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  #1  
03-16-2024, 09:28 AM
rabbitfeet318 rabbitfeet318 is offline
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Hi DigitalFAQ,

Since is this my first post, wanted to drop a little intro down!

I've recently started a VHS conversion company on the side in between my life and normal 9-5 job. Right now, as I grow my client-base and in a effort to not go broke, I'm slowly building up my gear. I've always had a passion for preserving old media but I decided to see if I could make a few bucks on the side.

Right now my main conversions are being done off of a Symphonic DVD/VCR combo > Roxio Video Capture USB > Roxio Easy VHS to DVD Plus.

I am having some trouble with a current job I'm on as despite cleaning the VCR heads, adjusting tracking etc. I cannot get a few of these videos to clear up. I've put an example image of the feedback that I am seeing. The best way I can describe it is diagonal lines across the top of the tape that occasionally flicker.

I've tried researching across the internet and cannot seem to find an example of this , what it's called or possibly how to fix it.

Thanks for your time in reading this. This form has been super helpful in getting me started on this journey!

-MEL


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  #2  
03-16-2024, 10:17 AM
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Welcome.

What you're seeing hear is called "tearing" (sometimes non-jargon "flagging", as it waves like a flag). This is a direct result of the initial analog video line length being too short from signal damage, and it must be corrected with a TBC (time base corrector). This (and other reasons) is why TBCs are required, not optional.

You have a cheap VHS VCR, into a cheap infamous Roxio-branded Easycap (aka Easycrap).

You have a lot of quality issues in the sample, beyond just the tearing.

In this specific case, to address the tearing, the ES10/15 is required, used as passthrough (ignore the DVD recorder aspect), as it's known for anti-tearing abilities. In general, you need some form of TBC, even minimalize, and the ES10/15 is the bare minimum.

ES10/15 is not a "TBC replacement", but has a strong+crippled line TBC with non-TBC frame sync. It has downsides, but better than nothign. And right now, you have nothing.

However, that said...

Right now, you're doing a huge disservice to your clients, as you're giving them terrible quality output. I don't think you've researched what it takes to convert videos in any meaningful or quality way, if all you're using is low-end junk gear.

You're currently not preserving media, but butchering it.

But understand this is easy to alleviate: buy and used the right equipment. Quality tape conversion cannot be done with a lunch budget (and fast food at that), but requires investment. However, in general, video is pretty cheap, only a few $K of gear, and you can get that back with several projects (assuming you don't change stupid-low rates).

Note that you cannot random buy from eBay/Amazon, that is how you lose money buying faulty/bad/broken crap, even if "cheap" (not really). You need to acquire gear from reputable sources.

FYI, what you're doing now is why companies like LegacyBox have reputations that continuously go down the toilet. For example, recent thread on this very site: LegacyBox rip off!

We can help you on your journey, but understand that yours is just starting (not even started much at all, actually).

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  #3  
03-16-2024, 10:28 AM
rabbitfeet318 rabbitfeet318 is offline
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Thank you for the honest feedback! It was a tough read for me as I really do care about this side gig. However I will take it on the chin and keep on learning. I am willing to make the investment and do better.

I can't thank you enough for the quick reply and guidance! I can promise it will not be wasted.

-MEL
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  #4  
03-16-2024, 11:19 AM
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Just to add a few more comments about clients/business:

I always equate using the wrong equipment, and charging people for it, to somebody buying a bottle of Tylenol, and opening a doctor office in a strip mall. Or watching Matlock re-runs, and opening a law office. It's just ridiculous and insane. You can do all these things, but you need proper training and equipment first. Video doesn't require a degree, but it does have a learning curve. And the equipment is unavoidable -- unless you want to do a bad job. But then you won't last long at it if you do bad work. Both from aggravation (problems from using wrong gear, missing gear), or word spread that your work sucks.

I've been working with video for 30+ years now. I've seen these scenarios over and over again, the boom-bust cycles for too many people. I'm still here, they're not.

The biggest obstacle is always overcoming stubbornness ("I don't need _!", but you do), and cheapness ("It's too expensive!", but it's really not at all). Even beyond video capturing, or video at all, these are top impedences to enterpreneurial success. So to be good at video, you really need to just be an intelligent person. One that can learn, not argue (and be your own worst enemy), and not spend funds dumb/wrong (ie waste money on crap, and not invest in quality). See also "negative economics". Can you do it? Maybe! I always wish others the best here.

And what I can add is this:
- Several members of this site got my gear, took my advice, learned from me, and now run successful businesses.
- Some argued, griped, cheaped out, and both they and their businesses disappeared.

