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  #1  
02-06-2023, 08:23 PM
Townly Townly is offline
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Hello! I have a Panasonic AG 1980p that I'm going to capture via S Video into a Kona LHi.

1. Is AJA Control Room a suitable capture software? I plan to capture 10-bit ProRes 422 at source resolution/interlaced/framerate (525i 29.97 is what AJA Control Panel shows when I select "follow input"). Thoughts?

2. Still wrapping my head around the different audio settings outputs on the AG 1980p (Linear vs RCA vs HiFi etc). Any recommendations on what outputs or settings to use?

3. Kona LHi has XLR inputs, should I just a RCA to XLR cable or do I need something else (converter box etc).

Thanks!
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  #2  
02-07-2023, 03:56 AM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Hello! I have a Panasonic AG 1980p that I'm going to capture via S Video into a Kona LHi.
Sounds good -- any frame TBC? I originally thought I'd just go without, but eventually bought a great unit from an admin here.

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Originally Posted by Townly View Post
1. Is AJA Control Room a suitable capture software?
It's the best capture software for the current AJA cards (or Machina for the legacy cards) that I have found. I started using it on the recommendation of a user here who has been using it to capture with a 3G card for quite some time and has had excellent results. He uses s-video out from the VCR into a DPS575 frame TBC, and SDI out from that into the 3G's SDI input. That way the original analog s-video signal from the VCR is getting frame TBC applied with a single analog-to-digital conversion, and that digital signal is output uncompressed over SDI directly to the 3G for uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 capture. In this case the frame TBC is technically doing the conversion/capture and then just sending the digital signal to whatever SDI capture device and software is used to create the digital file on the computer. I run the same configuration going s-video out from VCR to frame TBC and SDI out to capture card. But my first captures were what you are proposing: s-video straight from the VCR via an Extron s-video Y/C BNC split cable into the Y/C analog inputs of the card's breakout cable (or breakout box).

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I plan to capture 10-bit
I was originally also wanting to capture in 10-bit in the hopes of squeezing out even the tiniest extra bit of detail or color or anything, and that would justify the file size increase. Then, via this site and further research, I got multiple factual explanations of how VHS doesn't hold enough information to utilize more than 8-bit digitization. Someone even proved what the members here were telling me by checking the binary SDI output of 8-bit and 10-bit VHS, and the 10-bit always had zeros for the additional bits -- so there's no further analog data to get from VHS with 10-bit, it will only change the file size and use more storage space. This is what finally changed my mind: [https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/vid...tml#post83208]

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Originally Posted by Townly View Post
ProRes 422
ProRes is up to you based on your workflow and preferences, I use the uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 AVI because I'm rarely in OS X, mostly Linux and Win 7. Personally if I were in OS X I'd still use a lossless/uncompressed capture format. That also goes back to my original thought of 10-bit and getting every bit of quality possible (within reason), and now I can't remember if I had looked into the possibility of 8-bit 4:4:4 or if I didn't get to that...

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Originally Posted by Townly View Post
at source resolution/interlaced/framerate (525i 29.97 is what AJA Control Panel shows when I select "follow input"). Thoughts?
Yep should be perfect, it makes the file 720x486 and then you change the display aspect ratio to 4:3 to get 640x486 (pretty sure I have those numbers correct off-hand). I haven't posted a screenshot of my Control Room settings but you can see my initial Machina settings screenshot here [https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/vid...tml#post83973]

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Originally Posted by Townly View Post
2. Still wrapping my head around the different audio settings outputs on the AG 1980p (Linear vs RCA vs HiFi etc). Any recommendations on what outputs or settings to use?
I don't know anything about those decks so I'll leave that for someone else. I just know the actual HiFi tracks on the VHS are higher quality than the linear audio tracks.

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3. Kona LHi has XLR inputs, should I just a RCA to XLR cable
I'm tempted to say "definitely not," but I haven't tested that myself so I can't say for certain. What I can say is that using a proper converter has yielded fantastic sound for my captures.

