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  #1  
08-31-2019, 05:57 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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LS edit: continued from VHS archiving project, nothing but problems?



Earlier this year, I began a project in which I would digitize a bunch of old manually-recorded tapes featuring countless hours of old wrestling content from the '80s and '90s.

I found out that the culprit is time base errors and that I would at least need some kind of TBC to resolve it. Being stubborn and without not too much money, I tried many other techniques to make the image look like it's supposed to when I record it. Almost each attempt solved one or more issues, but also brought forth it's own problems.

I took a break from it because I had other projects to work on and plus it was getting pretty depressing to have this not work out like it should.

The biggest hurdle now is finding a solution that won't make me have to sell a kidney on the black market.

Recently I was browsing on Facebook Marketplace and came across someone selling an ION VCR2PC unit. They were selling it for nothing, so I bought it. It's ALMOST perfect ... Buuuut, it has a problem with tracking. It manages to fix the problem with the image jumping and skipping. The image quality is also okay, with no brightness reductions. But when I play most of my tapes, it seems like the machine has trouble tracking in general. Even some of my own recorded tapes have problems. I can adjust the tracking on the VCR and that does make a difference. On my own recorded tapes, it'll do the same thing, but I can resolve it by manually adjusting the tracking. With the old wrestling tapes, I can still adjust the tracking to what looks to be the best, but the tracking lines still show up every couple of seconds. I tried fast-forwarding the tape and then rewinding to the beginning, but that didn't make a difference.

I'm currently debating whether it's worth it to bring it in to my local VHS repair shop up the street. I doubt from what I've heard online that this unit can be improved.

To summarize: The VCR plays the tape without any frame jumps or skips. The most errors I see are teeny tiny little bumps in the image as the VCR looks to be correcting the errors. However, it does seem to exhibit tracking issues and I cannot resolve with manual tracking.
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  #2  
08-31-2019, 06:30 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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It's hard to say, it could be bad alignment, or something else, or maybe it's just a cheap tape transport.

It seems it works as a capture device though, it's a a bit like a VCR with a capture card bolted in, using a Trident TM6010 judging by (this video. So maybe you could simply hook the video and audio inputs on it up to a different VCR. (That's basically what it looks like is done internally.) It's mono only though, if you happen to have tapes with hi-fi audio.

The next step up without spending too much would be a DVD-recorder passthrough setup.
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  #3  
09-01-2019, 01:06 PM
cbehr91 cbehr91 is offline
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Post some samples!

The best TBC(ish) set up you can get on a "budget" is to use a Panasonic DVD recorder as passthrough, and tie that in with a DataVideo DVK chroma key box that has a built-in TBC. I use budget in quotes because on certain auction sites working DVKs still go for a couple hundred bucks on the low end.
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  #4  
09-01-2019, 02:27 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Side question, but what issues do you have if you use the panasonic DVD-recorder without the DVK? I never had any problems recording directly with capture card from any dvd-recorder. Only thing I've seen is that some can output a new macrovision signal (which isn't an issue for e.g the diamond VC500.)

The JVC combo seems to have a NEC video decoder/chipset for the dvd/digital bit, so maybe it acts a bit like toshiba or newer pioneer/sony DVRs which also use related NEC video decoders/chipsets.
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  #5  
09-01-2019, 09:24 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
It's hard to say, it could be bad alignment, or something else, or maybe it's just a cheap tape transport.
Yeah, that could be the case. My best guess so far is that it's bad tracking. I wish I had a video to upload, but I just tried something that I think may have fixed the problem. I don't want to undo what I did in fear of jinxing myself. This YouTube video best describes what I've been dealing with. Except in my case, the tracking bar is at the bottom and comes and goes every few seconds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
It seems it works as a capture device though, it's a a bit like a VCR with a capture card bolted in, using a Trident TM6010 judging by (this video. So maybe you could simply hook the video and audio inputs on it up to a different VCR. (That's basically what it looks like is done internally.) It's mono only though, if you happen to have tapes with hi-fi audio.
Yeah, I noticed that once I took the cover off. I had a good laugh for a second. That's all it is! I don't mind the mono issue so much, because of the fact that these tapes were recorded so long ago and my brother-in-law is not an audiophile. He won't know the difference. And if need be, I could record the same tape on another VCR and just record the audio track and sync it up to the video from the other VCR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
The next step up without spending too much would be a DVD-recorder passthrough setup.
I tried that option and unfortunately, it didn't work. I tried a Panasonic unit and also a DMR-ES15, but both units exhibited the same problem. They were both able to resolve the frame issues, but they drastically reduced the brightness to a point where I could not fix it using software on my end.

