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  #1  
09-24-2019, 11:42 AM
tjmcdoug tjmcdoug is offline
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Hello!

I am trying to digitize a variety of home media for my parents and my in-laws. Ideally, I would be able to follow some of the guides listed here to get lossless masters from the media where possible, but I also have financial constraints that may mean that I do something cheaper.

What I am working with:
1. VHS
a. ~110 VHS tapes
Most of these probably include things that I don't care about archiving (TV recordings, etc.). However, others were recorded using a video camera that recorded directly onto full-sized VHS tapes.

Depending on how many of the tapes actually have video that I care about (home movies), it might make more sense to send these off to a service. If I have access to some old VCRs, could I use those to see what is on the tapes without destroying the tapes or is there a significant risk of a tape being eaten up? I would rather not spend the money on a Panasonic AG-1980 only to discover that I'm interested in transferring ten tapes.

b. ~50 hours on VHS-C tapes

Based on things I have read on this forum, these are my biggest problem. Assuming I decide to do it myself, it seems like it would make most sense to get the Panasonic AG-1980 and a good adapter so I could do both the standard VHS and the VHS-C tapes (and forego the transfer service).

The basic workflow would then be the Panasonic AG-1980 (using a JVC adapter for the VHS-C), some TBC, then a capture card. Are there any modern cards that are worth it? A thread on videohelp is listing out some USB cards (so I am following that), but if the quality difference is too large, I might need to bite the bullet and attempt to find an older computer so I can use some of the older cards. I have seen the Hauppauge USB-Live2 listed on a few different forums. Is that capable of capturing in a lossless format or will captured video always be hardware encoded as MPEG2?

Assuming I do go with a transfer service, what services should I consider? I'm not even certain if my parents or in-laws would let me mail off their tapes, so this might not even be an option.

2. ~9 Super 8 reels
Possibly transferred to VHS(?) in the early 80s.

Based on various forum posts, it looks like a transfer house is the best choice for these. From reading various posts (e.g., here and here), Woodland, CinePost, and Cinelab are good choices. Woodland may no longer in business (or I do not have the right link to it). Would Cinelab be the best choice here? In terms of the actual transfer, what should I look for? One of the threads mentions archiving to DV tapes - is there any benefit to that versus simply storing the resulting videos on a harddrive?
According to CineLab's website, "Cinelab will clean your film and transfer it to HD File format for you. We will then return your film masters and the HD Files and DVD copies to you. We offer 1080P HD files on a portable hard drive, thumb drive or upload plus DVD and BluRay available to you for the conversion of your old home movies. 2K through 5K transfers are also available." Is there any advantage to getting a 2K or 5K transfer or is that simply paying more money for no discernible advantage? Or would it be better to try to get a lossless SD transfer that I could for editing later myself? I know I have read that with VHS, it is much better to capture using a lossless codec rather than H.264 or MPEG2. Are things any different with film?

3. ~9 Digital 8 cassettes
Shot on Sony DCR-TRV320, which I can get.

It seems like I should be able to transfer the digital 8 cassettes directly from the camcorder to a computer using a Firewire cable and the software WinDV. Based on various posts on this forum, that is the ideal transfer method for this medium. (e.g., here and here). If that is correct, what maintenance/cleaning should I do to the camcorder prior to transferring? Anything I should look out for?

I realize this is a Digital Video forum but two more questions (and if these should be moved elsewhere, please let me know):
4. Transferring Audio Cassettes - I imagine I would just need a player with an audio out that I could plug directly into a computer so I could use a program like Audacity to record the audio. Any particularly good audio cassette players or soundcards that would help me?

5. Scanning photos/negatives - I have read some good reviews about the Epson Perfection V600 Scanner. Is there a better scanner that I should consider for this?

