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post #1 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello All,

I am ready to start a long process of converting a lot of VHS tapes to digital format. I can put it on a DVD. Or I can put it on a harddrive. I have done some investigation and looked at various prices and find two competing scenarios.

1. I found a good reconditioned Toshiba-DR430KU DVD recorder. I can see if it has S inputs although I am not sure that is important. I have a signal stabilizer from years gone by and that should clean up the signal just a bit. The signal stabilizer uses components (in and out) so it will be mostly composite out anyway. I can just use my current Phillips VHS combo to output to the stabilizer.

2. I can purchase the Canopus - 7710138100-ADVC-55-Converter-External. That unit would require me to find another computer (firewire required) to dedicate to the process. The upside is I have a file I can store on a large external drive and just import to my TIVO using streambaby or just watch on a computer. It appears the Canopus saves as an AVI file. Also, if one holds down the select button for 20 seconds, it allows the copying of commercial movies. Not suggesting anything illegal - just saying one could back up the movies they purchased.

I am actually leaning towards scenario 1 as it seems more reliable and cheaper. Although if I do option 2, the computer will probably be one built and used just as a media player ultimately. So I get something for that cost.

Any thoughts or suggestions? What is the best option for converting all my old VHS tapes so I can move the player out of the den as well as all those old tapes.

Mrick
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 03:02 PM
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It really depends on how fancy you want to get and how much you want to spend on components to do the job. For the fanciest features you can't beat the PC route. It allows you to make customizable thumbnails for chapters among other things that make your end result DVD similar to a commercial DVD. The second route is to get a HDD DVDR and record everything to the HDD, edit the material, add chapter marks(but no thumbnails for chapters) and finally HS burn a DVD. The cheapest and fastest route is to simply get a realtime recorder(like the Toshiba your looking at).
I was faced with a similar question. I ruled out the PC since I've read too many issues going that route and I just didn't have the time. I started my project with several realtime recorders(both combos and seperates) and a couple HDD DVDRs. Very early on I stopped using the HDD recorders due to the extra time required to mark chapters and also copy from the HDD to DVD.

I started out with 2 Samsung VCRs, 2 EH-50s(with HDD), 2 ES-15s and 4 ES-30v combos(all my DVDRs are Panasonics). I'm ending my project with 2 ES-30v combos(2 died about 1/8 the way through and I haven't had time to look at them), 2 Samsung VCRs and 2 ES-15s. 6 DVDRs running 8+ hrs/day is enough to babysit for me. I'll be glad when it's done

Most VCRs don't have S-video out so you'll be forced to use composite(this is what I used) and most DVD Recorders drop to 1/2 D1 resolution on any speed slower than 2hrs/DVD. Personally I don't care for 1/2 D1 even with VHS conversions but others may prefer the faster bitrate using a lesser resolution. Panasonics allow 4hrs/DVD at full D1 but most of my discs were done with 2hrs 5 minutes up to a maximum of 3hrs 10 minutes/DVD, using Flexible Record speed(lets you fill a DVD with anywhere from 1-8hrs of material).

One downside to realtime burning is if your burn fails you are forced to do another whole realtime record. If you had first recorded to a HDD all you'd have to do is a ~15 minute HS burn. Luckily my recorders are very reliable and I've probably had less than 6 failures with well over 1000 burns.
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

Most VCRs don't have S-video out so you'll be forced to use composite(this is what I used) and most DVD Recorders drop to 1/2 D1 resolution on any speed slower than 2hrs/DVD. Personally I don't care for 1/2 D1 even with VHS conversions but others may prefer the faster bitrate using a lesser resolution. Panasonics allow 4hrs/DVD at full D1 but most of my discs were done with 2hrs 5 minutes up to a maximum of 3hrs 10 minutes/DVD, using Flexible Record speed(lets you fill a DVD with anywhere from 1-8hrs of material).

First, thank you for your help. Nice to get a quick response from someone doing such a massive conversion.

Can you expand a bit on the D1 resolution? I am not sure about the above paragraph. I am not technical enough.

I did a search on the comments at Amazon and found one comment I thought might be related:

"In order to record anything longer than 2 hours you had to go to the 4-hour speed, which makes horrible recordings."

I think most of my tapes are about 90 minutes long. I guess if it was over 2 hours I would just throw it away and buy a new DVD.... or just throw it away. Some things I have are no longer available.

