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01-08-2017, 08:43 AM
Qaenos Qaenos is offline
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I have about 30 tapes of home movies I need transferred in the highest possible quality. Since the footage contains personal footage, I'd rather not outsource the work.

I am interested in archiving the footage to my computer. One day, I may want to make DVDs, Blu-rays, MP4s for smartphones, etc., but I am not concerned about that now. As long as I have the videos in the highest quality (i.e. archival) form on my Windows PC, I can do whatever I need to do in the future without redoing the capture / transfer process.

The tapes are of the following formats:

-Hi8 (not XR)

I'm dividing up the project into 3 categories: (1) VHS/VHS-C, (2) Hi8, (3) MiniDV/HDV

Based on what I have read here on the forum, I'm thinking about the following workflows:


- Play tapes with Panasonic AG-1980 VCR
- Output from AG-1980 (TBC On, Edit On, DNR Off) via S-Video to AV Toolbox AVT-8710
- Output from AVT-8710 to Matrox MX02 capture card
- Capture in lossless huffyuv avi
- Process in AviSynth

Hi8 (not XR):

- Play tapes with a Sony Hi8 camcorder that has TBC, S-video out (like CCD-TRV615)
- Output from Hi8 camcorder (TBC On, DNR Off) via S-Video to AV Toolbox AVT-8710
- Output from AVT-8710 to Matrox MX02 capture card
- Capture in lossless huffyuv avi
- Process in AviSynth

MiniDV / HDV

- Play tapes with any HDV camcorder that has IEEE 1394 out
- Output from camcorder via IEEE 1394 out to firewire input on Windows 10 PC
- Capture in DV via ScenalyzerLive
- Process in AviSynth

My questions / concerns:

- Is there anything wrong with the above workflows? Am I missing anything? Am I including something that's overkill? Are there any other recommendations? I'm looking for the best possible quality, but I don't want to spend money that I don't have to.

- I've read here on the forums that VCRs have to be serviced first before they are used, to make sure everything is as good as it should be. Ok. Let's assume that I buy or get a used VCR "serviced". I play my VHS/VHS-C tapes. It looks "ok" (I mean VHS doesn't look good to begin with). Maybe there are some obvious problems (noise, jitter, etc.), but I don't know if that's just to be expected with VHS/VHS-C. How do I know if the VCR has been serviced properly, i.e. I'm getting the best possible quality?

- Does the Hi8mm camcorder need to be "serviced" too for best quality? Or if it "works" (i.e. plays back the tape "fine"), then is that all that I need to be concerned about?

- Does my assumption that "any" HDV camcorder will do for playing a MiniDV/HDV tape via IEEE 1394 hold true? I am also assuming since it's a digital transmission, I don't need to worry about the HDV camcorder being "serviced", i.e. if it "works", then it's good enough.

- I've been reading about "defects" concerning the AVT-8710. Will these defects affect me? How do I avoid them? Are there alternatives to the AVT-8710? I looked at this forum for recommended TBCs and other than the Datavideo TBC-100 (which isn't available, even on eBay), they all have problems of their own. In 2017, what TBC should I be looking for? I noticed there seems to be some AVT-8710 clones on eBay (i.e. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Video-Time-B...UAAOSw3xJVYR~H). Anyone know anything about these? What about replacing the AVT-8710 with a Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD Recorder used as a pass-through. Will that be fine for my workflows?

Last edited by Qaenos; 01-08-2017 at 08:56 AM.
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01-09-2020, 01:30 AM
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Long post. Replying as I read...

Reply recently requested, missed this when originally posted.

Understood about not outsourced, some folks just do not feel comfortable with it. So the next best option is to buy the needed equipment, as you can always resell it when done with the project.

Standard workflow is VCR > TBC > capture card.
Not just any VCR/TBC/card, but recommended models known to give quality results.
Your proposed workflow seem fine, good hardware is listed.

The only addition I'd make is to mention that consumer DV cameras were rarely truly 720x480 image resolution, the sensors/optics had lots of noise and were not great. Very often, you can actually capture DV with s-video out from a camera, and you can't tell a difference in quality. The main advantage of this is that DV transfer software (WinDV, etc) can sometimes be a pain.

Nothing listed in overkill.

Yes, lots of bad VCRs exist out there -- especially on eBay and Craigslist. And that includes all the "working" and "tested" decks that actually do not work. Many problems require new parts, so lots of decks cannot be serviced anymore. Donor parts decks are required, takes time, has costs.

There is a huge difference between a plain consumer VHS VCR and a recommended JVC/Panasonic S-VHS deck with line TBC. Noise, jitter (layman jitter), wiggling (technical jitter), color quality, etc.

All cameras/VCRs need maintenance, ie "serviced". But the biggest mistake people make is to "clean" (overclean, badly clean, wrongly clean) decks, and the ruin the device. Lots of bad methods, and some true knuckleheads are Youtube give horrible advice (ie, use Q-tips, put moldy tapes in a VCR, etc).

Any HDV cameras should work for HDV tapes.

The black AVT-8710 has major defects, ruins your capture. Green or nothing. There are several clones from the same era, as the AVT-8710 was actually just 1 model of Cypress. I often has my extras listed for sale in the marketplace subforum. Some DataVideo are equally good.

The ES10/15 recorders are not TBCs, do not replace TBCs. Those units have some mild TBC(ish) abilities, and must be paired with DataVideo DVK/5000 units to be a true TBC(ish). It will still have ES10/15 artifact noise, but how noticeable that is also depends on the source. The pair is essentially a "poor man's TBC", but it does work well for those on a budget.

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- For sale in the marketplace: TBCs, workflows, capture cards, VCRs
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