Quantcast Ways to remove, reduce VHS tracking noise? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
09-09-2021, 07:23 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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I'm working on a project for a friend of the family. Yes, I'm being paid. She wants me to make DVDs of her kids' birthday parties from the '90s to give to them. Capturing now.

Problem is, on the one tape she really wants to work with there is a noticeable amount of tracking noise right in the middle of the screen about 2/3rds of the time. I first tried capturing the tape with my JVC, but after the noise persisted I aborted the capture and tried again with my Panasonic. (Mitsu is busy on another tape.) Panasonic looks better, but the noise is still there. It appears it was present when originally recorded.

Since capture is still in progress I can't upload clips yet, but I wanted to ask whether there is an Avisynth plugin or similar which does a good job of dealing with tracking noise. And to ask the more experienced hands how much success they've enjoyed with similar challenges in the past. There's other material I'm including which doesn't suffer from the problem, but she really wanted video of this party. Is it worth it?

Edit To Add: Okay, I spoke too soon. On my storage drive I found a capture from three years back when she first spoke to me about doing something for her (I've learned a little bit more about capturing in the interim; thanks Sanlyn). I'm including a representative clip which shows the noise and that it's not recent deterioration. Once the capture finishes I'll upload a representative clip or two from it as well.


Attached Files
File Type: avi 24-YanniElpida1997.20181227.clip.avi (15.10 MB, 19 downloads)

Last edited by ehbowen; 09-09-2021 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Add additional info
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  #2  
09-09-2021, 07:34 PM
Hushpower Hushpower is online now
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Quote:
There's other material I'm including which doesn't suffer from the problem, but she really wanted video of this party. Is it worth it?
I have some really shocking video of the old days; it's better than nothing though. Despite it's bad technical standard, it triggers happy memories, and that's what counts. I'd say, as long as you made a good fist of it (as you have, trying with different, good, VCRs) and you explain the issue to her, she'll accept/like it.

There are some AVISynth wizards over at Videohelp.
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  #3  
09-09-2021, 09:25 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Here's two clips from the capture I just made: One of the same section of the birthday party as the 2018 clip, and one opening Christmas presents later in the tape. Don't think anyone can do much about the noise in the second clip, but might as well try.


Attached Files
File Type: avi 24-YanniElpida97.20210909a-clip1.avi (16.24 MB, 13 downloads)
File Type: avi 24-YanniElpida97.20210909a-clip2.avi (18.71 MB, 11 downloads)
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  #4  
09-10-2021, 12:19 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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It's probably a simple misalignment issue.

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  #5  
09-10-2021, 12:55 AM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
It's probably a simple misalignment issue.
Okay. When you say that you make it sound like something I could/should be able to do something about. I haven't realigned a deck yet, haven't had to and am not familiar with the procedure.

I should mention that for this project I captured four tapes. Three of the four had no problems on any of my machines. This one tape had the same noise, at the same place, on all three machines (JVC, Panasonic, Mitsubishi).

If you think that it's worth trying/checking the alignment, how would you recommend proceeding? I don't want to risk messing up one of my good capture decks, but I have another Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U recently acquired off eBay and not yet placed into service that I'd be willing to experiment with.
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  #6  
09-10-2021, 02:55 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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There are easy ways to see if the RF noise is baked in (damaged recording VCR, damaged tape) or the tape was just recorded on a misaligned VCR.
- See if the artifacts happen exactly in the same spots on the tape.
- Pause the tape, does the noise pattern changes or it freezes as is
- Fast forward, play slow, how does the noise pattern behave?

You can always post captures when doing those tests and we can take a look and help you figure it out, You don't have to post lossless samples, encoded or upload to youtube is fine for this kind of diagnosis.
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  #7  
09-10-2021, 07:29 AM
servese43 servese43 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ehbowen View Post
Okay. When you say that you make it sound like something I could/should be able to do something about. I haven't realigned a deck yet, haven't had to and am not familiar with the procedure.

I should mention that for this project I captured four tapes. Three of the four had no problems on any of my machines. This one tape had the same noise, at the same place, on all three machines (JVC, Panasonic, Mitsubishi).

If you think that it's worth trying/checking the alignment, how would you recommend proceeding? I don't want to risk messing up one of my good capture decks, but I have another Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U recently acquired off eBay and not yet placed into service that I'd be willing to experiment with.
I think lordsmurf is suggesting that that one tape with issues may have been recorded on a mis-aligned deck, rather than suggesting that the VCR you're using for capture is mis-aligned.
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  #8  
09-10-2021, 08:34 AM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by servese43 View Post
I think lordsmurf is suggesting that that one tape with issues may have been recorded on a mis-aligned deck, rather than suggesting that the VCR you're using for capture is mis-aligned.
Well, the implication to that is that I might be able to mis-align one of my capture decks to match the tape, and then make a clean capture. I'd be willing to try that if I had a reasonable expectation of putting it back into proper alignment afterwards, but I don't want to use one of my go-to decks.
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  #9  
09-10-2021, 08:37 AM
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Never do this with a good deck. Do it with a deck dedicated to testing, etc.