It seems like for ease of project, you like the DVD recorder idea best. I won't be as aggressive in my project. Basically, I will just set the units up in a spare room and have the wife record a 2 or 3 every day till we are done. Maybe start one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I can start one over night.

Thanks again,

Mrick
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 03:40 PM
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If your tapes are <2hrs you won't have to worry about full or 1/2 D1 resolution, every DVDR does full D1 at SP(2hrs/DVD).
One issue you'll have to deal with using a fixed speed recorder like the Toshiba is you've got to be around to push STOP at the end of your recording or live with extra garbage at the end. I guess you could setup a timer but that would be way too much work for my tastes. You could also use the OTR function to automatically stop recording at 1/2 hr intervals. For example if your tape is 1hr 40 minutes you could push REC and after 10 minutes initiate OTR for 1hr 30 minutes. You'd still have a unused portion on your DVD but using SP the quality should be pretty good anyway, well depending on your original tape.
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 07:07 PM
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" a lot of vhs tapes. . . .". If all you want is one-for-one copy, I can add nothing to what has already been said, except to ask, "Why bother?"

If, however, there are a lot of home videos that you'd like to reorganize and regroup, combine like-topics, I would suggest a late Panasonic like the EH55 if you can find one, or better, the import EH59 or EH69. Load a batch, 60 or 90 hours, to hdd, then using Panasonics superb "PLAYLIST" feature to edit from any of the titles on the hdd, and then copy your watchable masterpiece(s) to dvd(s).
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 07:48 PM
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Is D1 resolution really a benefit if the source material isn't D1 to begin with? Or is it? Isn't most VHS effectively 352x240?
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dare2be View Post

Is D1 resolution really a benefit if the source material isn't D1 to begin with? Or is it? Isn't most VHS effectively 352x240?

What is fed to the recorder is an analog frame which the recorder then digitizes and encodes. Using the highest resolution will best preserve the original appearance of the video tape as it would look when played.

- kelson h

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post #8 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 08:38 PM
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My opinion-

Do NOT make a hard drive your only copy of important recordings.

A friend of mine keeps saying he wants to use a flash drive to backup the photo files on his computer. "WHY?!?!?" I ask. "Flash drives can go bad. Store them on CDs, preferably two copies."

I'd strongly advise making DVD copies of important vids.

Keep them on a hard drive if you will (since who knows how long a DVD will last), but don't have it be a hard drive you're going to be working with. You want to protect those recordings.

As for the four hour picture quality on a DVD recorder, that's the setting I record TV series on.

Family movies and such? Especially if you recorded at something other than the 2 hour VHS speed?

Go for one of the higher quality DVD settings, even if one tape has to stretch across more than one DVD. It'll preserve as much of the picture quality as possible.

The above opinions are not those of the AVS forum website or those who run it, and may at any time be proven to be from a source that's totally ignorant regarding any aspect of the matter being discussed.

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post #9 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 08:46 PM
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I've been making DVDs since 2002. I have amassed over 700 of them so far, and all of them I have ripped as a backup/NAS access to two 2TB hard drives. So, now the DVDs are my backup, or my transport mechanism where HDD portability/streaming is not feasible (like on plane trips).
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardT View Post

" a lot of vhs tapes. . . .". If all you want is one-for-one copy, I can add nothing to what has already been said, except to ask, "Why bother?"

If, however, there are a lot of home videos that you'd like to reorganize and regroup, combine like-topics, I would suggest a late Panasonic like the EH55 if you can find one, or better, the import EH59 or EH69. Load a batch, 60 or 90 hours, to hdd, then using Panasonics superb "PLAYLIST" feature to edit from any of the titles on the hdd, and then copy your watchable masterpiece(s) to dvd(s).

Hi Richard,

I tried to find a Pany EH55. There is one used at Amazon but they want $900 for it. That's a great machine but blows the project budget.

On the why bother, I watch the VCR tapes on occasion. I bought a Phillips Combo Player (DVP3340V) ages ago. Now, it runs through a Yamaha RX-V671 receiver. I don't watch a lot of the old stuff, but the ones I did... I could swear they looked better then they used to look. Crazy I know. I wondered if the receiver or phillips upconvert was doing something.

Anyway... I really want to get the Phillips Combo out of the cabnet. I want to put an HTPC or Mac Mini in there. I only have so many slots in the cabnet. Also, the VHS tapes are eating up a lot of storage space. But I don't want to go out and buy every VHS movie again. Somethings... yes. For example I have a Pany Blu Ray disc player. I replaced the VHS version of "Basic Instinct" with a new blue ray disc. The blue-ray gave some of the scenes additional nuance. But for most of these old movies... nah. Seems like one can buy blank DVDs cheap and I have the signal stabilizer already.

