Quantcast Best video capturing cards for PAL? - digitalFAQ Forum
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11-20-2017, 03:55 AM
videoimpossible videoimpossible is offline
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Hi all,

First of all, this forum is amazing. I grew up with VHS, and to my eyes you're really doing a heroic job on analog signals from a dear past. I now find myself attempting to do my best with 50 or so VHS (NTSC and PAL) that need to be transferred to H.265-encoded files. It is a treasure chest of memories (many of the people in them aren't even alive anymore), and I know that if I don't do it, they will be lost (or at best vandalized by a click-and-transfer-to-dvd-while-grocery-shopping service).

After reading the forum, I feel that (provided that I can find a good VCR and TBC), I have two options to receive YCbCr streams from s-video and encode them on-the-fly as Huffyuv lossless files:
  1. Buy an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 for $15 and a Turtle Beach PCI TB400 for $20, and install them in a P4 system with Windows XP Pro SP2 32bit and VirtualDub 1.9.
  2. Buy the ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB 2.0 stick for $90 and use FFmpeg on a modern Linux system (which I'm very familiar with), using the built-in audio input to capture audio at the same time.

I'll be in the US for a few weeks and it's a very good chance to buy some hardware (almost impossible to find in Italy). A few questions:
  • I read that the AIW 9600 is recommended over the HD 600. What are the implications on quality, exactly? Framedrops? A worse A/D conversion? I'd like to avoid a P4/xp build (which I grew up with but I feel it's too hard to find reliable components for) and I'm trying to understand how big this would be compared to having a better VCR.
  • Is an onboard audio ALC1220 chip (i.e., from a recent Intel motherboard) good for audio capture?
  • Are there usually sync problems when capturing video and audio separately?
  • These capturing cards work for both PAL and NTSC, right? The AIW description says it has a "PAL TV tuner" but I can still capture NTSC VHS from an s-video cable, right?

Thanks a lot,
Marco

Last edited by videoimpossible; 11-20-2017 at 03:58 AM. Reason: Missing a question
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  #2  
11-20-2017, 05:22 AM
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For the moment, finding the hardware is not the hard part. Right now, I have a TBC and an ATI 600 USB available for sale. It's listed in the Marketplace forum, PM me about it. I'm assuming you're PAL, and these both do work with PAL. Not everything does. And I'll ship to Italy, or to whatever (non-hotel!) location you'll be at.

Again, assuming PAL, you don't want to buy a VCR outside Europe. But I can help you track one down.

ATI AIW requires XP and AGP (thus single-core P4/Athlon, though a few EOL Asrocks allow dual/quad-core). User jwillis and myself do have some experience with hacking around with WinVista/Win7, and some successes, but it's very stable in terms of hardware configs. So it may work, or may not. And it requires a modest understanding of the OS, both for driver installs and DirectX/Show.

The ATI 600 USB, on the other hand, works in WinXP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10. Although each gets successively worse. XP best, Vista/7 next best, 8 a little worse than 7, 10 gives a lot of problems. Newer hardware and OS conflicts with older hardware. As with the AIW WinVista/7, some hardware cooperates, some does not.

Onboard audio is rarely good for capture. Some Realteks, but that's about it.

Audio/video is always captured separately, though you're not informed of it. Or outright lied to. When you have sync issues, its usually tied to dropped frames issues. Onboard audio chips are an example of something that commonly causes dropped frames.

Analog PAL/NTSC tuners on AIW cards are 99% useless now, since almost all analog broadcasts are now digital. The card itself is NTSC+PAL, only the tuner was region specific.

The AIW 9000-series cards were the best, but also had more odd flaws that'd pop up due to (again) other hardware in the box. Their were shielding issues on all of them. Not often, but don't get the idea that the card was perfection.

Installing any ATI AIW card was easier said than done. I've literally fought with cards for months, installing and reinstalling different drivers and MMC/VirtualDub/etc software combos, before it behave. In December, I'm putting together my final two ATI AIW systems for sale, from my extra hardware. I'm hoping it goes smoothly, and only take a few weeks (and not months). Just understand there is some work involved, but it will be an outstanding capture box when done.

