Quantcast Recommended process for digitizing my old VHS? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
05-15-2021, 10:03 PM
dwk3 dwk3 is offline
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Hello!

Off and on over the last few years, I have agonized over trying to determine the best process/workflow of digitizing my old media (VHS, Video8 8mm, and MiniDV tapes). Recently I asked a few questions on forum.videohelp.com and received some great advice. One of the contributors mentioned I should check out this site as well. Mentioned..."LordSmurf also has a primer on best hardware and workflow over at his DigitalFAQ site."

Background:
I have the following:
- VHS tapes (the machine I have is 2016 "Sanyo FWZV475F DVD Recorder / VCR 2-way Dubbing Transfer VHS to DVD Upconvert to 1080p")
- Video8 8mm tapes (the machine I have is "Sony Handycam CCD-TRV75 NTSC")
- MiniDV tapes (the machine I have is "Panasonic PV-DV900")
- USB capture device/stick? (although this cheap one has never worked properly for me. Apparently, there are better more legit ones like Hauppauge USB-Live2)

Regarding the VHS tapes, my most recent attempt was that I used the 2016 VHS/DVD player/recorder to copy video from my VHS tapes (home movies) to writable DVDs on the same machine. This resulted in VOB-type files which in turn I copied to my desktop. And then I would reuse the writable DVD for the next set. Now I find out this may have not been the best method. Or maybe all is not lost and I can still safely continue from this point? The possible solutions members from forum.videohelp.com gave me involved all sorts of combinations of tools like vob conversion tools, Avidemux, FFmpeg, demuxing video&audio, and other various setting thingies etc etc.* But in the end, I was told that I can get better quality by starting over and capturing VHS to AVI (but I haven't yet looked into how this is done).

Let me back up a bit and try to explain what I think I'm trying to accomplish:

*- I have a semi-advanced goal in that I would like to end up with digital files that are at least in a very good visually lossless quality. I think trying to get lossless quality(if that's even possible) too painful of a goal. I'm trying to find a happy balance. I've got to eventually finish this project with reasonable*good*results and get on to other*things in my life. ;-)

*- These resultant digital files will be in a sense my 'raw' (original?) unedited versions (ie. no corrections in terms of trims, colours, sharpness, and whatever else can be done to a 'raw' version). My plan would be to always make any changes/edits/conversions/experiments etc to only copies of the 'raw' files. My theory is that there might be better technologies in the future to enhance digital video so it's best to have the most original content that contains the most information.* Or do I need to do specific*processing at the same time I'm converting to the digital format to*ensure that good quality? (ie. after the fact with*the*'raw' files would be too late). The important thing is to get all that old media digitized into the best quality possible before my old tape media deteriorates anymore.*

- And then finally eventually, trying to determine the best software/tools for enhancing/editing/organizing etc copies of the 'raw' files (but I'll ask more about this later after getting all my old media digitized first...)

Should my end result be DVDs instead of PC files?

I'm hoping that someone here has a documented good process/workflow already. I would so very much appreciate your help. I'm hoping to get this right once and for all as I don't want to ever have to start this whole process all over again. What are my options? Thanks!

At the moment, my knowledge in all of this is limited but I'm willing to learn.*

Cheers,
Dett

-- merged --

Started to read some articles here. Great website!

JVS S-VHS players; TBC; tape to DVD conversions; conversion to uncompressed AVI, lossless AVI, MJPEG, MPEG-2 broadcast specs, or raw MPEG-2 DVD-Video file;

Wow! So many options and things to consider!
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  #2  
05-16-2021, 12:26 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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The main thing is acquiring the hardware (suggested VCR, TBC, capture card). Don't forget to look in the marketplace subforum for that.

Your VCR is very low-end, Live2 is not suggested here (too variable, though it can work for some folks), the DV camera is probably fine, the Hi8 camera needs to be a with-line-TBC model (verify against list at this site, and/or verify the camera in manuals and menus).

Copying VOB files was a mistake, VOB is not MPEG, just contains MPEG. Without proper extraction, it will have problems.

Starting over isn't a bad thing, if the first attempt gave practice, gave preview of the material. It wasn't for naught.

For some content, in certain quality -- mostly my master/1st-gen recordings for hobby -- I capture as MPEG-2, mostly 15-20mbps, using ATI AIW. Unless something needs restoration, then lossless. But lossless is best, and it's really not hard. No harder than MPEG. It's just a capture format option.