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Originally Posted by Townly View Post
or do I need something else (converter box etc).
My opinion and experience, yes. When I got my first AJA card I consulted a friend who is a high-level audio engineer and electrical engineer and general A/V nut. He recommended:

#1 the ART CleanBox Pro [https://artproaudio.com/product/clea...el-converter/]
He highly suggested this and that's what I got and the thing is awesome. Build quality, sound quality, all the little details, just excellent. I'm a stickler for QA and this is a purchase I've been extremely happy with.

#2 If I couldn't get that, he said to grab a Rolls unit instead and that would be fine. Can't remember model info for that but if you end up needing it I can ask him again.

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #3  
02-07-2023, 10:49 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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I'm not sure if all balanced audio connectors behave the same way or not but on the BE75 I was able to just short the ground and cold leads together (according to the user manual) and raise the gain in the audio menu and got away with using a balanced to unbalanced converter box. I would say give it a try if the Aja Machina has an audio gain feature.

https://www.youtube.com/@Capturing-Memories/videos
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  #4  
02-07-2023, 02:04 PM
Townly Townly is offline
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Okay cool, I'll check it out. Thanks
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  #5  
02-07-2023, 02:07 PM
Townly Townly is offline
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Wow, really appreciate all of the insight @Murmoy97. Thank you.

The deck does have a TBC built in so I was just going to use that...how important is an external TBC?
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  #6  
02-07-2023, 07:30 PM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Wow, really appreciate all of the insight @Murmoy97. Thank you.

The deck does have a TBC built in so I was just going to use that...how important is an external TBC?
Glad to help. This stuff can take a while to really understand and is extremely nuanced. I made the mistake of thinking all my digital tech knowledge and experience from IT would make this a cake walk. Very wrong, still a huge amount of info to go through and learn and comprehend since analog is completely different. Tough to find others who can provide correct/accurate information. Even harder to find that plus them having personal experience as well. Thankfully this forum has some of the most knowledgeable people I've found anywhere. On top of all that, everyone has different goals for these projects: different expectations for capture quality, previous level of tech proficiency, ability/desire to experiment with equipment and workflows, total time spent on projects, etc etc.

And on that note, your question "how important is an external TBC?" is going to depend on what you're doing. I spent some time in the beginning trying to find alternatives for everything just because that's what I like to do, research, try to find things that may have been overlooked and can be useful tools. I spend lots of time solving problems for work so it's just my nature to be curious about what's possible. At this point I've pretty much spent my max amount of free time for experimenting, and I'm trying to just stick with what I've got and leave it. From the beginning I decided that if I'm spending this amount of time doing captures of things that are important to others like their home videos, then (to me) that entails being serious about the highest possible quality within reason. So based on that (i.e. my perfectionist tendencies), I decided to only accept VHS tapes from family, friends, and anyone else who used at least a decent camcorder, only normal speed recordings, and a new tape recorded on once and then put back in its sleeve and stored in decent conditions. Again, lots of nuance going on. I have at least one family member who used a cheap VCR and an easycrap USB and was very excited to show us some absolutely horrific quality videos that they thought were incredible. And that's completely fine, I'm happy their project was a success and got results that pleased them, because that's what matters.

In the end, if you're serious about getting the best possible quality then I think the ancient wisdom handed down by on this site by LS still holds true:

[1] use a recommended deck with line TBC
[2] use a recommended external frame TBC
[3a] use a recommended analog capture method (hardware+software)
[3b] if using SDI out from the frame TBC instead of analog, then it's different because that digital signal is set by the frame TBC and is not affected by the capture hardware+software other than what capture file setting you choose, e.g. NTSC 8-bit YUV 4:2:2 525i 720x486 @29.97i uncompressed AVI

But that's definitely not the most popular route that people choose. There are lots of other methods and reasons for people choosing one method over another.