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  #3  
11-20-2017, 07:22 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Welcome to the forum:


To add to lordsmurf's previous notes:

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
receive YCbCr streams from s-video and encode them on-the-fly as Huffyuv lossless files
To preserve shadow and highlight detail and mimic the original VHS data storage, capture to YUY2 using huffyuv, Lagarith, or UT codec. Huffyuv/YUY2 is the most efficient for capture. The other codecs are used mainly in post-processing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
Buy an ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 for $15 and a Turtle Beach PCI TB400 for $20, and install them in a P4 system with Windows XP Pro SP2 32bit and VirtualDub 1.9.
That would be an ideal setup for capture generally, with these allowances;

- An AIW AGP card for $15 warns that it might not be supplied with its external input/output dongle -- without it, an AIW is useless for capture. The adapters are equally difficult to find by themselves, often selling for more than the card. Different models use different adapters and rear connections.

- The most popular of the AIW line were the 7500 and 9600-series AGP's, but this popularity is more related to overall usage and accessory software. All of the AGP cards give excellent results. As for shielding provblem, I used my 7500 and 9600XT on six different PC's and never had shielding problems. Here's a link to a list of AGP cards, which are preferred over the PCIe versions mainly for reasons of ease of use with motherboard variations: ATI All In Wonder Hacks, Drivers, Codecs and MMC

- You don't need a P4 machine to capture with an All In Wonder. My capture PC is a home made XP system with an AMD dual-core CPU. Many are using XP with CPU's anywhere from late Celerons to later Intel and AMD multi-core CPU's. It depends on the motherboard or PC that you can obtain. P4 CPU's aren't required.

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
Buy the ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB 2.0 stick for $90 and use FFmpeg on a modern Linux system (which I'm very familiar with), using the built-in audio input to capture audio at the same time.
Judging from the experience of others, it would be a disaster even more difficult to configure and manage than your XP option. I don't know anyone who would advise such a system. For example, how would you control input signal levels with ffmpeg to avoid illegal video levels, and how would you get ATI's capture drivers to run? You're better off with the ATI 600 in a Win7 PC, which will actually work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
I read that the AIW 9600 is recommended over the HD 600. What are the implications on quality, exactly? Framedrops? A worse A/D conversion? I'd like to avoid a P4/xp build (which I grew up with but I feel it's too hard to find reliable components for) and I'm trying to understand how big this would be compared to having a better VCR.
You need an experienced eye (not to mention a lot of test graphs) to tell the difference between the two cards. The more obvious difference is that the 9600 yields a snappier image because it doesn't clip superblacks the way the 600 does. That isn't too important for most work, but it could affect overall dynamic range with old or badly mastered tapes and make post-processing them more difficult.

Frameddrops = N/A. Depends on the overall system logistics and capture chain.

Capture device -vs- "better" VCR: A poor VCR is a waste of a good capture card, and vice versa. The purpose of each of the two components when operated properly is to transmit a source signal accurately with as little damage and as few playback errors as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
Is an onboard audio ALC1220 chip (i.e., from a recent Intel motherboard) good for audio capture?
Modern integrated audio is better than it used to be, but it's still not as clean, clear, or noise-free as even a basic Audigy PCI add-on. Some integrateds are adequate, but just barely, and I see many complaints about audio sync issues when using them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoimpossible View Post
Are there usually sync problems when capturing video and audio separately?
Yes. See lordsmurf's notes on this issue. Audio sync with AGP and USB cards is handled differently with software like Virtualdub. Keep in mind that no matter which system you use, accurate frame capture and audio sync are all but impossible without decent capture gear and working tbc's. A recent guide to capture setup with VirtualDub 1.9.1 with various capture cards/input sources is here: Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide].

Over the years I've not had installation issues with ATI basic or capture drivers, probably because I always followed ATI's instructions in detail. The only minor trouble I had in the past was once while installing MMC, but that was easily resolved. MMC isn't needed for lossless capture anyway and its video player is obsolete, so I stopped installing it years ago. The key with AGP cards is to completely uninstall any previous graphics cards or driver software before installing an AIW -- but that would be true of installing many other quality graphics cards. The USB card install is pretty straightforward until you get to Win7/8/10, in which case you'll find lordsmurf's workaround guides to be handy -- not because of ATI/AMD, but because of Microsoft's contempt for their customers.
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11-20-2017, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
To add to lordsmurf's previous notes:
I had just written this nice long reply, and then accidentally closed the tab. Sigh. Not re-typing all that. More notes:

I've had 9000-series interference only once or twice in 15+ years. I've had it reported via PM/post many times over the years. The solution is to replace the motherboard, or PSU, or both. Not fun.

