Quantcast Best program and hardware for capturing VHS? - digitalFAQ Forum
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12-03-2018, 11:28 PM
drzapp drzapp is offline
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I've been reading all through this forum for weeks, and really appreciate the knowledge that is archived here. I have a Canopus ADVC-50 (yeah, it's a bit old...) VC500 USB, and a Panasonic AG1980 (actually, it will be delivered tomorrow- just a cheap JVC for testing till it arrives)). Capturing with S-video.
My hardware question is do I need an external TBC? And if so, which one works best with VHS camcorder tapes? I've seen lots of confusing info about which works best for homemade tapes.
Also, will the ADVC-50 do a lossless capture, or is it always DV (hardware encoded)?

On the software side, I've been trying to use Virtualdub for lossless captures, and while it sees the VC500, it does not display the VCR output when selected. There is also no choice for capturing audio. I installed the VC500 drivers from the CD, do I need to get some newer ones? Oh, this is on Windows 10 x64.

Since I couldn't get Virtualdub to work, I've been using AmarecTV instead, which captures fine from the VC500. However, I'm confused by all the different codecs available- I have Lagarith, several different Canopus, 17 different UTVideo, multiple MS-YUV, Gopro cineform, several IYUV, plus some others I can't remember. I have been using LAGS, but have read that UTVideo is better... but which one? I have the UTVideo ULH0, ULH2, ULH4, ULRA, ULRG, ULY0, ULY2, ULY4, UMH2, UMH4, UMRA, UMRG, UMY2, UMY4, UQRA, UQRG and UQY2.

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12-04-2018, 02:53 AM
jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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While others will respond soon.

The basics are DV is 4:1:1 color where as VHS is 4:2:0 color, so any DV will cost you in color. DV is both color lossy and fine detail compressed. DV was a cheap consumer codec on the market about the year 2000 and was a compromise between the cost of storage and the speed of computers in the year 2000.

DVDs were 4:2:0 color and based on MPEG2 compression which was best for presenting movies on Standard Definition television in the year 2000 and considered premium content compared to DV content.

Raw capture or AVI was simply frame after frame of uncompressed digital content and considered the best if you captured in 4:2:0.

You have a choice in the color space which you capture, 4:1:1 or 4:2:0 that's what some of those three letter combos refer to.. basically the color sample space.. or how much your willing to throw away in the name of speed and storage requirements on disc (without compression). Usually you want to capture at the best color sample resolution you can, which dumbs it down to some version of 4:2:0 or YUV.

Then you can decide to compress while your capturing, or compress later in post processing to reclaim disc space. Deciding when to compress is often the difference between a recovery artist, and people simply wanting to burn a disc as quick as they can. Like a photographer, recovery artists will capture at the highest color resolution, and lowest compression possible or with no compression to the their "raw" source material. Then later back at the shop they will spread out the material on a light table and pic and choose and "post process" to clean up imperfections in the capture.. then "print" the final copy, never throwing away their raw capture source in case they want to revisit it.

The average consumer however will attempt to select a color resolution, an (on the fly) compression algorithm to be done all at once and don't capture raw uncompressed footage at all.. the final end product is a file in its final form. Revisiting it later requires uncompressing the footage, re-processing it, re-compressing it.. which is best avoided. DVD recorders were famous for making all these decisions for you, insert VHS signal "here" and out pops finished DVD "here".. eazy peazy.. well not exactly. Like VHS tape, DVD recorders imitated SP, LP, EP recording "speeds" to squeeze more footage on a single disc.. but other than that.. guilt free choices.. you blamed the machine if it looked bad, and bought a more expensive DVD recorder the next time.

The best compression codec depends on the capture hardware (what it can do) and final purpose of the final output. MPEG2 for DVDs, H.264 for Blu-Ray ect.. those are "standards" and play in most players or viewing software. Oddball codecs are usually for streaming or online and are (not) great for archival purposes.

Poor capture hardware or poor source (ratty VHS tapes) may drop frames and loose Video and Audio sync and need "fixing".. the less compression the better in those cases.. so "healing" software can try to fill in the gaps and smooth things over before compression removes "clues" that could be used to make the footage better.