You can't do much with lossy formats. So again, lossless needed here.

End results can be DVD-Video, streaming H264 (MP4/MKV container), in addition to lossless master files on HDD. No need to pick just 1.

I need to write a new actual primer, and it's on my soon-to-do list.

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  #3  
05-21-2021, 10:40 PM
dwk3 dwk3 is offline
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[Update: Keep in mind I just finished reading your article called*"What’s in a Professional Video Workflow to Convert Analog Videotapes?" AFTER I wrote the following reply below. Great article!]

Hello Lordsmurf!

Thanks for your reply!

The more I read/research all this stuff, the more it seems to be a daunting and challenging project/task to: find a lot of this older equipment (good quality S-VHS VCR; good capture card/stick, TBC; proper software; compatible OS; etc); setting it up properly; knowing*all the proper settings; the high cost of the equipment; and then hoping that none of this old equipment finally dies in the middle of the project. Reading through some of the forums I see you are quite involved and are a respected expert. But I imagine you have heard the whole story/issues/problems so many times I can only imagine you must get tired of it all sometimes. With the amount of knowledge in this forum, someone could easily*develop*many courses on the matter.

I've been thinking about this some more and might go with a balanced approach. I have about 100 tapes (VHS; 8mm; MiniDV). Some videos have more important (ie. sentimental) content than others. I'm thinking of converting the not-so-important (ie. ok quality is good enough) video content with an old video capture stick/device (I borrowed from a friend) and one of the two VCRs I currently own. For the more important videos, I'm thinking about using a professional video conversion service located in the Toronto (Canada) area (https://www.digitaltreasures.ca/). We don't seem to have any good higher-end video conversion services here in Ottawa (Canada) where I live. I assume your professional service is very far from where I live.

The capture stick I have is the ROXIO VIDEO CAPTURE USB (UB315-E ver3* (18103050504)) with the "Roxio Easy to DVD Plus" software (which I believe you are familiar with as not being a very good capture stick).

I experimented a little with the Roxio software/hardware by capturing a 4-minute segment from a VCR tape. That produced the following .mpg file:

"My Video.mpg" 235,638 KB

The second part of the Roxio software has*enhancement/edit menus where one can trim, add titles, denoise, stabilize, color correction etc. (this part doesn't seem to work very well in that I have gotten errors in the export part when just trying to do some simple trims)

The third part of the*Roxio software does the export of it all to a number of possible different file formats, frame rates, resolution, data rate, etc. (more details below) OR all of it can be exported to DVDs etc. (I guess another question is should I be exporting to a DVD instead. But is this lower quality? In the future will it be possible to transfer over to another future better media?)

Based on what I think are some of the highest quality settings, these are the exported files I ended up with (more details listed below):

"My Video MPEG2 720 old vcr.mpg"* * * * * * *271,921 KB
"My Video MPEG2 680 old vcr.mpg"* * * * * * *471,174 KB
"My Video H.264 720 29.97fps old vcr.mp4" 246,265 KB
"My Video H.264 720 30fps old vcr.mp4"* * * 246,509 KB
"My Video H.264 480 29.97fps old vcr.mp4" 246,253 KB
"My Video H.264 480 30fps old vcr.mp4"* * * 246,509 KB

Now, someone might assume that the larger the file size, the better the quality and more information is stored. But I have a feeling this is an incorrect assumption. But why? Why did the 680 resolution file end up being larger than the 720 one!? I would assume that the original captured file ("My Video.mpg" 235,638 KB) before the export stage, should be the highest quality or at least the most 'raw' form of the video. It's the smallest file. And that this file is the version that I should always keep as an original and only play/experiment (in terms of enhancements) with copies of this original file? Is this correct?

The two VCRs (both 4-heads) I have:
- the first one I mentioned in my original post (Sanyo-2016):*
Note: this VCR also has an S-Video connection option that can be used with the Roxio Video Capture Stick as well.
- Panasonic PV-V4524S-K July-2004 (much older) (I think this is the one described on Amazon here https://www.amazon.ca/Panasonic-PV-V.../dp/B0001JXAMA)

After some tests, it appears the Panasonic VCR (which is 12 years older than the Sanyo) yields a better picture. Even when I use the S-Video cable with the Sanyo.* Strange.

