Quantcast Recommended A/D converter for PAL VHS conversion? - digitalFAQ Forum
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09-02-2015, 12:42 PM
Muser22 Muser22 is offline
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Hello fellow people here on the Digital FAQ,

I've been reading up on the VHS archiving/capturing to PC, and by far this site had most resourceful threads. That's why I signed up here, because I need some help.

So here is what I'm doing:

I am converting hundreds of home video VHS tapes to digital files via PC.
The tapes are in PAL format, and definitely want to capture them in interlaced mode, in order to get video files with seemingly 50 fps. I want a good quality of the files, but without insanely looking for the details. I just don't want to have tapes that produce a way better picture.

This is what I need:

Can you recommend me what device to buy in order to capture the VHS video, please?
  • I've read that most of the USB cards in the range to 100$ is the same hardware, no matter if it's China or a better brand.
  • I was looking into Grass Valley products, but I've read that are better options since it's just a DV box.
  • In the local ads I've found Canopus Raptor RT for 150$, and CANOPUS MPEGPRO EMR for 200$, is any of that a good option?
  • Is there an interface that is still being manufactured with the quality of ATI TV Wonder 600?

    Also, if a description says "640 x 480, 25fps PAL", how can I be sure it is interlaced and not progressive?

This is what I have:
  • The video player I am using is the Sony SLV-E80. Will that do the trick?
  • I also have LG-branded VHS to DVD system but I've decided to ditch it since it would be insane to record hundreds of DVDs and then rip them.
  • For the calibration I will use the LG Flatron W2220P-BF monitor.

Thank you for the time reading this. I am glad to hear your opinions.

TL;DR;
I would like to buy an interface for my PC in order to capture VHS tapes in the quality almost as good as the original.
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  #2  
09-02-2015, 05:24 PM
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Goldwingfahrer Goldwingfahrer is offline
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Quote:
I was looking into Grass Valley products, but I've read that are better options since it's just a DV box.
""nur DV"" no

For Win XP the best, DV was canopus Storm DV in and out.... analogously in and out
and the most important... by S. video and FBAS-i also directly in uncompressed in UYVY.
No Audiversatz, no disturbances, whole area of from 0 to 255.
Capturen by Edius 3.xx and 4. xx... or with VirtualDub in uncompressed, Lagarith......

A little more anew it is the Canopus NX, there is also with Frontbay.
DV in and out..... HDV in.... analogously in and out and capturen in YUY2 directly with Edius version 5.xx and 6.08 and Edius V.7.50 or capturen in Canopus HQ or HQX or mpeg2 variably bit rate.

With the Canopus NX it does not need an external TBC, with the NX.

There are both maps not to shop, however, any more anew.
I have 4 Stk Canopus NX maps and other from Canopus, Blackmagic, AJA Kona and Viewcast Osprey.
2 Captures PC run with Canopus NX maps nearly 16 hours per day.

We have here in Europe a big test made...... which maps or devices USB to the Capturen can be used..... no USB Grabber has passed the test.

Unfortunately, the big test is only in in German.

Another good solution is the signal... To lead page video or FBAS to a Pana DMR EH65 or a DMR EH595 [585 or 575] inclusiv audio......... This Panasonic give the signal by HDMI again from........ suitable splinter must be still put between.............. then goes the signal HDMI to a Blackmagic studio 2 maps or to the shuttle USB3 of Blackmagic.

Capturetool...... either Edius or directly with VirtualDub.
Also I have here these both Blackmagic maps and the shuttle USB 3 and of course also Edius and VirtualDub.
With Edius and many maps I work already more than 12 years.

Here an example picture....... Pana DMR against Canopus NX
and procamp with the map NX.

Quote:
In the local ads I've found Canopus Raptor RT for 150$, and CANOPUS MPEGPRO EMR for 200$, is any of that a good option?
no, no good choice

The right player....Feeder....... it is important one must only try out which setter can play picture and tone Best.
One must have several Feeder.


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  #3  
09-02-2015, 05:34 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Hello, and welcome to the forum.

