Quantcast VC500 usages and quality questions? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
08-20-2019, 02:59 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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The following tech questions were sent to me via PM. Plaese don't use PM for tech discussions. That's not what PM is for. Members and readers come to digitalfaq for tech details and information. If that informatuon is inside a PM, the information can't be shared. Hiding stuff in PM defeats the purpose of a public forum.

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A while ago I was looking for modern decent capture devices, and you suggested either the Hauppauge 610 USB-Live, VC500 or ATI 600 USB. Because I don't want to raise and old post from the dead, I figured I'll ask three questions here if possible please.
You don't have to raise an old post from the dead. Just start a new thread.

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The ATI 600 USB is hard to find. Even when it shows on EBay, it's missing some part. So that leaves me with the Hauppague or VC500. Out of the two, you mentioned the VC500 slightly better as it makes darker videos look more decent. Here's couple of questions regarding it.
That's not quite correct. I'd prefer the VC500 because it doesn't crush blacks. With the other devices you can work around that with an external proc amp if necessary.

Quote:
1. I'll order the dongle from Amazon. When you say VC500, your referring the current VC500 in stock? or your speaking about older models that is also called VC500 but may have better chipset compared to the modern VC500?
I haven't taken any VC500 apart to look at the chipset, but I see reports that the chipsets used are changed over the manufacturing life of the product, as happens with many other devices. In my own experience I haven't noticed any major differences with different issues of the V500's I used. I've had three of them over the years. The first was unfortunately stepped on and damaged. Its replacement from Amazon was lost during a home renovation, was replaced again with a third copy, and was found again when we packed and moved to a new home. All three copies were satisfactory.

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2. Some people mentioned VC500 is not that good of a match connected directly to the VCR. Is that a specific problem with the VCR they had? or a known issue with VC500?
I have no idea what those other users are talking about, and I suspect they don't know either. Capture devices are sometimes connected directly to a VCR, in which case you'll have to use your capture software (e.g., VirtuaLDUB) to control input levels and other factors for capture, the same way you would with any other capture device. Sometiemws the device is connected after the VCR is connected to external devices such as frame tbc's, pass-thru's, proc amps, etc. In any case you still have to adjust input levels to suit the situation. You have to do that for every card, every tape, and every player.

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I'm pretty amateur - and while quality matters to me and I want to do it as right as possible, I can't spend more than 100$ on the setup for now, so external TBC is not an option as I see those are quite expensive. Is it worth getting VC500 even I don't plan to get external TBC? The VCR I own is LG RC288. The service manual shows it to have a SAA7136 analog to digital video encoder, and an LSI chipset for system control and mpeg2-encoding (for dvd).
I don't know if your LG can be used a a pass-thru device for its line and frame TBC, nor do I know if the LG applies line tbc to the tape player section. You will ahve to make capture tests to see what's happening. VCR combos are among the lowest-quality tape players to use for playback. The VC500 is a very good and perfectly suitable capture device, but don't blame the capture device for poor playback performance. The VC500 is a capture card, not a player. It can work only with the signal you send to it and translate it into your capture software accurately and with as little damage as possible, which is its purpose. It cannot miraculously make a poor tape player look perfect. No capture card can do that.

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3. I'm planning on following your guide. Is it still relevant?
I'm using it right now.

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Am I'm missing something important here? or following the above will yield decent results if I follow them?
You probably need a better player. Otherwise you have to live with the LG's limitations. The vc500 itself together with VirtualDub capture is a popular and time-proven combination that has been around for many years.


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  #2  
08-20-2019, 04:14 PM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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Well, I used the build in VHS/DVD conversion, and wasn't happy with the results. I'm not sure if it's the player, or the capturing. I decided to go with lower end capturing device like the VC500 to start with - and if I won't happy with the results, I'll invest on a decent setup that include recommended VHS and seconded hand AiW 7500 AGP set that is being sold by one of the forum members.

Thanks you!
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  #3  
08-20-2019, 07:12 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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Some people mentioned VC500 is not that good of a match connected directly to the VCR. Is that a specific problem with the VCR they had? or a known issue with VC500?
If that's me that's referred to, what I've noted is that as far as USB dongles go, the VC500 is not the most tolerant of unstable video signals, so if you use it to capture directly from the video out of a normal VCR, may get "jumps" and flashes from the card losing the lock on the video signal. That's not really anything unique to the VC500 though, few capture devices handle that well. That's where a TBC or something with some similar capability like a DVD-recorder comes in. When used that way, the VC500 works great, and it doesn't mind macrovision. I use it myself.

In any case that won't matter here, as these output from these decks go through the analog video decoder inside the unit (via composite input, probably because cost or something), and then converted back to a stable analog signal. It's basically like grabbing the output from a DVD recorder (with a similar chipset) hooked up to the composite output of a (non-DVD-recorder) VCR, with the limitations that entail. I don't think the SAA7136 does much if any correction of horizontal jitter though, so you'll have to see how noticeable it is on your tapes.

