Using AmaRecTV for video capture as an alternative to VirtualDub
I've put this little guide together to help those of you that are at their wits' end with audio and video not being in sync when capturing with VirtualDub
. I've dumped hours and hours into trying to get the recommended software configuration to work, and it just doesn't work for me. From some of the threads I've seen, others are in a similar boat.
AmaRecTV is an alternative capture software to VirtualDub. It has worked where VirtualDub has failed. I went from having horribly out-of-sync audio/video with VirtualDub to rock-solid captures with AmaRecTV. I was able to capture a full-length film, from beginning-to-end, two times in a row, with 0 framedrops and perfect audio/video sync from beginning to end using AmaRecTV.
I'm not claiming to be an expert at VHS archival and I'm not recommending doing what I outline below as a first option. You should have already tried everything LordSmurf recommends. I'm just an engineer who has researched ad nauseam, got fed up with VirtualDub's problems, and has learned a lot by reading posts on this forum. Hopefully this helps some of you:
This guide IS for you if you are:
This guide IS NOT for you if you are:
- Using good equipment (A recommended VCR, a recommended frame TBC, and a good capture device like an ATI USB 600)
- Having 0 framedrops during capture
- Finding that audio is not synced with video in the resulting capture file and you've tried everything you can think of to remedy the problem without success
- Getting framedrops during capture. Framedrops will 100% cause audio/video sync issues. You probably don't have a frame TBC, are using a defective frame TBC, and/or are using a subpar capture card. You'll need to upgrade your capture hardware to avoid framedrops, unfortunately.
I'm using capture hardware refurbished and sold directly to me by LordSmurf. I've also included my PC specs so maybe we can figure out some common ground for those of us that are having this issue.
What I Tried Before Using AmaRecTV
- VCR: JVC SR-MV45
- Frame TBC: Early model BigVoodoo TBC10 (basically a Green AVT-8710 and DataVideo TBC-1000 in one)
- Capture Device: ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K
- GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7900
- OS: Windows 7 64-Bit
There are a million factors on the software and PC hardware side that could be contributing to what has been a very frustrating experience for some of us, so none of this should be understood as a challenge to what LordSmurf recommends. This is a backup plan to implement after you've tried everything else. Many of the things I tried are documented in this thread
, but here's the "short" version:
- Installed my ATI USB 600 the correct way with the recommended drivers.
- Utilized LordSmurf's recommended version of VirtualDub and HuffyUV
- Worked with LordSmurf to determine optimal VirtualDub settings for my setup
- Pored over this very thorough VirtualDub Settings Guide
- Trying various combinations of settings in the Timing area of VirtualDub ("Do not sync...", "Resync...")
- Unplugging every USB device other than the ATI USB 600. I would literally press F6 to initiate capture (which would insert 8-20+ frames immediately), then unplug my mouse and keyboard, then play the tape, then re-connect my mouse and keyboard after capture was complete.
- Attempted running VirtualDub in Compatibility Mode (Windows XP)
- Tried initiating capture after starting the tape playing
- Killing absolutely every Windows program/task/service (including wifi connectivity) that I could prior to capturing in VirtualDub.
- Making a new Windows profile just for VHS capture and running minimum-necessary programs.
- Capturing to an SSD rather than HD, to rule out potential disk i/o issues
- Utilizing a different encoder than HuffyUV like Lagarith
- Trying new versions of VirtualDub 32-bit and 64-bit.
- Capturing via the TV area of ATI's Catalyst Control Center, which captures to mpg, and has virtually no setting customizations, but was a useful diagnostic tool. It had PERFECT video/audio sync. It confirmed for me that VirtualDub was the issue, not my capture hardware or PC.
I simply could not get VirtualDub to capture rock-solid video. I had seen some mention of AmaRecTV in various threads, and lollo2 also mentioned it in a thread I made seeking help, so I gave it a shot, and boy am I happy I did.
Which Version of AmaRecTV to Use
You can obtain AmaRecTV 3.10 from this VideoHelp download page
. There are newer versions of AmaRecTV, but you SHOULD NOT use them.
You'll be shooting yourself in the foot if you download and install a newer version. To understand why, you can read the comments on the download page linked above.
How Should I Configure AmaRecTV?
AmaRecTV's configuration is arguably a bit wonky. Hopefully my setup helps you as you decide how to configure yours. It's geared toward VHS capture.
All of the configuration you're about to set up will be stored in the amarectv310 folder that you unzip. The config file is named "AmaRecTV.ini", so if you ever want to reset things you can just delete that and relaunch the program. Or, if you want to hold onto a couple of different configurations, you can just swap multiple copies of this file in and out as needed.
If you don't see a tab mentioned here, it's because I didn't change any settings on it.
When you first launch AmaRecTV 3.1 you'll be met with this window:
Graph 1(Device) Tab
Clicking OK will automatically take you to the "Graph 1(Device)" tab of configuration where you can select your capture device and define the resolution, framerate, video format, and audio bitrate you want to capture in. Here's what mine looks like:
Graph 2(Preview) Tab
As the tab name indicates, I believe these settings only affect the video preview, not the actual video capture, but since I'm paranoid, I made changes to the aspect ratio, deinterlacing, and scan line doubling as shown below:
This is where you can set up your video and audio compression. I don't know what's up with the "Frame rate" on this tab, but I'd leave it as-is. It is the "Graph 1(Device)" tab that affects your capture framerate, not this one. HuffyUV
is generally the recommended codec around here. You'll need to have installed it first (scroll down after clicking)
, but if you have, you should be able to select the "Other Codec" radio button, click the "Update Codec List" button below, and you'll see it in the list of available codecs.
I was concerned that I couldn't specify the color space in AmaRecTV's codec options. I really didn't want to capture in 4:2:0 when the ATI USB 600 can capture 4:2:2. However, it WILL capture in 4:2:2 if you specify HuffyUV, as you'll see later.
Leave audio on "(Uncompress)".
You can set the base path and filename prefix for your recorded files here. AmaRecTV will automatically add a datetime suffix to the filenames every time you capture, so you don't have to worry about overwriting existing files if you forget to change the filename, as you might with VirtualDub.
Capturing and Capture Results
There's not as much info during capture as there is in VirtualDub. All you have available is what shows at the bottom of the window:
- Capture Time
- Capture Size
- Remaining Available Disc Space
- Preview Window Resolution
- Preview Window Approximate FPS
- Approximate Capture FPS (Don't worry, it'll say 30, but if you specified 29.97, it'll be 29.97, as I'm about to show)
- Number of frame drops
Here's a screenshot of the final moments of full-length film VHS I captured. It had perfect audio/video sync throughout all of the spot checks I did. I captured the same film a second time and it was perfect again. However, I could NEVER get this film to capture properly with VirtualDub:
When I was first capturing, that "30 FPS" concerned me (it should be 29.97), but that number is not really representing what is being captured. In the attachments below you'll see example_clip.avi
...if you throw that clip into MediaInfo, you'll see that it has the correct resolution, the correct NTSC framerate, the correct 4:2:2 colorspace, and that it is still interlaced (which is good, because we can use a proper deinterlacer later like QTGMC via Vapour Synth rather than being forced into using a subpar deinterlacing method). At least on paper, all indications are that you are making NO compromises in the quality of your capture if you use AmaRecTV. See for yourself:
...and well... That's it! There could be a typo here or there, or something I missed. ...and I'm not one to think there couldn't be gaps in my knowledge. But, if nothing more, I hope this gives some of you that were feeling hopeless a path forward.
If you see any problems with this guide, or have any other input, by all means post a comment.