Extra info:
The ROXIO help menu for the "File" option:
"Quality
Use this slider to adjust video quality. Moving the slider to the right improves the quality and increases the file size. Advanced Settings affect the Quality setting, so recheck Quality if you make other setting changes.
Advanced Settings
- Format/Extension: Choose between a format or a file extension. This setting affects the options in the Compression drop-down list.
- Compression: Select a codec to compress and decompress the video file. Three compression formats, WMV, MPEG2, and H.264 are available when Format is selected. If you selected Extension, you can choose from .wmv,.mp4, or .mpg.
- Frame Rate: Higher frame rates yield better quality and smoother motion, but larger file sizes. NTSC-compatible frame rates are 29.97 and 30 fps, while PAL typically uses 25 fps. For mobile devices, it is common to output video in a lower frame rate to decrease file size. NTSC is used in North America and Japan. PAL is used in most parts of Europe and Brazil.
- Resolution: Select the size, in pixels, that you want the video clip to occupy on the screen. The available frame sizes vary depending on the export format/extension. A smaller frame size (such as 480 x 270) plays in a smaller window, with lower quality than a higher frame size (such as 720 x 480). However, using a higher frame size is likely to increase video file size. You will not benefit from setting a larger resolution than the display screen supports.
- Data Rate: Data Rate represents the amount of information that is stored per unit of time. A higher data rate means less compression, better quality, and a larger file. A lower data rate results in more compression and a smaller file."

Which one of these settings below should result in the highest quality (lossless)?**I would guess the MPEG2; NTSC 720x480 (16:9) combo but I read somewhere on the internet (not sure if accurate) "Resolution of details is lower than with H.264; moving details result much earlier in blockiness." What does this mean? But then again shouldn't the original captured .mpg file be the highest quality?*

Format MPEG2
*Frame Rate: NTSC (29.97 fps)
*Resolution: NTSC 640x480 (16:9) OR NTSC 720x480 (16:9)
*Best Quality Data Rate: 15,000 kbps
*Results in .MPG extension file

*Format H.264/AVC
*Frame Rate: NTSC (29.97 fps) OR 30 fps
*Resolution: NTSC 480x270 (16:9) OR NTSC 720x480 (16:9)
*Best Quality Data Rate: 12,000 kbps
*Results in .MP4 extension file

*Format WMV(Windows Media)
*Frame Rate: NTSC (29.97 fps)
*Resolution: NTSC 640x480 (16:9)
*Best Quality Data Rate: 10,000 kbps*Results in .WMV extension file

-- merged --

Regarding the*professional video conversion service I have been looking at, here are the following grades of service:

Standard Grade:*$15/CDN/HR- 640 x 480 resolution- MPEG4 SD or DVD- TBC applied where necessary**

Archival Grade: $25/CDN/HR- 640 x 480 or 1920 x 1080 resolution-*MPEG4 HD or MOV- TBC applied where necessary- Videos are upscaled and deinterlaced**

Professional Grade: $35/CDN/HR- SD, 2K or 4K resolution- ProRes, AVI & other formats- TBC applied where necessary
- Teranex processors to upscale video up to 4K resolution, switch between aspect ratios and frame rates, denoise and deinterlace recordings.
- Up to 10 bit colour depth. Depending on the source material. Can capture video at up to 10 bit per channel colour depth.
- ProcAmp adjustments. Brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, black level & sharpness adjustment is done on a per tape basis to achieve best results.
- Timecode and Closed Captioning. Original source timecode, closed captioning and teletext data is retained and can be left encoded into the file or provided as a sidecar file.
- 3:2 cadence removal. If applicable to the source material, 3:2 cadence will be removed for smooth playing video.
- Digital transfer pipeline. Throughout the transfer process, they switch from analog to digital pipeline at the earliest opportunity to keep the amount of time spent in analog mode to a minimum. Digital tapes are never taken into analog realm.
- Any standard file output. In addition to common file formats such as ProRes, DV, H.264 and others, can provide any other required file format.

I'm thinking Archival Grade is probably sufficient. Professional maybe more geared for the business customer?

Any other thoughts/advice/opinions are much appreciated!

