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  #1  
06-21-2020, 12:35 PM
ilhank ilhank is offline
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Hi there,

I'm getting into this world of VHS video capture and this site/forum has been super informative so far. I started reading it yesterday for several hours and have already learned so much. Signing up for a Premium membership was a no-brainer.

My needs

My goals are "very good" quality captures of a few dozen family VHS movies (before they degrade any further). The family videos go back to the 80s. I want to get these captured and archived in as good a digital version as possible and then be able to edit them after the fact. I want the quality to be as sharp as possible, with as good colour as possible, and with good sound quality (these aren't my exclusive criteria but they're all things I assume a better setup will help me get, along with other benefits).

I began with an Elgato USB video capture device + Elgato Video Capture software for macOS + a Toshiba D-VR7KC2 DVD / Video Cassette Recorder for reading the VHS and sending it to composite, but I'm guessing I can do a lot better in terms of quality.

This is just a first post if that's OK

I have read and skimmed a few dozen of your forum posts and saved them to a folder in Evernote so that I can review them, highlight parts of them, and collect all of my questions. But I thought this post would be a good way to start engaging and moving forward.

Here are a couple questions that will allow me to start taking action:

(1) I'm running a MacBook Pro 2015 15" and have enough tech savvy to install older versions of MacOS on a partition (if that helps). Based on this post here, I'm wondering if an ATI 600 USB capture card is a viable and good option? What would I be sacrificing by going the ATI 600 USB path in terms of quality vs. a Windows XP machine with ATI AIW card?

Though the perfectionist in me leans towards the best possible option for quality, price/performance is still a consideration. I'd like to know the tradeoffs.

(2) I have a brand new, in-the-box, Windows 7 computer from 2011 that has a PCI-E x16 slot but no AGP slot.

Here are its specs

Is PCI-E that bad? I read some posts saying that AGP is significantly better when using AIW cards.

(3) If I should buy a computer to use Windows XP on with an AGP slot, is this a good deal? (Cost is about $150 USD)

https://www.kijiji.ca/v-ordinateurs-...6150?undefined

Code:
Description

Intel Pentium 4, 3066 MHz (23 x 133) - Carte mère Asus P4PE (6 PCI, 1 AGP, 3 DDR DIMM) - Chipset Intel Brookdale i845PE - Mémoire système - 1024 Mo (PC2700 DDR SDRAM) Windows 7 - Office Pro 2016 - PAS DE COURRIER - TÉLÉPHONE SEULEMENT

Carte vidéo NVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400 (Microsoft Corporation) (32 Mo) Accélérateur 3D nVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400
(Apparently, a friend who is in computer repair says the Asus P4PE motherboard was very good. )

(4) I suppose I can invest in a 1TB (or maybe 500GB will suffice) 7200 RPM HDD if the installed HDD isn't big enough. How much storage would you recommend for a capture machine?

(5) Sound cards: If I use a Windows machine, I understand I will also have to invest in a separate sound card (e.g. Turtle Beach). Any tips on buying one of those? Is there a thread that recommends different options and where/how to buy them?

(6) What are my best options for buying an ATI AIW card? I see a bunch on eBay, often with the dongle for composite in included. I know you also sell some from time to time.

Finally: I still have a lot of learning to do about buying the other equipment (VHS player with TBC, external TBC, and anything else) and I'm going to look at that next. But the computer stuff is definitely in my wheelhouse so I'm starting here.

Thanks!
Ilhan

Last edited by ilhank; 06-21-2020 at 01:30 PM. Reason: Reordered questions into a better logical flow.
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  #2  
06-22-2020, 06:46 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Welcome.

A couple thoughts: You are reading the various threads, so you will find the recommendations and opinions of the various hardware options. You will note that MAC is not favored for video capture.

If you are doing this as a project then keep in mind that once done you can resell gear you no longer need, (e.g., TBC, VCR, capture system, etc.) usually at minimal loss.

Beware of used gear at auction sites, flea markets, garage sales, charity stores, etc. In general you have no reliable way of knowing its conditions until you get it, and then it maybe too late. There is risk you need to evaluate. Many of the threads here tell the horror stories, and success, in this process. Be sure you are prepared to accept the risks.

ATI All-In-Wonder cards are the favorite - be sure you get the full kit necessary I/O cables with the card, They are often missing or incomplete at auction sites and difficult to find. Also, not all ATI cards were AIW and auction sites may misslabel them.

Always capture to a separate physical drive from the system drive. Drives should be fast (7200 rpm), NTFS, not FAT32. Keep in mind that drives are cheap these days so don't skimp on drive size.