If a high-quality external frame TBC is an option for you --

Known good TBCs for sale:
[https://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/mar...c-1000-a.html]

I'd PM him and get his direct recommendations per exactly what you're wanting to achieve, what gear you're using, etc. Personally I wanted s-video input and SDI output, so he discussed a few options, and I chose the best one for me. I say any of those, and having at least something for frame TBC, is better than not having one at all. I also understand that it's not financially feasible for everyone. Again, the many nuances of all this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Updated Jan 2023

[B][COLOR=Green]Available:

NTSC+PAL

- early BV10, rebuilt and refurb'd, $2850 $2500 - pending
^^^ I'd inquire as to un-pending that and get it yourself
- green AVT-8710 clone, refurb'd, $2850 $2500
- green AVT-8710 clone, refurb'd, $2850 $2500
- green AVT-8710 clone, EOL version, cleaned/tested, for AG-1980 only**, $1750 $1500
^^^ maybe a budget option for you as that's your deck, assuming the deck is all good and you do all your capturing with it, which is no guarantee unfortunately
- DataVideo TBC-1000, excellent like-new, $2850 $2750

NTSC only
- Cypress, green AVT-8710 equivalent, composite only model (decent composite, not blurry), $750
- blue DataVideo TBC(ish), refurb'd, $500

PAL only
- Cypress AED-660, essentially green AVT-8710 clone sans proc amp, slightly softer s-video, $650

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #7  
02-08-2023, 10:05 AM
Townly Townly is offline
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Incredible. Thank you for sharing.

Curious how you were able to capture AVI in AJA Control Room...I don't see that as a format option?
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  #8  
02-10-2023, 02:52 PM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Curious how you were able to capture AVI in AJA Control Room...I don't see that as a format option?
Good question; I only know the Machina capture info at the moment and that's only because I can reference the screenshots of it that I've posted. In one of those I show the Machina "Capture" tab --> "File Options" --> "File Type" --> "AVI Movie." And that was in Windows 7 as opposed to OS X or macOS. I don't have such a screenshot of my Control Panel or Control Room settings to reference right now, and I'm pretty sure I remember both of those using at least a slightly different settings structure. Definitely different GUIs at the least. Some options may have also changed when using s-video input versus SDI; but not sure.

*** I just looked over my earlier replies to you. I apologize as I can see where I sort of merged my use of Machina and Control Room/Panel into a single generalization which is incorrect -- and in fact it's possible that I had only captured to AVI with Machina and had to use a different file type/codec/etc with Control Room. I also assumed your mention of ProRes 4:2:2 was due to your planning to capture in OS X/macOS, which may be wrong. I've only run Control Room in Win 7, so I may also have been making a bad assumption on exactly what capture file types and formats are even available since those can differ between OS versions with the AJA software. Essentially I made an info dump that I tried to keep relevant to your original post, but I did so without additional important details of your individual capture plan and setup.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmuy97 View Post
ProRes is up to you based on your workflow and preferences, I use the uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 AVI because I'm rarely in OS X, mostly Linux and Win 7. Personally if I were in OS X I'd still use a lossless/uncompressed capture format.
^^^ E.g. here I was just assuming you're a Mac user, at least primarily. Can you provide some more context on your hardware and software setup overall?

Right now all my VHS equipment is packed up and stored and the workstation I dedicated for capturing and encoding is apart being cleaned at the moment. I can check once I have that reassembled. IIRC the software won't give access to all the settings unless I unpack one of the cards and put that back in as well. May also have to check the manual again and see what it says based on your specific setup.

