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02-22-2022, 11:51 AM
loaf3r loaf3r is offline
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Hello everyone, I'm about to start digitizing a LOT of (S-)VHS tapes, so I wanted to ask all the knowledgeable people here if my current setup will do them justice, or if it's worth getting something better.

These tapes range from 1st gen S-VHS masters to "almost impossible to see anything" bootlegs.
I'm in a PAL region, but at least 20-30% of the tapes are NTSC, so any equipment in use would optimally support both, and record in PAL format (if there aren't any VCR's that can record both in NTSC and PAL).

My current setup is a Panasonic AG-7350 VCR, through a
Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD recorder, to a Hauppauge ImpactVCB-e PCIe capture card.

I use OBS Studio to record the video files at very high quality settings.
"Archival quality" isn't really my goal here, I don't need every single tape to be saved in a 60GB uncompressed file generally, but I still want the video quality to be as good as possible.

I'm pretty sure my VCR doesn't have any type of TBC built in, so I've been looking at getting either a JVS HR-S9500, or a Panasonic NV-FS200, because they are in my budget range, and seem to be pretty well regarded as far as I can tell.

I've also considered getting an external TBC to replace my ES15, but I don't really know of any that are known to be at the very least decent, and within the $500-600 I would be willing to spend on one.
I have been looking at using a Panasonic WJ-AVE5 AV mixing board as my TBC, because according to the manual, it has a built in frame synchronizer. Does anyone have any experience using this technique/equipment for this purpose? They are just expensive enough used that I'm scared of buying one, and it doing nothing for my use, and being stuck with it.

Would my current setup be alright, or should I get a better VCR (and possibly a better TBC solution)?

Much love,
Mick
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  #2  
02-22-2022, 06:28 PM
BarryTheCrab BarryTheCrab is offline
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Aside from your other questions you will certainly be scolded for using OBS.
If you’ve ever browsed any page here with the key words OBS and CAPTURE, you should put on a helmet and take your beating like an adult, and take the advice.
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  #3  
02-22-2022, 06:38 PM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Always wondered about this. OBS has a specific menu item for capturing from attached video capture device.

Unless OBS is a fraud, you wouldn't be doing a screen capture by selecting a video source... would you?

The only issue I see with OBS is that seems to be a fiddle to get access to external codecs like HUFF or LAGS. I haven't managed it yet.


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  #4  
02-22-2022, 07:08 PM
BarryTheCrab BarryTheCrab is offline
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My comments are absolutely parroted from years of reading daily posts many of which refer to OBS and many of which end in a smack-down of varying degrees of pain.
Personally I’ve never tried OBS, and if I do I’ll try it alone, in a super secret place where nobody sees me…

Last edited by BarryTheCrab; 02-22-2022 at 07:27 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  #5  
02-22-2022, 07:23 PM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Yes Barry, I do agree there is almost nothing worse than even mentioned OBS around here!

C'mon LS, what's the go with this "capture device" stuff in OBS?? Out with it! Are we going to have to drag you, kicking and screaming, into capturing in the 21st century with Windows 11 and OBS?
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  #6  
02-22-2022, 08:32 PM
loaf3r loaf3r is offline
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I just use it because it's what I'm used to, and my capture card won't always cooperate with VirtualDub properly because Windows 10 broke something with a driver or something at some point.
Again, my goal isn't to use a fancy codec and keep the massive files forever, so OBS Studio is just the simplest method, that works reliably, that also gives pretty damn good results without spending 600 hours fiddling with software from 1998 or using command line.
If there's some specific driver or other solution to make things work with VirtualDub that I just haven't seen anywhere before, please let me know

-Mick
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  #7  
02-22-2022, 09:30 PM
mbassiouny mbassiouny is offline
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I'm in a PAL region, but at least 20-30% of the tapes are NTSC, so any equipment in use would optimally support both, and record in PAL format (if there aren't any VCR's that can record both in NTSC and PAL).


PAL decks can play NTSC tapes, it's a weird signal. Not a recommended method for digitization. There are multi system VCRs that will output proper PAL and Proper NTSC, they are usually not so good. Ideally you need a native VCR for PAL, another for NTSC.

Quote:
but I don't really know of any that are known to be at the very least decent, and within the $500-600 I would be willing to spend on one.
There are some options, cypress variants mainly. But do you want/need one in your use-case? In your vary particular case You seem to just want something that appears on the screen, it does not matter how good it is. Do you have major issues that need correction/ preventing signal from being captured?


