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rds11 11-04-2010 10:40 AM

VHS to H.264 will it produce good quality ?
I've been converting my personnal football games video collection for a while now, but I'm just starting out using my computer in order to use some filtering softwares.

I'm at the encoding stage now, and I'm wondering if I should encode to H.264 or MPEG-2. Using a Pioneer Standalone DVD recorder, at a 10.0 mpbs/s bitrate I had to put a single game on 3 DVD discs. H.264 compress better than MPEG-2, which might allow to put a game on a single DVD DL disc, but using h.264 for VHS source doesn't seem to be a popular option in the various forums I've consulted.

So, from your experience, what would be the best option (quality wise) : MPEG-2 or H.264 for VHS source ? If H.264 is acceptable, what would be the best encoders ? Finally, is there a graph available, similar to the one at
but for H.264 encoding ? I'm guessing it would be a waste of bitrates to encode at 10 mpbs/s...

For information, I'm using a Panasonic Ag-1980 and a JVC W7U for VHS playback, datavideo-1000, Signvideo proc-amp and detailer. I've been capturing using the USB ATI Wonder 600 to Virtualdub (lagarith codec).

Thanks for your help !

lordsmurf 11-15-2010 12:26 AM

The biggest issue with Blu-ray is that it only supports a small range of resolution IL/p specs.

High Definition Video:
1920x1080x59.94i, 50i (16:9)
1920x1080x24p, 23.976p (16:9)
1440x1080x59.94i, 50i (16:9) AVC / VC-1 only
1440x1080x24p, 23.976p (16:9) AVC / VC-1 only

1280x720x59.94p, 50p (16:9)
1280x720x24p, 23.976p (16:9)

Standard Definition Video:
720x480x59.94i (4:3/16:9)
720x576x50i (4:3/16:9)

Based on the specs, it does not appear that H.264 is available for use on anything other than 1080p and 1080i video encodes -- everything else is limited to MPEG-2 compression. Of course, a single Blu-ray disc can still hold a lot of MPEG-2 video, even with a large superbit-like bitrate (10-15Mb/s, which I'm not entirely sure is within the spec -- would have to check).

Sadly, it does not support the full DVD-Video specs, including 352x480 and 352x240 encoded MPEG-2. It also does not support progressive SD video -- only interlaced Full D1 MPEG-2 @ 4x3 or 16x9.

So your options are limited.

That's not to say that you could not create non-standard discs, with the interlaced H.264 at your chosen resolution. But playability will vary highly from Blu-ray player to player. Of course, good media centers like the WDTV should have no major problems.

Above all, I would say to leave the video interlaced.

_K__ 11-15-2010 04:19 PM

You can use H264 for standard Definition Video:

lordsmurf 11-15-2010 06:38 PM

5 Attachment(s)
This is one case where it's good to be wrong! :)

Thanks for the correction, _K__
I thought it was weird that BD did not seem to support the DVD spec, or SD H.264. The specs I found were apparently an abbreviated and incomplete set. I don't currently have access to either of my BD-capable authoring programs, so I wasn't able to look at those help docs. (I do know that some apps, however, will ONLY support MPEG-2 authoring, not H.264 authoring. Another thing to watch for!)

For your convenience, I've attached the images of the Blu-ray spec tables below:
  • 1.1 ALLOWED RESOLUTIONS/FRAMERATES - resolutions.jpg
  • 1.2.1 ALLOWED LEVELS, PROFILES, REFERENCE FRAMES, VBV - Primary Video Rules - gopsrefs2.jpg
  • 1.2.2 ALLOWED LEVELS, PROFILES, REFERENCE FRAMES, VBV - Secondary Video Rules - gopsrefs3.jpg
  • 1.3 SIMPLE ASPECT RATIO - sar.png
  • 1.4 COLOR CHARACTERISTICS - color.png

rds11 11-17-2010 08:31 AM

Thanks guys !

Now that I know I can use the H.264 codec, what bitrate would you use ? Obviously, the more the better but for VHS transfers I'm guessing that past a certain point it is just a waste of bitrates...what would be that point ?

admin 11-22-2010 07:55 AM

Two-pass VBR encoding, target/average of 5.5Mb/s (5500k) and max of 8.0 Mb/s (8000k). You could compress more, sure, by why would you? The benefit of H.264 is one of size, non-8x8 block encoding, block reduction in-codec, and better use of bitrate.

A 640x480 encoding looks decent at 2.0Mb/s, and pretty darned good by the time you hit the 3-4 Mb/s range. At 5.5Mb/s, you're really entering the "superbit" range, giving the encoder all it wants, and maybe a tad extra. It's not overkill, I don't think.

My advice is based off the professional MainConcept Reference encoder -- other software may not operate quite as well. x264 can come close in performance, but I still consider MC a better encoder. Of course, you'll pay for it.

A lot of NLEs, like Vegas and Premiere, come with a MainConcept-powered (MC SDK) encoder plugin. It's not quite as customizable as MC itself, but it still works pretty good. Look at Adobe Premiere CS3, CS4 or CS5 for H.264 encoding.

Note that a lot of your loss already happened by using a DVD recorder -- 4:2:0 colorspace compression, 8x8 block compression, sub-broadcast MPEG-2 bitrates, etc. But H.264 will at very least keep you from losing more quality, while still keeping the video in a disc-playable format (Blu-ray Video or DVD-Video).

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