Use a VCR with built in timebase correction, like the JVC 7X00 and 9X00 series, hook it up with the SVideo connection, and things will work much better with the iScan.
After talking with the DVDO tech guy, I learned that problems 4 & 5 (image that bends horizontally) are caused by the fact that normal VCRs put out an unsteady timebase, and the DVDO uses that timebase (doubling the scan frequency) to produce the image. My understanding is that the DVDO basically spits out 2 progressive lines of video whenever the incoming video signal gives it one line of interlaced. The problem is that the timing of the DVDO's output is hitched to the timing of the incoming signal, which isn't steady.
He said that they were working on perhaps incorporating timebase correction into future generations of the iScan. I think he means that the iScan would only be hitched to the incoming signal at the start of the field, and then after that the iScan would output a whole frame of data on its own clock.
Until then, he said using a timebase corrector is the only way to solve the problem. A timebase corrector digitally stores up a whole field of data at a time and then reclocks it and blits it out. I looked around for external timebase correctors, and didn't like that option. They start at $300 for the cheapest (the datavideo), and quickly go up to thousands for high quality.
I found out that there are VCRs available that have built in timebase correctors. The only consumer models are the JVC 7600, 7800, 9600, and 9800. I found a JVC 7800 which lists for $350 on the open-box section of the Good Guys store for $225, so I decided to give that a shot. It turns out that it solves problems 4 and 5 (the horizontal bending) perfectly. It is so much nicer being able to see whats going on in fast forward! It also improved problem 6 (the wavering titles) a lot so now they are rarely noticed. And it has discrete remote IR codes available on www.remotecentral.com,
so this seems to be the perfect VCR for me.
And lo and behold, it fixed the blasted-out highlight problem (#2). I found that there were two factors affecting the highlights:
A. The composite input on the iScan blasts the highlights more than the S-Video terminal, probably because it has slightly more amplification. Or else my receiver is amplifying the composite more than the SVideo. I found that with either my old VCR or the new, switching from composite to SVideo improved (lowered) the highlights.
B. The JVC 7800 VCR outputs a lower signal level than my Panasonic 7670 VCR. This also helps the highlight problem.
The combination of switching VCRs and using SVideo rather than composite has gotten the highlights into the mostly unclipped range. And the shadows (problem #3) seem fine now too.
The only problem that hasn't been solved by switching VCRs is the vertical jitter for a second or so when switching channels (#1). The iScan guy said that most people experience a blank screen for a little while when switching channels. And I verified that on my computer monitor I got a blank screen rather than the vertical jitter. So I guess I should count my blessings that at least I can see something on my projector. BTW, the jitter is somehow less objectionable on the JVC versus the panasonic VCR, although still very annoying. But I'm learning to live with it and it doesn't phase me too much now. The iScan guy said they are aware of the problem and trying to find a fix for the next generation.
It looks like I'll probably be sending the Sima SCC that I ordered back. Now I'm really happy with the iScan, and I think I could probably never go back to interlaced video on the projector. The film mode deinterlacing is perfect, except when the iScan occaisionally gets confused about what mode it's in, on static images.
I'm really not sure which problems are related to Macrovision and which aren't, but I'm sure that Macrovision can't be helping, and if there are problems at the top of the image it's likely to be related to Macrovision (which operates in the VBI above the image). At any rate, I think a TBC VCR might be a better solution than the Sima.
You can email me at: tmorrow at us dot oracle dot com