Making all these decisions up front is good, but in the end, most people accept the defaults of their chosen capture software and (if any) editing platform and "use that" -- until -- they see a good reason to pick a specific other type of codec.. which is why some people end up with VC-1, Quicktime or Webem codecs in their media library.

The one "snag" in all this is (lossless compression) a while ago someone figured out Lagarith and Huffyuv, which didn't compress the data stream, but compressed the file that was being written to disc. This saved space and could recover the original video capture 100%. Lagarith is considered archaic and falling out of support, but its still talked about because it was first and people did use it.. so they have archival footage using it.. recovery artists never revisit footage unless there is an economical reason so it stays stored that way unless used. Huffyuv is consided more modern and seems to have a future as its ported to newer platforms. These are "in-between" choices to delay having to make an irreversible commitment to a codec for storage. They save some hard disc space, but not as much as a lossy codec would by actually throwing away fine detail. They are not "standards" you could play in a DVD or Blu-Ray recorder from a disc using their codec.. so they aren't as portable or convenient for "prints".

A TBC is a near absolute "must have" though they are getting harder to find, and much more expensive. You also have to buy from someone you know or trust because they can be dead on arrival, or have reached their end of life. The capacitors in a TBC are like a battery and have a 10 to 20 year lifespan and then basically die.. sometimes they can be replaced but its a declining skill to do so. -- Two kinds, a Line TBC is usually only found inside a VCR, corrects for tape shear and wobble in an image called "tearing" at the top or side to side - and a Frame TBC is usually found only external to a VCR and corrects top and bottom jitter or framing errors.. it can also "paste over" copy protection signals embedded in the signals a frame TBC is designed to correct.. obliterating them.

You buy a line TBC by buying a VCR that already has one built inside it.

You buy a frame TBC by buying an external box with a proven reputation for "consumer" VHS signals. They made frame TBCs for broadcast signals but they are far older and often not robust enough to correct for the wild and crazy variations found in "consumer" grade VHS signals.

Thats the basics, external proc-amps and detailers are really extravagants most people can do without, and do more harm to their captures than good... and they are even harder to find these days. Most of what they do can be done with software after capturing uncompressed footage.. if it matters.

Last edited by jwillis84; 12-04-2018 at 03:43 AM.
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12-04-2018, 06:38 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drzapp View Post
My hardware question is do I need an external TBC?
Sooner or later, yes. When external tbc's are mentioned it's usually a reference to frame-sync level tbc's. Your AG-1980 will have a built-in line-levelm tbc, but line and frame tbc's are two different animals. A line-level tbc corrects scanline errors and geometric distortion within individual video frames. A frame-level tbc corrects the overall frame-to-frame signal timing and other errors. You might be able to get away with a line-level tbc by itself for quite a while =-- that is, until you encounter frame timing errors that get interpreted as false copy protection or get frame jitter and choppy plyback.

As far as which external tbc works best with camcorder tapes, there is no "best". Either the unit works or it doesn't.

I see you've already had problems with VirtualDub capture (the major cause of which was likely using Windows 10 for video work, which this forum has warned against ever since Win10 first appeared). Also take note that you can't mix 32-bit and 64-bit software and codecs in a capture operation. We recommend that you stick with 32-bit Avisynth and VirtualDub and 32-bit filters. The availability of 64-bit filters is very limited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drzapp View Post
will the ADVC-50 do a lossless capture, or is it always DV (hardware encoded)?
DV capture devices are never lossless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drzapp View Post
I'm confused by all the different codecs available
I don't see any confusion. It's almost always recommended that VHS capture should use huffyuv with YUY2 color, because YUY2 most closely resembles VHS video storage and because huffyuv offers more consistent and efficient CPU usage. Lagarith and the UT codec are generally used for intermediate lossless working files during post-processing. UT is optimized for high definition work and, unfortunately, doesn't often appear as sample posts in forums because many media players don't recognize the codec. The UT codec "types" you mention deal with different colorspace setups, not with different versions of UT. Huffyuv and Lagarith are more widespread. You can use whatever you want, as long as it works.