First things first, I suppose:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
TL;DR;
I would like to buy an interface for my PC in order to capture VHS tapes in the quality almost as good as the original.
Then don't use a capture device that hard encodes to lossy formats like DV or MPEG. Few here would recommend a Canopus card for VHS capture unless it's your only choice out of desperation. VHS to lossy DV is noisy and difficult to clean up. DV would also involve a second lossy encode and quality loss unless PC-only playback is what you want for final output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I am converting hundreds of home video VHS tapes to digital files via PC.
The tapes are in PAL format, and definitely want to capture them in interlaced mode, in order to get video files with seemingly 50 fps.
PAL VHS video doesn't play at 50fps, whether it's interlaced or not. Standard definition PAL plays at 25 frames per second (or 50 fields per second if it's interlaced).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I want a good quality of the files, but without insanely looking for the details. I just don't want to have tapes that produce a way better picture.
I'm confused by that last statement, Capturing analog to digital media doesn't make a "better" picture. It can get "better" in post-processing by cleaning up noise and the usual tape defects, and encoding with good encoders. Ideally you want to capture to lossless media to get a capture that looks the way the tape looks, not better, and certainly not something that makes it look worse. Lossless media can be losslessly compressed with lossless compressors such as huffyuv, Lagarith, UT codec, etc. Lossless media is used for post-processing and edits. Encoding to lossy formats would be the last step.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I've read that most of the USB cards in the range to 100$ is the same hardware, no matter if it's China or a better brand.
Everything is made in the Orient. It's not the price, it's the specific brand and type of card that counts. If you can get an ATi card on sale, that's good. There are pro-level devices being sold for over 900 euros and up. For most purposes, these are overkill raised to an art.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I was looking into Grass Valley products, but I've read that are better options since it's just a DV box.
You don't want DV for VHS capture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
In the local ads I've found Canopus Raptor RT for 150$, and CANOPUS MPEGPRO EMR for 200$, is any of that a good option?
Canopus is very low on the forum's list for VHS capture devices. They do not capture to lossless media.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
Is there an interface that is still being manufactured with the quality of ATI TV Wonder 600?
Not today. Not at that price, at least, unless you want to go into high finance for one of the pro cards. The Diamond VC500 has also been used by many. Not quite as good as the 600's, but a decent alternative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
Also, if a description says "640 x 480, 25fps PAL", how can I be sure it is interlaced and not progressive?
If it came from a APL tape, it's probably interlaced. But it depends on the type of video. Animation is usually progressive film source with added frames, blended frames, and other tricks to make it play at 25fps. 23.976 or 24fps film speed is often speeded up to run at 25fps, then encoded as interlaced. You find out by opening the video in an editor like VirtualDub and looking for the combing or double-imaged frames during motion (most editors don't deinterlace for display). The attached .zip file is an html document from the old Neuron2 website that talks about recognizing interlace, telecine, etc..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
The video player I am using is the Sony SLV-E80. Will that do the trick?
Not really. You need a line-level tbc and, for really old rotten tapes, a full-frame tbc. A budget consumer VCR is not the best start, but for some it's all they have. The tbc's are essential, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I also have LG-branded VHS to DVD system but I've decided to ditch it since it would be insane to record hundreds of DVDs and then rip them.
Many do record VHS to DVD, but it's a low-quality technique. Some people don't care, or don't know better. For home-made DVD, you don't have to "rip". There's free software that copies the DVD into MPG files onto your PC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
For the calibration I will use the LG Flatron W2220P-BF monitor.
A nice E-IPS monitor. You should find a way to calibrate it properly.


Attached Files
File Type: zip Neuron2_How To Analyze Video Frame Structure.zip (3.5 KB, 127 downloads)
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  #4  
09-03-2015, 03:46 AM
Muser22 Muser22 is offline
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Thank you for excellent explanations and quick response.

I'm looking into VCR and TBC I can buy, that won't be the problem now that I know what to look for.

I definitely want a capture card that can capture in lossless format if there is such in consumer market. Sanlyn, is there an actual list of capture cards here on the forum, because I haven't seen it?

Goldwingfahrer, can you please link me the big test of cards please? Although it's in German, I would still like to see it because I live in Europe.

I will still try to find ATI or Diamond card.
Funny thing is, a few months ago, I gave my old PC away that had ATI card with S-video input.