Thanks for any help or direction you can give me!
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  #2  
09-25-2019, 12:52 AM
cbehr91 cbehr91 is offline
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That few reels of Super 8 I'd research a transfer service in your area rather than trying to do it yourself. There are transfer machines available like those available from MovieStuff, LLC, but they are thousands of dollars. A transfer service probably will use ProRes or like codec. I have a MovieStuff Retro-8 that captures lossless 720p QuickTime movies, and I think at that resolution the transfers don't look any better than SD. If they are giving you the transfers at 1080, then there's likely no reason to have them do the raw transfers at anymore than 2K.

Digitalfaq (this site) does offer a transfer service for tape media. With that few tapes a transfer service might be the way to go for those as well rather than trying to round up all the gear yourself only to use it for a hundred odd tapes (that sounds like a lot of tapes, but it really isn't...)

Any Digital8 cam with FireWire will do (which I think is all of them?). It's digital media, so it will be the same quality no matter what camera you use. The x20 series (IMO) were the best, though. With a FireWire cable and WinDV you should be good to go!

For the cassette tapes you'll need a sound card with a line input. USB ones are fine. Audacity is the best for the capturing. If they need a lot of restoration work I think Pro Tools (a Mac only program) is the best for that. Audacity is pretty good as well.
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  #3  
09-25-2019, 06:10 PM
Sergei316 Sergei316 is offline
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When looking for a photo/slide/negative scanner, consider a model that is compatible will fully utilize the SilverFast studio software. IMO hands down the best software on the market for photos, negatives, and slides.
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  #4  
09-26-2019, 02:25 AM
VideoTechMan VideoTechMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sergei316 View Post
When looking for a photo/slide/negative scanner, consider a model that is compatible will fully utilize the SilverFast studio software. IMO hands down the best software on the market for photos, negatives, and slides.
Hmm I have a Canon full size scanner that has film scanning capabilities (I have the film accessory that came with the scanner). I was reading about the SilverFast Studio software but was undecided at the time on which to go with for my scanner. I'll have to give it a second look!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbehr91 View Post
For the cassette tapes you'll need a sound card with a line input. USB ones are fine. Audacity is the best for the capturing. If they need a lot of restoration work I think Pro Tools (a Mac only program) is the best for that. Audacity is pretty good as well.
ProTools is more like an advanced DAW and not really suited for analog audio processing as far as restoration, plus you can get PT on Windows.

An external audio USB interface (like the Scarlett 2i2) with RCA line inputs would be better for recording cassette tapes, but if the OP has to use the onboard soundcard, grab an RCA to 1/8" cable.
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  #5  
09-26-2019, 10:47 AM
tjmcdoug tjmcdoug is offline
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Thanks for the responses so far!

Yeah, I had no intention of transferring the Super 8 film myself. I looked around online and found some local places that say they can do it - their websites aren't that impressive, but I suppose their work might be quality.

Any thoughts on using a cheaper VCR to determine what is on the set of 100+ tapes? Is a cheaper VCR more likely to eat a tape or will it just have worse playback of the tape? If I can figure out what is on the tapes myself, I could probably save quite a bit of money if I send the tapes to a service to handle the transfer.

Any recommendations on a player to go with the Scarlett 2i2?
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  #6  
09-26-2019, 11:10 AM
VideoTechMan VideoTechMan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjmcdoug View Post
Thanks for the responses so far!

Yeah, I had no intention of transferring the Super 8 film myself. I looked around online and found some local places that say they can do it - their websites aren't that impressive, but I suppose their work might be quality.

Any thoughts on using a cheaper VCR to determine what is on the set of 100+ tapes? Is a cheaper VCR more likely to eat a tape or will it just have worse playback of the tape? If I can figure out what is on the tapes myself, I could probably save quite a bit of money if I send the tapes to a service to handle the transfer.

Any recommendations on a player to go with the Scarlett 2i2?
You don't want to go cheap on a VCR to do a proper transfer. There are many threads that recommend what VCR decks to use for transfer. Avoid the VHS models; a SVHS deck is best for transfer. However, if you don't have the time to work with 100+ tapes then it probably would be better to send to a transfer service.

I suppose a decent VHS player that isn't beat to crud could be used if you just wanted to check the tapes to see what material you want to keep.

