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  1. I'm trying to capture VHS video from old home movies and Clean them up and convert them to DVD. So far I've tried both the Plextor 402U (external USB) and the Hauppauge 500-MCE (dual tuner PCI). They both capture to MPEG2 and Mpeg1 very well.
    I've read on this site and others that the best way (quality wise) to capture such videos would be to capture in raw AVI mode and then compress the results using Vdub after cleaning it up with a few filters. My questions are as follows:
    1. How can I capture to raw AVI using either one of these cards if possible
    2. What card would I need to buy to capture to raw AVI if it isn't possible with these
    3. Is there a way to clean up Mpeg2 after you've captured it to get good results without having to recompress (I assume you lose quality this way).

    I guess in general my confusion stems from the fact that every guide I read starts with "First take your captured AVI file" yet there doesn't seem to be a great amount of new capture cards coming out that actually support AVI capture with Vdub or many other programs. Can anybody tell me of a guide using MPEG2 capture that produces comparable results?
    Thanks in advance!
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  2. You need something that can capture to avi format to be able to clean up the video and use lots of filters. I have a Hauppauge PVR-250, but don't even have it in the computer since I bought a Canopus ADVC-55 DV converter. I converts to DV, then I can clean up the video, remove logos, etc. in VirtualDub. I then frameserve to CCE basic.

    You would have to recompress from your MPEG-2 current captures if you want to filter them.
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  3. So I guess the question becomes then, what is the best Raw AVI capture card or device. I didn't think that the PVR-250 would support capturing to AVI (non divx) in Windows XP at least. How are the results with the Canopus ADVC-55, is that going to be my only option for getting good AVI capture from a VCR?
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    my understanding was that any capture card will allow your to capture raw .avi. The capture card will just funnel the video information into your computer and the capture program will take over the process of writing an .avi file to disk. The capture card may in part or wholly convert the video to mpeg, but if you want raw .avi it just passes through the capture card and the cpu/application bears the burden of creating the file. So in this sense the capture card doesn't support .avi meaning it's not going to convert the video information to .avi for you.

    My video card supports hardware mpeg2 encoding. It will encode video on the fly to mpeg2 with it's hardware. It doesn't support uncompressed .avi, huffyuv, divx, xvid..etc. However, If I have the codecs and my computer is fast enough I can tell the capture program to capture to any of those formats regardless. It all comes down to whether the capture card or your cpu does the encoding.

    if you plan on doing any editing at all (other than cut/splice/stream copy edits) I would definitely suggest capturing to .avi or huffyuv, do your edits and then compress to mpeg2. If you are happy with the quality of some of the video's then you can just transfer them straight to mpeg2. The quality will be noticeably worse if you capture to mpeg2, then edit and re-encode the mpeg2 file.
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  5. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Archaix
    So I guess the question becomes then, what is the best Raw AVI capture card or device. I didn't think that the PVR-250 would support capturing to AVI (non divx) in Windows XP at least. How are the results with the Canopus ADVC-55, is that going to be my only option for getting good AVI capture from a VCR?
    We are talking about various methods here

    1. Capture with a hardware encoding device (MPeg). Levels filtering is usually* done in analog (proc-amp) and then timebase correction/noise reduction is applied upstream of capture. The result can be very good. Hardware encoding cards usually don't support uncompressed capture.

    2. Capture with a hardware encoding device (DV). Levels filtering is usually* done in analog (proc-amp) and then timebase correction/noise reduction is applied upstream of capture. The result can be very good. Again, hardware encoding cards usually don't support uncompressed capture.