Also, I do want the PC-only playback, I'm not intending to use DVDs, I will store the files on HDD.
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09-03-2015, 04:01 AM
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Goldwingfahrer Goldwingfahrer is offline
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Quote:
Goldwingfahrer, can you please link me the big test of cards please? Although it's in German, I would still like to see it because I live in Europe.
http://forum.gleitz.info/showthread....-USB-oder-HDMI
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  #6  
09-03-2015, 02:21 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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One of digitalfaq's basic tenets is quality processing and output. Not evereyone is in the mood for perfection (which you'll never get anyway from VHS). If you have "hundreds of tapes" as you say, there's no time in the universe for an industrial strength effort with all of it. Everyone does as best they can. With a good VCR/tbc/dnr and a fairly clean tape, some of it can go directly to a good DVD recorder with few regrets. With the important stuff, or the really ragged memories, what you do depends on what you want.

Well, I guess this is another novelette, while I run a VHS capture on another PC:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I will still try to find ATI or Diamond card.
Funny thing is, a few months ago, I gave my old PC away that had ATI card with S-video input.
Ouch! Maybe you could get it back. Try bribery. Or threats. XP is still the primary (even if older) tool for VHS capture, and many still use it for post processing. I'm doing SD and HD video on my XP machine, but often I copy the HD to my Win7 machine for faster edit/encoding. Unfortunately I have a ton of prized free and paid software that won't run in Win7. Buying a few new pieces of software for Win7 was a pain in the wallet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I'm looking into VCR and TBC I can buy, that won't be the problem now that I know what to look for.
Finding a really good one won't be a piece of cake, but I see many members here getting rebuilt PAL VCRs. There is a recommended list here of suggested VCRs, some of which are PAL, some NTSC. http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/vid...k-hardware.htm.

Keep in mind that these machines are recommended specifically because they have bult-in line tbc's and DNR, plus s-video outputs. If any of your tapes are recorded at slow speeds, the Panaonic VCR is your only choice. Not all VCRs have those special features. There are many decent non-tbc higher end consumer VCR's around for PAL, but you would still need a line tbc and likely a frame tbc. Lacking these, you can use a very few older DVD recorders that have line and frame sync circuitry built in. We call these pass-thru units. You don't record to them directly (not a good idea anyway with noisy old VHS tapes). And if you get a recommended pass-thru cheap because the optical drive is kaput, no problem -- if the inputs/outputs still work, you're on the way. You won't need the optical drive for pass-thru. Here's a long thread with a lot of tech notes, graphs, demos, success trials and failed trials, etc, about pass-thru: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/3...hat-do-you-use.

You connect the VCR output to the DVD's input, then connect the DVD's output directly to the capture device. The built-in circuitry isn't quite as powerful as a good Panasonic or JVC, but they get the job done. And having one of these around means you're not tied down to a single VCR that could develop problems or mistrack certain tapes. Not all DVD recorders can be used for pass-thru. The most recommended model is the Panasonic DMR-ES10, with the ES15 a close second. I also use a Toshiba RD-XS34 for tapes that don't need a ton of cleanup, as the Toshiba seems to have more gorgeous color. But that's just my opinion. Some of my tapes are so horrible, the Toshiba doesn't quite do the trick. Some pass-thru units will ignore a few flavors of macrovision, but they're not cure-alls.

