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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

Not really sure the best place to put this but since I'll be using my HTPC to do this, I figure I'll post it here. I need advice on the best way to get my parents' old VHS tapes to my computer. I've been looking at video capture devices but can't seem to get any definitive answers as to whether or not any one is better than another. The two brands I've seen recommended most frequently are Hauppauge and AverMedia. Keeping in mind that these are old VHS tapes, not the DV tapes, do any of the video capture devices have an advantage over the others? Does included software make any difference? Any post-processing applications I can use to clean up or improve the video quality? I fully understand that 30 year old VHS tapes will never look great, but any improvement would be worthwhile. Thanks!
 

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I highly recommend NOT using a PC to do this. Using a DVD recorder is much easier. I captured about 300 old VHS and DV tapes to DVD then later ripped to PC for editing. Was a simple matter of pressing 2 buttons for each. Even trained the rest of the family so I could get the whole project done in a couple of weeks.
 

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How many tapes?
Not a ton, maybe 30 or so

I highly recommend NOT using a PC to do this. Using a DVD recorder is much easier. I captured about 300 old VHS and DV tapes to DVD then later ripped to PC for editing. Was a simple matter of pressing 2 buttons for each. Even trained the rest of the family so I could get the whole project done in a couple of weeks.
I have a vhs DVD recorder available so that's definitely a possibility. I guess my question is whether or not there would be an appreciable quality difference using the self-contained unit vs direct to my computer. I would much rather take a large amount of extra time going through a capture device if a quality difference exists.
 

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While using a DVD recorder is certainly one viable method, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using a PC to transfer your home movies on VHS. I transferred all of my VHS and S-VHS tapes to my PC using a Dazzle DVD Recorder and Pinnacle Studio software. The Dazzle DVD has composite audio and video inputs with a USB interface to the PC. The Pinnacle Studio software recognizes the Dazzle DVD as a capture device and converts the audio and video to whatever format you choose. If you have a Hi-8 camcorder then Pinnacle Studio can capture the audio and video using a Firewire interface and can also control the camcorder transport functions for one-click captures. Pinnacle Studio also lets you edit your videos once they've been captured.

Don't expect high picture quality when using VHS as your source. The resolution sucks by comparison to today's higher def devices. VHS only offered about 240 lines of horizontal resolution vs. 480 lines for standard def TV and 1080 lines for HD.
 

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I guess my question is whether or not there would be an appreciable quality difference using the self-contained unit vs direct to my computer. I would much rather take a large amount of extra time going through a capture device if a quality difference exists.
In my experience, the quality on a PC is lower.
 

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I'd just pay some services to do it since this is one time thing. Doesn't worth the trouble to purchase all the equipment that you will never use again.


As for DV tapes mentioned above, I'd recommend not use DVD recorder to convert it because the tape is already digital. All you need is a firewire port on the PC to capture it from the DV camera directly. The video is DV format (basically MJpeg like) and easier to edit than MPEG2 from DVD.
 

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I'd just pay some services to do it since this is one time thing. Doesn't worth the trouble to purchase all the equipment that you will never use again.


As for DV tapes mentioned above, I'd recommend not use DVD recorder to convert it because the tape is already digital. All you need is a firewire port on the PC to capture it from the DV camera directly. The video is DV format (basically MJpeg like) and easier to edit than MPEG2 from DVD.
$17.99 per tape at Costco:
http://www.costcodvd.com/services_and_pricing-videotapes.aspx

I need to do that for some Digital-8 tapes I have from 20 years ago. I've kept the Sony Camcorder and it has firewire, but everything has just been sitting there for years.

For a couple of tapes, I'll try Costco.

But the OP has 30 tapes. That could get pricey.
 

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In my experience, the quality on a PC is lower.
That is entirely dependent on the capture device (A/D converter) and software used. A standalone DVD recorder isn't necessarily going to have a better A/D converter than a quality capture device for a PC. The quality of a VHS source is going to be poor no matter what you use so chances are any difference you'll see will be minimal at best.