    3. Capture with a cheap Connectix generic "tuner card" to uncompressed and attempt software filtering in 24 bit RGB (8bit per component). This technique will also benefit greatly from precapture procamp and TBC since major corrections in 8bit video will cause other problems due to limited quantization. After an optimal capture, there are a host of filters that can be applied, but expect extremely long processing times.
    http://www.doom9.org/index.html?/capture/start.html

    4. If you are really serious (archival or forensic restoration) then you need a precision VCR for tape playback and more sophisticated capture hardware that will precisely control bandpass frequency for luma and chroma. A single low pass filter for one component will cost more than an entire Connectix card ($~50-70 wholesale). The card should sell for over $1000 if quality components are being used. 8mm/VHS and Hi8/S-VHS need different optimizations. Adaptive hardware investment can make the entire process realtime (time vs. money)

    * if you are serious.
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  6. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Method 5 is to use a stand alone DVD Recorder senario. Input processing chips are improving but none have optimized yet for VHS transfer.
    Recommends: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives.
    http://www.kiva.org/about
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  7. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    Hi,
    The DivX Hardware Encoder on your 402U will actually give you better results than the MPEG-2 Hardware Encoder using the best DivX Home Theater Setting, DivX Hardware Encoding is a whole different game than trying to capture DivX avi in realtime with a capture card. You will get excellent results by using the 402U to capture with DivX at the Best Quality Setting, Then import the DivX file into VirtualDub, apply your filters if needed (much of the time they do more harm than good, especially denoising ones). Then frameserve your project from VirtualDub to the MPEG-2 Encoder of your choice, CCE, Mainconcept and TMPGEnc are all good, TMPGEnc works very well with VirtualDub. With the hardware you have described this should give you excellent quality.
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  8. edDV - Thank you for your comments, You obviously know what you're doing, and if I had that kind of money to throw at this particular project believe me I would. However, I'm moreso leaning towards either using the devices I have already or possibly purchasing a device that would support Uncompressed AVI, by the way what is the difference between Uncompressed AVI (or Raw AVI as I think of it) and DV?
    GMaq do you have anymore info on this DivX mode capturing? I was using the Plextor GoCap program to capture the Mpeg2, I assume you're referencing the Intervideo program that comes with the box when you say "Home Theater Setting" Is it better to capture to a high resolution all the way through? (720x480) or to low res it and then resize?
    I'm not worried about space or time really, I just want to know how to get the best out of what I have or can purchase (within reason considering I won't be going into business making these or anything).
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  9. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Archaix
    edDV - Thank you for your comments, You obviously know what you're doing, and if I had that kind of money to throw at this particular project believe me I would. However, I'm moreso leaning towards either using the devices I have already or possibly purchasing a device that would support Uncompressed AVI, by the way what is the difference between Uncompressed AVI (or Raw AVI as I think of it) and DV?
    GMaq do you have anymore info on this DivX mode capturing? I was using the Plextor GoCap program to capture the Mpeg2, I assume you're referencing the Intervideo program that comes with the box when you say "Home Theater Setting" Is it better to capture to a high resolution all the way through? (720x480) or to low res it and then resize?
    I'm not worried about space or time really, I just want to know how to get the best out of what I have or can purchase (within reason considering I won't be going into business making these or anything).
    Why do you think uncompressed "avi" is going to get you better results?

    #1 issue - tune up that vcr and add preprocessing equipment (proc-amp, TBC). You may not be able to afford that.

    #2 issue - optimize what you have. Go for higher bitrates and experiment with Divx or other MPeg4. Understand the tradeoffs with MPeg4. It all depends how you intend to display the result.

    #3 Uncompressed techniques may get better results but are expensive in learning curve, extremely long processing times (new computer or rendering farm?) and encoder cost. The trend is to use hardware processing to take load off the computer and reduce software load.

