrated it with some other models. They're not as capable as the ES10 though.
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05-08-2019, 06:20 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Is a frame-level TBC the same thing as a frame synchronizer? I've heard these two names before, but I'm not sure if they're the same thing.

Read more: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/9660-vhs-archiving-project.html#ixzz5nKFPXLa7
Not the same, but they do share common functional components and can have similar effects. The TBC is intended to correct the time base (sync) of an input signal while the synchronizer is intended to match the time base (sync) of two independent video signals. A TBC should be able to make larger corrections than a synchronizer, but that depends on the design of the device. As noted in ther threads, the term "TBC" is used to describe a wide range of devices.

The sample MX-1 output appears to have consistent 4% delay in the start of random individual scan lines. Something is fooling the MX-1 as to individual line sync.

Varying white in the first 21 or so lines above the image (vertical blanking interval) could be vertical interval time code and/or closed captioning. Macrovision may appear as super white and black on some scan lines as well.
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05-08-2019, 01:33 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
It would certainly be possible to make an USB capture card that could do the same as the TV or a TBC, the LCD panel is receiving a digital video stream after all. Same with TBCs (other than really ancient ones), they have some A/D chip, memory and a FPGA, and the output is sent back to a standard digital-to-analog converter. It could as well have been routed to a computer instead.

It seems most usb dongles have been rather cheaply put together, and with a minimum effort put into driver development as well. It also seems most the higher-end chips have only ended up in TVs, DVD-recorders etc. There seem to be some differences in how they handle lack of video signal lock, TVs, DVDrs, etc seem to often simply blurt out something no matter what, while the USB dongles seem to prefer to freak out and not output anything instead.
Or in my case, freak out and drop frames left and right and make this weird sort of flicker effect.

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That said it seems to vary a bit between TVs too, what model of TV do you have?
I've tried this with 2 different brand-name TVs. One being a small 15" Sharp TV and the other being a 40" Samsung TV. All LCD flat screens.

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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Hm, seems the Startech card has similar hardware to the well-regarded ATI 600 USB card. Granted manufacturers do change insides without changing the branding sometimes so can't say for sure.

The VC500 has a good quality image as well, but it's not very good at recording directly from a VCR.
Yeah, the Startech one has been very good to me. Always provided a clear image for anything I threw at it. I didn't test the VC500 enough because once I saw that the frames were also dropping with that one, I immediately returned it.

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I highly doubt that would be of any use. A TV/VCR combo would presumably have a old-school CRT monitor driven by an analog signal. Never seen a TV/VCR combo that has a LCD panel (though I have seen images of a VCR with an integrated LCD panel).
Oh okay? I don't care if the TV is an old-school CRT. I just wonder if the mechanism inside the TV that makes the image look okay is also connected to the output composite ports so that when I run it to the computer, it would look identical to what's on TV.

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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
It looks like there are some serious issues with the timing of the horizontal synchronization signal at the top of the image, you can se the image is really bent. It may be something where a Panasonic DMR-ES10/ES15 could help with but I don't know.
Yeah, maybe.

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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Hmm, it almost looks like it's being mis-corrected by the MX-1. Does this happen on other tapes that don't have the other issues?
I honestly don't remember, but I'll try that soon and report back.

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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
As for the DVD-recorder, some have adjustable brightness and AGC settings, don't know about the models you used though.
The ones I've tried have no sort of picture settings or brightness settings unfortunately. I looked high and low for that.

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Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Some do, my RD-XS24 very noticeably straightens up the image, and sanlyn has demostrated it with some other models. They're not as capable as the ES10 though.
I guess I'll have to try my luck with the ES10/15.

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Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Not the same, but they do share common functional components and can have similar effects. The TBC is intended to correct the time base (sync) of an input signal while the synchronizer is intended to match the time base (sync) of two independent video signals. A TBC should be able to make larger corrections than a synchronizer, but that depends on the design of the device. As noted in the threads, the term "TBC" is used to describe a wide range of devices.
Well from what people are suggesting, the issue I have with these tapes are Time base errors and as such, I would probably need some sort of TBC to correct them. I'm still a bit confused on what I should even look for to correct this.

