Quantcast Improving VHS Conversion Quality - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
06-17-2019, 12:13 PM
bzowk bzowk is offline
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Hey Guys -

I'm in the middle of digitizing my family's old VHS tapes initially recorded in the 80s/90s. Obviously, quality isn't what it is today, but have been researching to see if there's any way I could improve what I'm capturing either during capture or by applying filters afterwards. I read a couple of posts on this forum so wanted to post including my current procedure, hardware used, and a 10 second clip to see if anyone had suggestions.

Procedure
  1. Start recording input in RECentral, then start VHS playback
  2. Wait for playback to complete
  3. Save capture
  4. Open captured file in Filmora then edit which 99% of the time is precisely cutting off the beginning and end of video
  5. Saving (via re-encode) to a new MP4
  6. Considering running through filters is I find any which are worth it
Hardware
  • VHS Playback: Samsung VR-320 DVD/VCR (Progressive Scan on / Video output using Component cables / Audio Output RCA cables)
  • Capture Device: Avermedia ExtremeCap U3 CV710 (Input: Component & RCA from VCR / Output: USB 3.0 to PC)
  • PC: Custom PC with decent resources running Windows Server 2019 (I use it for other things than video capture usually)
Software
  • AverMedia RECentral 1.3.0.116 to capture feed from capture device listed above (Version is from 2017 - newer versions are available, but didn't work with my hardware - hate it when manufacturers do that)
  • Wondershare Filmora (Re-encodes using same specs as capture)
VHS Capture
I choose the below specs as they seemed to be good enough to capture all of the quality, but not result in a huge file size.
  • MP4 (Only option in RECentral)
  • 640x480
  • 6Mbps Video
  • 30fps
  • 192kbps Audio (Stereo)
  • 48,000kHz
  • Above settings put average filesize for 90 minutes at 5-6gb...
Notes
  • Just using hardware & software I already had
  • Unfortunately, my capture device is older so seemingly isn't supported on newer capture software - at least ones I tried. Do own license for Premier for which a plugin is offered, but couldn't get it to work and assume the plugin is for much earlier version
  • Just found out Progressive scan was disabled on VHS player prior to starting my last tape. Don't really see a difference so not planning on re-capturing ones which didn't have it unless you disagree
  • Know I could use different software so that the edits wouldn't have to be re-encoded, but really didn't see any difference in quality when comparing the initial files with re-encoded ones
  • A good number of the videos are stage performances where there are deep darks with a spotlight which looks like a washed out white blob on a black screen or has other unique lighting. Resolution isn't good enough to make out faces from wide angle, but wanted to note if any filters could assist with those specifically
  • Considering capturing initially at much better resolution or bitrate then converting down just for copies which I am hosting on Plex for family. This is where the file size matters more. Won't do if anyone thinks it wouldn't make a big difference
Attached is a 10 second example of something random which had gone through the entire procedure above including the re-encoding from Filmora.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Already gone through about a dozen tapes (1/5 of total) but will start over again if someone has thoughts for much better solution.

Really appreciate the advice!! Thanks!


Attached Files
File Type: mp4 10SecTest.mp4 (7.41 MB, 15 downloads)
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  #2  
06-18-2019, 12:36 PM
traal traal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bzowk View Post
  1. Open captured file in Filmora then edit which 99% of the time is precisely cutting off the beginning and end of video
  2. Saving (via re-encode) to a new MP4
  3. Considering running through filters is I find any which are worth it
It appears that you are lossy re-encoding the same file multiple times. Each time, it makes the video quality a little bit worse. It's best to capture and edit in HuffYUV or another non-lossy codec, and save the MP4 encoding for the very end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzowk View Post
  • Just found out Progressive scan was disabled on VHS player prior to starting my last tape. Don't really see a difference so not planning on re-capturing ones which didn't have it unless you disagree
How does your VCR's progressive scan alter the video? It's probably best to leave it off and deinterlace in software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzowk View Post
  • A good number of the videos are stage performances where there are deep darks with a spotlight which looks like a washed out white blob on a black screen or has other unique lighting. Resolution isn't good enough to make out faces from wide angle, but wanted to note if any filters could assist with those specifically
The levels on the tape may be exceeding your capture device's capability. In your procedure, do you check the histogram and adjust proc amp settings before capturing?
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  #3  
06-18-2019, 01:16 PM
bzowk bzowk is offline
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Appreciate the reply...