Aside from the OBS you are using as other pointed. (I used that a couple years ago, it was a mess to use with capture cards )

> "Archival quality" isn't really my goal here
> my goal isn't to use a fancy codec



Euh... a codec is just a way to encode data, there is no "fancy" notion in a codec. You want an efficient one, that does good compression. Now if you don't seem to care much about quality and don't want to capture lossless, then why exactly are you trying to upgrade your setup? I don't understand what you are trying to achieve

P.S: I have no idea what is your ultimate goal with the digitization project. But just gonna tell you that a lot of people say "I don't want pro quality", etc I don't want to spend time learning, I don't want to hire someone to do it bcz it is expensive... in the end they end up coming back and doing the digitization work again. Some move on and accept what they did tho. It is up to you to decide

Last edited by mbassiouny; 02-22-2022 at 09:56 PM.
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  #8  
02-22-2022, 10:24 PM
loaf3r loaf3r is offline
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When I said "Fancy codecs" I was mostly referring to what hushpower mentioned, and the fact that I can capture from my capture card in OBS Studio using YUY2, which is fine for me as of now at least. If I want to use a specific codec in the future I would probably figure out how to make VirtualDub cooperate with my capture card, then use that.

My goal is to get the tapes digitized in good quality, but I don't need it to be 100000% perfect, as seems to be the norm on this site from what I've seen.
Essentially my goal is to get as good quality as possible, without spending thousands on equipment if it's not necessary, because if money wasn't an issue, I would just get a full studio rig and use that.
Personally I usually record videos lossless, then compress (still using a high bitrate) and deinterlace the video using Handbrake. Again, it's probably better to use avisynth or something like that, but Handbrake works well for me.

I'm asking about a TBC, because a fair amount of the tapes that are lower quality are currently giving me a fair few frame drops when recording, both in VirtualDub (the rare times it works with my capture card), and OBS Studio. How I understand it is that a decent TBC would at least help with these issues, which is a big plus when there's a very unstable signal on the tape because it's a 60th gen copy of a workprint tape.
As always, I might just be doing something completely wrong, as I've only really worked with digital video at work and so on personally.

Overall I find that my software process works fine for me, even if it is probably not as perfect as it could be. What I'm looking for is for the signal that is sent to my capture card is as good as it can be, without spending my life savings on it. Again, I already have an ES15, so if that combined with a better VCR (like the ones I mentioned) would improve stability, that would be optimal, but I might also be misunderstanding everything too.

-Mick

Last edited by loaf3r; 02-22-2022 at 10:26 PM. Reason: Clarified
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  #9  
02-22-2022, 11:23 PM
traal traal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loaf3r View Post
my capture card won't always cooperate with VirtualDub properly because Windows 10 broke something
This is a common problem, and the solution is to use a Windows XP machine for video capture.
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  #10  
02-23-2022, 04:00 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Answering out of order some here...

Quote:
I'm asking about a TBC, because a fair amount of the tapes that are lower quality are currently giving me a fair few frame drops when recording, both in VirtualDub (the rare times it works with my capture card), and OBS Studio. How I understand it is that a decent TBC would at least help with these issues, which is a big plus when there's a very unstable signal on the tape because it's a 60th gen copy of a workprint tape.
As always, I might just be doing something completely wrong, as I've only really worked with digital video at work and so on personally.
Lack of frame TBC is extremely like the issue here.

You already have the ES15, which is a strong+crippled line TBC only, with non-TBC frame sync. It has a fail rate. You're running into that fail rate. It's not a TBC, but merely a DVD recorder with a unique passthrough function. But that passthrough is mostly good at line correcting nth gen, and then handing the signal to an actual frame TBC. Not the be used alone, as too many try to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loaf3r View Post
My goal is to get the tapes digitized in good quality, but I don't need it to be 100000% perfect, as seems to be the norm on this site from what I've seen.
No.

This is all that needs to happen:
- the actual video signal is retain
- not adding errors from a cheap/bad VCR
- not adding errors from bad capture cards, or bad software (including compression, artifacts)

Take DV, for example.
- VHS wasn't blocky. DV is blocky.
- VHS color didn't have a "cooked contrast" look to it, weird stepping patters, etc.

Or a cheap VCR:
- VHS video didn't wiggle on the tape, the junk VCR makes it wiggle (aka, when line TBC exists)

Or cheap capture card:
- VHS video didn't lose sync
- VHS video didn't have deinterlacing artifacts, zigzaggy lines, etc.

That's the goal. To retain quality, to not make it worse.

Unfortunately, due to the chaotic nature of consumer analog videotape signals, like VHS, a frame TBC is require. Not optional. The signal needs proper timing to be ingested without issues.