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Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
DV is 4:1:1 color where as VHS is 4:2:0 color, so any DV will cost you in color.
PAL VHS is 4.2.0, NTSC VHS is 4:2:2. Compressing NTSC VHS to DV discards 50% of the NTSC chroma resolution. PAL VHS at 4:2:0 and DV at 4:1:1 have comparable chroma resolution, but chroma data is arranged differently. However, in both cases, whether chroma resolution is downgraded or not,
DV color rendition does not "look like" PAL or NTSC but has a relatively over-filtered and denuded appearance due largely to overall data loss through lossy DV compression. Many colorists have maintained that VHS->DV color conversion affects original hues and other factors and makes VHS color look "cooked".

Data discarded through lossy compression cannot be recovered. Each recompression stage through processing loses accumulatively more information; the losses result in degraded clarity and added layers of compression artifacts (mosquito noise, macroblocks, detail loss, increased granularity, distorted motion, etc.). Throwing away video data during lossy capture is not considered a good quality or archival level of capture. The DV format was designed as shoot-and-watch, not designed for reprocessing other than simple cut-and-join edits. Further Reprocessing of DV such as any form of image modification (color correction, denoising, transitions, title overlays, etc,.) requires additional stages of lossy compression and degradation. In addition, DV is PC-only playback and always requires further lossy encoding to convert it for playback using more universal formats such as DVD, BluRay, or internet streaming formats.

Regardless of their initial chroma resolution, for archival and restoratioon purposes PAL and NTSC VHS alike are usually captured using lossless 4:2:2 color (YUY2 or similar). While other color matrices such as RGB have higher color resolution, RGB is discouraged for initial capture in order to maintain preferred digital YUV signal storage levels and to avoid uncontrolled YUV->RGB expansion that often results in clipping and other distortion at luminance and chrominance extremes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
Raw capture or AVI was simply frame after frame of uncompressed digital content and considered the best if you captured in 4:2:0.
VHS is usually captured using 4:2:2 color resolution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
The best compression codec depends on the capture hardware (what it can do) and final purpose of the final output. MPEG2 for DVDs, H.264 for Blu-Ray ect.. those are "standards" and play in most players or viewing software. Oddball codecs are usually for streaming or online and are (not) great for archival purposes.
I would add that MPEG is the only choice if you want DVD. The codecs used for BluRay are MPEG, h.264, and VC-1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
Lagarith is considered archaic and falling out of support, but its still talked about because it was first and people did use it.. so they have archival footage using it.
Lagarith appeared after huffyuv. Huffyuv itself is based on Microsoft's original UYVY. Version 1.1 of huffyuv was released in 2000. Lagarith was developed later and is a fork off of the original huffyuv code base, meaning that Lagarith is another version of huffyuv at heart.
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12-04-2018, 08:57 AM
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@ drzapp:

Nice name.

You're in North America, at least your IP is, meaning that Canopus box is 4:1:1, and loses 50% of color data. Not ideal whatsoever for quality archiving of the video. Set it aside.

VC500 is fine, some here like it, though be aware some (including myself) have seen oddities. Just watch it carefully, don't assume it's fine, though it might be. Lossless capture only, which is fine.

AG-1980 are nice decks when properly worknig. The tell-tale is if the TBC on/off causes the pciture to darken/lighten, then you have issues. Within 6 months, the deck will probably fail altogether when the TBC board goes. It'll need a recap, about $400, when that time comes.

s-video good.

You need external frame TBC, can't escape it. Next best is the TBC(ish) setup that has ES15+DVK. This is in addition to line TBC in VCR.

VirtualDub and VC500 seem to hate each other on some systems, not sure why. I never hear about that problem with ATI 600 USB and some others.

UTVideo isn't better. Huffyuv is probably best for capture, Lagarith hits CPU a bit more (thus can cause frame drops).

@jwillis:

VHS is equivalent to 4:2:2, not 4:2:0. The color data is halves in both channels. 4:1:1 is quartered. 4:2:0 is alternating halved, which visually appears much better than quartered. Lossless capture is 4:2:2.