As to the cost involved, buy something used on ebay and then resell it when you're done. Chances are you'll get back what you paid for it less any shipping costs. I bought my refurbished Dazzle DVD Recorder on one of the sale websites years ago and didn't pay all that much for it. You can probably find an older version of Pinnacle Studio for sale on ebay for a fraction of the current cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
While using a DVD recorder is certainly one viable method, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using a PC to transfer your home movies on VHS. I transferred all of my VHS and S-VHS tapes to my PC using a Dazzle DVD Recorder and Pinnacle Studio software. The Dazzle DVD has composite audio and video inputs with a USB interface to the PC. The Pinnacle Studio software recognizes the Dazzle DVD as a capture device and converts the audio and video to whatever format you choose. If you have a Hi-8 camcorder then Pinnacle Studio can capture the audio and video using a Firewire interface and can also control the camcorder transport functions for one-click captures. Pinnacle Studio also lets you edit your videos once they've been captured.

Don't expect high picture quality when using VHS as your source. The resolution sucks by comparison to today's higher def devices. VHS only offered about 240 lines of horizontal resolution vs. 480 lines for standard def TV and 1080 lines for HD.
Yea, I don't expect miracles, just trying to see if anything is much worse than another. Unfortunately I don't have any camcorder, just the VHS-DVD recorder

I'd just pay some services to do it since this is one time thing. Doesn't worth the trouble to purchase all the equipment that you will never use again.


As for DV tapes mentioned above, I'd recommend not use DVD recorder to convert it because the tape is already digital. All you need is a firewire port on the PC to capture it from the DV camera directly. The video is DV format (basically MJpeg like) and easier to edit than MPEG2 from DVD.
No DV tapes, just standard VHS. I wn't need to buy much, just the capture device if I go that route. Already have the VHS DVD recorder.

$17.99 per tape at Costco:
http://www.costcodvd.com/services_and_pricing-videotapes.aspx

I need to do that for some Digital-8 tapes I have from 20 years ago. I've kept the Sony Camcorder and it has firewire, but everything has just been sitting there for years.

For a couple of tapes, I'll try Costco.

But the OP has 30 tapes. That could get pricey.
Yikes! Yea, that's a bit too rich for me


That is entirely dependent on the capture device (A/D converter) and software used. A standalone DVD recorder isn't necessarily going to have a better A/D converter than a quality capture device for a PC. The quality of a VHS source is going to be poor no matter what you use so chances are any difference you'll see will be minimal at best.

As to the cost involved, buy something used on ebay and then resell it when you're done. Chances are you'll get back what you paid for it less any shipping costs. I bought my refurbished Dazzle DVD Recorder on one of the sale websites years ago and didn't pay all that much for it. You can probably find an older version of Pinnacle Studio for sale on ebay for a fraction of the current cost.
I think I'll just use the DVD recorder's dubbing feature and then use MakeMKV to get them onto my computer.


Thanks everyone for your input!
 

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I use a Panasonic DVD recorder & record onto DVD-RAM. Then copy that to a PC where I can edit using VideoReDo & burn a DVD-R if I want to. And also keep the MPEG2 copy on the PC.
 

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Yes, forewarned this thread is sooooo "March 2015", & will likely go unanswered, rather than starting a new thread that will likely get buried anyway, thought I'd post here, I have a couple tapes Id like to transfer, but be able to segragate chapters & create a menu, & I know the player recorders will not do that. ....

I use a Panasonic DVD recorder & record onto DVD-RAM. Then copy that to a PC where I can edit using VideoReDo & burn a DVD-R if I want to. And also keep the MPEG2 copy on the PC.
So you are copying fully uncompressed from the DVD RAM, & copying direct from the VHS player through standard AV jacks to the PC hard drive isn't an acceptable means? Being 240 lines I wouldn't think it would diminish the quality little if any. :confused:

If one would decide to copy to a hard drive for editiing, & creating a menu with DVD maker (ie setting up chapters ect), what would the file format initally recording to the hard drive be for best quality, to be later transfered to DVD & assuming you were going to watch this on a full size TV & not a phone screen, MPEG2? ... and, what would the limitations of the DVD be in time since the resolution will be 240p,.. or is this actually upconverting to the full 480p?
 

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VHS does have 480 lines from top to bottom of screen. Not to be confused with its 240 lines of resolution in the horizontal plane. And DVDs also use 480 scan lines and are MPEG2.

I send the the VHS signal to the Panasonic via the standard A/V jacks & this gets recorded onto DVD-RAM as 480i MPEG2 video. The MPEG2 video file is copied onto the PC’s HDD where it can be edited. I use VideoReDo.

Now the PC's HDD has an edited MPEG2 video file on it. If the PC is connected to a big screen TV then I can watch the MPEG2 video, depending if I have an appropriate video player such as VLC.