I am debating on opening the JVC VCR I have that has video stabilization and plays the tapes fine and tweaking the tracking mechanism just like I did with the VCR2PC unit.

-- merged --

Like I was saying earlier, it's hard to get proper sample footage now, because I already tried something to fix it and it seems to be working. If I come across footage that is messed up, I'll record it. In the attached video, you can sort of see the tracking issue on the very bottom. It's a lot less noticeable now, but before, it took up the bottom of the screen. And on some tapes, it takes up the whole screen, until I play with the tracking and it goes away. Since I used the screwdriver to manually track the tape, all I have to do is press the tracking button once or twice and the issue goes away (for the most part).

I would preferably like to use the JVC unit my brother-in-law lent me, because (1) it'll output better picture and sound quality than this unit and (2) it has video stabilization. Who knows, maybe all I have to do is fiddle around with the tracking mechanism to fix it.

I'll be a bit busy tomorrow, but I'm going to try the other VCR and see if that gets rid of the frame jumps. To summarize my issue: The old tapes seem to have time base errors that throw off capture cards (I've tried several different models [see list below]) and as a result of that, it flashes a frame on the screen from something that occurred a moment ago. Here is a sample video of that.

USB capture cards that I've tried:

Startech SVID2USB23
DIGITNOW USB GRABBER (model BR117)
Diamond One-Touch Video Capture VC500


NOTE:

I understand that there is an option to upload videos directly to the site, but I cannot do this with large files. It always fails at some point because my internet speed is only like 2 Mbps up. So for that reason, I have to use other file sharing services that don't timeout.
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  #6  
09-01-2019, 11:40 PM
cbehr91 cbehr91 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Side question, but what issues do you have if you use the panasonic DVD-recorder without the DVK?
I don't, but adding in DVK will help clean up the video more. You won't know until you try.
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  #7  
09-03-2019, 12:44 AM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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I've been playing with other wrestling tapes and I captured good sample footage demonstrating the issue I have with this unit. Here is the video.

The following YouTube videos also depicts my issue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-1l-RAtIb4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgRP7k8QaZ0

I've been doing some research on how tracking works in a VCR. At least with this ION unit, I can't tell what mechanism manages the tracking. I have the top cover off, but when I'm pressing the buttons, I can't see any mechanism moving. I can only seem to find videos that detail tracking issues, but none that describe how it works.

I tried some of my own recorded tapes from approx. 2010. For some odd reason, those tapes have a clearer picture, but are more sensitive to tracking issues. For example, footage on the newer tapes flicker a lot. I have to be very careful when adjusting the tracking to make sure it looks good and doesn't flicker like crazy.

As I mentioned in the beginning post, the manual tracking buttons on this unit don't do a good enough job to clear up the picture. A YouTube video I saw demonstrated one way you can manually adjust tracking, by tweaking the two guide rollers with a screwdriver.

I am going to try recording a full-length tape overnight and see how it goes.

P.s: To know just how cheap this unit is, it doesn't even have a display counter to show how far into the tape you are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbehr91 View Post
The best TBC(ish) set up you can get on a "budget" is to use a Panasonic DVD recorder as passthrough, and tie that in with a DataVideo DVK chroma key box that has a built-in TBC.
Yeah, I managed to obtain a Panasonic DMR-ES15. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. It corrected the issue, but created a new one by drastically decreasing the brightness. I've attached a sample video.