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Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
The sample MX-1 output appears to have consistent 4% delay in the start of random individual scan lines. Something is fooling the MX-1 as to individual line sync.
Oh? I didn't even catch that.

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Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Varying white in the first 21 or so lines above the image (vertical blanking interval) could be vertical interval time code and/or closed captioning. Macrovision may appear as super white and black on some scan lines as well.
Now you've lost me 😕 I don't believe there was any closed captioning for his tapes. Could be Macrovision? If there's any lines on the perimeter of the tape, I can crop it out.
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05-08-2019, 03:30 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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For some nice examples of the Macrovision protection signal:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VqsU1VK3mU

This graphic shows the vertical interval time code signal (when it is present, not usually on VHS recordings) in the blanking interval in the overscan area above the color bars. Typically around scan lines 10-20.

Closed captioning would be similar but on different scan lines (typically 20-21) and changing as the caption changes.


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05-08-2019, 07:21 PM
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jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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The success with the TV sounds like its holding you back from trying some things.

The first is it appears you have basic tracking errors, which might be the condition of the tape, or the brand of VCR may be different from the brand of the VCR that made the tape. Even if a single tape was used in multiple VCRs, try to do some detective work and find out what brand or model was in use.. or not in use. -- the reason tracking errors appear apparent is that JVC stabilization is mostly automatic tracking correction based on a few samples at the start and periodically as the tape plays.. even if you turn On Screen Display off (OSD) if Stablization is left on it will periodically reset the tracking and that may explain the AGC varying after a period of time. Picking a "great" VCR is almost never as good as playback on the original model, or a like built model. -- after you nail down the original model, then look at adding in a frame synchronizer (external TBC).. you won't be able to really find an external line TBC.. well you sort of can, maybe in the ES10.. but the correction for line errors is best done by the VCR itself.

So after trying a different similar brand/model VCR, turn off the Autotracking/Stablization whatever its called.. its fixing things.. but its also resetting the AGC in your capture device.. the external TBC should handle the flickering.. so you shouldn't need the autotracking (but if you do, you can use manual tracking to "steer" it into at least a consistent playback Gain mode.. so dimming variability should go away)

Moving from (same VCR as recorded on) > (external ES10 "pseudo line TBC") > (external frame TBC "frame synchronizer") > capture device

I have the "Startech SVID2USB23" its an EMPIA based system, chipset spec is on the startech website. They always document the chipset which is one of the nice things about Startech. The driver set is also very complete.. but AGC is not "defeatable" you cannot turn it off. So its nice when you don't have any chance of false or positive Macrovision.. but its obviously the wrong device for this job.. since you've proven you do have AGC problems.

Early capture devices like the ATI All-In-Wonders gave you control over AGC, or did not have the feature. It was added later to many capture chipsets, or set permanently [On] so you could not turn it off.. partially I think because Macrovision depends on it to screw up the video. If you have AGC feature, and have removed User control.. you are Macrovision complaint and "defacto Enforcing Macrovision detection" in your product. so uncontrolled AGC control was preferred by manufactureres of chipsets and is the problem for end users. For perfect signal without macrovision protection, the end user is legal to copy, and the signal should be perfectly copyable.. but the world is not perfect.. and AGC tends to run crazy and overreacting to highlights and lowlights even in normal signals.. so its not a feature.. its a plague.

There are not a lot of sub $100 capture devices that give you back control of AGC, if you have AGC. There are a few.. and they skirt the issue of Macrovision compliance usually by putting in their documentation "Copying Copyrighted material is a Crime.." and move on.

A few early DVR recorders were famous or infamous for either lack of AGC or deliberately switching it off.. iLO, LiteOn 5045, Polaroid 2001g, Matrox O2.. and of course ATI Theater 200 chipset based devices. For somewhat obvious reasons these are still highly sought after and trade very little on the used market.

ATI after the 200 chipsets came out with the 550 chipset with embedded undefeatable AGC.. they were 100 percent Macrovision compliant with and without the ATI software.. and are terrible choices for capturing and digitizing dodgy VHS tape.

