05-24-2012, 05:16 PM
kamil kamil is offline
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Short story long:

I have a variety of VHS and 8mm Video8 tapes I need to transfer to a digital format. My desired solution is a final MP4 file with the video encoded using h264 and AAC for audio.

My setup:

Samsung DVD-V3500 VCR (used to play my VHS tapes)

Canopus ADVC55
DIP-SW settings
1 - Video Format: NTSC
2 - NTSC Setup Level 7.5 IRE
3 - Audio Input Level 0dv
4, 5, 6 - Reserved


Vidi 0.4.7 (For capturing from Firewire)
Output Files:
24.4 Mbps, 720*480 (4:3), at 29.970 fps, DV (NTSC)
536 Kbps, 48.0 KHz, 16 bits, 2 Channels, PCM


At this point, I have massive uncompressed DV files from VHS which are all interlaced. I'm currently using iFFmpeg on my Mac to convert all the DV files into my desired mp4 container. However, I don't want my videos to be interlaced in the final output. The videos will be played mostly on computer, but also on a WDTV (first gen) and eventually a Boxee Box on an HDTV hence the desire to have the videos deinterlaced. Basically I want my videos to be in the simplest format possible playable across all platforms without deinterlacing as it causes issues, ie; VLC doesn't always automatically deinterlace eventhough its the gold standard for the multi-format player.

Using Handbrake renders my results useless, no matter what profile settings/presets I use, my audio is always out of sync and seeking through the video is *very* dodgy, in addition the video always goes out of whack on the WDTV; fast forwarding or pausing causes a shift in audio sync by a few seconds.

Using iFFmpeg however gives not only superior image quality, but also correct audio sync even on my WDTV throughout entire videos and when pausing or seeking through the video. I should mention the WDTV has a known issue to incorrectly playback mp4 files and their audio, audio sync is always incorrect. My problem however is that I am seeing slight jitter in my videos. In VLC and Quicktime the jitter is hard to distinguish (if at all) but it is *very* evident on the WDTV. Basically, it feels like a 30fps video converted to 24fps. I don't get this result with Handbrake when playing the mp4 on the WDTV. I've tried a plethora of presets for iFFmpeg, settings and containers and nothing seems to work. Regardless of the converted file being interlaced with YADIF or not, nothing seems to be playing well with the WDTV. I've even tried using older FFmpeg binaries to try and resolve the issue without success. I've uploaded my results if anyone is willing to help out and take a look at my files.

These are 20 second clips, which include the MP4 results from iFFmpeg and Handbrake along with the original DV. Each file has its corresponding info file take from MediaInfo which gives all the specs on the converted files as well as the original DV recording (unedited 20 second clip) from Vidi.


The converted file size is large for the 20 second clip, but thats mainly because I want to preserve as much detail as possible yet still having a relatively small file in the end. I have about 20 VHS tapes and another 20 8mm Video8 tapes to record, which may or may not give different results as I have not yet acquired a Video8 camera to play them back (the one I had was stolen).

I do have Windows on my secondary partition so I am not limited to just a Mac centred solution. I've tried using AVS Video Converter but the results were very poor compared to iFFmpeg. If theres a similar solution for h264 encodes from DV on Windows, I am definitely open to trying those out.

Thank you greatly to anyone and everyone who will find some time to help me out with this issue!!
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Someday, 12:01 PM
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05-25-2012, 10:42 PM
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Hi Kamil, welcome to the site.

That's a really weak VCR. I'd upgrade to something better. Read this: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/vide...ing-guide.html

Canopus ADVC boxes are okay, but they're still compressing. In NTSC, it compresses both data rate (5:1) and colorspace (4:1:1). In PAL, it's just datarate that you ahve to worry about. PAL 4:2:0 is not anywhere near as bad as NTSC 4:1:1 when converting video. DV is great for shooting video, but not so great for converting analog tapes to digital formats. You're much better off using lossless methods, or even MPEG-2 at bitrates cooperative with the source.

Are you working in NTSC (29.97fps, USA/Canada/Mexico/Japan) or PAL (25fps, rest of world)?

Replying as I read. I now see you're on a Mac. Macs are pretty much forced into DV workflows, so the Canopus ADVC box is going to be your best option after all.

PCM audio should be 1536kbps, not 536.