I don't think the VC500 units have had any significant hardware change since like 2010. Before that they used a completely different Trident chip, no idea how the quality on those are.
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  #4  
08-21-2019, 02:03 AM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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Quote:
so you'll have to see how noticeable it is on your tapes.
So if it's bad, I will experience the same with just playing the tapes? or converting will add jitters not originally presented when just watching the Video?

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few capture devices handle that well
Can you name one or two that does and can be still bought today (preferably from Amazon)? so things like the ATI 600 USB are currently not relevant.
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  #5  
08-21-2019, 10:19 AM
Bogilein Bogilein is offline
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Usually the capture card is in 3rd place during the capture process.

If you connect a vcr to the Diamond 500 without a tbc you won't get a satisfied result for most of your tapes(...and not only with the Diamond 500).

Which (S)VHS-vcr (with TBC) and external TBC or DVD-Recorder (passthrough mode) will you use?

If you don't wanna do some cleanup in the postproduction (Avisynth/Virtual Dub) you could have a closer look at some of the Pioneer/Sony DVD-Recorder which offer the HQ+ mode (15mbit mpg2-file). With the new iso-Buster you can now easily copy the recorded files from the dvd-recorder harddisk to you computer harddrive and the encode the files with Selurs "Hybrid" (which include avisynth/vapoursynth) to mp4/mkv.....
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  #6  
08-21-2019, 11:14 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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Originally Posted by Okiba View Post
So if it's bad, I will experience the same with just playing the tapes? or converting will add jitters not originally presented when just watching the Video?
Converting won't any more jitter than what you see no. It will be a bit like the DVD conversion, but without any of the compression artifacts and processing the mpeg-encoder will introduce to fit the video on a DVD.

I made a test recently for this and another thread to help illustrate a bit, here's a short sample from a tape with a break between recordings, one directly from the VCR, one going via a LG RH188H DVD/HDD recorder (has a SAA7137, similar to your combo deck), and one that went through a Panasonic EH57. Would have thrown in the ES10, but I had the EH57 sitting ready, not sure if it's quite as capable as the ES10 yet. All made with a diamond VC500, the VCR was a cheapo 2-head hitachi deck (VT-MX905EVPS). (Note this is PAL, not sure if the results would be exactly the same for NTSC.)

As you can probably see, the on the raw capture the card completely loses the signal and displays blue, virtualdub shows a ton of inserted frames. Additionally it doesn't separate the colour from the brightness very well so you get this high-frequency wave-like pattern on the image. The DVRs help avoid this, the panasonic one does also avoid horizontal wiggling fairly well, the LG less so , look at the text or the dropouts for instance. (Not the time code text as that is done by the OSD chip in the VCR and doesn't fully line up with the video.) It would be more noticeable on a different tape with a more unstable recording.


Attached Files
File Type: mp4 LG RH188H and VC500.mp4 (30.62 MB, 9 downloads)
File Type: mp4 Panasonic EH57 and VC500.mp4 (25.53 MB, 7 downloads)
File Type: mp4 vc500 raw.mp4 (27.49 MB, 9 downloads)
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  #7  
08-21-2019, 01:49 PM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogilein View Post
Which (S)VHS-vcr (with TBC) and external TBC or DVD-Recorder (passthrough mode) will you use?
The VCR I own is LG RC288. The service manual shows it to have a SAA7136 analog to digital video encoder, and an LSI chipset for system control and mpeg2-encoding (for dvd). I'm not sure It have TBC or not, probably not. I don't have external TBC as for the moment nor a DVD-Records (I might have one in the family, I have to ask around, it's the first time I heard about the passthrough method - see the comment below).

Quote:
I made a test recently
So If I under correctly, the VC500 is VCR connect to the VC500 alone, and the VCR has no TBC? So my setup will probably something like that?

And I didn't know there's an option to connect a DVD Record in between. How does it work exactly? you play the tap on your VCR, the VCR output connects to the DVD recorder in, and the DVD recorder out connects to the VC500? or you don't use the VC500 on the scenario and instead the DVD record record the tape? so no PC or Virtual Dub going to be used?
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  #8  
08-21-2019, 02:23 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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With DVD-Recorder method, you connect the output of the VCR to the input DVD-recorder, and then connect the capture device to the output of the DVD-recorder. (Basically using the DVD-Recorder in place of a TBC unit) You don't record anything on the recorder itself, but the signal goes through the video decoder in the DVD-Recorder which does a much better job than the capture card. This is most commonly used with the Panasonic DMR-ES10 or ES15 due to their special video filters, but can be done with other models to.

What you will get will with your current setup + VC500 connected to the output will be similar to the first (LG RH188H and VC500) example video I posted with the LG DVD-recorder as the VCR/DVD combo deck you are using is basically a combination of a VCR and a DVD-Recorder (with a similar chip) built into one. The third example is the VC500 connected to a normal (non DVD-combo) VCR alone.
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  #9  
08-21-2019, 04:27 PM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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So because I already have a Combo unit, using another DVD Recorder will not help with quality? So VCR->VC500 and VCR->A DVD Recorder Unit->VC500 will yield the same results? or there's value to use a dedicated DVD recorder unit even if I'm using a combo VCR unit?
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  #10  
08-21-2019, 04:49 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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As far as I know yea (I have a similar LG combo), the signal in these is already digitized and then re-made into analog, so adding another DVD-recorder or TBC in the chain won't improve anything.