    Focus your expectations. Why start over when you already spent hundreds on the Plextor 402U and 500-MCE?
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  10. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    Archaix,
    I am not very fond of the InterVideo software that came with the 402U at all, GoCap works great for MPEG-2, but I find it a little twitchy with DivX. The good news is that VirtualDub 1.61 and newer support Directshow Capture Devices including the 402U, and the default setting that VirtualDub supports just happens to be the Best, So plug in your 402U, fire up VirtualDub and in the 'File" menu select Capture AVI and select the M402U as your Video Device. There is more detailed info in the 402U FAQ at the Plextor site about setting up VirtualDub if needed, I use my 402U with a capture program called iuVCR because I like sheduling Satellite recordings, But VirtualDub will give you just as good results. Capture at 720x480 which is the default and keep it there all the way through, I would suggest an MPEG-2 bitrate of 6500-8000kbpsVBR for best results. Many people are skeptical about the DivX Hardware Encoding but it really is comparable to much lower compression Codecs like PICVideo etc.
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  11. Does Plextor's hardware Divx encoder support interlaced video? Last I heard it used either a blend or dup-field deinterlace.

    Another thing you can try is capturing at 15,000 kbps with your PVR-350. Then do your processing from there. And use the PVR-350's proc amp controls to adjust color, brightness, contrast, sharpness, and noise filtering before MPEG compression.
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  12. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    jagabo,
    The M402U De-Interlaces (I'm not sure which method) in both MPEG-2 and DivX modes, the deinterlacing looks very good even on regular CRT NTSC 525 Tv's, No Jaggies, No De-Interlacing down the line to worry about, One of the things I like best about the 402U!!
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  13. #1 issue - tune up that vcr and add preprocessing equipment (proc-amp, TBC). You may not be able to afford that.

    I'm using a JVC -SVHS vcr with Svideo out. It looks decent enough but the Hi-Fi sound amplifies that tape hum noise, thus the need to use at least one filter to straighten out the audio. The proc-amp stuff looks promising I'll have to do some more research into that.

    #2 issue - optimize what you have. Go for higher bitrates and experiment with Divx.

    From what I could gather from the guides about Mpeg2 captures, once you compress the video any attempt at using filters or other processing only degrades the quality further. Also I was under the impression that uncompressed AVI would yield the best results (IE the highest sampling rate hence the larger size) I'm thinking about it from a music standpoint, since I have a pretty good handle on that. I'm comparing raw AVI to WAV and Mpeg2 to MP3 and so on.

    #3 Uncompressed techniques may get better results but are expensive in learning curve, extremely long processing times (new computer?) and encoder cost.

    The machine is pretty decent for what I'm doing, I'm running a 1.6 ghz AMD XP and 2 gigs of ram with about 500 GB of Hard Drive space to spare
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  14. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Archaix
    #1 issue - tune up that vcr and add preprocessing equipment (proc-amp, TBC). You may not be able to afford that.

    I'm using a JVC -SVHS vcr with Svideo out. It looks decent enough but the Hi-Fi sound amplifies that tape hum noise, thus the need to use at least one filter to straighten out the audio. The proc-amp stuff looks promising I'll have to do some more research into that.

    #2 issue - optimize what you have. Go for higher bitrates and experiment with Divx.

    From what I could gather from the guides about Mpeg2 captures, once you compress the video any attempt at using filters or other processing only degrades the quality further. Also I was under the impression that uncompressed AVI would yield the best results (IE the highest sampling rate hence the larger size) I'm thinking about it from a music standpoint, since I have a pretty good handle on that. I'm comparing raw AVI to WAV and Mpeg2 to MP3 and so on.

    #3 Uncompressed techniques may get better results but are expensive in learning curve, extremely long processing times (new computer?) and encoder cost.

    The machine is pretty decent for what I'm doing, I'm running a 1.6 ghz AMD XP and 2 gigs of ram with about 500 GB of Hard Drive space to spare
    #1 Good if it is in alignment. Proc Amp and TBC are major issues affecting quality on a good monitor.

    #2 The issue is to get as much of the job done by preprocessing the video ahead of capture. 8bit video leaves little room for software filtering. It's all about round off errors. For the music analogy, it would be like you are capturing 16bit CD to 12bit and then equalizing and noise reducing.

    All the solutions above are 8bit per component. Sampling rates are similar and adequate. A 10bit capture card puts you into that $1000 class with good parts. Low pass filters are the expensive parts, not the A/D. VHS is full of noise with usefull video confined to limited bandwidths.