As for cassette player perhaps check eBay for a decent 2-head tape deck (not the auto reverse models). Tascam, Teac, Aiwa and perhaps Denon are some good models. If buying used you also have to be careful on whether they have been properly maintained and don't have a host a problems that would need servicing. I have two pro decks myself that I will be using for my tape transfers.
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  #7  
09-27-2019, 12:03 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbehr91 View Post
Digitalfaq (this site) does offer a transfer service for tape media.
Yes, we can do the VHS, VHS-C, and Digital8.

Quote:
With that few tapes a transfer service might be the way to go for those as well rather than trying to round up all the gear yourself only to use it for a hundred odd tapes (that sounds like a lot of tapes, but it really isn't...)
Hmmm ... 100 tapes. My general cut-off advice is no more than 50-75 tapes. You start to reach a point where DIY is better pricing than outsourcing. But we'll do whatever. I have equipment for sale in the marketplace for DIY.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbehr91 View Post
That few reels of Super 8 I'd research a transfer service in your area
Nah. Not unless you're in NYC or LA/CA, where some of the nicer film post houses are located. Perhaps get a rough local copy for security, but then send it off for the quality transfer. Most people are shocked how cheap transfers pale in comparison to quality film transfers.
Some leads: Suggested Film to DVD Professional Transfer/Conversion Services

Quote:
A transfer service probably will use ProRes or like codec. I have a MovieStuff Retro-8 that captures lossless 720p QuickTime movies, and I think at that resolution the transfers don't look any better than SD. If they are giving you the transfers at 1080, then there's likely no reason to have them do the raw transfers at anymore than 2K.
Sometimes the HD conversions actually look worse. Transfer is more than just resolution.

Quote:
Any Digital8 cam with FireWire will do (which I think is all of them?). It's digital media, so it will be the same quality no matter what camera you use. The x20 series (IMO) were the best, though. With a FireWire cable and WinDV you should be good to go!
Eh... Some cameras are better than others, even for Digital8/DV. And then you can often capture Digital8/DV as analog over s-video, with less nuisance (DV capture software sucks compared to VirtualDub, even the best WinDV), and without any real quality hit (consumer optics/codecs were never true 720x480 resolve anyway, looks no different than Hi8 or S-VHS).

Quote:
For the cassette tapes you'll need a sound card with a line input. USB ones are fine. Audacity is the best for the capturing. If they need a lot of restoration work I think Pro Tools (a Mac only program) is the best for that. Audacity is pretty good as well.
Nah, not ProTools, it's a DAW (~ audio NLE), different usage.
I use Magix/Sony/SonicFoundry SoundForge. Audicity would be a freeware semi-equivalent (good but weaker).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjmcdoug View Post
Any thoughts on using a cheaper VCR to determine what is on the set of 100+ tapes? Is a cheaper VCR more likely to eat a tape or will it just have worse playback of the tape? If I can figure out what is on the tapes myself, I could probably save quite a bit of money if I send the tapes to a service to handle the transfer.
I have some templated text I send to folks asking about my gear in the marketplace:
Quote:
What recording mode are your VHS tapes?
- SP, LP, EP/SLP, or a mix? If mix, % of each?
- If not known, guestimate. (What you don't want to do is put these tapes in a ratty old VCR, and have the tapes damaged.)
Yep, crappy VCRs go <nom-nom-nom> to tapes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sergei316 View Post
When looking for a photo/slide/negative scanner, consider a model that is compatible will fully utilize the SilverFast studio software. IMO hands down the best software on the market for photos, negatives, and slides.
I prefer Vuescan, and on Mac.