Thanks!
Cheers,
Dett

-- merged --

Ahh...I think I answered one of my questions.
I think the "My Video.mpg" 235,638 KB is the best version in that it probably has been captured at the ultimate(perfect) data rate (~7,500 kbps) (ie. no wastage), whereas the "My Video MPEG2 720 old vcr.mpg" 271,921 KB which was set at 15,000 kbps is unnecessarily 'bloated'?
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  #4  
05-31-2021, 09:27 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwk3 View Post
[Update: Keep in mind I just finished reading your article called*"What’s in a Professional Video Workflow to Convert Analog Videotapes?" AFTER I wrote the following reply below. Great article!]
FYI, that was intended to be a 2-parter, but was never finished. Part 2 was going to be about what it takes, at minimum, to DIY/non-pro convert -- and the main point was to drive home the fact that "pro" and "non-pro" setups have lots of overlap (namely that TBC is required, it's not optional).

Quote:
The more I read/research all this stuff, the more it seems to be a daunting and challenging project/task
It's not impossibly hard, and yet it's not as simple as using a VCR was. Like anything else in life, there's a learning curve, and reading required. It's not a skill that come naturally to anybody (not even to me).

Quote:
and then hoping that none of this old equipment finally dies in the middle of the project.
That's why it's important to research what you're buying, and from whom. Certain models, like JVC DD decks, or AG-1980P, are very likely to fail in the middle of a long projects (or after multiple projects) -- used or not!

Quote:
But I imagine you have heard the whole story/issues/problems so many times I can only imagine you must get tired of it all sometimes.
I mostly only get tired of whining, ie "I don't want to buy a TBC, wah!" (For the record, I don't enjoy buying TBCs either, but it's the tool we need for the task we've decided to do.)

Quote:
I've been thinking about this some more and might go with a balanced approach. I have about 100 tapes (VHS; 8mm; MiniDV). Some videos have more important (ie. sentimental) content than others. I'm thinking of converting the not-so-important (ie. ok quality is good enough) video content with an old video capture stick/device (I borrowed from a friend) and one of the two VCRs I currently own. For the more important videos,
That's not really balanced. You're instead choosing a terrible conversion method, making it honestly not worth doing at all. And then opting to pay somebody for work that may or may not be quality. A balanced approach would be to DIY with moderate minimum quality gear (non-TBC S-VHS VCR, ES10/15, non-junk capture card). It's not best, but not worst, balance of costs and quality.

Quote:
I'm thinking about using a professional video conversion service
Be wary of "professional" services that are just run by video know-nothing quacks. Imagine somebody declaring themselves a "professional" doctor because they can read the instructions on an aspirin bottle. That's how some of the low-rent conversion services are -- they use bottom-barrel gear from Walmart or Best Buy, and do the same miserable job you can do yourself at home. No quality/pro gear in use, no real understanding of video capturing.

Quote:
located in the Toronto (Canada) area (https://www.digitaltreasures.ca/
I'm not impressed. Their site has fake/BS info on it. Right away, that "HD vs. SD" video clip is outright nonsense. The "standard/archival/professional" grading of services is nonsense. For example, there's nothing "archival" about "MP4" (which isn't even a format, just a container, but assumed H.264). I wouldn't let them touch my tapes.

Quote:
We don't seem to have any good higher-end video conversion services here in Ottawa (Canada) where I live. I assume your professional service is very far from where I live.
USA.

Quote:
The capture stick I have is the ROXIO VIDEO CAPTURE USB (UB315-E ver3* (18103050504)) with the "Roxio Easy to DVD Plus" software (which I believe you are familiar with as not being a very good capture stick).
This is an Easycap clone, aka infamously referred to as the "Easycrap" card.

Quote:
I experimented a little with the Roxio software
Just don't. It's terrible software. Even when it behaves, it outputs lousy quality. There are far better alternatives for capturing, filter/restore, encoding, etc. And many are freeware.

Quote:
Now, someone might assume that the larger the file size, the better the quality and more information is stored.
It's not the case. It can be, often is, but not always. And not always = large minority % of the time.

Quote:
- Panasonic PV-V4524S-K July-2004
Panasonic is infamous for blue-screen errors, and dropped frames because of it (even with TBC).

Quote:
Even when I use the S-Video cable with the Sanyo.* Strange.
2016 means a combo deck, right? The VCR processes internally composite. It's fake s-video.

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  #5  
06-01-2021, 09:03 PM
dwk3 dwk3 is offline
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Thanks for taking the time for a thorough reply, lordsmurf!

It took some time to digest but I now understand everything you have pointed out above.

Lots to think about here. Will need to learn more and research more.

Cheers!
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