EDIT:
I should note it's not something all VCR/DVD-Recorder combos do (non-recorders combos don't). E.g this one does not seem to, other than a special component progressive out mode . It seems to be common newer combos though. The possibility for VCR output on S-Video/Component/RGB/HDMI is typically an indication, as that indicates the signal is going through some conversion on its way out.

Last edited by hodgey; 08-21-2019 at 05:48 PM.
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  #11  
08-22-2019, 02:39 AM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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My LG Combo unit has HDMI/s-Video and Component Out port. So I guess the signal is indeed digitalized? Isn't that a "bad" thing because it means the Combo unit modify the original signal and quality? there an option is help clearing some of the jittering, but wouldn't that damage quality also because it's no longer "raw"?
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  #12  
08-22-2019, 07:10 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okiba View Post
My LG Combo unit has HDMI/s-Video and Component Out port. So I guess the signal is indeed digitalized? Isn't that a "bad" thing because it means the Combo unit modify the original signal and quality? there an option is help clearing some of the jittering, but wouldn't that damage quality also because it's no longer "raw"?
You're right. Nothing you can do with that original tape can be done without modifying the original YPbPr signal in some way. So if none of our suggestions meets your requirements, you'll have to re-invent the playback and capture process from scratch.

By the way, s-video and component are not digital. They're analog. HDMI is designed for digital signals and will considerably modify the original image. No one recommends HDMI for standard definition analog sources, but you can make up your own mind about that.

What should be asked at this point is why you want to capture your videos to a computer in the first place. Doing so involves all kinds of corrections to the original signal, so why would you want to do that?
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  #13  
08-22-2019, 11:17 AM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
What should be asked at this point is why you want to capture your videos to a computer in the first place. Doing so involves all kinds of corrections to the original signal, so why would you want to do that?
Archiving. We have a lot of personal footage of the family. VCR are hard to come by, and I'm not sure how long VCR tapes will last. So for backup purposes, I want to digitize it.
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  #14  
08-22-2019, 11:53 AM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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Originally Posted by Okiba View Post
So I guess the signal is indeed digitalized? Isn't that a "bad" thing because it means the Combo unit modify the original signal and quality?
It depends, the digitizing process will strip away the non-visible parts of the image, which are what's used by e.g the TBC in SVHS VCRs to stabilize horizontal jitter. So what you get out is what the internal digitizer is capable doing with the original signal (which is significantly better than what the VC500 can do on it's own with a raw signal.) Though, the internal digitizer is not great at stabilizing horizontal jitter, compared to what a SVHS built-in TBC or a Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD recorder is capable of correcting. You can see in the example video I posted the difference between the LG DVD recorder (should be similar to what your VCR will do) and the Panasonic DVD recorder (an ES10 would be at least as good.) on a tape that's in pretty good condition. The VCR part of the LG is a little better than the VCR I used though, but not as nice as a high-end JVC or Panasonic SVHS deck.

Unlike when making a DVD with the combo unit though, you avoid the effects of the lossy mpeg2 encoding of the video that is done to make the video compliant to dvd-specifications, and can instead get a lossless capture.

I would suggest picking up a VC500, capture from S-Video, and see whether you find the quality satisfactory. If not you would have to look into more fancy gear.
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  #15  
08-22-2019, 04:16 PM
Okiba Okiba is offline
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Thanks for clearing it out hodgey! I just ordered VC500, and will try when it arrive. In case like you mentioned I won't be happy, I'll just buy a better combo second-handed from the forum! Thank you all!
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  #16  
08-24-2019, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
what I've noted is that as far as USB dongles go, the VC500 is not the most tolerant of unstable video signals, so if you use it to capture directly from the video out of a normal VCR, may get "jumps" and flashes from the card losing the lock on the video signal. That's not really anything unique to the VC500 though, few capture devices handle that well. That's where a TBC or something with some similar capability like a DVD-recorder comes in.
The problem with that is that odd issues have been seen and documentde (with sample images/clips) that show oddities. The most concerning is an AGC issue. It may be chip variation (a confirmed aspect of this model), or perhaps bad interactions with other workflow devices (possible, it happens).

So while the VC500 is not "not recommended", you do need to proceed cautiously. It's not guaranteed to work the same from card to card, workflow or workflow, or computer to computer, as is the case with some other cards.

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  #17  
08-24-2019, 10:44 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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I've never had an AGC issue with the VC500, and I've been through 3 copies of them over the years. I've never seen it reported anywhere except in your occasional posts. If you run across a sample post that shows an AGC problem with the VC500 USB, it might be a good idea to point it out. If I see such a link, I'll post it as well. In the near future I'll be posting some VC500 tests myself.
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  #18  
08-24-2019, 10:58 PM
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There was an AGC sample image+clip here, in a post some time back (either 2018 or 2019), and then the other was elsewhere ... don't remember. Not VH.

My own VC500 has contrast/darkness issues.

I want to like the card, but it's just too variable.

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