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  #1  
02-19-2011, 01:10 AM
kaliree kaliree is offline
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Hello Mighty Video Gurus!

I bow humbly as an ignorant newbie and beg you to share your wisdom.

I have been scouring this forum and the videohelp forum to understand what will be the best possible procedure and equipment for me to use as I capture nearly 50 uncompressed VHS tapes to hard drives. I would appreciate the guidance and input from those here, who are far more experienced and knowledgeable than I.

Here are the specs on my tapes: I have 40 SP and 7 or so LP/EP NTSC VHS tapes. Some tapes are nearly 30 years old. I want to digitize them as soon as possible and I would like to lose as little quality as possible in the process.

I was able to purchase a Canopus ADVC 110 (since that had high recommendations from everywhere I have looked), so I will be using that as my A/D converter. I plan on using the S-Video connections since I can't afford any pro VCR's that use component.

I will be using a Core i7-930 based computer system with 12GB of DDR3 running either OSX and Final Cut Pro 7 or Windows 7 and Avid Media Composer 5 (I own both, so I'll gladly go with whichever is more highly recommended for this form of capturing - if either).

First, I do not have a VCR. I would like to purchase a professional VCR, but I'm concerned about buying used JVC's on eBay. I know they are excellent machines, but I also hear plenty of horror stories about JVC's run into the ground and still purchased by some poor sap for $400. I have PMed deter about his remaining Panasonic AG1980P. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Especially those with reliable sellers?

Second, I need a high quality S-Video cable. Any brands that are high quality? I don't mind overpaying for a cable. It will be well worth to ensure that I don't have a weak link in my capturing process just to save $10.

Third, I have been planning just to use the default NTSC DV 48khz 720x486 capture setting in Avid. I have tested that with some VHS and it seems to be high quality. Are there other or better recommendations for SD VHS tapes?

Fourth, any other suggestions for a noob capturing VHS? I have been trying to read the various (and excellent) guides posted by members like lordsmurf, but I always welcome more guidance and advice.

Fifth, many of these videos were captured in the early 80's using a single CCD consumer video camera that required an external deck, had poor white balance control and had frequent image ghosting during fast movements (probably due to slow shutter speed). I know I can attempt to color correct well enough through Final Cut Pro 7, but are there any suggestions on the ghosting effect? It was systemic, but it would be nice to eliminate if I could. Here is a bit of sample footage:

Thank you all so much for your generosity in sharing your time and knowledge with all of the uninformed like myself. You are a wonderful boon and resource!
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  #2  
02-21-2011, 04:41 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Generally, the advice given here is to "capture" (transfer the digital video data from tape to computer) with the freeware WinDV, which is native to Windows.

There are two unknowns that I'd mention:
  • Not sure if WinDV works in Windows 7.
  • Not sure if WinDV works in Mac OS X via Parallels.
Be sure you've read through these:
Quote:
running either OSX and Final Cut Pro 7 or Windows 7 and Avid Media Composer 5
I'd opt for FCP simply because I know it the best. Either of those options sounds fine for an editor. Pick the one you feel most comfortable with. Neither is a bad choice -- both are pro apps that are well-known and well respected.

Quote:
I was able to purchase a Canopus ADVC 110 (since that had high recommendations from everywhere I have looked), so I will be using that as my A/D converter.
It's nothing special -- just a DV conversion box. It will function just fine. It's a "safe" device, with few problems. Nothing extraordinarily good about it, but nothing wrong with it either. (Aside from 4:1:1 colorspace compression consideration, when converting NTSC VHS. Those have been well documented on this site, if you search the forums.)

Quote:
I plan on using the S-Video connections since I can't afford any pro VCR's that use component.
S-video is the best anyway, for consumer analog sources.

Quote:
First, I do not have a VCR. I would like to purchase a professional VCR, but I'm concerned about buying used JVC's on eBay. I know they are excellent machines, but I also hear plenty of horror stories about JVC's run into the ground and still purchased by some poor sap for $400. I have PMed deter about his remaining Panasonic AG1980P. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Especially those with reliable sellers?
You'll definitely need one of those. You may want to ask deter for current buying tips. Maybe he can post those here in this thread, share with others? Unfortunately, eBay and craigslist are the two common places to find them. Sometimes speciality forums like this one, which also allow buy-sell-trade areas (which is actually quite uncommon), have gear for sale from members. The only other place I can think of is colleges that may be clearing out unused gear as they swap out to all-digital production workflows. But that can be just as unknown as eBay/etc, and quite often what you find on eBay did come from a small studio or a college environment.

Quote:
Second, I need a high quality S-Video cable. Any brands that are high quality? I don't mind overpaying for a cable. It will be well worth to ensure that I don't have a weak link in my capturing process just to save $10.
It's hard to screw up s-video cables. I often suggest the Philips brand cables found at Walmart, Lowe's, Amazon and elsewhere. I'd opt for a 3-foot cable, and no longer.

