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  #1  
06-03-2022, 01:10 PM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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Planning on converting 15-35 year old VHS tapes. Dozens of them. I have two options for playing the tapes, a basic Goldstar VCR/DVD player, probably 20 years old, or a full-size Panasonic high quality camcorder circa 1988. The VCR probably cost $200 while the camcorder cost $2,000. Two questions:

1. Run the tapes on the VCR or the camcorder?

2. I have $150 to spend on equipment to perform the conversions. I’m obviously all set with the front-end player, and have a good PC for the back-end. What is the best product to purchase, keeping in mind I’m not a software genius. I just need something to create good quality digital files relatively simply.

Thanks for your help!
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  #2  
06-03-2022, 02:37 PM
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Panasonic is likely higher quality than the Goldstar, so I'd use that if you must. You'd be better off with an s-vhs player from JVC that's recommended on this site.

I mean, you won't be getting a true TBC for $150. Maybe try a panasonic DMR-ES15 for "TBC"-ish passthrough.

Decent capture software is free and you can find links on this site. Virtualdub is a classic unless you want to use ATI software that comes with the capture cards.

Spending time and money on a bygone era
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  #3  
06-03-2022, 03:00 PM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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I’m not seeing what is performing the conversion. I already have a playback device. I don’t see in what you wrote what connects the VHS player to the computer or standalone converter. I’m not buying a 3rd playback device for this.
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  #4  
06-03-2022, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjr07 View Post
I’m not seeing what is performing the conversion. I already have a playback device. I don’t see in what you wrote what connects the VHS player to the computer or standalone converter. I’m not buying a 3rd playback device for this.
You're not understanding. There is no "3rd playback device". Yes, a 3rd device, but not for playback.

You need to assemble a workflow for a VHS conversion project...

What you know about VHS is probably incomplete, and based on 70s/80s/90s/00s limited understanding of plugging a VCR into a (probably old CRT) TV. VHS signals were erratic, and TVs did their best to compensate. TVs are not capture cards, and capture cards expect non-erratic signals. The tapes (actually the signal off the tape) needs to be tamed, corrected. Then the capture card can capture without issues such as audio skew (due to dropped frames).

So, workflow...

You must have a VCR (duh, right?).
But when you cheap out on the VCR, you must add a ES10/15 type recorder as a TBC(ish) passthrough device. Not playback, passthrough. It will never look as good as the actual quality (recommended, suggested) VCRs for this task, the JVC/Panasonic type S-VHS VCRs with built-in line TBC, but it's passable.

Next in a workflow comes the frame TBC. Lots of people want to avoid TBC, due to costs, but it's a fool's errand. At very best, you can hope your tapes sources (almost always camcorder tapes in SP mode, almost never VCR-made tapes) will cooperate with the non-TBC frame sync in the ES10/15. It will work some % of the time, but rarely for all tapes in your collection. Some errors may not be seen until you watch the footage.

So:
- Line TBC (mostly) corrects the image.
- Frame TBC (mostly) corrects the signal.
You need both.

The "3rd device" acts as the first (line), and sorta-kinda (not really) the second (frame).

If you think you're going to cram a tape in a random old VCR, into whatever capture card, you're in for a surprise. It won't work.

workflow = VCR > TBC or TBC(ish) > capture card

Understand better?

Now then, the original camcorder is almost always the wrong device for playback. Almost. Depends on factors, mostly misalignment recordings. I know this means nothing now, but it's not worth addressing unless errors with playback quality ("tracking issues" that are not actually tracking, but alignment).

$150 will buy the ES10/15, but not a quality capture card. Note that you must have the OEM remote for ES10/15, so do not fall sucker to those cheap units on eBay that are sans remote. If you buy an Easycap or clone (aka Easycraps, an earned nickname), the cheap Chinese USB capture cards, you will have troubles, and you will have vastly degraded video. Double the budget. You're trying to make a meal for 50 cents, or buy a new car for $5000. The number is simply not adequate.