I agree with your recommendations - especially the part about reencoding with a lossy format. The only thing is that after trying 2-3 demos, I've been unable to find any software other than RECentral (which comes with the hardware) that can capture from my device (ExtremeCap U3 CV710). Within RECentral, the only option for capture is MP4. It lists others, but they are all greyed out. I've tried changing (the few) settings to get the enabled, but nothing seems to enable them. I assume they only enable for other devices which the software supports. As mentioned, plugins are offerred for a couple of apps, but seemingly they only work for much older versions of the apps like Audition and Vegas (I think).

With that being said...
1. Would the quality gained from using a lossless format, using different hardware, or anything else be noticeable to the naked eye/ear?
2. Does anyone know of software I might try which may be compatible with my hardware and provide more capture options?

Thanks
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  #4  
06-18-2019, 01:24 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Yes, you need a better capture card. Don't just use crappy methods because that's all that a crappy card will allow. You're just butchering video needlessly. You can, and should, be better.

I'll answer the 1st post in a day or so.

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  #5  
06-25-2019, 06:07 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Since no one seems to want to elaborate on this, although I consider it an important thread:

Thank you for the posted sample.

It does show signs of obvious problems, but it's an important post in that it demonstrate why the forum recommends certain equipment and methods, and why it recommends that certain equipment and methods should be avoided. In this case, from your description it appears that you're doing everything that we have always advised users to avoid: inferior playback from a DVD/VHS combo, playback distortion caused by linescan errors and no tbc, crosstalk and interlace noise caused by poor playback technology, distortion and temporal resolution loss caused by poor ddeinterlacing and frame decimation (discarding alternate frames), plus accumulated loss of definition and clarity and worsening distortion from multiple stages of lossy encoding. That's not to omit the grungy chroma and tape noise that adds to the distortion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bzowk View Post
Would the quality gained from using a lossless format, using different hardware, or anything else be noticeable to the naked eye/ear?
You don't need a "naked eye" to identify these typical problems. They are objectively defined and clearly identified effects. You see them yourself, you just don't yet know the terms that describe them. Unfortunately some of the major problems like scanline distortion can't be repaired after capture, and data destroyed through lossy encodes is not recoverable.

It's possible that you haven't seen the results of lossless capturing and processing, although browsing most tech forums such as this one would expose your view to lossy work, lossless results, good and bad video repair, and many other elements. Along lossless lines, here are a few posted results of video made with lossless capture, recommended brands and types of VCR, inclusion of linescan and frame timing tbc correction, use of recommended capture devices from expensive AGP cards to more affordable USB dongles, use of lossless codecs and lossless processing, recommended cleanup operations using preferred restoration apps instead of "editors", and no lossy encoding until the final delivery output stage.

Here are a couple of quickie home video final results:
test_sample_1a2.mp4 (4.9 mb) from a lossless capture: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/atta...-sample-1a2mp4

Edited home_tape_rework.mpg from a lossless capture and lossless processing: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/atta...tape_reworkmpg

Slightly longer sample restored from lossless capture of a 1979 home recording off old analog cable TV, using a recommended player, time base correction, a preferred capture card, and lossless processing: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/atta...back-samplemp4

Here is a longer 2.2 minute example of edits losslessly made from a lossless, unfiltered capture of a poorly mastered retail VHS tape ("Memphis Belle") and selected, unimproved scenes from the original lossless capture played with an appropriate quality VCR with time base correction thru a recommended capture device to lossless media. There was no further processing or filtering other than lossless cut-edits in Avisynth: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/atta...ts_originalmp4

See if you think these lossless samples demonstrate better results.

You can't expect quality results from poor equipment and destructive processing. There are good VCr's and other hardware available if you research for them, and good capture cards that we recommend for less than $50 USD. The optimal capture software used for all these samples was VirtualDub, which is free.
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