This one would be fine: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...SIN=B0002MQGKO

Quote:
Third, I have been planning just to use the default NTSC DV 48khz 720x486 capture setting in Avid. I have tested that with some VHS and it seems to be high quality. Are there other or better recommendations for SD VHS tapes?
The DV box only captures at one setting. This is it -- 720x480 (x486) bottom-field 29.97fps DV AVI. Anything different would require on-the-fly software re-encoding, and that's not suggested.

Quote:
Fifth, many of these videos were captured in the early 80's using a single CCD consumer video camera that required an external deck, had poor white balance control and had frequent image ghosting during fast movements (probably due to slow shutter speed). I know I can attempt to color correct well enough through Final Cut Pro 7, but are there any suggestions on the ghosting effect? It was systemic, but it would be nice to eliminate if I could. Here is a bit of sample footage:
Your sample didn't attach.
These kinds of tapes generally don't transfer much different than what you saw on the tape. Garbage in, garbage out. At best, you can sometimes drop the darkness or increase contrast to hide the ghosting. A lot of old VHS tapes like that had miserable color quality, and needed some contrast work anyway.

I fixed quite a few bad tapes, just like this, back in Q4 2010.

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  #3  
02-21-2011, 08:58 PM
kaliree kaliree is offline
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Hi lordsmurf,

Thanks so much for your useful reply. I have read the articles you directed me to and I continue to read through this forum and the videohelp forum to learn more.

I just want to clarify (in case this wasn't clear) that I am not transferring any DV tapes. I am only capturing VHS tapes. And in case it might be relevant, here are my system specs:

Core i7 930
12 GB non-ECC DDR3 RAM 1600 Mhz
640GB WD Black HDD (System)
1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 HDD (Data)
Gigabyte X58a-UD3r (utilizing the Realtek onboard sound)
Nvidia Geforce 9800GTX+ 512MB
[I also have a duplicate model of each hard drive that I may use as a scratch disk, if necessary to provide greater reliability for capture.]

I own both Media Composer 5 and Final Cut Pro 7, so I thought that either NLE would be a better choice for capturing software than VirtualDub or WinDV, but VirtualDub appears to be a favorite. Would Virtualdub be a better choice for capturing?

Also, would HuffyYUV be a better lossless codec than say, the "Uncompressed Quicktime" setting in FCP? I want to have uncompressed video because I plan to color correct and edit the source file in the aforementioned NLEs. I'm a big fan of open source, so I'm more than happy to use Virtualdub and open source codecs if they are better for this purpose.

Are bitrate calculators necessary? Would they be beneficial to the final video quality or would that just help to minimize the file size without loss of quality in the finished file?

Thanks again!
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  #4  
02-21-2011, 09:53 PM
kaliree kaliree is offline
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Oh, and about that sample I forgot to attach earlier.

I captured it from a JVC S-VHS/Mini-DV combo deck with a firewire output at my college lab. I used a recent dual core iMac running OSX 10.6 and I captured using the generic lossless setting in iMovie (I didn't know anything about FCP or Avid at the time).

I exported this :20 sample as an uncompressed, full frame AVI, though I don't know what Youtube processing might do to it. This is the oldest NTSC VHS tape, shot on a consumer single CCD camera on EP/LP/SLP mode and was recorded to an external deck. The camera was not a camcorder and did not have an integrated tape deck.

Sample Clip
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  #5  
02-21-2011, 10:42 PM
kaliree kaliree is offline
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Well I feel silly. Somehow I missed the main Digital FAQ tutorial on capturing and general topics. Sorry about that! I now understand the implications of the bit rate on the various codecs.
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  #6  
02-22-2011, 02:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
There are two unknowns that I'd mention:
  • Not sure if WinDV works in Windows 7.
  • Not sure if WinDV works in Mac OS X via Parallels.
Expand the list to three unknowns. Add this:
  • Not sure if WinDV works in Windows 7's emulated Windows XP (embedded VirtualPC session)
I've not had the time to extensively test any of this, although it's on the to-do list. The systems needed are generally busy with projects right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliree View Post
but VirtualDub appears to be a favorite. Would Virtualdub be a better choice for capturing?
WinDV and VirtualDub are almost zero-resource programs. NLE's, on the other hand, are resource hogs. Lack of resources is a primary reason captures fail, drop frames, lose audio sync, or have any number of issues.

Much of this is explained on the above linked guide on dropped frames.

Quote:
Also, would HuffyYUV be a better lossless codec
Yes, ideally, it would be. But you're hardware compressing to DV. So this isn't available in your workflow. It's one reason many of us happily avoid DV compression.