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  #5  
06-03-2022, 09:02 PM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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A word of advice, avoid starting a post telling someone they’re “not understanding” something. It’s just calling them stupid. In fact, had you not felt the need to preface your discourse with those words, I might’ve paid more attention. I can’t just ‘double’ the budget. I have two options for playback, the VCR and the camcorder. Since I’m not going to have the gold standard workflow, clearly pointed out to me already, I will simply put the same tape through both and see which looks better, then run all my tapes through that one. I’m not going to get any TBC-ish hardware. I get it’s the ideal. But it’s the VCR or the camcorder for me. That’s all I have and can afford. It’s my cross to bear. You saying it won’t work at all and I won’t have any digitized video output well, I guess I will find out. So, I have $150, I will either get hardware that connects the VCR to the PC, or one of those standalone products that will convert the video directly and save it to a thumb drive. This was my conclusion previously, but was hoping to get some advice here on which is the better way to go. I do understand it’s not the perfect setup. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get my money back and just have tapes that will continue to degrade. I’m not going to be around much longer anyway.
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  #6  
06-03-2022, 10:54 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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Capture devices recommendation nowadays is not that easy, I stopped recommending capture devices (with few exceptions) about 3 years ago, The reason is, it all depends on your OS system, the condition of the tapes, the stability of the signal coming from your playback machine, The budget involved and the individual expectations, There is no size fits all or the best thing ever.

When you see someone recommending getting a stable playback VCR the reason behind is that you have better chance that any capture device would lock on the signal, Low end VCR pushes you to look for good capture devices like the ones from the 2000's era under Win 7, good drivers, stable performance.

You are angry, you are not alone, this task becoming a rabbit hole, and a whole lot of frustration for a lot of folks like you, Newer computers are not designed for these kind of things, they are made for social media, YouTube, online shopping and porn, You pretty much are limited to what you can do with a modern computer in terms of creativity and connectivity, it can be done though with a learning curve.

As I always say, have someone do this for you at a fee, Or dive in and learn it to get the job done right and resell the equipment you bought after you're done, Or just get a Chinese device as you mentioned and get the video from point A to point B, quality will be affected, also you are more likely to buy more than one device to get one that works without problems, but they are like $5-$10 each and you know the reason why.

https://www.youtube.com/@Capturing-Memories/videos
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  #7  
06-03-2022, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjr07 View Post
A word of advice, avoid starting a post telling someone they’re “not understanding” something. It’s just calling them stupid. In fact, had you not felt the need to preface your discourse with those words, I might’ve paid more attention.
You're going out of your way to be offended. Stop.

Quote:
I can’t just ‘double’ the budget.
Then you have to understand the consequences of using the wrong tools.

Quote:
I have two options for playback, the VCR and the camcorder.
I get that. So the requirement here is the ES10/15 type line TBC and non-TBC frame sync ... and hope it works. It might, it might not. It will likely work for some %, but not 100% of the tapes, maybe just 50/50 at best? Depends on factors.

Quote:
I’m not going to get any TBC-ish hardware. I get it’s the ideal.
No. A complete lack of TBC is not just "not ideal". Again, you're (now seemingly willingly) not understanding the issue. Timebase correction is a requirement, not a "fancy" option. Lack of TBC will result in multiple kinds of errors being retained in the captured video, if it doesn't just refuse to capture at all (due to false positive anti-copy; with anti-copy being nothing more than an artificial errors, natural errors can trip the detections). Non-TBC'd video will be anything from pretty crappy to unviewable.

Quote:
That’s all I have and can afford.
Why the rush? Wait, save some for the proper tools.

In the overall world of video, $300 (cost of good capture card, good ES10/15) is peanuts. It's amazing that the hardware has fallen so far in the past decade or so. A quality capture card was $300, and that same recorder about $250, back in 2005. And we've not even considered inflation.

Quote:
or one of those standalone products that will convert the video directly and save it to a thumb drive.
Well, good luck with that. You refer to the infamous "ClearClick" devices, which essentially butchers your video to the point where even viewing on a cell phone (tiny screen) will not hide the problems.

Quote:
but was hoping to get some advice here on which is the better way to go.
I don't know that this is the case. You seem to merely want confirmation, and were not actually seeking any advice. Because all you've done is argue it. Most folks are grateful that our advice has set them on a path to avoid mistakes, not waste time, etc -- in this case, the fact that TBC is required.

Quote:
If it doesn’t work, I’ll get my money back
Why not buy the ES10/15 and a good card, use it, then resell it?

Quote:
I’m not going to be around much longer anyway.
That's sad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by latreche34 View Post
You are angry, you are not alone, this task becoming a rabbit hole, and a whole lot of frustration for a lot of folks like you,
It gets frustrating to pros and serious hobbyists as well. Main reason = gear is failing on us.