Restoration is where you improve quality beyond what was on the top. And that's not at all what is referred to 99% of the time.

Quote:
without spending thousands on equipment if it's not necessary, because if money wasn't an issue,
Buy it, use it, resell it. The gear holds value.

Quote:
I would just get a full studio rig and use that.
No you wouldn't.
Why? Because "a studio rig" is vastly different, multiples more costly.

Quote:
Personally I usually record videos lossless, then compress (still using a high bitrate) and deinterlace the video using Handbrake. Again, it's probably better to use avisynth or something like that, but Handbrake works well for me.
Handbrake does not handle VHS sources well whatsoever. Use Hybrid. Just as easy, GUI based, much better. And you can use QTGMC in it, as it automated Avisynth from the backend. Faster than Handbrake, too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
Unless OBS is a fraud,
I'm not aware of OBS making the claims. It's stupid users that make the claim, and misuse the software. For example, you must access capture cards as a webcam. And it does screen record, both audio and video. The mechanism for normal analog capture is quite different.

Quote:
The only issue I see with OBS is that seems to be a fiddle to get access to external codecs like HUFF or LAGS. I haven't managed it yet.
That's a major issue. And it's entirely due to OBS being screen recording software meant for streaming use. And it does for the intended function -- and VHS capture is not the intended function. It's like beating a screw with a hammer, or a nail with a screwdriver. Wrong tools. Sure, it might sorta-kinda work, but it won't be pretty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryTheCrab View Post
Aside from your other questions you will certainly be scolded for using OBS.
If you’ve ever browsed any page here with the key words OBS and CAPTURE, you should put on a helmet and take your beating like an adult, and take the advice.
I don't know about scolding or beating , but it OBS is the wrong path entirely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by loaf3r View Post
Hello everyone,
Hello, welcome.

Quote:
My current setup is a Panasonic AG-7350 VCR, through a
Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD recorder, to a Hauppauge ImpactVCB-e PCIe capture card.
I use OBS Studio to record the video files at very high quality settings.
That's a messy workflow.
Not the best VCR, quirks, quality concerns. Workable.
ES15 is very minimalist for TBC(ish), fail rate, as per above text.
Do not use OBS, not capture software.

Quote:
"Archival quality" isn't really my goal here, I don't need every single tape to be saved in a 60GB uncompressed file generally, but I still want the video quality to be as good as possible.
Those sorts of statements don't actually mean anything. What is "archival quality" supposed to mean? Video can be extracted from a tape with quality intact, or it can be butchered unviewable. So to me, "archival" merely means not screwing it up with cheap VCRs that play it badly, bad capture cards and bad software. To a large extent, that's all user error, nothing to do with the video that was on the tape.

Quote:
I'm pretty sure my VCR doesn't have any type of TBC built in, so I've been looking at getting either a JVS HR-S9500, or a Panasonic NV-FS200, because they are in my budget range, and seem to be pretty well regarded as far as I can tell.
FS200, yes. Not sure about 9500 in PAL, but 9600. And many others. But be careful where you buy from, don't run to eBay and expect a quality deck for cheap. You'll likely get a damaged unit for cheap, or at minimum a unit that needs maintenancee.

Quote:
I've also considered getting an external TBC to replace my ES15, but I don't really know of any that are known to be at the very least decent, and within the $500-600 I would be willing to spend on one.
Not for $600. That's the budget for not-really-TBC "TBCs", flawed units ("black" Cypress), etc. Too many users have wasted a lot of money on the wrong items. Several current members of this very forum are here precisely because they got screwed. After coming here, getting the good gear, many are now happily capturing.

Quote:
I have been looking at using a Panasonic WJ-AVE5 AV mixing board as my TBC, because according to the manual, it has a built in frame synchronizer.
"TBC" is a wide term, can mean many things. In terms of what we need to successfully transfer consumer analog formats, using capture cards, no, not that item. Mixers have TBCs for their own internalized needs, syncing between the sources. Those predate what we do now, and rarely work well, or at all.