Huffyuv is directly based on Huffman encoding, which was used in the original PKzip in the 90s. Data compression, not image compression. It's 99.99%+ lossless. (Not 100%, you do see the rare oddity when nitpicking and looking for problems, though I've not seen any in probably a decade now.)

TBC caps aren't really an issue, but the whole board is, and caps are just part of it. Caps themselves are more for VCRs and DVD recorders, like the AG1980 and ES10/15 used in TBC(ish) combo. That's the Japan/China espionage thing from 20 years ago that causes bad caps.

@sanlyn:

PAL VHS is also 4:2:2 equivalent. And PAL color is far richer and better than NTSC, when looking at it from spec stance. In practice, just more saturated. PAL broadcasters suck just as much as NTSC broadcasters, and sources are equally all of the place in quality.

PAL DV is 4:2:0, and wholly better than 4:1:1. The DV isn't the same as DVD-Video's 4:2:0, different co-siting, but essentially still the same.

I know it can be hard to type out all the numbers and : -- I sometimes screw that up myself. Must double check carefully when I type it! So I may just be correcting your typo here, not your understanding of PAL.

I either did not know, or had forgotten (more likely), that Lagarith was a fork. We need to get that glossary going. I've reached the age where I'm starting forget things. I don't like that at all. This site was started as my personal notebook 20+ years ago, and I've gotten way from that. Must rectify this. Then was to share, now so I don't forget what I know/knew!

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12-04-2018, 09:13 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Quote:
...NTSC VHS is 4:2:2...
Or perhaps more precisely, the 4:2:2 ratio refers to sampling, and applies to digital forms of the signal. VHS is analog, and the YUV components of the signal are bandwidth limited, not quite the same as sampling but they are related in terms of their net effect. As noted above 4:2:2 is the preferred sampling for color NTSC signals.

The NTSC VHS "Y" signal has a bandwidth (sort of a frequency response) that is limited to roughly 3 mHz, while the "U" and "V" components are limited to something like 450 kHz. One could make an argument that the quality is roughly equivalent to 2:0.3:0.3 (not very good) based on standard sampling frequencies commonly used for video. 4:2:2 sampling of analog VHS is much better than the original signal content, and thus ensures minimal losses in subsequent processing.

Of course the gear and software used must perform faithfully to achieve the potential.
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12-04-2018, 09:23 AM
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Yes, 4:2:2 equivalent. VHS has no precise numbers, as it's analog, not digital. Color data is all bandwidth based. I try to add the word "equivalent" as much as possible, but sometimes forget.

The exact math of 3000:450:450 is a reason that 4:1:1 is falsely believed as adequate, even though the loss is visually obvious. Marketing SOBs and measurebators latched onto that, and facts be damned. This is one of the earliest instances when I started to point out "theory vs. practice". Math is an art just as much as science. Sometimes numbers lie.

Thanks for the expand.

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12-04-2018, 11:20 AM
jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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I didn't mean to spread disinformation.


Sanlyn and LordSmurf's commentary is to be trusted above mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.
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12-04-2018, 11:48 AM
sanlyn sanlyn is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
I didn't mean to spread disinformation.


Sanlyn and LordSmurf's commentary is to be trusted above mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.
No problem, not exactly misinformation, just the usual cryptic-what-not when it comes to all the numbers. As lordsmurf stated it, the difference is in actual use. Experience and skill ultimately make gibberish of the math.
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12-04-2018, 01:05 PM
drzapp drzapp is offline
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Wow, thanks for the quick, thorough responses everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
@ drzapp:

Nice name.

You're in North America, at least your IP is, meaning that Canopus box is 4:1:1, and loses 50% of color data. Not ideal whatsoever for quality archiving of the video. Set it aside.
Thanks- I'm a cancer researcher, I "zap" cancer cells, and live in the USA

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Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
@ drzapp:

AG-1980 are nice decks when properly worknig. The tell-tale is if the TBC on/off causes the pciture to darken/lighten, then you have issues. Within 6 months, the deck will probably fail altogether when the TBC board goes. It'll need a recap, about $400, when that time comes.
I've been recapping motherboards and video cards for the last 20 years to keep my older lab computers (that control specialized equipment and can't be replaced) going. I can probably DIY it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
@ drzapp:

You need external frame TBC, can't escape it. Next best is the TBC(ish) setup that has ES15+DVK. This is in addition to line TBC in VCR.
I've been looking for external TBCs, but they are always waaaaay out of my price range, or of questionable quality. The exception seems to be the Hotronic AP41, Like this one - are they any good?
So something like this Would work better than nothing?