Literally for any poor VHS tapes that had signal problems with Gain -- AGC in the capture device is going to defeat your efforts.. you have to look backwards at either a Macrovision "reconditioner, stripper or defeater" or find a capture device where you have control over the AGC ($$$) or it never had an AGC ($ but semi hard to find).

In theory an external TBC will "strip" the blanking interval where the Macrovision, or false macrovision is tricking the AGC.. but dodgy tapes will "leak" lines back and forth across the edge of the viewable field.. which can still get caught and detected as a Macrovision signal.. so again.. finding a method that takes AGC out of the equation is the best most stable bet.

Ideally.. I'd say probably an ATI 9200 or 9600 All in Wonder capture card.. with the complete cable set (very important) and on an AGP motherboard running XP SP2 is your absolute best shot. Sometimes "complete capture systems" like this turn up on the Marketplace on this forum. And from credible members too.. which tends to be a better shot than assembling random parts from eBay. -- Its an investment that you should think about like a Power Drill.. or Tool.. not for general computing use.. its only for capturing, its not something to be justified as another "home computer".. but likely to be flipped and turned over to another user, after the job is done.

You might also consider taking (one) Tape and sending it off to be "diagnosed" by a professional who could recommend what you need to treat a larger set of tapes.. I'm not sure there are a lot of places you can still get this done.. but its a thought.

Regarding the ATI 600 USB, an excellent Texas Instruments chipset, with tons of documentation, and a different take on AGC.. but its still AGC beholding. It still does a great job with fairly good signals.

Regarding the VC500, there are fans, and there are detractors.. it has one of the most up to date drivers sets.. meaning you can use it on Windows 7 or 10.. but don't let the OS be your driving force when selecting a tool for the job.. its a member of (we have surrendered to 'mighty' will of the all powerful AGC).. its yet another variant however.. and you can try it.

Regarding USB. ATI made (one) and only (one) USB Theater 200 based capture device.. the "ATI USB 2.0 N" its not that hard to find.. one goes for sale about once a month. (But) it only works under Windows XP SP2 and it had a special installation sequence.. done wrong it will not be totally functional. For real experts its an awesome capture device for a steal in price.. but no one has really written a good guide to properly installing it that I know of.. after its installed.. it does an amazing job of capture (for video "only) you have to capture audio through a seperate sound card or sound input.. or you risk unreported dropped frames. Virtual Dub supports it superbly and its one of the most complete USB capture solutions I know.. but it runs very "Hot" and you have to keep it cool. Otherwise it does need a good signal, you still do need line and frame TBCs.. but it is immune to most AGC problems.. but it also does have software Macrovision detection.. its a complex bag of tricks.

Last edited by jwillis84; 05-08-2019 at 08:17 PM.
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05-08-2019, 07:23 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
For some nice examples of the Macrovision protection signal:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VqsU1VK3mU
Yeah I've seen that video. Quite informative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
This graphic shows the vertical interval time code signal (when it is present, not usually on VHS recordings) in the blanking interval in the overscan area above the color bars. Typically around scan lines 10-20.
That makes sense. I'll have to go over the videos I have taken to hunt for that. I didn't notice it off hand before. I only noticed that with the Videonics, the images pulls to the left. You can see a black bar on the right side for some reason.

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Closed captioning would be similar but on different scan lines (typically 20-21) and changing as the caption changes.
Yeah I think you were talking about that before.
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05-08-2019, 08:29 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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I'm stepping out in a bit. But when I get back, I'm going to try something else. I can't remember if I tried this already. I'm thinking of running the JVC VHS to the Videonics via composite (it's the only way). Then run the output of the MX-1 to the DVD recorder via S-VIDEO and then S-VIDEO out from the recorder to the computer.

My theory is that the video mixer will resolve most of the issues and then the DVD recorder can clean up the rest of the image 🤞
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05-09-2019, 01:45 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Alright, I'm back. So yesterday, I tried using two middle-man devices instead of only one. So here's what I did. I outputted the JVC VHS to the MX-1 using composite (because it was the only way). Then I ran an output from the MX-1 to the DVD recorder via S-VIDEO. From the DVD recorder, I ran an S-VIDEO output to the USB capture card.