Quote:
Would my current setup be alright, or should I get a better VCR (and possibly a better TBC solution)?
How much is your sanity and time worth? If you value that, then buy better gear. Right now, you're trying to longer, more difficult path -- and it may not work longterm, so wasted time/$$$.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryTheCrab View Post
My comments are absolutely parroted from years of reading daily posts many of which refer to OBS and many of which end in a smack-down of varying degrees of pain.
Personally I’ve never tried OBS, and if I do I’ll try it alone, in a super secret place where nobody sees me…
I (re)tried OBS as recently as last month, so whatever the current version was then. I was busy testing capture cards again, trying to find some viable paths for Win10. VirtualDub and VirtualDub2 refused to work with certain cards, on a certain system. OBS was a total failure, complete waste of time. It was expected. AmarecTV however, did work well, finally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
Yes Barry, I do agree there is almost nothing worse than even mentioned OBS around here! C'mon LS, what's the go with this "capture device" stuff in OBS?? Out with it! Are we going to have to drag you, kicking and screaming, into capturing in the 21st century with Windows 11 and OBS?
Windows? My daily systems are based on Linux and Android.

I have a Win10 system for the Elgato Wave:3 mic and audio work. But it doesn't change the fact that Elgato video capture cards are garbage, and Win10 is a PITA for video work.

When M2 Macs comes out, I'll get one of those for H.265 video editing, from an Atomos and Nikon Z6 II camera.

Capture consumer analog format video isn't a 2020s task, and 2020s tools are not what will give you quality, or often any usable captures. Remember, I worked for studios. Although health forced me to quit that, I have worked with indy filmmakers quite a bit in the years since then. A common theme is newbie filmmakers learning the hard way that any random OS, capture card, and software, gives crap video that will result in the film being rejected, disqualified, not being picked up, losing the comp, etc. Some DIY with the right tools (often gotten from me), some just want me to do it for them. Usually the former, filmmakers tend to be very hands-on, and expect to need it done again in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbassiouny View Post
But just gonna tell you that a lot of people say "I don't want pro quality", etc I don't want to spend time learning, I don't want to hire someone to do it bcz it is expensive... in the end they end up coming back and doing the digitization work again. Some move on and accept what they did tho. It is up to you to decide
That's exactly it. Many current site users are here for that exact reason. This is now attempt #2, after screwing up #1 from being cheap, lazy, or simply not knowing what they didn't (yet) know. Time caused regret, and they want to redo it. The sad part is when the person tossed the tapes, and now cannot redo it, instead hoping for magic filters that do not exist.

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  #11  
02-23-2022, 05:12 AM
loaf3r loaf3r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
That's a messy workflow.
Not the best VCR, quirks, quality concerns. Workable.
ES15 is very minimalist for TBC(ish), fail rate, as per above text.
Do not use OBS, not capture software.
What would you recommend to use instead? I know VirtualDub seems to be the most popular recording software, but as I said, it's not always cooperative with my capture card on Windows 10 at least.
I think I might have an old Windows XP computer sitting around somewhere, so I could always just try using it in that, and see if that works.

If I'm understanding you right, getting a better VCR, like the FS200, then running it through the ES15, and capturing the video using VirtualDub / AmaRecTV would be considered the bare minimum, and adding a good TBC between the ES15's output and the capture card's input would make it "good"?

I honestly want to avoid super expensive hardware, even if it keeps it's value, because I don't really have the possibility to spend $2500 on something at once at the moment, because I could suddenly need that money for something, and who knows how long it could take before it sells, so if there are any other methods, "controversial"/"sub-optimal" or not, that could at least improve the quality of the video signal, I'm interested in learning about them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Not for $600. That's the budget for not-really-TBC "TBCs", flawed units ("black" Cypress), etc. Too many users have wasted a lot of money on the wrong items. Several current members of this very forum are here precisely because they got screwed. After coming here, getting the good gear, many are now happily capturing.
If that budget is too low, what would you say the lower end of the "good" TBC units would cost, and what models are worth checking out?

Again, I have little to no experience working with analog video like this, so I apologize if I'm asking a lot of very basic questions someone has probably already answered in another thread.
Thank you for the great info you put out there on these things, and being willing to help inexperienced people like myself, lordsmurf!

- Mick

Last edited by loaf3r; 02-23-2022 at 05:15 AM. Reason: Added some clarification.
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  #12  
02-26-2022, 01:43 AM
servese43 servese43 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loaf3r View Post
My current setup is a Panasonic AG-7350 VCR, through a
Panasonic DMR-ES15 DVD recorder, to a Hauppauge ImpactVCB-e PCIe capture card.
The ImpactVCB-e might be a bit dodgy with Automatic Gain Control. I used to use this card and I noticed some issues with brightness in my captures. I'm not sure if this would be an issue with AGC or something else completely different, but the brightness of the video would adjust every few scene changes for the whole of the capture. I've attached a clip from one of my old captures demonstrating the issue.


Attached Files
File Type: mp4 AGC.mp4 (419.7 KB, 16 downloads)
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  #13  
02-26-2022, 02:25 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Max is a bit short there, Servese43!
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