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Originally Posted by mrmuy97 View Post
That also goes back to my original thought of 10-bit and getting every bit of quality possible (within reason), and now I can't remember if I had looked into the possibility of 8-bit 4:4:4 or if I didn't get to that...
And this tangent can be ignored, same idea as 10-bit capture, consumer VHS doesn't even have that amount of detail/data in the first place.
Sometimes I just can't help myself from going overboard

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #9  
02-23-2023, 10:50 AM
occamslazer occamslazer is offline
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@Townly, I'm on a very similar journey to yours right now: just got an AG-1980P trying to figure out best practices with a Kona card on a Mac. I have a Sonnet Tech Echo Express SE I (https://www.sonnettech.com/product/e.../overview.html) headed to me today, which will act as a PCIe breakout box for the Kona LHe Plus.

I'm just curious about your experience in terms of setting up and cabling and all that, and would greatly value your insight before I dig into setting up this workflow in earnest this weekend. Thanks!
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  #10  
02-23-2023, 11:22 AM
Townly Townly is offline
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I ended up using one of my old 5,1 Mac Pro with PCI slots so I can't speak to the external sonnet box config.

I bought this Extron s-video Y/C BNC split cable to go S-Video from AG1980 into the Y/C analog inputs of the LHi card's breakout cable (or breakout box) —*https://www.ebay.com/itm/333961398545

I bought a custom-made Dual male RCA to dual male XLR cable (1FT length). To avoid interference, keep it short as RCA is unbalanced (my understanding at least). I ordered it from https://www.performanceaudio.com/. Service and cable were great.

After a test capture, I noticed the image was desaturated a bit so sending out the AG1980 for repair here soon (capacitor replacement most likely, etc).

As for TBC I might just roll with the built TBC or try out an ES10 and ES15... can't shell out 1-2k for a true frame TBC at this point.

One step closer!
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  #11  
02-23-2023, 12:11 PM
occamslazer occamslazer is offline
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It's a relief to see this list you have and that I have basically the same thing going on. I bought an AJA Y/C BNC split cable, and got a Rolls MB15b Promatch 2-Way Stereo Converter (https://www.rolls.com/product/MB15b) for the RCA to XLR balanced vs. unbalanced audio end of things for use with the breakout cable you have listed above. My workflow is maybe a bit more, I dunno, strange in that I want a signal path that not only goes one way for digital capture, but from the Mac back to the VCR in order to record dubs, original video mixtapes edited in NLE, that sort of thing. So I'm trying to get as close as I can to a true I/O workflow.

Additionally, I think I'll have to run a parallel signal path running to a Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt model) that is strictly for streaming. The Kona doesn't play with OBS, and I figure if there are any picture deficits from the BM Intensity Shuttle, it won't really matter anyway since it's getting squeezed by Twitch's compression algorithm, and it's not being stored for posterity. I've used the Intensity Shuttle throughout the pandemic for capturing and streaming analog sources, and I've been reasonably pleased with the results, but I'm leveling up my workflow across the board, and its lack of dev support with new Mac architecture is going to be a major hindrance in the very near future, I surmise.

I'm prowling for a solid frame TBC and proc amp, but that's all a matter of when finances meets opportunity. For the time being, I'm going to employ my ES15 I've used since the beginning of 2020. I want to retire it eventually for something designed to do the job the ES10/15 seems to do kind of accidentally, but it's been a solid workaround absent any of those pricier options.

I'm glad to report that my AG1980 appears to be in good working condition, at least *fingers crossed* so far. Also curious to hear about how your repair experience goes. Might bump this thread this weekend if I run into issues, or maybe just to humblebrag if this all goes well!

Thanks @Townly, and to all the posters in this thread and this forum, what an invaluable resource!
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  #12  
02-23-2023, 12:32 PM
Townly Townly is offline
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Nice. Yea I went back and forth on the Rolls convertor but after a deep dive on Gearspace, it didn't seem necessary and could just be another piece of hardware/conversion in the signal chain.

I'm planning to capture in AJA Control Room. Seems to work well on my Mac.

I thought my AG1980 was fine too until I compared it to another cheap VCR then I realized how washed out the colors were on the AG1980. I bought it used online so figured I should send it out for a tune up anyhow.