Quote:
a learning curve.
Videos has always had a learning curve.

Quote:
As I always say, have someone do this for you at a fee, Or dive in and learn it to get the job done right and resell the equipment you bought after you're done, Or ... a Chinese device as you mentioned ... quality will be affected, also you are more likely to buy more than one device to get one that works without problems ... $5-$10 each and you know the reason why.
^ This.

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  #8  
06-04-2022, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjr07 View Post
A word of advice, avoid starting a post telling someone they’re “not understanding” something. It’s just calling them stupid. In fact, had you not felt the need to preface your discourse with those words, I might’ve paid more attention.
LOL!

A long time ago when I first encountered lordsmurf at videohelp.com, I thought he was an arrogant, grumpy, know-it-all. Over years he's mellowed a lot, at least in my opinion. What hasn't changed is that IS a know-it-all as far as video capture goes! Calm down and carefully read and thoroughly digest everything he posts. Especially since we almost lost him a few years ago!

The more you read, the more you learn, the more you know and the more you realize he's usually right!

Awww...now a gotta even this out by griping about the blue guy...you old grouch!
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  #9  
06-04-2022, 12:58 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is online now
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SJR07's approach can be incremental. Buy a capture stick, try it. If there's too many wobbles, buy an ES-15.

SJR07, I use one of these, the IOData GV-USB2:

https://www.amazon.com.au/DATA-conne.../dp/B00428BF1Y

It works well with Virtual Dub (the capture software) and Windows 10. It is as good as other USB capture sticks I have, such as the old Pinnacle 710-USB and the in-production Startech USB3HDCAP.

Get capturing with one of those and see what results you achieve (instructions are purely in Japanese, but there's an English install guide on the net here). If you're happy with the results, good. If not, come back here and tell us what the issue is. Jumping, flashing or wobbly, bendy video frames, particularly in the upper half, especially at the top, indicate the need for a line TBC. On a budget, the ES-10/15 will (should ) do the trick.

Note: The GV-USB2 does not come with any flashy software for making DVDs; Virtual Dub can be used for very basic editing and producing MP4s for viewing (no titles or transitions/fades though). There are free video editing programs out there for proper editing, but they have a learning curve.
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  #10  
06-04-2022, 01:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
know-it-all.
I know what I know,
I know what I don't know,
And sometimes even don't know what I don't know -- but for this exact topic, video capturing of consumer analog sources, that's rarer.
After 3 decade of doing this, not unusual.

Definitely not all. Life would be boring if you knew everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
Virtual Dub can be used for very basic editing and producing MP4s for viewing (no titles or transitions/fades though).
I think there are some plugins for transitions/fade. It was fiddly. Avisynth better for this, also freeware, though slight learning curve. Maybe Avidemux has it, too? It's a situation where you have to prep segments before the VirtualDub end. It gets tedious, but editing is possible on a budget of zero $. Hybrid is way better for the H.264 (MP4) output encode, VirtualDub/2 264 encoding is lousy.

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  #11  
06-04-2022, 05:29 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is online now
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Quote:
I know what I know,
I know what I don't know,
And sometimes even don't know what I don't know -- but for this exact topic, video capturing of consumer analog sources, that's rarer.
Us: "You're a know-it-all!".

LS: "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do!".

Us: "Ouch".

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  #12  
06-04-2022, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
LS: "Those of you who think you know everything are annoying to those of us who do!".
Reminds me of an old joke: "I'm not always right. Because there was this time where I thought I was wrong, but I wasn't."

If you want a topic where I apparently don't know $#!+ then ... women, anybody?
Or perhaps a discussion of combustion engines?
Or maybe baking? (I have ONE delicious cookie recipe, but anytime I stray very far from it, not-good things happen, sometimes wholly inedible.)

I know what I know, and don't what I don't, and not afraid to admit it.

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  #13  
06-04-2022, 08:47 AM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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sjr07: Keep in mind that most of the folks who regularly contribute to this site have a very high standard for video conversion. Their recommendations and comments are based on that high standard. They are also based on devices that tolerate a wide range of input signal variations. Using other gear you may in fact obtain capture results that are acceptable to you and your audience and that is the primary criteria. (Others here may find fatal flaws with the captured video but then, it is not their video.)

As suggested by others test your players to see which gives better results with a TV set. In any case test first with a expendable tape before you try an important tape to be sure the machine is not one that eats tapes. You may find that some tapes play better in one, other tape play better in the other machine.