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  #10  
09-10-2021, 09:47 AM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Never do this with a good deck. Do it with a deck dedicated to testing, etc.
No need for a verbose reply, but I'd like answers to two quick questions. I've got two potential candidate decks for dedication as a testing machine. One is a JVC HR-S4800U (S-Video, but no line TBC) which I picked up "for parts" on eBay and got working, the other as mentioned is a new-to-me Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U which hasn't been auditioned yet. Which of those two would you recommend as a testing deck?

Second question: Could you point me to information or a post on aligning one of the two machines above to a problem tape?

Thanks In Advance.
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  #11  
09-10-2021, 10:08 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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In this post I linked to 4 videos by 12voltvids where he shows how to align VHS VCRs. Misaligning to match a given tape would be the same procedure.

Personally, before ever touching even a "decent" VCR, I would try with a random Goodwill junker and random retail tape in order to understand the procedure. It's not just the VCR you have to worry about here: you can damage the tape if you mess up.

And before bothering with any of this I would follow the troubleshooting steps in post #6 of this thread by latreche34.
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  #12  
09-10-2021, 11:34 AM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Okay, here's an MP4 of the birthday section above playing, pausing, rewind and fast forward, playing again. Capture workflow was Panasonic AG-1980P >> S-Video >> TBC-4000 >> S-Video >> AIW 8500DV. Converted to MP4 and titles added using Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2020. No deinterlacing or Avisynth processing.


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File Type: mp4 AlignTest-Penny24.mp4 (12.84 MB, 13 downloads)
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  #13  
09-10-2021, 12:04 PM
hodgey hodgey is online now
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One thing that can give you a clue on whether it's alignment-related is to see if the noise bar moves up/down or changes if manually adjusting tracking. If it stays in the same place and seems unaffected it could be something else like tape damage. The difference between how the area looks on the first clip (presumably a JVC deck?) and the others makes me think it's not something baked into the video signal from tape dubbing or whatever at least.

Also minor note about pause, some of the high-end decks were able to do pause digitally using the frame buffer rather than re-reading a frame from the tape, idk if the AG1980 does this, but on a deck that does the noise won't be changing when paused irrespective of what the issue is since it's just a digital copy.
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  #14  
09-10-2021, 01:04 PM
ehbowen ehbowen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
One thing that can give you a clue on whether it's alignment-related is to see if the noise bar moves up/down or changes if manually adjusting tracking. If it stays in the same place and seems unaffected it could be something else like tape damage. The difference between how the area looks on the first clip (presumably a JVC deck?) and the others makes me think it's not something baked into the video signal from tape dubbing or whatever at least.

Also minor note about pause, some of the high-end decks were able to do pause digitally using the frame buffer rather than re-reading a frame from the tape, idk if the AG1980 does this, but on a deck that does the noise won't be changing when paused irrespective of what the issue is since it's just a digital copy.
I think the 2018 capture was done on the Mitsubishi, but I didn't document it. I tried your suggestion, though, of putting the tape in both the Panasonic and the Mitsubishi and manually adjusting tracking. The Panasonic didn't change at all; the Mitsu had a little tracking noise come and go at the very bottom of the frame but the noise in the center didn't change at all.

From the various comments I've decided that it's not worth risking a $400 VCR to try to gain some additional quality for a job which will net me less than $200 all-in, particularly when the existing capture is watchable. Still, I'm open to suggestions and tips for the future. Thanks everyone for the input.
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  #15  
09-10-2021, 07:54 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Also minor note about pause, some of the high-end decks were able to do pause digitally using the frame buffer rather than re-reading a frame from the tape, idk if the AG1980 does this, but on a deck that does the noise won't be changing when paused irrespective of what the issue is since it's just a digital copy.
Good point, I forgot about this, most modern VCR's have digital pause rather than mechanical, So the OP has to keep this in mind, I will take a look at the sample when I get home.
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  #16  
09-12-2021, 05:43 PM
ffmpeguserss ffmpeguserss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
In this post I linked to 4 videos by 12voltvids where he shows how to align VHS VCRs. Misaligning to match a given tape would be the same procedure.
...
That guy's videos both scare and fascinate me at the same time.
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