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  #1  
01-19-2012, 01:29 AM
Avory Avory is offline
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Greetings all...I've been using this site for advice and recommendations for more years than I can remember, particularly when the digital era meant learning things all over again (such as not all digital media is created equal).

I have more than a few digital recorders and many excellent VCRs, including prosumer decks like the AG-1970 and AG-1980, various high end JVC and Mitsubishi models, and even two excellent Sony SL-HF1000's SuperBeta decks in wonderful condition. I know my way around the analog world, and enjoy creating DVDs on my standalone DVRs (several have hard drives). I've learned that not every tape plays the same way on every machine, and that sometimes even a lower end VCR provides better output for a particular project.

But despite all my hobbyist experience (and I emphasize, this is all non-professional work, just pure personal and family enjoyment) one thing I've never been lucky with is finding or acquiring a decent unit to do some minor tweaking when necessary to sharpen a video image or, more importantly, darken or lighten, adjust the color intensity, change a bit of contrast, and particularly adjust the tint of an analog source before it goes to my digital video recorder. I've probably purchased four or five "video processor" units second-hand on eBay or elsewhere--Vidicraft's, MFJs, etc.--thinking that these contraptions would aid in creating a slightly better image before converting to digital. While I was not looking for anything dramatic (I've always read that less is more anyway) I discovered these things just didn't work. Not that they couldn't do what I wanted them to do maybe at one time, but they didn't work anymore. Many dollars down the drain chasing a simple task, or so it seemed at the time.

Let me be clear, here: I do NOT need anything that is billed as a "video corrector" but is really just a device to defeat anti-piracy schemes. I'm not interested in that at all. It isn't necessary for the library of video that I have to convert and edit. I also have no designs to be a professional, so machines of many hundreds of dollars with more bells and whistles than I'll ever use is not what I'm after either. I also am not interested in going the computer software route. I prefer using editing-capable DVRs dedicated to the purpose of converting analog signals and burning DVDs. I simply need some sort of modest device that will help me improve on the conversion task when needed. (And frankly, it's not normally needed, but I do have a stack of tapes that could really use some adjustments that are not remedied just by using the TBC circuitry in my various decks).

Now...my question is this: does anything like this exist anymore? Can anyone make a suggestion? It would be great if the unit had the ability to do split screen comparisons and handle S-Video, naturally, but at this point I'll take anything that really works. I'm very weary of things that power on, but really don't do anything at all. I'm beginning to sincerely believe nothing ever really worked in this realm and that most of these units were built to defeat Macrovison and that was all anyone ever really wanted in a "color corrector" or "processor" in the first place. I know I'm getting cynical, but that's what buying machines that don't do anything will do to a fellow.

Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated. And I do apologize if I come off as somewhat frustrated...it's only because I am! I also apologize if there were some threads that specifically dealt with this, but a search didn't yield anything that spoke specifically to my needs. Perhaps I was using the wrong key words? I don't even really know what terms are used to commonly describe the device I'm talking about. Thanks again for any help that can be provided, even if there's no help to be found.
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  #2  
01-19-2012, 11:38 AM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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The Elite Video BVP4+ is a popular choice around here. It does color and levels adjustment and is pretty powerful. Its only available used, but usually 1-2 pop up on ebay from time to time. If you are looking for new, Signvideo still sells their PA-100 Proc Amp. It does the typical adjustments and includes a handy luminance meter.

Both of the above units have adjustable split screen view to show changes and have S-Video I/O.
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  #3  
01-19-2012, 05:15 PM
robjv1 robjv1 is offline
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For color correction, I think the choice comes down to the Elite BVP-4+ or the Sign Video / Studio 1 Proc Amp. For enhancing the detail, I think the Sign Video DR-1000 is really the only one worth it (from what I have used, see below). The BVP-4 has a 'resolution boost' setting, but it's not really the same effect as seen in the SignVideo gear. I'd guess I'd say that you have no control over the 'shape' of the sharpness with the BVP-4, where the DR-1000 gives you different ways of approaching it.

Just to state my own history -- I've only owned the Elite BVP-4+, one of the Sima color correctors, the Vidicraft Detailer III, Vidicraft AVP-100 and then some of the Sign Video / Studio 1 equipment. I should mention that the Studio 1 brand of equipment is equivalent to the Sign Video equipment. I have the Sign Video DR-1000 image enhancer and the Studio 1 PA-200 processing amp. If you are considering buying them new, try VideoGearShop.com. I got in touch Jeff Bearden there who used to work for Elite Video and he cut me a deal on a new DR-1000 for about $30 cheaper than SignVideo was selling it direct.

For color correction, the Elite BVP-4 has a huge range of color adjustment and is probably the only one of them well equipped making huge color adjustments. My collection of tapes didn't need those kinds of adjustments for the most part and I found that the SignVideo/Studio 1 equipment passes a cleaner signal than the Elite BVP-4 I procured. A lot of the 'extras' on the BVP weren't particularly useful to me. The black level restore on my unit didn't seem to work properly and ended up creating sort of an inky looking mess. The resolution boost did have an effect, but it wasn't exactly the one I desired. As a prosumer hardware color correction device though, I think it is without peer in terms of the range of adjustments. Once again, VideoGearShop was offering a new single proc amp for $410 delivered instead of $464 direct from SignVideo. I ended up buying the Studio 1 version of the Dual Proc on eBay for around $300, which was a steal.

As far as the SignVideo gear, the luminance meter is very handy, although you need to use your eyes as well and not rely on it entirely. Actually the thing I use it most for is to ensure that my whites are not on the verge of being too hot, because it's really easy to wash the detail out of objects that are nearly white, but not quite. The extra features have often come in pretty handy for me -- the split screen and mono switch in particular. The sync button is normally pretty worthless, but I have had one occasion with one tape where having it engaged removed the slight flicker I was getting in the picture.

The best thing about the SignVideo DR-1000 image enhancer is that you have so much control over the look of the sharpness and a huge range of adjustment, far more than you'd ever need. The "Sharp" and "Detail" knobs apply two different types of sharpening algorithms and you can control the coarseness of the enhancement with the push-buttons on the front. It's not just a simple "low/high" dial or toggle switch. It's very easy to gently tweak it with the knobs and see the result in real time on the screen. You can turn it up just a little if your source is already sharp enough to your liking, but your DVD recorder shaves off some of the high frequency detail in the MPEG conversion.

The only thing that could make it an even better unit IMO would be to include an equally variable softness setting that could be applied.

I no longer have a BVP-4 on hand, but if you'd like some tests or samples done of the SignVideo stuff, I'd be happy to do it so you can take a look at how the enhancements look.

I should add -- one thing that SignVideo Proc Amp does not do is allow you to change the overall white balance of the image -- there is nothing on the unit that will perform the "Photoshop auto color" type of filter. You can shift the hue towards the red end or the green end, but if your video has a distinct cast to it, you're going to need to try another unit or software to correct that.

Last edited by robjv1; 01-19-2012 at 05:39 PM.
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