My theory was that these two devices would each play a role in cleaning up the image and since the image is mostly clean by the time it gets to the recorder, I figured it would not have a hard time to fix it up. I also ran an output from the VCR to the DVD recorder via coaxial cable.

I decided to record a short video demonstration so that you guys could see the differences in real time between the output of the DVD recorder and when the MX-1 is involved. The first demonstration is with the VCR running directly to the DVD recorder. The second demonstration is with the VCR running through the MX-1 and then going to the recorder. I made sure Video Stabilization was disabled, as I've heard that the feature can mess up the MX-1's effort to clean the image — which I can vouch for because I've seen it happen. I also made sure Picture Mode was set to Edit so that the VCR's AGC wasn't trying to mess with the picture in any way.

Unfortunately, my plan didn't work out. It still shows the scan lines in the DVD recorder output both via composite and S-VIDEO. Even when I applied the noise filter in the MX-1 settings, that didn't fix it. I may try fiddling around with it again to see if there's a sort of Goldilocks set of parameters that makes the image cleaner. I'm even willing to compromise if there is some scan lines here & there.

Last edited by DevonT; 05-09-2019 at 01:51 PM. Reason: Added more information
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05-09-2019, 08:50 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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I general, any line time base error becomes locked in when you run the signal though a frame TBC. That is because the TBC generates new sync for each line it detects. The MX-1 assumes the start of the line based on what it detects as the scan line sync pulse. If it is poorly formed, or false pulse material is present it can cause the tearing you observe. In general the line TBC should come first, preferably in the VCR.
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05-10-2019, 12:05 AM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Only use VirtualDub. Never VLC, NCH, MovAVI. OBS and iuVCR only if VirtualDub refuses.
I installed iuVCS and iuVCR this evening. If this program manages to help solve the problem, then I'll strongly consider obtaining the full version. I ran iuVCR earlier today and this is what I see (see attached file).

For some reason, when I click on the “Color Format/Compression” menu, I see duplicate “YUY2” entries. Each one seems to offer different amounts of resolutions. Some allow me to go up to 640x480, some as high as 720x480. Also, for some reason, when I used iuVCR, the footage was a little bit cleaner. At the beginning, I wasn't seeing as much scan lines as before. I don't know what to make of that, but I'm going to look into it more tonight.

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Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
In general, any line time base error becomes locked in when you run the signal though a frame TBC. That is because the TBC generates new sync for each line it detects. The MX-1 assumes the start of the line based on what it detects as the scan line sync pulse. If it is poorly formed, or false pulse material is present it can cause the tearing you observe. In general the line TBC should come first, preferably in the VCR.
Okay? So because the MX-1 already fixes the image as best as it can, the DVD recorder doesn't think there is anything to fix because the video mixer generates a new sync? Also, I have previously tried running the VCR to the DVD recorder so it could correct the frame drops/flickers and then run it to the MX-1 so that it could brighten up the picture. But it doesn't solve the brightness. I did try the AGC option in the Videonics, but it barely brightened up the image.

I just thought of something though. I'm thinking of running two inputs to the MX-1. One input straight from the VCR and the other from the DVD recorder (pass-thru). My theory is that I can blend the two sources and perhaps the image will be somewhat better.


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05-10-2019, 07:38 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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In some cases video AGC effect is be based on the sync pulse height, not the image content brightness. If the video signal has proper sync, as the output of a TBC should be, then AGC would have no little to no effect in image brightness.
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05-10-2019, 07:51 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Okay? So because the MX-1 already fixes the image as best as it can, the DVD recorder doesn't think there is anything to fix because the video mixer generates a new sync?
Yeah the mixer/TBC essentially digitizes the image, and makes a new analog signal with the digitized image including any errors it makes and new sync signals and blanking area, i.e the parts you don't normally see. So the digitizing part of the DVD recorder, and capture card for that matter will think it's a nice clean signal already.
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05-10-2019, 09:49 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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In summary, if the portions of the signal that are defined by standards; e.g., sync pulse width, height, color burst, pedestal, max brightness, etc. are correct how can a machine tell whether or not the garbage in the image is not intended. Common image display flaws such as snow, picture roll, dark image, etc. are occasionally used as special effects.
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