To bring it back on-topic...

Again, tearing is the single worst issue you're seeing here. But you have more. Fix tearing, and the others become obvious.

It's typical for home users to quit early, stop improving the quality, and make excuses about "good enough". But when yoiu're doing this for others, especially for pay, they need and deserve better.

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  #5  
03-16-2024, 02:04 PM
aramkolt aramkolt is offline
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LS makes a lot of good points. Best gear is best, especially if you are charging for it, but I'd at a minimum shoot for something that is going to be obviously visually better than what most people can do with very little technical knowledge - which would be needing to beat the quality of an Elgato video capture plus a cheap VCR. The setup you mentioned above probably will not do that.

When you have large artifacts like tearing, you'll almost always need a Panasonic DMR-ES10 or similar which will fix that at a minor cost to image quality. Benefits will obviously outweigh any other possible image quality loss elsewhere on a tape like that.

There aren't a lot of great direct comparisons to show you how much of a quality improvement you'll get with the "poor man's version" vs "unlimited budget/ability to refurbish on old equipment" videos out there. Much of what is online is self proclaimed "best way" to do things, but again, many don't take into account budget or final destination format/bitrate.

Elgato is actually pretty hard to beat if what you want is something that looks ok on a small cell phone screen and audio quality isn't too critical with the main advantages being super small file size (2GB/Hour) and ease of use. On a larger screen or with better speakers, quality deficits will immediately become apparent. On a tape like that, you'd still need to use it in conjunction with an DMR-ES10 to get rid of the flagging at the top of the image, but lots of consumers aren't going to know to do that and will assume that's just VHS being VHS and that's as good as it'll get after all these years which is incorrect.

On a budget, It's pretty hard to beat a modern S-VHS VCR that has good picture output over S-Video (without a line TBC since this is the budget version), a DMR-ES10 for passthrough to correct the line distortions you are seeing, and a modern capture card such as the Iodata GV-USB2, and a Windows 10/11 PC. Then capture using Virtualdub to lossless AVI, then deinterlace/compress that using QTGMC with Hybrid application.

Less the PC, that above setup can cost around $200-$250 total. Also keep in mind that many DMR-ES10's need their power supplies recapped if they won't fully turn on.

None of that is really "recommended" equipment on this site (other than the DMR-ES10 to use on problem tapes), but it'll give 95% of what is usually used for VHS captures these days a run for their money.

I am aiming to do an actual video comparison (with links to raw captures) against around 10 capture cards (Analog USB, Analog PCI, FirewireDV, SDI, HDMI, VHS_Decode, and boxes that can capture component or SDI to ProRes422 all included), 10 models of Frame TBC, and at least 5 VCR models (high end with Line-TBCs vs more basic+DMR-ES10), but I'm still in the "hardware acquisition phase" so I can't exactly show you samples at this point unfortunately. The aim of that comparison is to sort of "once and for all" show what sort of differences should be expected on different budgets and what the ease of use looks like with each chain. Seems like something like that done on identical sources (to include problem tapes and test patterns) would have been made years ago, but I have not seen anything quite like that out there.
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  #6  
03-16-2024, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramkolt View Post
Benefits will obviously outweigh any other possible image quality loss elsewhere on a tape like that.
The next biggest issue is off values, especially under/overexposure. The capture card and VCR compound the issue. Everything looks washed out, contrast overdone, often color/tints wrong, etc.

Quote:
There aren't a lot of great direct comparisons
Much of what is online is self proclaimed "best way" to do things,
That's just not true. Samples exist online, on various sites, going back decades.

Quote:
many don't take into account budget or final destination format/bitrate.
I routinely discuss budget options, but you must understand those have tradeoffs and downsides. Each compromise in gear results in multiple compromises in quality and usability, as well as increases the "set aside" pile (as in the tapes would not play, so it must be set aside for later). Now that's fine for the DIY homebody that wants budget only, and can outsource those "set asides". But not for a business that will accept all manner and origin of tapes. You cannot have a "set aside" pile, unless you want to reject most tapes (ie, why LegacyBox seems to do a lot of these days).

Quote:
Elgato is actually pretty hard to beat if what you want is something that looks ok on a small cell phone screen and audio quality isn't too critical
That's just being an apologist, making excuses for infamous crap devices. "It doesn't suck that bad" isn't a compliment. It's like using a go-kart when what you need is a car.