Or I can author/generate a DVD compliant MPEG2 video which can then be burned to a DVD.

The video started out as NTSC video on tape with 480 vertical lines of resolution & this is maintained throughout the process. It's the 240 lines of resolution in the horizontal dimension which is the weak link. I'm presuming there's software that will let you tweak that a bit. Sort of like adjusting the sharpness control on your TV. But increasing the sharpness too much creates other problems.

I've just copied VHS to the Panny's DVD-RAM in the SP or 2 hour mode which I figured is plenty good considering the source.
 

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VHS does have 480 lines from top to bottom of screen. Not to be confused with its 240 lines of resolution in the horizontal plane. And DVDs also use 480 scan lines and are MPEG2.

I send the the VHS signal to the Panasonic via the standard A/V jacks & this gets recorded onto DVD-RAM as 480i MPEG2 video. The MPEG2 video file is copied onto the PC’s HDD where it can be edited. I use VideoReDo.

Now the PC's HDD has an edited MPEG2 video file on it. If the PC is connected to a big screen TV then I can watch the MPEG2 video, depending if I have an appropriate video player such as VLC.

Or I can author/generate a DVD compliant MPEG2 video which can then be burned to a DVD.

The video started out as NTSC video on tape with 480 vertical lines of resolution & this is maintained throughout the process. It's the 240 lines of resolution in the horizontal dimension which is the weak link. I'm presuming there's software that will let you tweak that a bit. Sort of like adjusting the sharpness control on your TV. But increasing the sharpness too much creates other problems.

I've just copied VHS to the Panny's DVD-RAM in the SP or 2 hour mode which I figured is plenty good considering the source.
The Panny DVD recorder I have, is no longer operational, 2 things I'm trying to do, is copy a few VHS tapes over to a DVD as the OP, with specific chapter breaks & possibly a menu. Second move some short MP4's over to a DVD in watchable quality, I know it isn't going to be in HD, but I would think this should equal VHS quality. I see that VHS is something like 352 x 480 (reading further on this), but what you are saying I think is there is little loss going from the VHS to DVD-R then back to editing in a MP2 Format to prevent further losses.

There was something called SVHS in the early 90's that really did not take off all that well, but had impressive quality for a tape at least... I'm assuming that was closer to 480P? but this still needed a special jack.
 

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VHS is analog. So, there is no sense to designate pixel resolutions other than the fact that it must have certain number of scan lines: 480i for 60Hz NTSC regions. It is also said that everytime you play the tape, it loss quality. For US, the VHS tape machines all output 480i analog video signal.

Even when convert to MPEG2 (only thing supported on DVD) digital video, if you edit it, you loss quality because MPEG2 is lossy compression and everytime you decode it, it is not the same as original. Compress it again, it losses even more.
 

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I thought VideoReDo normally did not recode except around the edit points. If you changed parameters such as resolution or bitrate then it would recode.
 

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VHS is analog. So, there is no sense to designate pixel resolutions other than the fact that it must have certain number of scan lines: 480i for 60Hz NTSC regions. It is also said that everytime you play the tape, it loss quality. For US, the VHS tape machines all output 480i analog video signal.

Even when convert to MPEG2 (only thing supported on DVD) digital video, if you edit it, you loss quality because MPEG2 is lossy compression and everytime you decode it, it is not the same as original. Compress it again, it losses even more.
So MP4 (& VHS) would have to be converted on the fly to a MPEG2 in these conversion programs to bring it on to a DVD?

Unlike audio, this isn't as simple as I thought.
 

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So MP4 (& VHS) would have to be converted on the fly to a MPEG2 in these conversion programs to bring it on to a DVD?

Unlike audio, this isn't as simple as I thought.
Yup. I (the OP) decided to forgo the VHS to DVD to computer route and bought an Elgato video capture. I don't have any intention of making these videos into DVD's. It's easier to archive and distribute to family members online. I found using the elgato video capture to be easier and much quicker with one less step in getting my movies to my computer.
 

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So MP4 (& VHS) would have to be converted on the fly to a MPEG2 in these conversion programs to bring it on to a DVD?

Unlike audio, this isn't as simple as I thought.
Or capture it raw to an AVI file and then encode to MPEG2, which is what I did years ago when I converted a bunch of VHS tapes. But that's another time consuming step, does allow you to edit and clean up the video a bit with something like AVISynth.
 
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