A note about these tbc/DNR machines. There are times when DNR causes ghosting, soft images, or motion smear. Sometimes the tbc can have odd effects, like unexpected judder -- which is something line tbc's are supposed to fix. That doesn't happen on all tapes, but once you see it you'll realize that this technology isn't quite perfect. Panasonic has a decent DNR output, JVC's can sometimes look overdone. The DNR can be adjusted, slightly on some or disabled on others. Sometimes that's not enough. That's when you drag out your old Panasonic non-tbc VCR that's still in good shape and good alignment and get your pass-thru unit connected. Yes, you'll have more tape noise and won't have the chroma cleanup, but you'll have a decent capture without wiggling lines, ripped or warped borders, bad audio sync, or dropped/inserted frames. As usual, the worse shape that the old keepsake VCR is in, the more work you'll need to do and the less you can expect from its output. I have bought two non-tbc 1996 vintage Panasonics, certainly not cheap when new (something like $300-$450 USD back then, which was not "budget" in those days) and not exactly cheap on the used market from techs who specialize in rebuilding old premium VCRs that are still worth rebuilding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
Sanlyn, is there an actual list of capture cards here on the forum, because I haven't seen it?
The ATI 600 USB's can capture PAL losslessly thru VirtualDub capture, but will capture MPEG only as NTSC. There's a discussion here: Video capturing card compatible with PAL/SECAM. The forum has posts with ATI 600 drivers for Win7 and setup instructions. Forget about Win8 or Win10 -- they're disasters for video work. The old lists in the capture guide talk about cards that haven't been made for a while, but consider yourself fortunate if you come across an old XP machine that has an ATI All In Wonder AGP in it. Amazon uk has listings for the Diamond VC500 -- not quite the champ as the ATI's, but we've seen decent PAL and NTSC captures with that card in several forums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
Also, I do want the PC-only playback, I'm not intending to use DVDs, I will store the files on HDD.
That leaves you with many encoding options, not just MPEG2. Don't make the mistake many make; leave those videos interlaced. Except for some sorely needed repairs, deinterlacing creates loss of one level or another. And there is only one really decent deinterlacer: QTGMC, with another called yadif in the offstage wings. You'll hear a lot about QTGMC. When deinterlaced video is finished with cleanup, it's usually re-interlaced. There are special techniques for that. Don't leave either of those tasks to the typical NLE, or to even some very high-priced ones. They do a sloppy job of it.

If your tapes are recorded movies, don't think they're purely interlaced. They play as interlaced from a VCR and they're captured that way, but lots of film-based video is really progressive with pulldown added. Or with PAL, film-based video is often speeded up from film speed to 25fps instead of telecined. If you run into blended-frame, blended-field, 2:2 pulldown or something like that, you need special techniques for handling it.

The first thing you'll notice on your early captures, even with a high-end VCR, is how much noise exists on VHS. The noise isn't just "grain". It's chroma noise in the form of rainbows and color blotches, plus ripples, spots, dropouts, frame hops, chroma bleed, color shift, invalid video levels (clipped brights and crushed darks), edge ghosts, edge halos, and on and on. Yes, there are tools for cleanup. That's what lossless capture is for: capturing to lossy encoded codecs makes that cleanup rough going, often impossible, and an exercise in masochism.

The primary cleanup tools are Avisynth and VirtualDub. Don't be thrown off by either of those apps. Each have their purpose, pros, and cons. Some of the VHS problems I mentioned can only be fixed in the original YUV colorspace, which requires Avisynth. There are some 200 or so filters for Avisynth and hundreds of built-in functions, but you'll find yourself using the same handful over and over. Another couple of hundred filters are available for Virtualdub. Don't expect the usual NLE's from Adobe or SONY to handle these problems. That's not what they're designed to do. And they cost too much anyway. You'd be amazed at the color correction and denoising possible with something like VirtualDub, at no cost.

There are very good encoders from TMPGEnc, HCenc, and x264-equipped free encoding software. If you need menus for playback, there are budget and even free authoring apps that can serve you well. Encoding is the last step. You can also input lossless video into many budget NLE's and apply edits and transitions, titles, etc., then encode later with one of the better encoders.

Now, why does one really need these tbc gimmicks? It's because tape playback is not consistent. Scan lines don't emerge from within a frame exactly "on time" (line tbc for this). Full fields and frames don't emerge from a player exactly "on time" (a frame tbc for this). Digital devices expect precision timing and zero noise. They capture and encode what they see digitally, unlike your TV which works with tape in the analog domain.

Here are two short samples of a pass-thru tbc at work, attached. Both samples are from a nephew's really horrible sports tape, recorded off cable tv with a cheap vcr and thoroughly abused with same VCR using stop-motion, still-frame playback, and other criminal acts. The samples are half-frame DVD at low resolution prepared for a quick demo. The final copies received much more work than shown here, but my nephew has those. The frame size is slightly reduced to prevent overscan from hiding some of the nightmares. A1_Sample2_bad.mpg is from the original tape with no tbc of any kind. B1_Sample2_fix.mpg is the result of a quick test with a pass-thru tbc. Not perfect -- a more powerful pass-thru was used later. But the test showed that the tape input could be repaired. I didn't use my trusty AG-1980 for this: I was afraid the tape was so damaged it could harm the player!