Additionally, I have a few things one can't find ... and some really dear home movies. So I have no choice on those. What am I missing? I willing to reconsider.

Mrick
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-01-2012, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dare2be View Post

Is D1 resolution really a benefit if the source material isn't D1 to begin with? Or is it? Isn't most VHS effectively 352x240?

When VHS analog resolution is converted to digital spec you get 300x480 up to 350x480 depending on quality of tape and deck. That's up to 250 lines of horizontal resolution.

SVHS is up to 590×480. Up to 420 lines of horizontal resolution.

Both above formats have a much lower chroma resolution, something like 30 lines and the above specs are for luminance only.

DVD 720×480. That's around 500 lines of horizontal resolution for luminance. DVD chroma uses 4:2:0 sampling and I believe that equals 1 quarter of the resolution, which would be around 125 lines. Don't quote me on that. I'd have to look up a reference to make sure. Maybe 4:2:0 is half resolution at horizontal and quarter resolution at vertical. Can't remember without looking at some reference.

As to using D1 or half D1 for VHS transfers. This depends on two things. A) How good the encoder is and B) This can be subjective. If you go full D1 you're introducing more artifacts since you're compressing at twice the rate. Sometimes really noisy low-resolution VHS tapes may look better at half D1 when encoding at a really low bitrate approaching LP. Resolution is only one spec and there is no use having the highest resolution when most of your prediction frames are full of artifacts.

Personally I like full D1 because my tapes are fairly clean and I never go past 2hrs 40 min per SL DVD. Really I prefer using XP speed when I can because XP introduces minimal artifacting and still holds up with minimal generation loss if I need to recode. I love the MN settings on my DVDr. Most of my shows are well under 2 hrs.

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Originally Posted by dare2be View Post

I've been making DVDs since 2002. I have amassed over 700 of them so far, and all of them I have ripped as a backup/NAS access to two 2TB hard drives. So, now the DVDs are my backup, or my transport mechanism where HDD portability/streaming is not feasible (like on plane trips).

May I ask what kind of discs are your old discs and how are the majority of your disc holding up. Do they play flawlessly after ten years?
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post

May I ask what kind of discs are your old discs and how are the majority of your disc holding up. Do they play flawlessly after ten years?

So far so good. My concern was with longevity so that's why I went with ripping copies last year to USB HDD in the first place (and easier access), but so far I haven't noticed any problems. Been using Verbatim AZO from the beginning.

Still, my method isn't foolproof. I still have too many eggs in too few baskets. If one of the HDDs goes bad, that's half of my collection that I would need to re-rip...if I discover that some of the discs are then unreadable, then I'm SOL. Once HDD prices come back down, I'll be buying more to back up the backups.
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 10:04 AM
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May I ask what kind of discs are your old discs and how are the majority of your disc holding up. Do they play flawlessly after ten years?

My earliest burned DVD-R are from July 2004. They are a mix of Maxell 4X and Ritek 4X & 8X with a sprinkling of Memorex. I didn't switch to T-Y until 2006 and even then I was using the T-Y "value line" (didn't know any better back then). They were all PC burned and verified against the source at the time of the burn. Most of them have been played only once and have spent the years tucked away in a Tyvek disk sleeve and stored in a disk box. I can't say that they are still "payable" because I rarely play an actual disk any more -- everything is streamed from servers on my network. The burned DVD-R are considered the backups for the servers and are handled as little as possible. I can say their data integrity is still fine because I occasionally transfer some of the oldest titles to a NAS unit and they rip just fine in a PC drive.

Over the years I have found that with proper storage and handling the dire predictions of sudden-death, self-destructing media are largely unfounded -- that has been my experience, even with media that is low-rated on digitalFAQ. Back in 2004-5, Ritek disks were rated in the bottom of the barrel -- lower than they are today. Yet they have maintained their data integrity for the past 7 yr. Where there is a problem, I'm far more willing to believe it is the fault of the DVD recorders that did the burning rather than the media.
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If one of the HDDs goes bad, that's half of my collection that I would need to re-rip...if I discover that some of the discs are then unreadable, then I'm SOL. Once HDD prices come back down, I'll be buying more to back up the backups.

