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post #1 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Questions about Transferring VHS-C to computer AG-1980

I have about 100 VHS-C tapes of various lengths that I would like to transfer to my computer. I have a Panasonic CHS PlayPak tape size converter.

I own a blackmagic intensity capture card, however since its ideal usage is digital capture, it supposedly has issues/is very sensitive to vhs capture due to time stamps. I have tried a number of VHS decks, but they all have issues with dropping frames on capture. I even tried a capture with the original Panasonic camcorder used to take the video, still no luck. When these tapes are played in the same VHS decks to my TV, they play fine without issue. Is this my sensitive blackmagic card?

I picked up a used Panasonic AG-1980 on craigslist for $10 and hoped for the best, however the image has issues. Please see attached photo. However, using this unit with the TBC turned on, and into my blackmagic, there are no dropped frames. Do you think this is a cleaning issue or something electronic? The "only" issue I have found with the unit visually, without opening it, is that the panel is dim lit (I have tried other power cords on it as well).

1. Is there a better option for capturing into my computer, maybe a different card or USB dongle, that might make the need for a TBC VCR or add on TBC not necessary?

2. Any thoughts on the AG-1980 image?

3. What is the best software to do the actual capture?

4. Thoughts or suggestions in general?

My computer is an i7, 3.9 GHz, 16GB Ram, ssd OS drive, Hackintosh. I also run Windows 8 if software makes a difference.

Thank you,

Stephen

Last edited by xdriver; 08-22-2014 at 07:49 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 07:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I was having trouble attaching these photos to the original post, but here are the images of the AG-1980. Thank you.
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 08:32 AM
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Might be worth trying to find a Panasonic DMR-ES10 DVD recorder to use as a Pass-through unit. Supposedly they have amazing filters to clean up VHS tapes.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the reply, though I am unsure that I need to go that route since it seems like the tapes themselves play perfectly fine on a VHS player to my TV. The attached image was in reference to the AG-1980 in general, not the tapes I am looking to transfer.

When I play the tapes in a "regular" VHS player to my TV, they all seem to be fine. I have only played about 12 of them so far.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xdriver View Post
I have about 100 VHS-C tapes of various lengths that I would like to transfer to my computer. I have a Panasonic CHS PlayPak tape size converter...

When these tapes are played in the same VHS decks to my TV, they play fine without issue... Thoughts or suggestions in general?

...it seems like the tapes themselves play perfectly fine on a VHS player to my TV. The attached image was in reference to the AG-1980 in general, not the tapes I am looking to transfer.

When I play the tapes in a "regular" VHS player to my TV, they all seem to be fine. I have only played about 12 of them so far.

This points to the workflow to resolve your problem. Connect one of these same VHS decks to a DVD Recorder and transfer the material to DVDs. Then, you may play back DVD video for transfer/conversion to a format your computer will recognise.

"A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WILL SMELL AS SWEET. BUT IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT WHATEVER WE CHOOSE TO CALL A ROSE WILL POSSESS THE ROSE'S FRAGRANCE."

--Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1917)

Last edited by DigaDo; 08-22-2014 at 09:17 AM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 09:25 AM
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I should have specified - I was thinking using one of your other VHS decks (not the AG-1980) and running that signal through an ES10, and then to your Blackmagic.

Otherwise, you may need to invest in a standalone TBC to run after your VCR (again, one of your other ones, not the AG-1980), or find a better AG-1980. $10 for an AG-1980 seems very low; good ones usually go for much more than that. You get what you pay for, it seems, in this case.

Last edited by FFVT; 08-22-2014 at 09:29 AM. Reason: grammar & clarity
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 11:40 AM
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xDriver, it isn't particularly clear from your frame samples what problem you are having with the AG1980? Without seeing actual video clips, it would be difficult to analyze your issues. The first still just looks like a generic night street scene with the typical defects of VHS, the second appears like a multi-strobe shot (if what is happening in that single frame happens all through the video, then yeah theres a major problem in either the Black Magic or your VCR). But just as general tips:

The Panasonic AG1980 today is about the worst possible choice anyone can make in a VCR. They are all, and I do mean ALL, in very bad shape electronically and require comprehensive overhauls to function properly. Straight off eBay, they don't work too well and exhibit a wide array of video issues. The 1980 is a unique specialty VCR with special age-related needs the average tech has no clue about repairing correctly: it is a major undertaking to restore this VCR to full spec. Locating a good experienced tech can be difficult, and the repair cost astronomical ($300 and up up up).

Some people do get lucky and snag a flawless AG1980 on eBay for a couple hundred bucks, but even those are prone to sudden failure weeks or months after purchase. The only sure bet is to personally know an AG1980 tech and buy a restored unit directly from them. Chances of this being next to nil, I advise anyone today to steer clear of the AG1980. (BTW, even fully-functional AG1980s tend to make a hash out of nighttime street scenes: there is something about the contrast between streetlights and dark sky that triggers a design fault in the noise reduction circuit.)

I have not personally used the Black Magic Intensity for VHS, but in the opinion of many here it is not optimized for VHS at all and is possibly one of the poorest choices for VHS encoding. Most PC encoder accessories have near-allergic reactions to VHS that need to be worked around, sometimes with great difficulty. The Intensity is said to be extra-sensitive to typical VHS errors and even harder to work around. You may want to research some older threads and consider some older PC accessories that were more amenable to VHS dubbing.

If you can find one for a good price, I'd suggest buying a used Panasonic DMR-ES10 as recommended by FFVT above. The ES10 is very popular with members who dub VHS to a PC, because it has built-in circuits that recondition typical VHS signal errors. If you connect a good standard VCR (not an AG1980) to the ES10 line inputs, and the ES10 line outputs to the line inputs on your Black Magic Intensity, the ES10 will operate as an external pass-thru signal processor that may quite possibly solve your problems. The ES10 is unique among DVD recorders in having this heavy-duty VHS correction circuit. You do not need a fully-functional used ES10, the passthru circuit will work even if the DVD drive is worn out.

DigaDo mentioned the other alternative, which is to skip the PC entirely and go with a good modern DVD recorder. You could try something like the new Magnavox MDR557, which is like a miniature video workstation. It has a 1 TB HDD that you can dub your VHS onto, once on the HDD the unit has rudimentary editing features like chapter creation and ability to delete sections you don't want. The machine can then burn a standard DVD with basic title menu.

This is often sufficient for VHS: one can go bananas with a PC, but unless you are highly skilled with quirky software the quality of VHS encoding is rarely much better than what you'll get from a DVD/HDD recorder. The dedicated recorders have an advantage over PCs in being designed to readily accept VHS signals without choking: you don't usually need external correction devices, but can simply plug your VCR directly into them with no fear of dropped frames etc.

The drawback of recorders is you are stuck with a DVD, not versatile files like MP4 or AVI that can be easily copied to multiple playback devices. You can rip the DVDs to a large HDD for PC storage or conversion, but converting DVDs made from VHS sources into other files can be very tricky. If your end game is video files, not DVDs, stick with the PC: try a Panasonic ES10 and see if it fixes your Intensity glitches. You could also try the TBC mentioned by FFVT, but be warned: getting one of these TBCs in perfect condition is about 5:1 odds these days. The factory has dismal quality control, so many of these TBCs are discovered to make matters worse instead of better. Try the ES10 first, if it doesn't help you can try adding the TBC.

Good Luck!

Last edited by CitiBear; 08-22-2014 at 11:48 AM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-22-2014, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the information, you are correct that my end game is a file on the pc. I will search for the ES10 and see if that solves my problems. Thank you much and I will return with a post when I try that solution.

Stephen
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