03-18-2020, 07:27 AM
robertzombie robertzombie is offline
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I have a small but growing collection of commercially released VHS tapes of films, concerts, and television programmes that haven't been reissued on optical or streaming formats. I would like to capture these tapes, mostly for preservation but also to tinker with restoration tools to see what's possible. The tapes are all PAL from the late 1980s and early 1990s. They're in very good condition but the AV quality of the content does vary.

I have been reading the forum over the last few days and was wondering if the experienced members here might take a look at my proposed workflow and settings and let me know if I'm heading in the right direction. I should add that I have done VHS to digital transfers professionally before using broadcast equipment not available to me at home, however I haven't performed any video restoration. I have done plenty of professional audio restoration though.

First, my capture chain:
  • VCR: LG LV880. 2009 model, capable of PAL and NTSC playback, Hi-Fi audio. In excellent working condition, clean inside, clean heads. Only real downside is it doesn't have S-video output but it does have seperate audio output. Manual.
  • "TBC": Panasonic DMR-ES15. Visually in excellent condition, seems to be working well. I have a few questions about its settings though (below). Manual.
  • Capture device: Diamond VC500 USB.

Video path: LV880 > scart output > ES15 > s-video output > VC500.
Audio path: LV880 > rca output > VC500.

Will bypassing the ES15 for the audio path introduce any significant AV sync issues?

I'll be capturing the video to HuffYUV AVI and audio to 16/48 in VirtualDub. I'm going to use the guides here and here to configure the software.

ES15 questions:
The ES15 works but I'm finding some of the settings confusing because they don't always seem to do what I'd expect them to do, and there is some duplication of settings. In testing the ES15 hooked up to my 4K TV via scart, I've noticed that, even when the ES15 is set to output 4:3, the image stretches to fill the entire screen. This could simply be an issue with my TV's analogue inputs, but I have the TV's aspect ratio set to "Direct" so it should just display whatever's being sent to it. I can 'force' the ES15 to produce a 4:3 output by playing a 4:3 DVD and then switching to the AV input that contains the feed from my VCR. This successfully displays the correct 4:3 image on my TV and I can see the overscan lines at the bottom of the picture. Hopefully there won't be aspect ratio issues when I've connected the ES15 to the VC500.

Here are the settings that I'm using with ES15:
  • Comb filter: On (in my opinion this offered an improvement when viewing a VHS on my TV, but I'm not sure if it's better to de-comb in software)
  • On-screen messages: Off
  • Grey background: Off
  • TV Aspect: 4:3
  • Progressive: Off (not sure whether to set this to On? I couldn't see any difference when viewing a VHS and assume it's unecessary for VHS. Setting this to "on" does open up some additional display settings however)
  • TV system: PAL

Display > Picture Menu:
  • Playback NR: Off
  • Progressive: Off (see question above, if progressive is set to On via the Functions settings then additional settings are found here called "Transfer" auto/film/video. See here in the manual. Is it safer to just leave all that off?)
  • AV-in NR: Off

I have a colour bars and tone VHS that I recorded from the DVD available here. I'm planning on using this to set the audio capture volume in software. I was wondering if a capture of this VHS could be used to make any meaningful assessment of my transfer chain's effect on colour levels? Is it possible to create a colour correction profile by comparing the VHS capture with the master file and using that as a starting point for correcting other captures? I'm guessing not, but thought I'd ask.

So that's where I'm at so far. I'd be grateful if you could tell me what you think of this!

Last edited by robertzombie; 03-18-2020 at 07:44 AM.
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