Blackmagic UltraStudio HD Mini
The Blackmagic card is a non-starter. Wrong tool for this task. It's a costly capture card, that results in problems and lower quality -- it's double punishment.
Better VHS player? With TBC?
Yes and no.
Not VHS -- you want S-VHS. And specific decks, not just any random deck.
If you go the ES10/15 route, internal line TBC must be disabled. The reason for the VCR is then transport quality, processing quality, etc. Some non-TBC JVCs can work, fewer non-TBC Panasonics.
But the most ideal quality will always be had from:
JVC/Panasonic S-VHS VCR with line TBC > Cypress/DataVideo type framesync TBC > ATI/Pinnacle capture
DVD-recorder with TBC passthrough?
A DVD recorder is not
a TBC, nor does it contain a true TBC. Almost all DVD recorders have basic frame syncs, and do nothing for you. Some claim TBC, but you must understand that TBC is a wide term, and can mean almost anything. So many "TBCs" do nothing.
The lone exception is the ES10 and ES15 unit, from Panasonic (and the +HDD versions in PAL). That has a crippled line TBC, with a frame sycn. It's very minimalist, and has a fail rate. To fortify the ES10/15, you want the DataVideo DVK (weak frame TBC). That combo can give 99% performance of a real TBC, though still with drawbacks of the ES10/15 (small quality hits, posterization, aggressive NR that's always on even when "off", etc).
But it a budget option when funds matter more than quality.
The TBCs you'll want are $1k+, not the cheaper flawed stuff you see on eBay
. The irony here is that eBay
is sometimes the same cost, or more expensive, for inferior gear. Too many people are relying on eBay lately, as the bad stories of eBay gear have multiplied.
Right now I have some in the marketplace, and will be adding a few more this weekend.
I really don't understand why this has been mentioned so much lately. SDI really hasn't been desired since the 90s. The problem is that it creates a closed-loop system. When you had pro sources, that was fine. But consumer sources like VHS do not work well with integrated/closed-loop setups. You must have the ability to isolate deck and TBC and capture from one another.
In the 2000s, pros were mostly glad to be rid of SDI systems. Hobbyists/amateurs never wanted anything to do with them (and probably still should not). I think it's because of costs (seeing as how nobody wants them anymore, condition of units is often rough), combined with some limited successes by some vocal buyers. I'm glad it works for those people, but the odds of it being recreated well is unlikely. Keep this in mind about SDI solutions, combined with VHS/S-VHS and Video8/Hi8.