If you absolutely must deinterlace, use Avisynth and the QTGMC plugin. Yes, this means adding Windows, and I suggest XP SP2. Either run in Bootcamp, or use virtualization -- either Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion. I like Parallels, but both work fine. Wine (WineBottler) will NOT work, don't waste your time with it. You'll load in Avisynth (use AvsPmod to make life easier), setup QTGMC, and then open the .avs file in VirtualDub. Save to lossless AVI, then encode that output to H.264 in your favorite encoder. I use and suggest MainConcept Reference, but Avidemux is a good enough freeware option for many people.

I realize that paragraph may look confusing, and come across like the teacher in Peanuts (Charlie Brown). A good friend tells me that regularly.

It's a process, and there is a learning curve.

We're doing out best to write guides on this site, on this exact topic -- good detailed guides -- but there's a lot going on right now, and it keeps getting pushed back. In the meantime, you'll just have to ask questions, and somebody here will answer as best as possible. Eventually, a lot of these posts will be scraped together to make the guide.

The AVS Video Converter is garbage. Don't use it.

I just looked at the "final" video. The DV box is what causes the cooked contrast. The cheap VCR is what causes the wiggly video and noise. It may also cause some contrast problem. You may be stuck with the DV box, but you can resolve most of this by swapping out for a better VCR. There's no software to fix the mess embedded into this video -- hardware is required, and a new VCR is the relevant hardware.

There also appear to be some dropped frames in the capture. Again, better VCR, possibly a TBC.

Read more about TBCs here: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/vide...time-base.html

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05-26-2012, 12:03 AM
kamil kamil is offline
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Holy moly, that is excellent advice. However, and I hate to kind of be a debbie downer, but those items are way out of my price range (at least at the moment). I've taken a quick look at the prices for the VCRs with TBC and they sell for upwards of $200... thats just the VCR alone, nevermind the TBC itself.

I think I may have jumped into unchartered territory. While I can definitely pick up the skills necessary to pull off PROPER VHS and 8mm recording and conversion to a digital format (i'm a graphic designer/web developer doing php and oop) I really think this is far more than necessary for my needs.

I don't mind the dropped frames and to me, the quality of these videos is good enough, I have a suspicion though that any visual quality improvement from a better VCR or TBC will be minimal (say, 3-5% generally speaking). I suppose in a few months I may be able to do all this, but I've already sunk quite a bit of cash into the endeavor, first buying the elgato video capture, then a dazzle dv-bridge and now the canopus advc55. I do find it a bit annoying that once the VCR plays video content that is slightly scrambled, the ADVC55 goes blank and doesnt pickup the video feed, thereby skipping that content. I would actually PREFER to have the scrambled video, basically one LONG video of nothing but the original film even if its crap quality. Though these dropped frames aren't frequent, the final result I've got right now has made me very happy.

My goal was to get an original copy of my videos form VHS and Video8 and trash the old VHS tapes. Now seeing that theres a better way to do things I may hold off on the idea. I say that because I'm a student and have only a couple weeks of school left, a freelance project im working on for a client after which I am immediately leaving to europe for nearly 2 months. So, spending cash on a personal project like this isnt a top priority (but its been a 'priority' for a while).

However, nothing is helping the situation as to why the encodes with iFFmpeg are jittery on my dads WDTV. Using Handbrake fixes this problem (and using the new Nightly Build of Handbrake, its also fixed my audio sync problem both on the computer as well as on the WDTV, essentially making it the superior solution).

Could you give me a quick explanation of how the setup would be if I were to acquire the gear mentioned in the TBC thread and VHS player? Ie; VHS player outputs signal to TBC which outputs signal to computer via some other interface and acquires final signal via firewire or something? I'm not sure how these work.
But lets say I do hold off on this project, how much better would the picture quality, and would it guarantee me having ALL the frames recorded, even the scrambled image? That would be ideal.

Thanks for the great info and resources!
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06-06-2012, 12:55 AM
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kpmedia kpmedia is offline
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Improvement from a TBC and better VCR is often far greater than just 3-5%. Quite often, it's like looking at two completely different tapes, with one being in excellent condition, and the other being in lousy condition.

One piece of advice I have is this: Family videos/photos are never a priority with anybody -- until they're gone.

So don't put it off for too long. You never know when natural disaster, fire, or something else may strike. Sometimes the tapes/photos simply get misplaced, and nobody can seem to find them. Sometimes the family goober accidentally erases a tape, or spills a drink on the photo album. If you are able to digitize them, and share them with family in several locations, then in theory you'll never loose those important family memories. The same can be said for rare hobby videos, where you send copies to a few friends/family for safekeeping.

S-VHS VCR > TBC > capture device. That's the chain.

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