Curious where did you find an AJA s-video to dual female BNC? I only saw male BNCs when looking a while back. The Extron seems to be solid though.
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  #13  
02-23-2023, 01:02 PM
occamslazer occamslazer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Curious where did you find an AJA s-video to dual female BNC? I only saw male BNCs when looking a while back. The Extron seems to be solid though.
Y'know... I hadn't considered that. I'll likely grab some female-to-female BNC barrels this weekend from MicroCenter or some such.
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  #14  
02-24-2023, 11:59 PM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by occamslazer View Post
My workflow is maybe a bit more, I dunno, strange in that I want a signal path that not only goes one way for digital capture, but from the Mac back to the VCR in order to record dubs, original video mixtapes edited in NLE, that sort of thing. So I'm trying to get as close as I can to a true I/O workflow.
Not at all, that's one of the main features of these cards AFAIK
Depending on your output chain and settings from the Kona it can do a hardware downconversion to SD for you to input to the VCR's s-video input.

Quote:
Originally Posted by occamslazer View Post
The Kona doesn't play with OBS
Not surprising; hard to imagine why a typical AJA customer (professional/high-end video) would want to use any specific AJA hardware with screencap software like OBS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
I ended up using one of my old 5,1 Mac Pro
Perfect, those things are gold, lucky you kept it around!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
As for TBC I might just roll with the built TBC or try out an ES10 and ES15... can't shell out 1-2k for a true frame TBC at this point.
I believe a member on here is selling a good ES(10 or 15) for $200 in the classified section right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Curious where did you find an AJA s-video to dual female BNC? I only saw male BNCs when looking a while back. The Extron seems to be solid though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by occamslazer View Post
Y'know... I hadn't considered that. I'll likely grab some female-to-female BNC barrels this weekend from MicroCenter or some such.
Judging by what I've handled from AJA, I'm sure their s-video->BNC cable is top quality. But the Extron cable is certainly just as good quality, or at least extremely close; it is excellent. Also readily-available and inexpensive. Though there are Neutrik BNC F-to-F barrels if needed -- bought 2 myself after realizing I'd chosen the wrong cable at first with the male BNC connectors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmuy97 View Post
Pay attention when looking for these cables as there are also listings for similar versions that are s-video female and/or BNC male. They should be listed with different part #s and revisions, but look at the pics as well to verify.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
I bought this Extron s-video Y/C BNC split cable to go S-Video from AG1980 into the Y/C analog inputs of the LHi
Perfect
Extron s-video male to BNC female Y/C split cable
part # for 8"/20cm is 26-353-01 Revision G (exactly as you got) and 3' is 26-353-03

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #15  
01-01-2024, 06:02 PM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Townly View Post
Incredible. Thank you for sharing.

Curious how you were able to capture AVI in AJA Control Room...I don't see that as a format option?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmuy97 View Post
Good question
Following up on that point. Good catch. I had to physically add a currently-supported card back into the system in order to see those options again. I used an LHe Plus and LHi just now to check the capture options. There's no uncompressed AVI option with the current software (Control Room). It was only available in the previous software (Machina) for earlier cards. Now the option is the MOV container (still uncompressed). 8-bit YUV, 16-bit PCM. The uncompressed 8-bit YUV in AVI or MOV container both go through Hybrid for QTGMC.


Attached Images
File Type: png aja-control-room-mov-capture.png (13.3 KB, 8 downloads)

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #16  
01-03-2024, 12:05 AM
aramkolt aramkolt is offline
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Do you have any video capture clips you can post with the setup? I'm doing some SDI capture exploring and am curious what I should expect as far as results.
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  #17  
01-08-2024, 03:45 AM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramkolt View Post
Do you have any video capture clips you can post with the setup?
Nope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aramkolt View Post
I'm doing some SDI capture exploring and am curious what I should expect as far as results.
My guess is that even if we had 2 matching workflows with the exact same hardware and software setup, we could still get varied and differing capture results from an identical source -- maybe lordsmurf will elaborate with his experience on that.