Quote:
On a budget, It's pretty hard to beat a modern S-VHS VCR that has good picture output over S-Video (without a line TBC since this is the budget version),
But condition matters. You're not going to get a reliable long-lasting machine from one of the recycler/reseller shysters on eBay, who claim everything is "tested" and "working" when it clearly is not. (Seriously, some "tesed" auctions show the electric plug is bent, so how exactly was that plugged in and tested again?)

Quote:
and a modern capture card such as the Iodata GV-USB2,
This card has issues. Oversuggested.

Quote:
Less the PC, that above setup can cost around $200-$250 total. Also keep in mind that many DMR-ES10's need their power supplies recapped if they won't fully turn on.
Those are ridiculous numbers.

Much of your reply was along the lines if: "You don't need to get one of them fancy cars from a user car dealer. Nah, heck no! Just pay ol' cousin Zeke for his 1985 Nova, it'll get you from A to B jest fine!"

The VCR alone, even good non-TBC S-VHS models, will cost more than this. Lowball random numbers will net you abused out-of-space crap gear. The point is to trade up, not to trade problems. Don't buy junk from a person that doesn't know the difference between s-video, S-VHS, and SCART. Those that wouldn't know a TBC from a toaster.

You're also overlooking the need for some form of frame TBC, even a weak unit to chase the line TBC(ish) of the ES10/15. Those ES10/15 are crippled, line TBC only, and pass errors, even through the A>D>A.

Quote:
None of that is really "recommended" equipment on this site (other than the DMR-ES10 to use on problem tapes), but it'll give 95% of what is usually used for VHS captures these days a run for their money.
It's not even remotely 95%, more like 75% range.

But I have made suggestions for certain JVCs > ES10/15 > modded/preset DVK > certain capture cards, and that can be 99%, though with the unavoidable downsides of the ES10/15 (luma changes, posterization, aggressive NR, etc). It's good at anti-tearing, but it is not a "TBC replacement" or "poor man's TBC" in any way. No more than a Zippo lighter is a "poor man's stove".

Quote:
The aim of that comparison is to sort of "once and for all" show what sort of differences
Too visual. There are lots of non-visual issues that create problems in a workflow. You don't "see" oxygen, but you need it for live. It's not too different for videeo capture, there are invisible issues that must be addressed, that you cannot "see". (Having to "see" everything is a simpleton understanding of the world.)

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  #7  
03-16-2024, 05:44 PM
rabbitfeet318 rabbitfeet318 is offline
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Thanks everyone. I'm in process of acquiring some gear (SVHS, TBC and new capture care). I'm looking forward to doing a comparison of tapes that I have already converted and post a comparison here. Appreciate all of the honest feedback and direction.
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  #8  
03-17-2024, 07:37 AM
aramkolt aramkolt is offline
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I have seen samples out there comparing between 1-3 devices on an identical source, but I'd love to be pointed to a comparison that looks at a wide variety of vintage versus modern capture cards to show specifically what the advantages of each are.

Even with oxygen that you can't see, there are ways to measure it. I'm not sure what else can exactly be measured if I'm involving vectorscopes and waveform monitors before and after TBCs, jitter measurements, signal to noise ratios, frame drops etc.

The comparison would not be to address the entire workflow - really just the hardware to use at the capture stage to make sure you're getting the best starting video at the budget you've got and to avoid common pitfalls like levels clipping, geometry issues, flicker, jitter, ghosting/ringing, frame drops etc. Some of that can be improved in post-production, but having less of it in the starting capture is usually preferable.

At the end of the day, if a human can't distinguish the capture made by a $200 hardware chain and a $5000 capture chain while displayed on a modern 60+ inch TV, why use or suggest the $5000 chain?
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  #9  
03-17-2024, 09:10 AM
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$200 and $5000 are both random numbers, neither of which are realistic to the discussion.

And again, it's not just about visuals. There are measurable/quantifiable issues that can make capturing a huge PITA, when using the wrong tools, or missing tools. It's like saying you only care what the car looks like on the outside, but it may have a failed engine, or even hamsters on wheels under the hood. You're being too visual. That will be your downfall.

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  #10  
03-18-2024, 12:32 PM
aramkolt aramkolt is offline
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I'm saying *do* measure everything (most noise/level clipping issues are easily visualized with a vectorscope/waveform monitor and dropped frames are reported at the time of capture) and if you still can't tell the difference between an expensive setup and an inexpensive one, why would you use or recommend the more expensive one?

The "looking at a parked car" analogy seems like you want us to compare the quality of a video capture based solely on a "paused frame" or something?
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