digitizing vhs tapes - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-05-2010, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
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i'm not even sure i'm in the right forum for this, but i didn't know where else to post this thread.i have a lot of vhs tapes i want to digitize, and am looking for the best way to do it.i don't want them on dvd right now.i just want to convert them to digital files and store them on a hard drive.i know vhs isn't great quality to begin with, but i don't want to degrade the footage any further.i once used a dvd recorder to dub some tapes to dvd and it came out terrible, even worse han the vhs tape itself.

i've been looking around and there seem to be a few options like the pinnacle video transfer, although i read that thing has some bugs in it.it looks like my best bet is a video capture card.there are so many of them that it's hard to settle on one.should i get an internal one or one that connects through usb?i would definately like someone to reccomend one that does alot of the processing because my computer's about 5 years old(pentium 4 3ghz, 1.5 gigs of ram) and i don't know if it can handle converting the video in it's best quality.

also should i get a special kind of vcr just to ensure it's playing in it's best quality?i've heard of these tbc vcrs.is there software that can clean up the footage either during processing or in post?unfortunately i can't test these things out before hand to see if they'll what i want, so any help would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-13-2010, 12:26 PM
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One of two methods- either use a dual deck DVD/VHS recorder or a capture card on a PC.

For simplicity, you should use a decent DVD-VHS deck. Assuming the tapes don't have Macrovision, most decks are one touch.

Yes, you do want the video recorded to DVD- you can trivially copy the video losslessly from the DVD to hard disk any time in the future for editing, and it is easy to make low cost copies of the DVD to more DVD blanks. Use only Sony or Verbatim blanks and never record faster than 4x.

I would recommend a deck with a good MPEG encoder chip like the Panasonic 485.

For the PC, I've used a Hauppauge PVR150 card with hardware MPEG2 encoder chip with great results.

Both the PVR150 and Panasonic 485EZ deck do the TBC for you. When either is set at/near their max quality settings (720x480 and ~6-8Mbps), you can be assured you are capping all there is on the VHS tape.

Yes, you want to use a good quality VHS deck, a topic for another thread/forum area. I use an industrial grade panasonic AG-5700 Svhs deck. Check craigslist/ebay/videogon.

Further VHS conversion discussion belongs in either the PC area (if using a PC card) or the DVD recorder area.


However, relevant to tis VP forum, I've always wanted to convert some VHS tapes to DVD *after* running them through a VP like the Edge or other powerful deinterlacing/noise reducing hardware VP.

This would require a capture card capable of accepting a 480p signal over component or HDMI vs only 480i over Svideo/composite. Ideally, you would run the composite or Svideo out from a VHS deck to a good VP, then use a digital output from the VP into a capture card with matching digital input on a PC for an all digital path from the VP output->Pc.

There is at least one HDMI/DVI capture card I've seen in the past for PC's
http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/intensity/.

Or use a 480p component out from the VP and cap with a Hauppauge HD-PVR
http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_hdpvr.html

The HD-PVR can cap 480i also, so you could use a good VP to do bes t in class NR/TBC/etc then cap the output via component.

Another option would be to find a quality VP with Firewire outputs, if one exists. Or use an external hardware HDMI to Firewire video convertor box, then output the Firewire to a PC or DVD recorder deck.

http://www.google.com/products?q=hdm...e+convert&aq=f

Newer video editing tools on computers (OSX/Linux/Windows) may be able to apply sophisticated NR/motion adaptive deinterlacing nowadays, but I haven't checked what the best in class video tools can do recently. The idea would be to cap the raw 480i signal as well as possible, then do post processing to apply powerful NR and deinterlacing later.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-28-2010, 02:00 PM
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I've had good luck with the JVC SVHS-ET decks, although the processors are primitive by modern standards.
The tilting head models are best, but they were still making an industrial model with all home features, the 101, not a tilting head model.
I have often made copies that were superior to the original.
There are still many tapes that have not been issued in digital, even major films.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-29-2010, 09:10 AM
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VHS tape recordings can benefit from motion adaptive de-interlacing just as much as other source material.

But some loss occurs with recording on regular DVD. The VHS source (and all analog NTSC source) has individual coloration for each scan line. Whereas DVD preserves only enough color information for every other scan line. So you have to go to hi-def (Blu-Ray) to actually preserve all of the content, and provided that the particular recorder handles the video just right.

Remember when lines and logos burned the TV screen? I was at a concert where a musical selection made extremely heavy use of about four of the keys of the piano.
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-25-2010, 06:07 PM
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I'm not clear on why it is better to store video on dvds as opposed to a hard drive?

I've been back and forth, up and down with this the past couple of years, and I'm right back to my original idea, which is to store my hundreds and thousands of tapes on external drives.

I cannot start another media collection, I have no intention of getting rid of my tapes. And I don't like dvd's for archival purposes.

Plus, the benefit of being able to the footage up via a media server through my computer, which is the ultimate goal of this project.
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-27-2010, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I tried using a TV tuner/video capture card.i got the hauppauge 1950 external usb one. but maybe it's me.Am I just being unrealistic to expect it to look the same on my PC monitor, a 17 inch non-HD LCD, as it does on my TV, an old 27 inch Sony Trinitron?When I hooked my Satellite box up to it to record a live feed, it didn't look much better, so I know it wasn't just that I was recording from a tape.Is the washed out color and muffled sound something that's just going to happen when converting to digital?i don't know if it's the software, or the card itself, or what.

I got this one because it has it's own hardware MPEG-2 encoder.I could also use advice on software.i've tried the software that came with it, windows movie maker, and my vlc player, but they don't record the sound along with the video.i need software the will recognize that i'm using a device with composite inputs.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-15-2010, 06:54 AM
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Doing the work on a PC will give the best potential results but you really need to know what you're doing to get it to look great. Not that copying straight to DVD is going to make it look any better.

"Vintage" is good for wine, not for A/V equipment.

-Dan D.
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