And as for the DataVideo machine, I looked online for that. What I found out about those units is that they tend to be quite expensive ($1000+). I don't use auction sites. I probably wouldn't want a machine like that anyways, because I don't need to improve the image quality. My one and only goal is to digitize them without frame issues such as flickering, frame jumps, etc..


Attached Files
File Type: mp4 02 - From JVC with DVD recorder as pass-thru.mp4 (6.70 MB, 7 downloads)
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  #8  
09-03-2019, 02:25 AM
Bogilein Bogilein is offline
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Sorry to say this, but save your time with the IonVCR2PC unit and try a Panasonic or JVC "SVHS-VCR".

If you could find one of the late Pioneer/Sony DVD-Recorders cheap you could try them, too. With these DVD-Recorders you could adjust the picture but the jitter/tearing correction isn't as good as like the panasonics dvd-recorders.
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  #9  
09-03-2019, 10:04 AM
Feedbucket Feedbucket is offline
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Did you try adjusting the black levels on your ES15? It's possible it's set to Darker In/Darker Out.

ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/dvdrecorder/...om.pdf?page=37
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  #10  
09-03-2019, 10:47 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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I remember the original thread now, these were some especially nasty tapes. (Interestingly, looking up the mentioned Toshiba DVD recorder seems to have a panasonic A/D/system chip, rather than a NEC one like the mentioned Sony/Pioneers and some other Toshiba ones.)

As for other TBC alternatives for cheap, I've found recently when I tested some DVD-Recorders with Philips Video decoders (Philips/LG/Samsung) that they seemed to also have a stabilizing effect, a bit more akin to the TBCs than the Panasonic units, lacking the line-TBC (though they may generate new macrovision) on pass-through. Don't know if that works with NTSC ones though.
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  #11  
09-03-2019, 11:04 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feedbucket View Post
Did you try adjusting the black levels on your ES15? It's possible it's set to Darker In/Darker Out.
I did, yes. Unfortunately, that only made a micro difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I remember the original thread now, these were some especially nasty tapes. (Interestingly, looking up the mentioned Toshiba DVD recorder seems to have a panasonic A/D/system chip, rather than a NEC one like the mentioned Sony/Pioneers and some other Toshiba ones.).
Yeah, these tapes have not aged so well. The ironic part though is that when I use this ION VCR2PC, the time base errors that I noticed with other VCRs don't occur with this unit. That's the main reason why I'm hell-bent on getting this particular machine to work properly. There's a local VHS shop close to me and I'm currently drafting an email to make an appointment. I want to see if he can improve it.

I live in Canada and our dollar is not worth the same in the US, so dishing out $500-600 on a TBC is not an option right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
As for other TBC alternatives for cheap, I've found recently when I tested some DVD-Recorders with Philips Video decoders (Philips/LG/Samsung) that they seemed to also have a stabilizing effect, a bit more akin to the TBCs than the Panasonic units, lacking the line-TBC (though they may generate new macrovision) on pass-through. Don't know if that works with NTSC ones though.
Well both of the DVD recorders I've tried (the Toshiba and ES15) stabilize the footage itself. There's little to no shaking of the film. But as mentioned before, the only downside is that they reduce the brightness significantly. I don't believe the ES15 creates new Macrovision errors, because the brightness doesn't fluctuate, either. It stays dark for most of the tapes (note: only some recorded footage on these 6-8 hour tapes will play fine with proper brightness [could be due to wear and tear]). When I fiddle with the tracking on this VCR, sometimes the color goes out quickly and then returns shortly after. So my guess is that the tape is fooling the DVD recorder and it doesn't know how to respond.

