Quantcast Is it possible to do better VHS captures? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
03-19-2020, 07:46 PM
Aerith Aerith is offline
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Way back during the 1990s my father recorded a number of tapes using a Panasonic VHS camera. About 8 years ago he digitized those video tapes using a LG RC389H DVD/VCR Combo, MAGIX Videowandler 2 (red/white USB stick), and later on a Canopus ADVC-300. Most of the recordings were made by the better quality Canopus device.

Having spent time watching those childhood movies I couldn't help but notice signs indicating rather heavy compression (MPEG-2). Fortunately, my father had also kept the original (much bigger) files on a hard drive and the quality of these was better. However, a close look revealed that even this footage was compressed (DVSD).

Given how modern computers have terabytes of space to spare, I didn't see why I shouldn't be able to digitize and store a higher quality uncompressed or lossless capture. My father still had all the gear he used previously so I thought I'd make it happen.

After testing both the MAGIX and the Canopus devices it turned out that the Canopus gave better quality captures. Unfortunately, I ran into some problems. Apparently the way the Canopus device works is that the footage is compressed inside the device before it is even sent over the Firewire link to the computer. This means that a loss of quality occurs already at the first step. From what I can tell, it is not possible to turn this off and receive the truly raw footage. In other words, I couldn't do any better than my father originally did.

So I've spent the past week reading up on things online. From what I gathered, in order to make the best capture possible; I need a quality JVC VCR, a PAL TBC, and a good capture card.

I've found a JVC HR-S7611 VCR on eBay which seems suitable. Expensive for a technology now obsolete, but okay, I'm willing to go that far in order to make this happen. A suitable TBC on the other hand seems impossible to find. I did find some things which supposedly had a TBC in them, but a closer look revealed that they were either NTSC, or had weird BNC connectors on them, or some other thing that led to doubts.

What a good capture card is was also a big question mark. The AIW was recommended on this site, but I'm using Windows 10 on a computer without AGP slots so that won't work. I do find it a bit strange that nothing better has appeared after 15+ years of technological progress. I was looking at a new Hauppauge Impact VCB-e capture card, or perhaps a used AJA Kona. I'm leaning towards the latter because I suspect that it might be of better quality.

Here are some images taken by the Canopus so that you can see how it looks:

1991.jpg
1991

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1996 - Strange colors on the left.

1996.jpg
1999

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2000

And one image taken by the MAGIX USB stick:

1999.jpg
2006 - How weird everything looks in this last one. What should be straight lines seem to be bending this way and that.

So what I'm wondering is if it is possible to do better than this? I suspect that it is, but I'd also like to hear from someone more well informed.

It has been pointed out to me that other people can't see the images I linked to. Here they are as attachments.



Last edited by lordsmurf; 03-20-2020 at 06:40 AM. Reason: Fixed. -LS
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  #2  
03-20-2020, 06:49 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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That last image is lousy. Timing wiggles all over the place. That's easy to correct, when recapturing the original tape with a quality recommended JVC/Panasonic VCR with line TBC. And external frame TBC to further stabilize.

Canopus ADVC DV boxes cook colors, no surprise there.

Lots of mosquito noise on the first image.

Yes, be wary of just anything claiming to have a TBC. The term is sometimes so loosely used that even my toaster could have a TBC. It's about getting a recommended TBC, not just any random thing with a "includes TBC!" sticker slapped on the side.

Can you do better? Absolutely. That 7611 was probably a 1st good step. That alone will resolve some issues, though not all. You need a full workflow to get there. (NOTE: A have a TBC waiting list, and may soon have some decent PAL-only TBCs. Either PM me, or keep watch in my marketplace TBC listing page.)

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  #3  
03-20-2020, 11:09 AM
Aerith Aerith is offline
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Thank you for your reply!

I'm currently looking at VCRs and trying to decide between the Panasonic NV-HS 1000 and the JVC HR-S7611.

I've also been looking at maybe getting a Panasonic DMR-ES10 as an ersatz TBC. However, both the JVC HR-S7611 and Panasonic NV-HS 1000 have built-in TBCs so I'm not sure if it'll help any.

I've been thinking about the capture process itself. I understand that for capturing video VirtualDub, huffyuv, and PCM was recommended in the past. Given how much better computers have become over the past 10-15 years I thought about trying something else.

I've been experimenting with using OBS Studio to capture lossless FFV1 video and FLAC audio. It seems to work and my CPU is only at about 5-7% load during the process. Unlike VirtualDub I don't see any obvious statistics in OBS so I can't tell if I'm dropping frames or not. I'm also unsure about eyeballing the video quality since I'm using the MAGIX USB stick which isn't exactly great to begin with, but the end result doesn't seem any worse than the preview stream.