The ATI AIW PCIe card has a lot of caveats. Not suggested unless you're fully aware of the problems you'll face, and the various workarounds to make it act as well as the AGP/PCI AIW cards, or even the 600 USB cards. Best for AVI only, not MPEG work, unlike AGP/PCI.

I've only had two onboard audio chips work well in 15+ years. Both were Realtek, one was passable, one was almost as good as the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. Those were both top-of-the-line Gigabytes from AM2+/3 AMD era, and even now are not cheap or easy to find. Given the costs, I'd rather get an Asrock with the TBSC PCI.

The ATI 600 USB on Linux is interesting, and may work, though not as he stated, but it will not be as easy as the Windows options. You'd more likely waste time making it work, and not actually capturing. And it still may fail.

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11-20-2017, 04:11 PM
videoimpossible videoimpossible is offline
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Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences! Choices are countless and your help is really fundamental to orient me in the right direction.

I think I'll try to pursue both solutions: a WinXP box with old hardware, and a newer machine (Win7 or Linux) with USB capture (audio and video).

I've ordered the AIW 9600 from this ebay seller. It says that the card is still packaged and includes the cables. Seems too good to be true, and yet too hard to pass.

For the audio part, I saw similar suggestions (avoid onboard capture) on the Audacity wiki.

For the WinXP box, I think I'll order a Turtle Beach PCI "38FRH TB400-2541-02". This is the best PCI model right? I've seen it mentioned a lot on the forum.

For USB audio capture on the Linux/Win7 box, on the Audacity wiki, they recommend USB phono plus and the Behringer UCA 2xx series. The latter does not allow to change the input signal level and it takes the power from the USB itself, so I'm oriented toward the Phono Plus. Any suggestions on USB audio capture?

Finally, about using FFmpeg with the ATI 600 USB, this thread made me hope that installing the drivers and capturing in Linux wouldn't be impossible. I'll try and report...

I've also seen that audio capture can be done with the ATI 600 USB itself, but sometimes produces clipping, which requires to adjust the OEM settings in winreg. I guess this would be missing in the linux firmware. In general, how good do you think that the audio quality of ATI 600 USB is, compared to a separate USB capture like Phono Plus?

Thanks again!!
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  #6  
12-04-2017, 06:57 AM
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Let me know if that seller is honest/accurate.

I don't like USB audio cards at all.

If capturing video, I'd go for the ATI 600 USB and let it grab both. Just remember to verify the audio levels are correct. On Windows, there are hacks for it. The default value is too loud, distorts. I'm currently writing that up in our new glossary. It's fine when set correctly.

Why not just use Windows XP to capture? If you're savvy enough for Linux, surely you can dual boot or whatever.

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01-11-2018, 09:50 AM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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Sanlyn, lordsmurf et al.,
Thanks for sharing all your valuable experience.

In the past I was capturing my old family PAL VHS tapes using Canopus ADVC 100, more like experimenting. After I switched to ATI 600 USB device, thanks to lordsmurf for making recommendations, saving 1/2 of the colorspace.
The ATI 600 USB that I have clips the blacks on some material. I found that on some tapes a lot of details being lost due this card issue. After reading sanlyn's notes I just bought on Amazon Diamond VC500. I was actually preparing for all possible surprises with drivers and etc. for this device to be installed on Win10 and downloaded old drivers. But it was not needed. I installed drivers and EzGrabeer on Win10 from included CD with no issues. Using VirtualDub for capturing. Surprisingly everything started working fine right after the installation.
Did some test captures using all default Proc Amp settings (all in the middle), the blacks are not clipped anymore, the whites also a bit lower, less details above 235. Over all picture looks better, more balanced, with the same level of resolution (as can be recognized using old degraded tapes) comparing to ATI 600 with all default settings, except Sharpness is set 0. Now I am tailoring VC500 Proc Amp settings for some tapes, have a question. How does the Sharpness setting for this device work. Is the middle setting (value 50) is zero effect and all below will blur the artifacts and all above sharpens edges? What is most common Sharpness setting do you use?
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01-11-2018, 12:21 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Set sharpness at the default 0 setting. Any sharpening/softening etc. is best done in post processing with more sophisticated filters.
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01-11-2018, 02:10 PM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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For VC500 the Default Sharpness level under EzGrabber or VirtualDub Proc Amp setting is 50, slider in the middle.
Is this one is Zero Sharpness (the neutral sharpening) or it has to be set to actual zero value, putting slider all the way to the left?
I tried the 0 Sharpness value and video looks softer comparing to ATI USB 600 at Sharpness value set to 0.

