Quantcast Converter better than Canopus ADVC300 for Mac? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
03-17-2017, 08:24 PM
Sac John Sac John is offline
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Man, I spent so much time on the Mac forum trying to learn how to encode my 200+ Hi8 tapes to the highest quality digital storage format - and now I feel like I have to start all over again because the advice I got over there doesn't seem to hold up well compared to the knowledge base here on digitalfaq.

The consensus on that forum was that the ADVC300 was ideal because my main problem was that most, possibly all, of my tapes have numerous stops and starts, drop outs, unused blue screen moments, as well as the occasional physical crinkle in the tape from having been munched in the cam.

I naively started encoding these tapes using a miniDV camcorder with analog ins and DV out, but I found out quickly that every time there is a glitch in the tape, the outputted digital signal freezes up the image, or the audio no longer syncs with the video, etc.

Someone at the Mac forum said the ADVC300 was the cure-all for that. It'll eat anything and spit it out in digital form cleanly. Then I read here on the this forum that the ADVC300 has its own problems.

My goal is to store all my tapes in the highest quality possible resolution on 5TB external hard drives, un-edited at first ... so they can just sit and no longer degrade until I get around to editing them in iMovie or FCP into polished home movies. The final versions will be either DVDs or highest quality video files to watch from a USB thumb drive to TV.

I don't know anything yet about preferred file formats or acceptable resolution specs. I figured I would learn that once I got the converter.

I assume my own Hi8 cam (fresh from a professional head cleaning) and my iMac (OS 10.9.5, 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3) should be adequate. Now I just need to choose the A/D converter that will work ... and work much better than the botched attempt with the camcorder that professed to convert analog to digital but which in fact glitched up every time there was anything other than perfect footage coming through.

I can't babysit and watch all 200+ of these tapes while they convert. Whatever I buy, I need the confidence that I can leave the room for up to two hours and that no matter what happened on the tape in the interim, from simple glitches and too many stops/starts/ff's/rewinds during shooting, even occasional shifts from standard play to extended play (ie, 2-hr to 4hr) and back, up to actual damage to the physical tape, that the encoder transferred it all and the video and audio stayed in sync and tracked properly. The junk I can edit out later ... as long as the signal, glitches and all, made it to the hard drive with audio and video still in sync.

If the ADVC300 is not the perfect solution, as was stated elsewhere on this forum (and which is getting hard to find anyway) ... what else should I look at?

-JOHN
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  #2  
03-17-2017, 09:40 PM
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Explaining wrong advice tends to be easy: People don't know what they don't know. When all you've eaten is hash, you don't realize how good steak tastes. I could use quite a few analogies, but I'm sure you get the idea.

The Canopus ADVC boxes are just DV. In the world of digital video, DV is hash. It's passable quality, nothing special, nothing excellent. The boxes are very overpriced. The long-gone company (Canopus was sold 10+ years ago, and now exists as a brand name only) made very dubious claims, most of which have been debunked in the past 15+ years. For example, there is no TBC in it, and thing like "audio lock" are nonsense. The current owner (Thomson as Grass Valley) scaled back some (but not all) of the BS before it was retired.

As with anything else, some continue to ignore facts about these boxes.

The 300 model was the worst, because it added lots of artifacts to video: mosquito noise, posterization, ghosting, etc. It had terrible processing that could not be turned off or bypassed. The cheaper 50, 55, 100 and 110 model were better.

On your camera, the audio sync issue, and video glitching, was due to dropped frames.

You can do better, yes. But not on Mac.

Realize I'm platform agnostic. Windows, OS X, Ubuntu, RHEL ... I don't care. As long as it does what I need, I'm fine with it. All OS have issues, and all platforms have strengths and weaknesses. A Mac works great for things that it excels at. But video isn't one of them. Mac capture options are pitiful. FCP and others were made with the expectation that it would be the system used for video shot on DV (later HDV and eventually AVC/H.264). It was never intended for analog to digital conversion work. The ADVC line is one of the fewer and less-problematic option. Most video (including capture) is, and always has been, a task for a Windows world. Video is why I have Windows XP and Windows 7 systems.