Thoughts?
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  #4  
03-25-2020, 10:31 AM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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OBS isn't designed for capturing analog video and so is missing relevant features.

FFV1 is much slower to decode than other lossless codecs. This is relevant when doing any further processing or encoding to a "delivery format" like H.264 for playback on a device. If you want newer than Huffyuv, look at Ut Video and MagicYUV.

I'd be curious to see the ADVC300 examples as a few short clips (under 10 sec) created using VirtualDub's Direct Stream Copy mode. Your player used bad deinterlacing, and I suspect a levels adjustment could make them look much better.
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03-25-2020, 04:08 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Quote:
...even my toaster could have a TBC...
I had one of those! It had "Toast Burning Capability." So I got rid of it
(Or did you mean the New Tek Video Toaster of olden days?)

In capture mode the ADVC devices are intended to convert a SD analog video signal to a DV stream that can be captured over firewire. They basically emulate a Sony MiniDV camcorder and their captures are subject to the limitations of a DV signal. They expect a reasonably good, stable analog signal, and noise in the video will degrade the quality of the capture because it eats up bytes in the compression. They only do DV.

The ADVC-300 includes some basic proc amp capability. While better than many el cheapo options they are not a great choice if you have video restoration in mind.
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  #6  
03-27-2020, 09:04 AM
Aerith Aerith is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
OBS isn't designed for capturing analog video and so is missing relevant features.

FFV1 is much slower to decode than other lossless codecs. This is relevant when doing any further processing or encoding to a "delivery format" like H.264 for playback on a device. If you want newer than Huffyuv, look at Ut Video and MagicYUV.

I'd be curious to see the ADVC300 examples as a few short clips (under 10 sec) created using VirtualDub's Direct Stream Copy mode. Your player used bad deinterlacing, and I suspect a levels adjustment could make them look much better.
I believe my father originally recorded with VirtualDub (becase that's the name of the folder the files were in). I don't know about "Direct Stream Copy mode" though. I also don't have a computer with firewire immediately available so that'll have to wait a few days.

When you talk about "your player" are you talking about the VCR? Or perhaps the recording software on the computer? What is a "levels adjustment" and where is it done?

Thanks!
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  #7  
03-27-2020, 09:08 AM
Aerith Aerith is offline
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I received the Blaupunkt RTV 966 (Panasonic NV-HS 1000) I ordered today. Lots of buttons and switches on it. I haven't a clue what any of it does. Going to have to read the manual.

I'm also waiting for the capture card and cables to arrive. Probably two weeks or so before it is all here.
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  #8  
03-28-2020, 06:03 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerith View Post
I believe my father originally recorded with VirtualDub (becase that's the name of the folder the files were in). I don't know about "Direct Stream Copy mode" though. I also don't have a computer with firewire immediately available so that'll have to wait a few days.
You misunderstand. I was suggesting loading your existing files into VirtualDub, setting short trims, changing the setting under Video to Direct Stream Copy, saving these short clips, and uploading them.

Quote:
When you talk about "your player" are you talking about the VCR? Or perhaps the recording software on the computer?
Neither. The playback software you're using to display the video file, such as Windows Media Player.

Quote:
What is a "levels adjustment" and where is it done?
Altering brightness and contrast; in this case I was suggesting I would use Avisynth to see what an adjustment of the existing files would look like. But you need to know how to adjust levels before you make your new captures.
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  #9  
03-29-2020, 10:06 AM
Aerith Aerith is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post
You misunderstand. I was suggesting loading your existing files into VirtualDub, setting short trims, changing the setting under Video to Direct Stream Copy, saving these short clips, and uploading them.
I selected six scenes at random and put them in a RAR file. The upload service will store the file for 30 days. The password is: digitalfaq

https://easyupload.io/xbednu

Here are two more.

https://easyupload.io/xuamsc

"v96" was taken with the Canopus device and "o2" with the MAGIX USB stick. The latter is also from the oldest and worst tape. Compare with YouTube and you'll see quite the difference. It is interesting to see how much a tape can degrade since it was bought ~1990.

https://youtu.be/qXKfcYcC0PM?t=270

Quote:
Neither. The playback software you're using to display the video file, such as Windows Media Player.
The media player I used for taking the snapshots is MPC-HC version 1.8.7 (Jul 17, 2019) that came with the K-Lite codec pack.
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