Switch to a USB or eSATA 4-bay RAID-5 enclosure. 4 x 2TB disks will give you 6TB of disk storage but if one of the disks goes down the array is preserved; you hot-swap in a new 2TB drive and the array will rebuild itself. Not fool-proof. If two disks go down at the same time or if the enclosure self-destructs, you lose the array. While possible, how probable is that. And even if it does, once in your lifetime, you still have the original disks which are your backup.

This is where I'm headed when HDD prices come back to normal. I'll hang it off my media-PC that runs 24x7. Check out Mediasonic or Sans Digital enclosures. Mediasonic has a nice 8-bay unit I have my eyes on.

- kelson h

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post #14 of 16 Old 03-02-2012, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Eye View Post

May I ask what kind of discs are your old discs and how are the majority of your disc holding up. Do they play flawlessly after ten years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dare2be View Post

So far so good. ...Been using Verbatim AZO from the beginning.

Good to know.
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Originally Posted by dare2be View Post

My concern was with longevity so that's why I went with ripping copies last year to USB HDD in the first place (and easier access), but so far I haven't noticed any problems.

Still, my method isn't foolproof. I still have too many eggs in too few baskets. If one of the HDDs goes bad, that's half of my collection that I would need to re-rip...if I discover that some of the discs are then unreadable, then I'm SOL. Once HDD prices come back down, I'll be buying more to back up the backups.

Kelson has made some good points in his post - see quote below. One thing to be aware (which I didn't know until Kelson told me) is if the RAID controller goes and you have to get a newer model controller - all your HDD data is toast and has to be re-loaded unto the raided HDDs. So far that's the only thing that stopped me from building a RAID disc array. While I can't see two discs failing at the same time unless you have some kind of unprotected power spike, I can see a controller eventually failing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

Switch to a USB or eSATA 4-bay RAID-5 enclosure. 4 x 2TB disks will give you 6TB of disk storage but if one of the disks goes down the array is preserved; you hot-swap in a new 2TB drive and the array will rebuild itself. Not fool-proof. If two disks go down at the same time or if the enclosure self-destructs, you lose the array. While possible, how probable is that. And even if it does, once in your lifetime, you still have the original disks which are your backup.

This is where I'm headed when HDD prices come back to normal. I'll hang it off my media-PC that runs 24x7. Check out Mediasonic or Sans Digital enclosures. Mediasonic has a nice 8-bay unit I have my eyes on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelson View Post

My earliest burned DVD-R are from July 2004. They are a mix of Maxell 4X and Ritek 4X & 8X with a sprinkling of Memorex. ... I can say their data integrity is still fine because I occasionally transfer some of the oldest titles to a NAS unit and they rip just fine in a PC drive.

Over the years I have found that with proper storage and handling the dire predictions of sudden-death, self-destructing media are largely unfounded -- that has been my experience, even with media that is low-rated on digitalFAQ. Back in 2004-5, Ritek disks were rated in the bottom of the barrel -- lower than they are today. Yet they have maintained their data integrity for the past 7 yr.

Yep, we talked about this before and I'm in total agreement with you. My CD-R burns go back to the late 90s and all of the Fuji, Maxell and even the black Memorex all work perfectly. They get rotated in my van on a regular basis, staying in van a few days in hot/cold climate. My DVD-R burns see much better climate control and although my DVD-R archives only go back to 2007 or so on PC and 2009 on stand-alone - every one I play plays flawlessly and everyone I scan on my PC seems OK.
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post #15 of 16 Old 03-03-2012, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
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if the RAID controller goes and you have to get a newer model controller - all your HDD data is toast and has to be re-loaded unto the raided HDDs. So far that's the only thing that stopped me from building a RAID disc array.

While true, I wouldn't sweat it. I don't think I've ever had an add-in board go bad on me. The most likely thing to go in a RAID array is one of the HDD's and that is a recoverable event. I only add the other caveats in there as full disclosure and to head off the nit-pickers who'll throw them out there as a fly in the ointment.

- kelson h

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post #16 of 16 Old 03-04-2012, 07:47 PM
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Regarding my use of Verbatims from the very beginning...I too didn't know any better back then, but I remembered Verbatim as a quality name from the floppy disc era, and I happened on a half-off 50-disc spindle sale at Sams Club, so I bought 4 spindles at 14.99 each (or was it 7.50 each?), IIRC. By the time I burned through (pun intended) that inventory, I had found out about Verbatim AZO being one of the best quality.
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