So, the ADVC 50/55/100/110 may be one of your only options. Some older Elgato cards were also good options.

Even the software on Mac is less than ideal. For example, you'd have known the issue was dropped frames in VirtualDub (Windows). Mac software (iMovie, even FCP) doesn't report that as it should. So you have no idea what's going on.

Realize DV was never intended to be a capture format. Canopus did that, and nobody else. Matrox only did it to interface with NLEs on higher-end cards. And DataVideo used Canopus clones. DV is really a hackish way of getting analog video into the digital domain.

So the main question is this: Are you willing to ditch the Mac (for capture tasks) in order to get better video quality? You won't need some special new/fancy system, simply one built to handle video ingest/capture.

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  #3  
03-17-2017, 10:08 PM
Sac John Sac John is offline
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Thanks for the reply, lordsmurf.

No, definitely not interested in buying a new computer system for this project. My iMac will have to do.

So if I were to make a buying decision based solely on my trust of someone else's expertise ... without understanding the specs and processes until I'm actually there, creating the transfers ... you would suggest I buy the ADVC-110?

I can depend on hooking that up to both a Hi8 camcorder and a VCR, both of which will be playing tapes with every possible type of glitch, dropped frames, mid-tape switches from regular play to extended play, etc ... and it will continue through with audio/video sync intact all the way to the end of the tape?

(I keep harping on that because that was the one sole problem I kept running into when I tried doing this with a camcorder that I tried using for the analog to digital. I found it to be a problem functionally impossible to work with, otherwise I would still be using that.)

The ADVC-110 will do that job? Eats up every possible glitch and outputs one clean signal?

Again, my whole outcome at this point in time is just to get these tapes into single large files on a hard drive. I don't plan to do any editing in the immediate future - if that makes any difference at all to this decision. Editing comes in two or three years from now.
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  #4  
03-17-2017, 11:14 PM
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In addition to the capture card/box, you'll need a quality TBC known to work with Hi8 tape sources.
And I have one available: For Sale: brand new DataVideo TBC-1000 in original box!

An ADVC will NOT clean up anything (and neither did the 300). It ingests/captures the dirty signal, flaws and all, and said flaws may cause issues; ie, dropped frames. You must pre-clean the signal, before the ADVC, which is where the external TBC comes in. With Hi8 source, that will work for a Mac-centric DV workflow.

Hi8 camera (with internal TBC preferred/suggested) > external TBC-1000 > ADVC DV box

If you consider it expensive, remember this: Buy it, use it, resell it.

The 300 will work, but is crappy compared to the "lower" 50/55/100/110 units. I'd get rid of that thing.

I just looked up some old ADVC-300 notes. This is the problem:
- 2D NR adds color smearing (especially red)
- 3D NR adds motion blur
- AGC noticeably alter the brightness

^ All that junk is turned on by default (and on weaker settings), and the image doesn't look decent until turned off -- which essentially turns it back into the 50/55/100/110. However, there are comparison reports that say the 300 still does not 100% fully disengage the filtering, making it the worst choice.

I'm all for NR -- until it makes things worse. And the ADVC-300 makes it worse. Compare that to the JVC lines of S-VHS VCRs, which has NR that really does help more than hurt, and can be 100% turned off if desired (though I find that pointless and bad advice).

The problems with the 300 are comparable to the Panasonic ES10/15 on passthrough, used as TBC. In its case, it has actual TBC ability, and is the best option for tapes with tearing.

Some of this is extra info/details, but may be helpful.

Again, this will work: camera > TBC > ADVC on Mac

Lossless 4:2:2 quality would have been preferable to edit from, but the Mac is a DV-centric system, so 4:1:1 compression is one of the only quality options.

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03-18-2017, 12:05 AM
Sac John Sac John is offline
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Let me do a little reading on that TBC and I'll reply with what I want to do. At this moment, I don't even know what a TBC is ... I thought all I needed was an A/D converter and I'd be done.

Unrelated to that ... and this is a longshot ... but I have a ten year old A/D converter, still new in the box, called a "Formac". Apparently it's made, ahem, "for Mac".

I've never once used it ... and procrastinate doing so because there goes another bunch of hours learning how to set it up, with no promise that it will handle that "processing the glitches" thing.