- Did my advice help you? Then become a Premium Member and support this site.
- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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  #8  
09-27-2019, 06:19 PM
traal traal is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjmcdoug View Post
5. Scanning photos/negatives - I have read some good reviews about the Epson Perfection V600 Scanner. Is there a better scanner that I should consider for this?
For photo prints, there is probably no better scanner for the price than the V600, but for negatives a better scanner would be a dedicated slide/film scanner such as the Pacific Image PrimeFilm XAs ($500). See this post for examples of the kind of quality you can expect from a flatbed scanner versus a dedicated slide/film scanner.
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  #9  
09-27-2019, 06:46 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Quote:
Any thoughts on using a cheaper VCR to determine what is on the set of 100+ tapes? Is a cheaper VCR more likely to eat a tape or will it just have worse playback of the tape? If I can figure out what is on the tapes myself, I could probably save quite a bit of money if I send the tapes to a service to handle the transfer.
Quote:
I have some templated text I send to folks asking about my gear in the marketplace:
I think for most of the recommended VCRs, the SVHS decks share the basic tape mechanism with lower end from the same lineup. E.g my JVC HR-S8500 SVHS has the exact same mechanism sans the dynamic drum as my middle of the range JVC HR-J658 HiFi standard VHS deck from the same lineup (though that may not be true for other models, maybe there are some component differences). Of course that doesn't mean picking up a random one of a thrift store is necessarily a good idea, as it could have problems with it still.
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  #10  
09-29-2021, 10:22 AM
acusman acusman is offline
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Here are the tape transfer components I use. Just FYI.
Tom


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  #11  
09-29-2021, 04:12 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Originally Posted by acusman View Post
Here are the tape transfer components I use. Just FYI.
Tom
You should use S-Video for camcorder, Getting one with S-Video and Line TBC should not cost what a VCR costs. Line timing is better preserved via S-Video than over composite for weak tapes where chroma and luma get squashed together.
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  #12  
09-29-2021, 05:35 PM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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I don't know where you are in the world, but at the moment it's a race to three-head audio cassette machines (yes, I do before you ask, and yes, 'that' one, the fire-breather) but for playback, it's forced the price of two-head machines to very little - I can pick up a Nakamichi two-head locally for under $200US in good order.

I'm not a Nak' Stan though, there are ton of decent two-head machines out there for very little money so don't just buy the first thing you see, anything from the usual suspects in good condition with a belt change and a head clean should see you through. Like video machines, there's shades of grey, but clearly, anything made since about 2005 -or- from a brand you've never heard of is going to be utter junk.

Any sound card is fine for this (again, within reason), most things are going to operate well outside the technical limits of an audio cassette.
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  #13  
09-29-2021, 09:02 PM
timtape timtape is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjmcdoug View Post

...Is there any advantage to getting a 2K or 5K transfer or is that simply paying more money for no discernible advantage?
With 8mm film, no advantage in anything above 1080P(2K). A good Super 8 film has perhaps no more than 1K horizontal detail. So a good scan today at 2k should be clearer (sharper) than any previous transfer to VHS which could capture only a fraction of the detail.

But what is usually lost in today's average small transfer house scan is in the dynamic range. Reversal film whether still or movie has a very high dynamic range (from dark to light) and it requires special capture gear/technique to capture that range. in the typical transfer house scan, what you will find missing in your 8mm shots is the shadow detail.
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09-30-2021, 04:27 AM
RobustReviews RobustReviews is offline
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Just to add you'll be fine with Audacity for basic editing tasks and a bit of light restoration, it offers just about everything now you'd want in a basic editor. I'll let you in on a little secret, there's plenty of broadcast stuff that's quickly hacked up in Audacity....

It's free, light and does most things perfectly well. Audition is probably the next step with any gain of function but it could well be complete overkill for your tasks. We have 'just about everything in the audio workspace here (including Audition, Ableton, Cubase - including the older, better versions, Sequoia, WaveLab etc) and seeming the preferred software for basic capture and quick edits here would be Audition and for nice easy tasks: Audacity.

I'd go with Audacity first, if you think there's something missing, look to the alternatives (like the one suggested) but for basic-moderately complicated work Audacity can be a perfectly good application.

Also as said, ProTools isn't the weapon of choice here, it probably will do it (like you can create a webpage in Word, or build models in After Effects) but that's not where it's strongest, square pegs 'n' round holes as the adage goes. Weirdly I don't think we have ProTools, I'll check with the audio guy once he gets in, vague memories that we used it for VSTs but I'm not an expert on it at all.
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