Quote:
than say, the "Uncompressed Quicktime" setting in FCP? I want to have uncompressed video because I plan to color correct and edit the source file in the aforementioned NLEs. I'm a big fan of open source, so I'm more than happy to use Virtualdub and open source codecs if they are better for this purpose.
Quicktime is a wrapper. It's uncompressed video, using Apple's proprietary idea on what "uncompressed" means. Once it's turned to Quicktime, it's essentially a Mac-only video. There's really no easy way to ever use it on a Windows or Linux based system. HuffYUV, on the other hand, is easy to use in either place. Perian on Mac, for example, allows OS X to decode HuffYUV (base form, not the special MT, 64, etc, versions).

And again, you're DV. And DV is somewhat universal in theory. However, Mac wraps as Quicktime, and it's hard to work with in Windows or Linux. On the other hand, AVI is rather easy to work with on Mac.

I own Macs, have used Macs for decades -- but the idea that "Mac is easier" is BS.

Quote:
I don't know what Youtube processing might do to it
Deinterlace it, compress it, soften it --- quite a bit happens.

Quote:
I captured it from a JVC S-VHS/Mini-DV combo deck with a firewire output at my college lab.
It has very obvious "tearing" at the top of the screen. This is often very easily fixed. It's been discussed many times on the forum. Here's a few of those:

I wonder if the JVC VCR had good settings set on it? The TBC could have caused it. It really depends on the condition of the tape. Read some of the above threads for a quite in-depth bit of info on it. You may also want to read up a bit about good usage for the JVC S-VHS VCRs: Playback Hardware Suggestions

Quote:
Well I feel silly. Somehow I missed the main Digital FAQ tutorial on capturing and general topics. Sorry about that! I now understand the implications of the bit rate on the various codecs.
Excellent.

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  #7  
02-22-2011, 02:39 AM
kaliree kaliree is offline
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Quote:
WinDV and VirtualDub are almost zero-resource programs. NLE's, on the other hand, are resource hogs. Lack of resources is a primary reason captures fail, drop frames, lose audio sync, or have any number of issues.

Much of this is explained on the above linked guide on dropped frames.

Read more: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/newr...#ixzz1EfnbuHS5
Really and truly I did read the links. I didn't realize that VirtualDub used so few resources, but I should have realized it couldn't help but be lighter weight than Final Cut Pro or Avid. VHS capturing I'm new to, but computers - those I'm experienced with, so I really should have thought of that.

Quote:
But you're hardware compressing to DV. So this isn't available in your workflow. It's one reason many of us happily avoid DV compression.
I just found out earlier today that I would be locked into DV25 with the Canopus ADVC 110. I thought it was just providing a connection from the VCR to the PC. Lordsmurf set me straight on that one.

Now I'm trying to find a viable alternative capture interface. I have an X58 motherboard and PCI express, so I can't use one of the glorious old school AGP AIW cards. I have been looking around the forum and actually started a thread asking for suggestions on video I/O devices. Though I would gladly take suggestions here. Have any?

Quote:
I wonder if the JVC VCR had good settings set on it?
Chances are good that it did not. This is a VCR at the media lab at my college. They are shared among our department and they have seen better days. I'm hoping to buy my own, but Deter has been fairly convincing that I might just be better off paying for professional A/D conversion. Expensive (for me) either way, but pro services might be the cheaper option. Thoughts? (And yes, I have already emailed the Digital FAQ staff about "Basic Conversion" for my project. I'm just waiting to hear back. )

Quote:
HuffYUV, on the other hand, is easy to use in either place. Perian on Mac, for example, allows OS X to decode HuffYUV (base form, not the special MT, 64, etc, versions).
I'm on a Windows 7 machine, but I also run OSX for FCP and Ubuntu Linux, so I will definitely check this out. It sounds like I should just stick with standard HuffYUV. I was considering HuffYUV-MT or 64 since I have a Quad core with hyperthreading, a 64bit OS and 12GB of RAM, but I doubt the trade off in compatibility will be worth the improvements (if any) in encoding time.

Quote:
Quicktime is a wrapper. It's uncompressed video, using Apple's proprietary idea on what "uncompressed" means. Once it's turned to Quicktime, it's essentially a Mac-only video. There's really no easy way to ever use it on a Windows or Linux based system. HuffYUV, on the other hand, is easy to use in either place. Perian on Mac, for example, allows OS X to decode HuffYUV (base form, not the special MT, 64, etc, versions).

And again, you're DV. And DV is somewhat universal in theory. However, Mac wraps as Quicktime, and it's hard to work with in Windows or Linux. On the other hand, AVI is rather easy to work with on Mac.

I own Macs, have used Macs for decades -- but the idea that "Mac is easier" is BS.
I agree that Macs are certainly no "easier" than Windows. Just different. I like both (and run both), but I prefer Windows. If it wasn't for frequent compatibility issues I would run Linux as my primary platform, but I still enjoy playing with my Linux box on a regular basis. Wonderful open source projects like Virtualdub and HuffYUV make the open source world all the more inviting!
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