Do you happen to know anything about this thing, lordsmurf? Does it have a reputation and is it worth using so as to get around buying a ADVC-110?

It still has the original price tag of 495.00 on it, so it wasn't cheap back in the day ... but I have no idea if this thing is even worth getting started with. It's been sitting on the high shelf in the closet for a decade. I had grand visions already ten years ago of digitizing my tapes, but it never came to pass.

The full name of the thing is "Formac TV/Video Digitizer". Apparently it also processed and captured TV and stereo radio input, in addition to RCA analog sources and outputted to 6-pin Firewire. It has sales blurbs on the box like "real time and frame accurate editing in native DV". I don't know if that speaks to my situation or not as I don't know the terminology.

Any advice with this thing?

(And thank you again for taking an interest in my questions.)
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  #6  
03-18-2017, 08:02 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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I don't think any of us will be able to tell you whether the Formac can handle signal drops. Plug it in and try it. It's an analog-to-DV hardware converter; the workflow is the same as using your MiniDV to convert.

Otherwise: If you're determined to use the iMac and deal with DV conversion faults, why not buy a Digital8 camcorder to playback instead of your Hi8?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sac John View Post
I naively started encoding these tapes using a miniDV camcorder with analog ins and DV out, but I found out quickly that every time there is a glitch in the tape, the outputted digital signal freezes up the image, or the audio no longer syncs with the video, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Again, this will work: camera > TBC > ADVC on Mac
Even if chaining devices would be better, buying an ADVC merely to do analog -> DV (with no internal TBC or proc amp) seems silly when he already has a MiniDV that can do exactly the same task, with the same downsides. Assuming it doesn't muck with the video in some other way. (A short test sample to demonstrate existing quality would help here.)

One possibility:
Hi8 cam > TBC > MiniDV cam to Mac

Better (cheaper, if the above workflow involved a "real" TBC rather than DVD rec passthrough):
Hi8 cam > proper MiniDV cam with built-in TBC
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  #7  
03-18-2017, 10:01 AM
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A MiniDV camera can take the place of the ADVC, but it does not take the place of the TBC. The external full-frame TBC must still be in the chain. A camera only, even with internal line TBC, can/will still drop frames.

So either of these works:
Hi8 camera > external TBC-1000 > MiniDV camera as analog bridge
Hi8 camera > external TBC-1000 > ADVC 50/55/100/110

The all-in-one approach of Digital8 camera alone sounds nice, and cheap, but often doesn't work as intended. If the person doesn't want to babysit the captures, as he stated, this would be a bad move. A built-in camera TBC isn't that strong.

I haven't heard the name Formac in many years. I'd forgotten about it. It's yet anther DV box, but I'm not sure how it compares quality-wise to the Canopus. It won't be better, hopefully not worse.

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03-18-2017, 02:25 PM
Sac John Sac John is offline
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Holy cow ... how did I ever get this far in life and not yet discover digitalfaq? This is a really good forum. I plan to visit here a lot in the future.

Thanks for adding your thoughts, msgohan.

lordsmurf ... I did a little homework. I now know what a TBC is, although I haven't studied specs yet and what separates quality levels. As much as I want to support you for being so helpful for advice, elsewhere on the forum you posted two recommended TBCs - one being the TBC-1000 you are trying to sell for $495 and the other being the AV Toolbox AVT-8710, still being made and available on B&H for $269. That's a substantial price difference.

The TBC-1000, from what I can tell, boasts four outputs and acts as a distribution amplifier, which I have absolutely no need for. I'm sure that accounts for some of the price increase, so for my needs, I think the TBC-1000 might be overkill.

The 8710 seems a mixed bag. It's the number one seller on B&H, and has a good number of five star reviews ... but then, of course, also has some very intelligent and articulate two and three star reviews, at least two stating that it did not eliminate 100% of the glitches on the source tape, and in some instances even introduced dropped frames that did not appear when the source player was hooked straight into the A/D converter without a TBC!

Waaugh. I was really hoping that there was a box that would essentially guarantee me "walk away" reliability. ie, set up the gear, press play and record - and walk away for two hours. It will be a a perfect encode when you get back. There seems to be no such thing. And I do have a lot of glitches on my tapes.