Read the reports of experiences and the recommendations in this, and many other threads, make your decisions, and keep what you find here in mind if you decide you want better results. Also, if you buy non-recommended gear, test it quickly so you can return it for a refund if it proves unsatisfactory.
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  #14  
06-04-2022, 09:08 AM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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Me: I have dozens of tapes to convert and I’m not going to be around much longer, plus I only have $150 to spend

Smurf guy: Why the rush? Wait and save up.

Me: I’m offended by your response

Smurf guy: Your feelings of being offended are invalid, and I command you to stop having them.

Me: Thanks to those who provided reasonable, non-judgmental responses. I know $150 is not going to provide a respectable solution, I just want to preserve memories for my children and grandchildren, sub-satisfactory they may be, before it’s too late.
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  #15  
06-04-2022, 04:48 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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This is a potential modest budget quick and relatively easy solution that can work if the tapes are in reasonably good condition. Find a working DVD recorder (e.g., an ES10/15) and dump the tapes to DVD in the recorder. Use 1- or 2-hour recording mode. With a bit of work you can probably add some basic navigation menus.

This gives you media that almost anyone with a DVD or Blu-ray player can view. However, it does not provide for restoration, color correction, or more than very basic (i.e., pause button) cuts editing. But it should look about as good as playing the VCR directly to a TV set. The produced DVD can then be copied as desired for wider distribution. Or they can be ripped to another file format with readily available software.

Just keep in mind that raw SD analog video can look pretty bad on a large screen HD set.

Once you have done this, you are at liberty to move on, or work towards an improved solution as your time, finances, and inclination dictate. Consider saving the original tapes for possible future use by you or an heir if there is one with an interest.
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  #16  
06-04-2022, 07:15 PM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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So I actually have a Magnavox DVD recorder. I have a Blu-ray recorder in my PC. Dumb question, is there a way to record the VHS to DVD by connecting the VCR to the DVD recorder directly and recording blindly? If not, it seems as though I would need to buy 2 component to HDMI converters to hook both the VCR and DVD recorder to the TV. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous. Can’t imagine getting all this to work with 20-30 year old machines, if that is even the right way to go about it. Will have to give it some thought, not even sure the DVD recorder will work, it’s just been sitting there with the VCR not doing anything for years.

Thanks for the idea.
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06-04-2022, 09:06 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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If you are on a life timer the quickest and easiest way is to hookup the VCR to the Blu-ray recorder and record your analog tapes, Just keep the tapes in case your decedents want to give it another go in the future. Good luck.

https://www.youtube.com/@Capturing-Memories/videos
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  #18  
06-04-2022, 09:19 PM
sjr07 sjr07 is offline
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Not familiar with the term life timer. What does that mean? Also, the Blu-ray recorder is in my PC. Would know of no way to connect the VCR to it.
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06-04-2022, 09:25 PM
dpalomaki dpalomaki is offline
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Is the Blu-ray recorder a BD burner optical drive in the PC, or a recorder that accepts analog inputs directly?

Without knowing the specifics oy your gear (make/model numbers and in/out puts) I cannot say with assurance, but the connections I normally use with my gear are:

Analog output from the VCR to the DVD recorder input. With my gear I use s-video and RCA audio connections. If no s-video you can use composite video. Component video would be better than composite but it is a uncommon input on consumer DVD recorders.

The output of the VCR connects to the TV/Monitor. I use HDMI or s-video and RCA audio outputs from the DVD player to the TV. You could also use component to the TV, or composite video but the quality will probably be a bit lower.

You may need to make changes to the DVD recorder settings to select the proper input and output modes.

-- merged --

I think by life timer he may mean a person who does not expect to be capable of doing this sort of thing for much longer. Available time measured not in decades but months to a small number of years.

What are the make/model numbers of your gear? Not the PC but the VCR, camcorder, DVD recorder and TV?
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  #20  
06-04-2022, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
sjr07: Keep in mind that most of the folks who regularly contribute to this site have a very high standard for video conversion.
Yes and no.

"high standard" = several $K of gear, including
- S-VHS VCRs with line TBC,
- DataVideo/Cypress type frame TBC,
- the best capture cards made (mostly 2000s gear, OS locked to WinXP or Win7).