-- merged --

I found a strange effect with VC500, the levels are not stable, recapturing same scene a few times results in a slightly different levels, the black level stays almost the same, but whites are different on each capture, up and down by 20-30, sometimes all fit below 235, sometimes up to 245. Does VC500 have some kind of AGC?
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01-11-2018, 04:36 PM
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I've not seen AGC issues, but I can attest to the levels being off on that card. It's one of the main reasons I don't like it. It's dark by at least +6.

What is your workflow?
Source?
Any potential that you're running into Macrovision or another false anti-copy? (ie, lack of external framesync TBC)

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  #11  
01-11-2018, 05:06 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokoko View Post
For VC500 the Default Sharpness level under EzGrabber or VirtualDub Proc Amp setting is 50, slider in the middle.
Is this one is Zero Sharpness (the neutral sharpening) or it has to be set to actual zero value, putting slider all the way to the left?
I tried the 0 Sharpness value and video looks softer comparing to ATI USB 600 at Sharpness value set to 0.

-- merged --

I found a strange effect with VC500, the levels are not stable, recapturing same scene a few times results in a slightly different levels, the black level stays almost the same, but whites are different on each capture, up and down by 20-30, sometimes all fit below 235, sometimes up to 245. Does VC500 have some kind of AGC?
I misread your post earlier. Sharpness default with the VC500 is usually 50, not 0. Sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
I've not seen AGC issues, but I can attest to the levels being off on that card. It's one of the main reasons I don't like it. It's dark by at least +6.
I don;t know what you guys are doing, but I don't see anything wrong with the VC500's default levels. They just aren't the same as the ATI600 or some other USB card. Have had personal experience with 3 copies of the VC500 and seen tests here and elsewhere from others, nothing weird about the levels. It requires adjustment, and this varies by tape, player, operating system, and other elements in the capture setup.

.
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01-11-2018, 05:41 PM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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Sanlyn, lordsmurf, thanks for your replies.
The source is home PAL VHS from camcorder. Capturing with VirtualDub, using Huffyuv, YUY2 for rendering.
If I capture the same tape fragment, over and over again, on the same scene I see different levels. The max white level on the Histogram is different for each capture, even ProcAmp settings are the same. I am checking levels on created .avi file, opening that file through Avisynth's .avs file that has a line Histogram() inside. Opening .avs file on VirtuialDub and checking levels on the histogram. All captures with Canopus and ATI USB 600 have stable capture to capture levels.
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01-11-2018, 06:51 PM
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The problem is your workflow.
- old VHS camcorder for playback
- no TBC

It sounds like your running into false MV. Most people don't realize that anti-copy like Macrovision is merely an artificial video error. That means legit video errors can exist. So when your tape outputs the error, the capture device detects it as anti-copy instead of the non-fake error it is. External framesync TBC fixes that.

The VC500 may be more temperamental than the others, in terms of this false detection.

This is just one theory.

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01-11-2018, 07:07 PM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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After performing more tests I am sticking with VC500. Even the levels are not stable (I am using JVC HR-S8700 with TBC ON to play VHS camcorder's tapes) but they are inside 0-255. Nothing clipped, no details missing.
The most important to preserve old tapes. After, during post processing, I will squeeze all levels in to 16-235.

Does it matter what type of PAL to set -B, -D etc?
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01-11-2018, 09:54 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokoko View Post
After performing more tests I am sticking with VC500. Even the levels are not stable (I am using JVC HR-S8700 with TBC ON to play VHS camcorder's tapes) but they are inside 0-255. Nothing clipped, no details missing.
You should capture at 16-235, not 0-255 (excepting black borders, which would always be 0).

YUV 16-235b is expanded in RGB to 0-255. If your YUV valuesv are already 0-255, what do you think will happen when that wide-range YUV is opened in VirtualDub olr othert apps that convert to RGB for processing? (Answer; clippimg).