Also, I don't know what the role of audio is in TBCs. It seems strange that the TBC-1000 has all three RCA jacks - audio and video ... while the AVT-8710 has only a single RCA video jack. I assume you're expected to hook the audio straight into the converter, bypassing the TBC.

Kind of bummed here. You've educated me enough to know that I do need a TBC ... but $495 for the 1000 seems more than I care to spend. $269 for the 8710 is in my league, but several of the reviews are disconcerting.

Sheesh ... just this minute I read the back of the box of this Formac converter thingie. Says it works only with the original Apple Firewire interface. I don't think my newer iMac has Firewire.

Yet another thing I need to research now.
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  #9  
03-19-2017, 02:01 PM
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The AVT-8710 (a Cypress model) sold on B&H is defective. The entire model has had fatal flaws since 2010/2011, and Cypress refuses to fix it. The TBC will randomly freeze on frames, with catastrophic effects on capturing and even sync. The easy tell is that these are newer "black/black" models, whereas the pre-2010 models are green/black. All the bad reviews you're seeing are accurate, and good reviews are simply due to not paying attention (or not knowing).

The AVT-8710 would only be a "number one" seller on B&H because almost all others are now discontinued: DataVideo, Kramer, etc.

FYI: The TBC-1000 I'm selling for $495 is what their price would have also been for a new unit.

Again: buy it, use it, resell it.

Timebase correction is for video, not audio. Most have zero interaction with audio. The TBC-1000 is unusual and special, as it married a VP299 distribution amp to a TBC-100. It has a single input, and 4x outputs. I've found it to be especially useful when you want to preview audio in addition to capture it. Many computers do not allow audio preview at capture, so you can simply run a secondary audio input as preview. Sometimes a TBC-1000's VP299 is problematic with artifacts, but I've tested mine to be clean.

All DV boxes only work with Firewire. It needs a constant data throughput not available on USB. IEEE1394 bypasses the CPU, unlike USB.

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03-19-2017, 07:54 PM
Sac John Sac John is offline
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I hope you can be patient with me a little longer as I'm learning about everything I need to know for this project. It seems every time I turn around, someone gives me a piece of advice about something I hadn't even thought of! The latest thing someone pointed out to me is that it's beneficial to have a piece of hardware that does the upscaling/upconverting to 1080p, rather than software.

He strongly recommended this unit for me ... and it keeps my price point closer to $200, which is what I wanted to spend at most, if possible.

Will this get me my outcome?

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity
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03-19-2017, 11:49 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Actually, that's about the worst possible thing you could buy when your complaint is stops/starts due to tape glitches.

The Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle with Thunderbolt review, record old video VHS DVD

The USB 3.0 has all the same problems, plus it's incompatible with a wide range of computers. Check any site with user reviews or forums for complaints, for example Newegg.

If you want to upscale your video in hardware, do it during playback, not during capture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
A MiniDV camera can take the place of the ADVC, but it does not take the place of the TBC. The external full-frame TBC must still be in the chain. A camera only, even with internal line TBC, can/will still drop frames.
Which MiniDV models have you tested?

Wonder which models this guy was referring to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sac John View Post
Sheesh ... just this minute I read the back of the box of this Formac converter thingie. Says it works only with the original Apple Firewire interface. I don't think my newer iMac has Firewire.
How did you connect your MiniDV cam then..?
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  #12  
03-20-2017, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sac John View Post
The latest thing someone pointed out to me is that it's beneficial to have a piece of hardware that does the upscaling/upconverting to 1080p, rather than software.
That's horrible advice. In fact, it's so bad, that the person should no longer be considered knowledgeable in video. Don't listen to him (or read his writings) anymore.

Quote:
Will this get me my outcome?
No.

Quote:
This is one of the worst devices that exists for video in the 2010s. This site (and others) has many, many reports of problems and issues. It may be passable for HD material, but it's a nightmare for analog SD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
Actually, that's about the worst possible thing you could buy when your complaint is stops/starts due to tape glitches.
Correct. Blackmagic is not good.

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