Hi there everyone, I decided to bite the bullet and just ask my questions.
I was inspired by a colleague of mine to digitize all of my family's old home videos and give them to my family as gifts on flash drives. After watching a youtube video (this one
, which I'm sure you get questions about every few weeks) and getting crappy results (I was using an EZCap card... smh), I found your website and I've decided to upgrade my gear and maybe set up a better and smoother workflow for myself. I've got about 40 VHS tapes to back up, 20-30 Hi8 tapes, and a few others that I'm sure are hidden away at my dad's house. I don't have a ton of video editing experience, but I'm a fairly technologically savvy engineer (not for software), so I catch on quickly.
A lot of our home videos have been shot on home camcorders that aren't particularly amazing quality, and from the camcorder was transferred to VHS's back in the early 90s, so there's some loss in quality right from the get-go. I guess I'm wondering if it's worth getting a real quality setup if I know the source material probably isn't great in the first place, and what the price point is that would max out something with not-so-great analog in the first place. I'm probably willing to spend up to $1000, with the expectation that I end up selling equipment back at some point, probably on this forum.
Here's my gear, with some questions:
VCR: Hitachi FX695 -- From research this is an awful player, but I found it at a thrift store for about $10. My dad also has a JVC HR-D9600U sitting at his house that I started with, but it powers off whenever I try to rewind, fast forward, or if it plays continuously for at least an hour, so using it has been a pain to say the least. When I captured side-by-side with the JVC, I didn't notice a drastic difference, but maybe it's my novice eyes. It was also a short period of time. It's also only got component cables and no S-video output. I haven't been able to find any information about this player or whether it has its own internal TBC and see if I should get it repaired, or if I should just buy a new VCR set-up entirely.
TBC: None, as it looks like all the good ones are totally sold out right now. See my comments above -- if these tapes were shot on crappy handicams and then trasnferred to VHS's, I'm not sure if a TBC would even improve the signal strength that well. I found 4-5 of the VHS's in a box next to a bunch of magnets, and a TBC probably can't fix a problem that huge. I'm wondering if there is a device that is good enough to get the bare minimum cleaned up without trying to make the picture absolutely pristine?
Capture Card: Diamond VC500, which has been a massive improvement from the EZcap card. I've heard "it's good enough", but is definitely not the top qual.
And some general questoins:
For my Hi8 tapes, I am not 100% positive what camera they were recorded on or which camera I could play them back on, but i know they are at my dad's house so at least I have some method . If the VCR has a TBC, does it make sense to go through input ports on the VCR and capture from there, or to skip the VCR entirely and go directly form the camcorder to the capture device?
I've been capturing on VirtualDub
using Lagorith -- once the video has been captured, I really haven't used any of the post-capture filters in VD other than the "deinterlace" filter. Which filters are "mandatory" to you? I also see a lot of mentions of Avisynth but no easy guide for how to use it -- can someone point me in the correct direction? What is Avisynth good at that Virtual Dub fails at, and vice versa?
What's your opinion on the best way to capture videos with drastically different color and light settings? I tired using the histogram feature but it's hard to balance when the lighting is so different at different moments -- I've got tapes where we are indoors blowing out a birthday candle (the only source of light) and then immediately cuts to a bright sunny day outdoors, which makes it hard to capture properly. Can this just be fixed post-capture, or do I need to put on different capture balancing settings while pausing/starting the capture over and over again when the light shifts?
I'm sure more questions will pop up, but appreciate any help I can get!