The PC should be dedicated to video capture, no networking, no AV software running, no multitasking, while capturing.

Ultimately what you need and how you proceed will be determined by your standards how good is good enough and your budget for time and money.

For a small number of tapes you might find it more expedient to hire-out the capture/digitization and do the editing yourself.

Enjoy!
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  #3  
06-24-2020, 12:33 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Replying as I read...

Degrade how? Tapes do not degrade easily.

Do not confuse sharpness with grain, or artificial sharpening (halos).
Good color is more about shooting time, not playback. The main issue with playback is to not add noise (chroma noise) or further harm color (DV compression).
Yes, better hardware ensures these things.

That Toshiba combo VHS/DVD is likely just a cheap Funai, and Elgato is a lousy card. Yes, you can do better, quite easily.

Kudos on keeping notes. Also always feel free to start your own thread as a notebook, chronicle your adventures in VHS conversion. Sometimes that can also help others.

The OS X version (or macOS) version matters more than anything else. What is it?
Mac is generally the wrong tool for capture, far less options.

The 600 USB would give you the unique option of being available in both Windows (VirtualDub) and Mac (Videoglide). But again noting Windows is better here, preferably XP, but 7 acceptable for ATI 600 USB card.

PCIe has issues. Not bad, just issues. AIW in general has a nuisance level to get installed, but PCIe is worse. The drivers are miserable, MMC does not cooperate at all (VirtualDub only), the offset can be off-putting.

These days, you want a motherboard with SATA2, not just AGP. Capturing to IDE drives sucks in 2020. Get a nice Seagate 2tb capture drive, whatever the system need for OS drive (that is often IDE). That Kijiji site has too few specs listed.

Asrock boards are best for new builds with the older tech. Not any board, but ones covered before in this forum.

Turtle Beach Santa Cruz only. With ATI AIW cards, this is required. eBay often has some for sub-$30 pricing.

AIW cards from eBay depends on models. Many are missing cables, making them worthless.

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- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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  #4  
06-24-2020, 02:28 PM
ilhank ilhank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Kudos on keeping notes. Also always feel free to start your own thread as a notebook, chronicle your adventures in VHS conversion. Sometimes that can also help others.
OK, will do for my next thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
The OS X version (or macOS) version matters more than anything else. What is it?
I'm currently on 10.15.5 but I think I can install anything from 10.11 to 10.15 on this computer — including whichever update I like — by using a combination of Googling "Download macOS 10.XX from App Store" and finding an article that links it + using this info here to create a bootable installer for macOS to install on a separate partition. Then, I can update to the relevant version with the combo updates here.

What's the best one(s) to use? What am I losing by even using this best version of macOS vs. Windows XP, let's say?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
The 600 USB would give you the unique option of being available in both Windows (VirtualDub) and Mac (Videoglide). But again noting Windows is better here, preferably XP, but 7 acceptable for ATI 600 USB card.
What does acceptable mean here? What is the sacrifice by not having an XP machine when using the ATI 600 USB card and using Windows 7 instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
PCIe has issues. Not bad, just issues. AIW in general has a nuisance level to get installed, but PCIe is worse. The drivers are miserable, MMC does not cooperate at all (VirtualDub only), the offset can be off-putting.
OK, understood. So what's the most problem-free version or combination that I can buy? I don't want headaches. I don't want to search forever for something that isn't available. I don't want to overpay if a similar version exists that works almost just as well (just want to know the tradeoff).

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
These days, you want a motherboard with SATA2, not just AGP. Capturing to IDE drives sucks in 2020. Get a nice Seagate 2tb capture drive, whatever the system need for OS drive (that is often IDE). That Kijiji site has too few specs listed.
I am looking into whether this motherboard supports SATA2, thanks! [Edit: apparently it's SATA-150, i.e. SATA revision 1.0 (1.5 Gbit/s, 150 MB/s, Serial ATA-150) — is that good enough?