I would only go by "what to expect" as far as purchasing known-good hardware from a proper source; installing and configuring known-good drivers and software according to a proper guide; etc. Those are variables that you can control and change as it suits your project specifications based on the information available. You can get a pretty good idea of what level of result to expect based on those decisions. Once you move into DIY and undocumented territory, there's no more reasonable guarantees unless you've got some sound hypotheses backing them up.

I will say that my interest in SDI began when a professional explained to me how he used a workflow similar to mine. Then I consulted with lordsmurf and he suggested one specific high-end frame TBC he had for sale which would let me experiment with SDI and Y/C output from the frame TBC. At that point, if I've optimized every single part of the workflow to the best of my ability, then that's just about the end of the line for my individual "highest possible quality" obsession. Then, after all that, maybe you see a difference between the two, or maybe you don't. So it's impossible to say what to expect to see as a difference between those results.

Sadly, it seems almost every case of SDI being involved in any type of analog capture on the internet has nothing to do with quality, definitely not competency, and is simply another "mOdErN" device (so it must be better!) being misguidedly slammed into an already terrible capture chain (not worthy of being referenced as a workflow). And I say that to encourage you to do it correctly.

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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  #18  
01-08-2024, 04:47 AM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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SDI is not modern, it was born with the standard that governs analog to digital video conversion, Rec.601. It was used on the first digital deck in history, the D1 format. Then when studios begun archiving analog tapes into D1 and later digital formats such as digibeta, SDI was the port of choice. Even though it supports up to 8k nowadays, it is still backward compatible with digital SD standard SMPTE 259M-C 270 Mbps.

https://www.youtube.com/@Capturing-Memories/videos
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  #19  
01-08-2024, 05:04 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
SDI is not modern, it was born with the standard that governs analog to digital video conversion, Rec.601. It was used on the first digital deck in history, the D1 format. Then when studios begun archiving analog tapes into D1 and later digital formats such as digibeta, SDI was the port of choice. Even though it supports up to 8k nowadays, it is still backward compatible with digital SD standard SMPTE 259M-C 270 Mbps.
It's more of a case of teaching old dogs new tricks. SDI itself is old, but some of the gear for it, for consumer analog sources, is "newer" (still legacy). The main point was that it's not better, just "another method", with it's own weaknesses and pitfalls.

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  #20  
01-12-2024, 01:02 AM
mrmuy97 mrmuy97 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
SDI is not modern
I did not say SDI is modern.
But by creating that argument you did bring up an interesting semantic point in what you said.
adjective: modern
"relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past."

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
it supports up to 8k
I suppose it just depends on if you consider supporting 8k to be "relating to the present or recent times."



Anyhow,

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmuy97 View Post
simply another "mOdErN" device

Blackmagic Analog-to-SDI converter = device
Serial Digital Interface = interface

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
[SDI] is still backward compatible with digital SD standard SMPTE 259M-C 270 Mbps.

Perfect for digitizing VHS (when done correctly).

Quote:
Originally Posted by aramkolt View Post
I'm doing some SDI capture exploring
Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
It's more of a case of teaching old dogs new tricks. SDI itself is old, but some of the gear for it, for consumer analog sources, is "newer" (still legacy). The main point was that it's not better, just "another method", with it's own weaknesses and pitfalls.
Exactly. It was yet another warning about the type of people found online who have seen/used/heard of "professional" video gear and think that an SDI or HDMI converter must be the best quality tool simply because the device outputs via a "modern" interface in comparison to analog. The insane amount of YouTube videos and forum posts to mislead others with incorrect information and plainly wrong "facts" is painful. But aramkolt seems to have a good grasp on reality.

recommended vcr+line tbc ---(Y/C)--> recommended frame tbc or "tbc-ish" ---(Y/C)--> capture
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