In the middle of me writing this post, I remembered that I have a Toshiba DVD recorder laying around. I'll try that one and see if it gives me a different reaction to the tapes being played from the VCR2PC unit. I'll check back with results either tomorrow or Thursday.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
I remember the original thread now, these were some especially nasty tapes. (Interestingly, looking up the mentioned Toshiba DVD recorder seems to have a panasonic A/D/system chip, rather than a NEC one like the mentioned Sony/Pioneers and some other Toshiba ones.).
Yeah, these tapes have not aged so well. The ironic part though is that when I use this ION VCR2PC, the time base errors that I noticed with other VCRs don't occur with this unit. That's the main reason why I'm hell-bent on getting this particular machine to work properly. There's a local VHS shop close to me and I'm currently drafting an email to make an appointment. I want to see if he can improve it.

I live in Canada and our dollar is not worth the same in the US, so dishing out $500-600 on a TBC is not an option right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
As for other TBC alternatives for cheap, I've found recently when I tested some DVD-Recorders with Philips Video decoders (Philips/LG/Samsung) that they seemed to also have a stabilizing effect, a bit more akin to the TBCs than the Panasonic units, lacking the line-TBC (though they may generate new macrovision) on pass-through. Don't know if that works with NTSC ones though.
Well both of the DVD recorders I've tried (the Toshiba and ES15) stabilize the footage itself. There's little to no shaking of the film. But as mentioned before, the only downside is that they reduce the brightness significantly. I don't believe the ES15 creates new Macrovision errors, because the brightness doesn't fluctuate, either. It stays dark for most of the tapes (note: only some recorded footage on these 6-8 hour tapes will play fine with proper brightness [could be due to wear and tear]). When I fiddle with the tracking on this VCR, sometimes the color goes out quickly and then returns shortly after. So my guess is that the tape is fooling the DVD recorder and it doesn't know how to respond.

In the middle of me writing this post, I remembered that I have a Toshiba DVD recorder laying around. I'll try that one and see if it gives me a different reaction to the tapes being played from the VCR2PC unit. I'll check back with results either tomorrow or Thursday.
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  #12  
09-26-2019, 05:47 PM
DevonT DevonT is offline
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So it's a been a few weeks since my last post. I've been quite busy with work as the season wraps up. I'm eager to get this finished, but I need some confirmation to ensure that what I currently understand to be true is actually correct. I was confused before about the distinction between a line and full-frame TBC. When Lordsmurf was talking about signals and pictures, I wasn't understanding the distinction he was trying to make between those two things. I believe I now understand the difference between the two. I'll try my best to summarize what I know and if it's wrong, please explain.

Line TBCs correct visual deficiencies such as color accuracy, brightness, etc.. Little tuneups that can improve the image. In my case, that is not a priority.
Full frame TBCs on the other hand can correct serious disruptions like like frame jumps/skips as well as tearing issues or wobbly frames. This seems more to do with what I need, because the time base errors that I get are severe-enough to throw off my capture card and cause frames to flicker on the screen every couple of seconds.

Does the above-explanation seem correct? I would like confirmation to make sure. If it is, then I'm going to begin looking around for a full-frame TBC.

Also, I've been trying to wrap my head around frame syncs. From my understanding, they're more suited for studio use like TV stations for example. In this video at 2:12, the narrator explains that when satellite TV and microwave links became a thing, there were timing issues because of significant delays in the signal. As such, frame syncs became the go-to machine to store video frames and release them in an orderly manner so that the output was watchable. He also explained that most modern frame syncs will include a built-in TBC, so that it not only stores multiple frames of video at a time, but also corrects time base errors. I would assume that any TBC included in a frame sync is a full-frame TBC. For the purpose of my project and given what I understand about frame syncs so far, I think it's a bit overkill for me.

The purpose of my project is to merely record the raw footage from VHS to PC, minus the time base errors. I don't care about improving the quality of the picture. The only thing I want is for the image to be stabilized upon recording to the computer. Every USB capture card I've tried cannot handle the incoming signal and bugs out, resulting in frames flickering every few seconds.