To summarize- Huffyuv is the preferred way to capture lossless VHS, in a 4:2:2 color space. In addition to the AG-1980, I need an external TBC or TBC(ish) setup. I'll probably be going with the ES10 (with OEM remote) because of price, unless the Hotronic AP41 is better...?
For setup, I connect the 1980 outputs to the inputs on the ES10/TBC, connect the outputs of the ES10/TBC to the VC500, which connects to the computer?

Last edited by drzapp; 12-04-2018 at 01:19 PM.
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12-04-2018, 01:31 PM
jwillis84 jwillis84 is offline
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I think the DataVideo TBC-1000 or DataVideo TBC-3000 and the AVT1810 are the TBCs usually recommended... but with a long list of caveats to learn and follow before actually purchasing. As Sanlyn said, it works or it doesn't.. and when you need it you will know. Its something to keep an eye out for and buy when the opportunity arises.. you just have to be patient and deligent.. people tend to buy them, use them.. and then resell them once they are done for close to the price they paid for them.

If I'm not mistaken the Hotronic AP41 was an old broadcasters TBC. I don't recall anyone ever actually discussing it.. much. I would be careful though the AP41 had S-Video in but not out, it had only BNC Composite out.. it looks like a variant the AP41SF though might have S-Video out.. but literally all the BNC connectors speaks to it being for a broadcasters situation.

A Panasonic ES10 was one of a few DVD recorders which would digitize Input1 (?) and then pass-thru the recreated signal to one of its outputs even when in standby. Its basically doing everything it would have done to the signal to stabilize it, denoise it and compress it.. then decompresses it and sends the purified signal back out its output as if it were playing the digitized signal back. -- The ES10 was good "new" but used models suffer from corrosion on the connectors, and over time some degradation of the internal digitizer card.. which could be dying caps in the power supply and or the signal processing board. The reports I've seen are that a long black line may show up in the video field or intermittent green sparkles. A lot of DVD recorders had very poor thermal design and "cooked" their own parts leading to shortened lifespans.. never seal one up inside a hot cabinet or entertainment center. Since you don't know how a used ES10 may have been treated its best to buy from someone you trust, or get a chance to "try it out" for a while.

The ATI 600 USB LordSmurf mentioned (note: that's the USB edition) is far less trouble and well known to work with VirtualDub.. if you can find one you really ought to pursue it. The problem is its got a somewhat great reputation and its only grown in legend as far as USB capture devices go.. a few show up from time to time on auction sites, but make sure you get the "sideways" plugged in breakout cable for composite and s-video. Universally this model gets snapped up almost as fast as it appears though... and the Fall is usually when gear drys up and gets very hard to find.. it gets better after March most years.

Last edited by jwillis84; 12-04-2018 at 02:28 PM.
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12-04-2018, 01:50 PM
drzapp drzapp is offline
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I just happened upon another, the Key West big voodoo tbc10.Would this work well for VHS?
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12-05-2018, 07:19 AM
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- Big Voodoo TBCs are terrible, noisy signals.
- Hotronic is broadcast TBC, not made for consumer sources (ie VHS), so not good either.

Stick to these models: What is a TBC? Time Base Correction for Videotapes

No, good TBCs are not cheap. There's a reason those others are cheap: they're mostly junk. Not just not made for VHS, but usually abused decommissioned items from various studio/broadcast type setups, having been stored in basements for a decade or more, passed around from remorseful buyer to remorseful buyer, mostly large items with sharp corners made for rack mounts.

I have an ES15+DVK combo for TBC(ish), PM me, maybe we can work out a price. Also some ATI 600 USB cards. So perhaps I have what you need.

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