Quantcast VHS to .mkv/.avi/.mpg on Win7 Pro SP1 machine? - digitalFAQ Forum
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04-15-2017, 11:17 PM
newmy51 newmy51 is offline
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Hello DFAQ,

I am interested in converting a variety of VHS tapes to digital video files. I once knew enough to have stumbled through meGUI and Gordian Knot guides in olden times of doom9 and afterdawn, but I'm afraid I may be even dumber now than I was then. I have poked around this and other forums and websites, read up on equipment and software and techniques, and feel mostly overwhelmed. I'm not even sure, for example, if I need to defeat Macrovision at any point, given that I am not interested in making physical copies onto blank media. If I do, I'm not sure which of the dozens of gadgets out there will be the right one for me, or where the best place to shop is for that right gadget. I have spoken over the phone with what appeared to be a well-vetted, professional media conversion/transfer/preservation company, who have impressed upon me a few key points which I have seen repeated elsewhere:

1. Don't give Target or Walgreens or whatever retailer your tape, only for them to do a crap job and/or lose/destroy the original.

2. Do not expect one deck or one workflow/setup to work for every tape and every kind of problem you might encounter.

3. Do not waste your money on little RCA USB dongle things.

4. The sky is the limit. It all depends on how perfect a copy you want.

I do not have the time, money, inclination, brain power or attention span to perform archival-grade captures and encodes. If I can generally maintain good quality and improve poor to medium quality from source to finished file, I am happy. Also, if anyone knows of some in-person human resources available to me in the Central New York area, please PM me.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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04-16-2017, 05:15 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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The advice given you by the transfer professional is mostly correct. But if you don't have the time, funding for equipment, or the inclination to acquire and apply the skills needed for a high level of quality, you have answered your own questions. You cannot achieve high quality archives if you don't invest in the time or effort to obtain it. Your best choice is to get a high quality tape player and a good DVD recorder, and record your tapes directly to DVD disc. The recorded videos can easily be copied directly to a computer for editing and processing to other formats using inexpensive software designed to do this or whatever else you want to do with your digital copy. This is one area of human endeavor where there is little or no debate: what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.
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04-16-2017, 08:16 PM
newmy51 newmy51 is offline
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thank you for the prompt and informative reply. I wonder, is there a way to skip the recording to disk part and go straight to some digital file format, if only some kind of raw/lossless one to be later encoded and/or cleaned up with software like you mentioned? I have no interest in keeping DVDs around of the VHSs in question.
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04-16-2017, 08:49 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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You have what are referred to as "distribution" and "intermediary" formats. Intermediary also referred to as "editing" formats, since those are mainly used for editing in NLEs (like Premiere or Final Cut).

- intermediary = lossless (Huffyuv) or semi-lossy (ProRes422, DNxHD)
- distro = H.264, MPEG-1

MPEG-2 was a special format, because it could be both. You can really compressed it, using distribution encoding. Or you could capture it, using higher-bitrate. Technically, you could also capture with low bitrates, but it always looks awful. DVD recorders were possible for this reason.

You can record fresh content in camera, using the AVCHD (using H.264), but bitrates are large. Shooting is not capturing/converting, of course, and you can't use the method to re-acquire content.

Using a DVD recorder is a good suggestion. Note that I have a Samsung LSI-based unit for sale in the marketplace, if interested. You still need a good VCR, and probably an external TBC because most tapes have signal issues to overcome. Note that you can always buy it, use it, then resell it later on.

- 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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