I'm in the process of uploading 6 new samples videos. As each one finishes, I will link them below where you see the struck out text. Due to my upload speed being only 3Mbps, I can't upload to this site, because it always times out. That's why I'm using alternative file streaming sites.

Here are some new samples:

From JVC HR-XVC29:

Direct from VCR (Video stabilizer off)
Direct from VCR (Video stabilizer on)
ES15 passthrough (Video stabilizer off)
ES15 passthrough (Video stabilizer on)

From ION VCR2PC:

Direct from VCR
ES15 passthrough

Last edited by DevonT; 09-26-2019 at 06:36 PM. Reason: Adding urls
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  #13  
09-26-2019, 06:16 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevonT View Post
• Line TBCs correct visual deficiencies such as color accuracy, brightness, etc.. Little tuneups that can improve the image. In my case, that is not a priority.
False.

Line TBCs are not for color or brightness. That's what a proc amp is for.

Line TBCs are for timing errors, corrected on a line-by-line basis. The most stark issues corrected are wiggly image (either slight or extreme), as well as chroma noise (misty blue/red muck on screen).

While it is true that a TBC can correct color/brightness issues, as caused by timing errors, those tend to be violent issues that make the image uncaptureable. Without TBC, it's a drastic washout of color, overpower of luma. Or severe chroma noise.

Line TBC mostly corrects the image. Mostly.

Quote:
• Full frame TBCs on the other hand can correct serious disruptions like like frame jumps/skips as well as tearing issues or wobbly frames. This seems more to do with what I need, because the time base errors that I get are severe-enough to throw off my capture card and cause frames to flicker on the screen every couple of seconds.
Also false.

Frame TBC corrects the whole frame, including line-by-line timing errors. That's why you need both.

- Wobbling and tearing are corrected by line TBC.
- Serious disruptions can/may be addressed by both, depending on cause.
- Frame jumps/skips may be corrected by line, frame, or neither, again depending on cause.

Frame TBC mostly corrects the signal. Mostly. It also has image correcting properties.

Quote:
Also, I've been trying to wrap my head around frame syncs. From my understanding, they're more suited for studio use like TV stations for example.
A "frame sync" is not a "frame sync TBC" (which is essentially what Cypress and DataVideo TBCs are, thus why those are recommended for consumer analog formats like VHS).

You are correct, frame sync alone has little value. Those are found in DVD recorders, but have zero benefit outside of the DVD recording process internal to the unit. But it's also why most DVD recorder recordings look like poo, especially from VHS/tape sources.

Quote:
I think it's a bit overkill for me.
I really think you're trying to talk yourself out of the equipment you need.

Quote:
The purpose of my project is to merely record the raw footage from VHS to PC, minus the time base errors.
Basic workflow required:
JVC/Panasonic S-VHS VCR with line TBC
> external DataVideo/Cypress frame TBC
> quality capture card

Easy recipe. Only caveat is gear must be in prime working order, not a junker from eBay (noting many claimed "working" and "tested" devices are also junkers, not in truly working order).

Quote:
I don't care about improving the quality of the picture.
It's not about "improving" whatsoever. Cheap VCRs made the quality worse. What we're trying to do here is extract the best quality available on the tape. Nothing is improved with a raw VCR + TBCs + capture card workflow. It is an improvement over crappy equipment that makes the signal worse, but the base workflow cannot make quality better than what exists to begin with. Actual improvement, beyond the initial signal quality, is restoration. That's where you get into analog based devices like proc amps, detailers, mixers, or various software like DaVinci and Premiere (color work only), Avisynth, After Effects, Mercalli, Sound Forge, etc.

Quote:
Every USB capture card I've tried cannot handle the incoming signal and bugs out, resulting in frames flickering every few seconds.
You just haven't found the right card yet.

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