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03-22-2010, 03:54 PM
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Okay, the next project is actually the last one, but using a different source. It’s a different copy of the same VHS. The last one sat on a shelf in Australia for over ten years, and never made it out of its cellophane wrapper, and as a result I think there was a lot of image migration. I recently stumbled on a copy which has made its way to the U.S. and was played a lot over the years. The thing I noticed about it was that either the player or the cassette was re-winding in a kind of funky way and not re-packing the tape evenly on the reel - kind of up and down, if you know what I mean. I’m thinking that there’s a good chance that, due to the repeated playing and the fact that the medium was physically moved around a lot, the image may have been saved a little more. I dunno, but I think it’s worth a try.
Geometry shows that storage position (or length of time) doesn't really have that much of an effect on tapes. That's more of an old wive's tale in video, than anything else. Consider the geometry:
  • The spool is round, so regardless of which edge the tape is set on, there will be gravitational force on the tape. No one edge can be better than the next. The idea that tapes must be set on a shelf like a book is generally traced back to preferences of librarians/archivists, and not for any other reason. They just wanted to treat tapes like books -- but over time, that became dogma because there was this (often false) perception that archivists know everything.
  • A tape laid flat, on either side, is still subjected to gravitational force. One side is not better than the other.
  • At best, you can argue a tape on edge is better than a tape that is flat -- but both methods still have the force of gravity working against them. Both storage methods lead to distortion/stretching of the tape materials over long periods of time.
The biggest issue with tapes is aging+humidity on tightly-packed film. The materials can bind to one another over time. The idea that tapes should be FF/REW every few years is good advice. However, sadly, many VCRs and winder devices can actually do more harm than good. High-speed REW/FF is a terrible idea on archived tapes. You want a nice steady and slow REW/FF to re-pack tapes.

Storage aside, there could be mitigating issues that cause oddities in tapes:
  • Humidity damage
  • Manufacturing dud, the tape was always bad
  • ... and a few more that I just know I'm forgetting about, as I make this quick reply
But I do know what you're talking about, yes.

Anyway, the last time this video was converted, there were black borders. Is that something that can be eliminated? .
VHS tapes inherently suffer from edge noise, due to overscan. All analog video is like this, being it visible CC data in a broadcast, or head-switching noise in the tape.

You cannot crop VHS>DVD conversions without harming the quality of the video. VHS is interlaced, and the best DVD conversion will also be interlaced. You cannot crop a video and resize it to the DVD-Video required specs without a deinterlace. And the deinterlace will harm the video. This harm can vary in quality, depending on the method chosen -- but it's still harm nonetheless!

The solution is to mask it -- cover it over with black. The black borders will not be seen on a television set. These can only on a computer monitor or special "no-overscan" broadcast TV monitor.

See this post for more details, and some example: Errors on the edges of converted VHS tapes?

The only time you want to deinterlace and crop video, is when it's being created for streaming use -- Youtube, for example.


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