Frankly, I'm not crazy about watching movies on PC monitors. Some people love it, but PC monitors don't "play" video the way a TV does. PC monitor and TV gamma/luma curves are different, and a calibrated TV can display color as well as you can see it on your local movie screen. But everyone has their preference. Over the years I've collected some 3000 movies on DVD and BluRay disc, but the HD captures from my HD PVR and cable box are on 1TB hard drives. If I have a tape capture that I seriously think I'd want to work with again, the caps are archived intact on external hard drives. Not many of those, however. There were some tapes that I'm glad I'll never see again, LOL!


Attached Files
File Type: mpg A1_Sample2_bad.mpg (9.08 MB, 98 downloads)
File Type: mpg B1_Sample2_fix.mpg (8.31 MB, 91 downloads)
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  #7  
09-03-2015, 03:07 PM
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I've obtained the VC500. Goldwingfahrer confirmed that all the 'grabbers' sold in EU are crap (thanks for the link), and everyone here agrees on Diamond as a good alternative. I wanted to buy ATI card but it turns out my PC doesn't have the old PCI slot, so this was the best solution. Will I be able to do lossless captures via VirtualDub?

I will stick with Win7, I have some video editing/transcoding knowledge, but so far it was mostly in HD domain. The videos will be left interlaced, because VLC of the future will maybe have plugins as good as QTGMC.

I watched the examples you posted, Sanlyn, and it totally makes sense why TBC is needed.
Just as you said, finding a good VCR is not as easy as I thought it would be. I'm still digging through ads and ebay to find what VCR and TBC I will buy, and thank you for the TBC workarounds.
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09-03-2015, 03:40 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I've obtained the VC500. Goldwingfahrer confirmed that all the 'grabbers' sold in EU are crap (thanks for the link), and everyone here agrees on Diamond as a good alternative. I wanted to buy ATI card but it turns out my PC doesn't have the old PCI slot, so this was the best solution. Will I be able to do lossless captures via VirtualDub?
Yes.

The ATI 600's also come as a USB version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
The videos will be left interlaced, because VLC of the future will maybe have plugins as good as QTGMC.
Interlaced is usually best, and interlaced usually gives smoother motion during play. If you're recording tv movies, though, you might encounter all sorts of things. Yadif is a fast deintelacer that can be set up for use in VLC's "Tools"..."Preferences" menu. QTGMC is too slow for real time playback, because it does much more work and is designed for post processing. Versions of Yadif are used internally by other players as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser22 View Post
I watched the examples you posted, Sanlyn, and it totally makes sense why TBC is needed.
Just as you said, finding a good VCR is not as easy as I thought it would be. I'm still digging through ads and ebay to find what VCR and TBC I will buy, and thank you for the TBC workarounds.
Yes, I've been there with NTSC players. There must be a post somewhere in the forum with info about how to get these critters. Some pro maintenance shops rebuild and sell them. On auction sites, don't buy without a guarantee of return. sometimes these PAL machines have been used to death. I'll look around, or lordsmurf or other staff might be able to advise. If worse comes to worse, get a high quality vcr in good condition and use a pass-thru tbc. But the Panny PAL machine would be the better choice.
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  #9  
09-07-2015, 01:20 AM
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I'm only anti-DV for NTSC, as the 4:1:1 is too compressed. But PAL 4:2:0 is fine (similar to 4:2:0 MPEG DVD).

Lossless is better, yes, but the choice of 35gb/hour (Huffyuv) or 13gb/hour (DV), or even 15gb/hour MPEG, is worth considering.

Here's my questions:
- Are you just archiving as-is? Or editing or restoring?
- What is the quality of the sources? (DV converters hate imperfect video.)

- Did my advice help you? Then become a Premium Member and support this site.
- Find television shows, cartoons, DVDs and Blu-ray releases at the TVPast forums.
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