"minimally acceptable results" =
- decent VCR
- ES10/15 type for passthrough
- decent USB capture card, but not Easycap/Elgato/ClearClick

There is worse, which WILL result in ugly issues -- and it's all due to being ridiculously cheap.

There is also some middle ground, fortifying ES10/15 with a DVK, using non-TBC JVC S-VHS, and using one of the better capture cards. There is wiggle room between $300 and $3000+

Quote:
that are acceptable to you
it is not their video.)
Sure, if you're the only person watching a video, then it doesn't matter.

But if a person is sharing it with family, friends, or the whole world (Youtube, archive.org, etc), then to be blunt, they're inconsiderate (not thinking of others who wish to view it), somewhat selfish ("if it's good enough for me, then it's good enough for them"), arrogant even ("they're lucky to get what I give them"), by subjecting others to their cheapness and/or laziness. It does a great injustice to the video content source, as well as all the viewers.

This goes back to my hobby days, and we'd drum out those types from the group. They were usually just leeches, or profiteers, and did not help the tape/DVD/video trading community whatsoever.

Stuff like this literally starts family arguments, and I'm NOT speaking from personal experience here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjr07 View Post
Me: I’m offended by your response
Smurf guy: Your feelings of being offended are invalid,
Correct. Feelings have no place here. Video is essentially math and science. You can whine all you want, but it will not change the nature of video, or the advice on how to deal with it. You must understand that none of us necessarily like how obnoxious video transfer can be. I sure don't like spend $K on boring boxes, but I must, as this is the task I have chosen to do.

There are shortcuts, but with decreases in quality, and often more problems. I've discussed these many times, over and over, for years now. For example, ES10/15 for mere $150, instead of the pricier ideal gear (that gives both better quality and less issues). I work with budgets of all ranges, all the time. But eventually, it's just too low to give you any sort of usable results, if it doesn't just reject the capture altogether.

Quote:
Me: Thanks to those who provided reasonable, non-judgmental responses. I know $150 is not going to provide a respectable solution, I just want to preserve memories for my children and grandchildren, sub-satisfactory they may be, before it’s too late.
Perhaps let the children and grandchildren partake in this task? Or ask them for more funds, so you can do it properly? Perhaps THEY want quality, even if you do not? (That's my point. I'm never budging from it. I know how the cheap path always ends, with sadness or redo. I've been around for decades now, history repeats, history rhymes.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpalomaki View Post
Consider saving the original tapes for possible future use by you or an heir if there is one with an interest.
This is a compromise. Do the inferior/bad job now, then make your important notations/etc for the kids, grandkids, future generations. Then let them redo the video better, from the source tapes. In fact, specify that they NEED to redo it. Your very-low-cost transfer was done in haste, very cheaply, so that you could add your info, handwritten (or better yet, typed) notes, whatever.

This is actually how filmmaking is done, especially documentary. I've done many quick runs (albeit it through better gear), where the video is ultra-compressed and rough. That gets used for the step after storyboarding, or even with storyboarding. Later, it's redone properly, though just the tapes/segments needed.

I'm just afraid this bottom-budget attempt will fail, as it often does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjr07 View Post
So I actually have a Magnavox DVD recorder. I have a Blu-ray recorder in my PC. Dumb question, is there a way to record the VHS to DVD by connecting the VCR to the DVD recorder directly and recording blindly?
Standalone DVD recorder, yes.
Computer recorder, no.

But again, the main problem here is total lack of any TBC of any kind. You must have something. DVD recorders were not made to copy VHS tapes, but to timeshift (often only analog) antenna, cable, and satellite. It will accept tape input, but it must be clean, well timed (aka, time base corrected). Trying to record sans-TBC will result in everything from "fine" (minimally passable), to problems (example = brightness shifts, AGC), to outright refusal to capture.

Quote:
Can’t imagine getting all this to work with 20-30 year old machines, if that is even the right way to go about it. Will have to give it some thought, not even sure the DVD recorder will work, it’s just been sitting there with the VCR not doing anything for years.
That is an option. You'll still be better off with VCR > ES10/15 > DVD recorder. But if you insist on trying a combo recorder, at least don't use anything other than SP mode. Recorders get really ugly past 2 hours, and often unviewable at 4-6+ hours, more blocks and noise than video. Most combo recorders do the basic "garbage in, garbage out" method, with typical "lack of TBC" errors and problems. But it will be easier than using a computer.

Well, I've done my part here.
You have the info, the warnings, the expectations of various methods.

Good luck to you.

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