I don't know what varying levels you're talking about. The VC500 has no AGP effect, neither does the ATI 600, the Hauppauge USB Live-2,m or most other USB cards. Input levelsm will always vary with eqach scene, especially wsith VHS, and especially when bright or dark objects enter and leave the frames, scene changes go from bright to dark, interior to daylight, etc. The VirtualDub capture guide referenced earlier (Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]) covers level adjustments monitored by histogram specifically in section3 (Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]). The guide also mentions proc amp settings and that you should temporarily crop away black borders and head switching noise, discussed in section 4 (Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]).


Quote:
Originally Posted by rokoko View Post
Does it matter what type of PAL to set -B, -D etc?
Of course it does. It's critical. See the Capture filters dialog in section 3 of the guide (Capturing with VirtualDub [Settings Guide]).
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01-11-2018, 10:01 PM
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PAL is 0-235. So both of you are wrong.

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01-11-2018, 10:09 PM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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I'm not echoing that. 0-235 is inherent in the tape, not advised for capture.
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01-12-2018, 09:22 AM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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If my levels are below 16 and above 235 they will be transferred with no change to Vegas for example.
That is the beauty of Vegas that it imports, opens YUV and maps the 0-255 to RGB 0-255 during "recompress" putting on the timeline.

After I can apply all necessary level changes to make sure it fits in to 16-235.

I was also planning to use Avisynth and QTGMC Deinterlacing Script, PAL to NTSC, noise filtering and etc.

Using command ConvertToRGB(interlaced=true, matrix="PC.601") the Avisynth can also be used to convert YUV 0-255 to RGB 0-255 mapping correctly, VirtualDub will open .avs file script for post processing in VirtualDub with all info in 0-255 range?

Last edited by rokoko; 01-12-2018 at 09:37 AM.
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01-12-2018, 10:16 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is offline
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I don't think you understand the y=16-235/ RGB = 0-255 relationship. YUV=0-255 is beyond the range of RGB luma and chroma. It has already been explained several times, in great detail, here and elsewhere. Silly to repeat all of it now. You can't have Y=0-255 without clipping in RGB. Once clipping occurs, it can't be corrected in RGB. On top of that, Vegas uses Studio RGB, not sRGB (unless you specify otherwise), doesn't convert interlaced YUV to RGB cleanly, so expect to do a lot of figuring and compromise to avoid level and color variations.

QTGMC dimnterlaces PAL to 50 fps progressive. NTSC isn't double frame rate 50fps. It's, 59.94. What is your desired final format? If it's DVd or Bluray, you can't have 50fps or 59.94 fps in those formats, and standard def bluRay is always encoded as interlaced. If you just want generic h264 video such as mp4's, how do you propose to get PAL to NTSC frame rates? You can do it by speeding up PAL and making it play squeaky fast, interpolating new frames (with plenty of artifacts) to get NTSC speed, or insert duplicate frames at periodic intervals to simulate a form of double-rate 2:2 pulldown. In any case deinterlacing, even with QTGMC, always has a cost. Unless your goal is lower quality web posting, why are you deinterlacing?
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01-12-2018, 12:13 PM
rokoko rokoko is offline
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Re. y=16-235/ RGB = 0-255 relationship, I thought that it is possible to have 0-255 levels in YUV in saved Huffyuv .avi file for archiving purpose, to safe information from old tapes.

After, when I have time, I can play, correct levels for each scene, fragment, using Avisynth and ConvertToRGB(interlaced=true, matrix="PC.601") and open .avs in VurtualDub (or in Vegas) and I will have RGB opened for postprocessing with all 0-255 levels, details. In the postprocessing software I can correct levels to get them inside 16-235. All YUV interlaced to RGB can be done correctly in Avisynth.

In Avisynth I can change framerate ChangeFPS(59.94), SeparateFields(), SelectEvery(4,1,2), Weave(), deinterlace. The goal is to get 1080p 60p at 25Mbps and save as .mt2s for watching on TV through media player, or author and burn it to DVD-R media as AVCHD, or author with TMPGEnc MPEG Smart Renderer to BDAV and burn on DVD-R, it will play on BlyRay players at that bitrate. BDAV supports 1080 60p per it's spec.

I learned that in SW deinterlaced 1080 60p video looks on TV better than keeping an interlaced. I am under impression that TV inside still deinterlaces video before getting it on the screen. I am not sure if in today days LED TVs are really displaying interlaced content on their screens.

For a quick review on TV I am putting uncompressed (huffyuv) on the timeline of PowerDirector and encode with H.264 to 1080 60p at 25Mbps, resulting .mt2s file through Oppo player looks quite acceptable on TV.
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