2TB sounds good. I'm going to be transferring the videos off before it fills that much anyway, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Asrock boards are best for new builds with the older tech. Not any board, but ones covered before in this forum.
Least compatibility issues? OK I will look into these. Otherwise, I will buy the one with the ASUS P4PE and try with that first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
AIW cards from eBay depends on models. Many are missing cables, making them worthless.
Is buying an AIW card from eBay less precarious than buying a Panasonic VCR? I almost bought a lemon, as you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Welcome.
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
If you are doing this as a project then keep in mind that once done you can resell gear you no longer need, (e.g., TBC, VCR, capture system, etc.) usually at minimal loss.
I will definitely keep this in mind. It makes it easier to pay all that money to get the stuff I need knowing that I can recoup it once I've digitized everything I want to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Beware of used gear at auction sites, flea markets, garage sales, charity stores, etc. In general you have no reliable way of knowing its conditions until you get it, and then it maybe too late. There is risk you need to evaluate. Many of the threads here tell the horror stories, and success, in this process. Be sure you are prepared to accept the risks.
I almost bought from a scammer on eBay (see here). Good thing I PM'd lordsmurf to ask him about the listing and he warned me in time! Very close call. I posted in that thread to bump it up so others will be more aware too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
ATI All-In-Wonder cards are the favorite - be sure you get the full kit necessary I/O cables with the card, They are often missing or incomplete at auction sites and difficult to find. Also, not all ATI cards were AIW and auction sites may misslabel them.
How do I check, then, before ordering? I read in one thread that you should ask if the pictures are of his exact unit (or obtained from eBay or elsewhere). I can also ask the seller if the cables in the picture come with it. Are those purple cables interchangeable across different models? I sometimes see listings selling those alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Always capture to a separate physical drive from the system drive. Drives should be fast (7200 rpm), NTFS, not FAT32. Keep in mind that drives are cheap these days so don't skimp on drive size.
NTFS — cool. I wonder, is SATA I (SATA-150, 150 Mbps) fast enough? Or will I notice any difference between that and SATA II (300 Mbps) for capture?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
The PC should be dedicated to video capture, no networking, no AV software running, no multitasking, while capturing.
Got it. I don't plan to connect to the Internet from the device that I'm using for capturing, since it will be an older unpatched version of Windows (XP or 7).

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Ultimately what you need and how you proceed will be determined by your standards how good is good enough and your budget for time and money.
This is what I'm trying to determine. I often find what is "best" mentioned here but it's hard to understand the tradeoffs for going for something that's not quite best but is still considered acceptable. Any advice on what is still considered "very good" (and why)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
For a small number of tapes you might find it more expedient to hire-out the capture/digitization and do the editing yourself.
What would that look like? Who would I contact? I'd honestly be afraid to send my precious family tapes to someone else by mail.

Thanks!
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  #5  
06-24-2020, 09:46 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Replying as a I read...

Videoglide works for ATI 600 USB and "clones", and OS up to 10.14 works.

The only real Win7 issue is with the proc amp controls in VirtualDub, and force installing the Vista drivers. But it's otherwise fine. Not as bad as Wi8/10 (where the clones are better to use).

One of the main ATI AIW AGP differences is DVI vs. VGA. Theatre Rage/100 vs. 200, but that matters less for lossless AVI capturing (MPEG differences).

SATA-I (1, 150) works fine. SATA-II (2, 300) is better. SATA1 has drive max limits much lower than 2tb of SATA2, somewhere in the 600-750gb range. That's more about the chipsets than anything else, especially VIA junk.

That Asus board sucks, limited to single core socket 478 P4. That is ancient, from the early 2000s. Avoid. If you read my others posts, you'll realize for me to call something ancient is pretty severe. The board we recommend (Asrock 4CoreDual-SATA2) is 5+ years newer, closer to 2010. Use an E8300 Dual Core Intel, 4gb RAM, SATA2, etc. There are also a few other Asrock boards even newer and more available.

eBay isn't safe for AIW, no. Most auctions sell incomplete cards.

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- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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  #6  
06-25-2020, 08:49 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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You can ask the seller what is included, be specific in identifying the items of interest. That means you need to know what they are or should be. Photos can help spot obvious issues, but may not show subtile issues, such an 8- vs 9-pin mini din. At least ebay can provide help if the seller does not provide what they said they will provide. (But many sellers don't know what they are selling so beware.)

There are many different connectors/cables in the ATI product series, and even within a given model there can be many different cables configurations depending on whether it is a AIW or standard card, NTSC or PAL, and the card configuration. For example the ATI AIW X800 has XT and XL version, that use similar looking but different pin mapping connectors.

As to quality, it is in the eye of the beholder and "best" and "better" are relative measures. What one person thinks is good another might think is bad. Viewing systems also come into play - some TVs do a good job of cleaning up a sloppy signal while good video monitors will show all the warts in the signal. The recommended gear gives "better" results that the "not recommended" gear. The discussion will often give a reason for the rating. Gear that is not specifically mentioned in posts may be an unknown.

As to transfer service, try contact lordsmurf as a starting point.
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