    As for audio, make sure you are getting the HiFi channels. Those are highly sensitive to tracking. You can demux your MPeg and filter audio separately. Maintaining A/V sync may be a problem.
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  15. Member edDV's Avatar
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    #3 Try a 30 minute clip with typical deinterlace - noise reduce and color correction filters and see if you think a 1.6 ghz AMD XP is going to be adequate. We are talking hours of processing before the encoder gets it.
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  16. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    Archaix,
    A realistic goal when going from VHS is to preserve what was there in the first place, I have played with a lot of the VirtualDub filters, most of them promise more than they deliver, To continue with your audio anology, DeNoising Video is like removing hiss and hum from audio, you can isolate the frequencies that are causing the noise but when you remove them you are also removing the upper octaves of those frequencies and messing around with the partial harmonics that go with them, sometimes you can get away with it sometimes not, De-Interlacing has it's merits but De-Anything is subtracting video data from your source and leaving you less to work with, I would heartily agree with EdDV that the more preprocessing and correction you do before capture will reap the most noticeable benefit and save hours of encoding time with filters that will do too little to notice or more harm than good. Just my .02!
    Good Luck!!
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  17. Ok so I went home and tried a few things last night and of course that only lead to more questions =) So I'll just fire off a few and hope that you guys are feeling generous today.
    First of all edDV you're right in that those filters take for freakin ever to run, about 6 hours on roughly 20 minutes of video. The results were the best I've seen yet though using Gocap to capture to mpeg2 and then using the filters in Tmpgenc Xpress to crop and denoise and color correct a little.
    I fixed my sound issue by turning the VCR to Hi-Fi only mode instead of Mixed.
    I also tried to capture in Divx mode using Gocap, Intervideo, and Vdub, but for some reason playback and capture was very...shaky or stuttery I'll say. (It reminded me of playing online Quake 3 with a dialup connection.) Is that a system issue? (IE not enough processor speed or slow vid card?) or is there a setting or codec with Divx that I"m not using correctly (I'm using the default stuff that came with the Plextor 402u)
    What does frameserving actually do for TmpGenc that loading the file directly into the program and then recompressing doesn't do? I know that when I tried to load the Divx AVI into Tmpgenc and crop it, it resulted in some kind of funky audio problem, it sounded like everybody was speed up and muffled.
    Lastly, Can you point me to a website that has info or a place to purchase some decent enough proc amps like what you're talking about? I'm just curious for now.
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  18. Originally Posted by Archaix
    I also tried to capture in Divx mode using Gocap, Intervideo, and Vdub, but for some reason playback and capture was very...shaky or stuttery I'll say. (It reminded me of playing online Quake 3 with a dialup connection.) Is that a system issue? (IE not enough processor speed or slow vid card?) or is there a setting or codec with Divx that I"m not using correctly (I'm using the default stuff that came with the Plextor 402u)
    Be sure to use Divx in its fastest setting. The others are too slow for video capture.

    Originally Posted by Archaix
    What does frameserving actually do for TmpGenc that loading the file directly into the program and then recompressing doesn't do?
    It would allow you to use AVISynth for all your filtering. That would let you filter in a YUV colorspace for better results and faster processing.
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  19. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    Archaix,
    The stuttering video with DivX is probably due to your processor speed, The latest version of the DivX Codec is very processor hungry which will cause your playback and capture preview to be jerky. An earlier version of the DivX Codec should work better, but perhaps due to the speed of of your current system MPEG-2 will be more stable. As to your frameserving question from VirtualDub, the reason to frameserve is than you can apply your edits and filters etc. direct from VirtualDub to the MPEG Encoder instead of saving an intermediate file that will will have to be saved uncompressed (if you use filters), The resulting file will be huge and time consuming when you can just send it as is via the frameserver without an intermediate file.
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  20. I'll try that out, although I'm not sure the Plextor ConvertX 402U will support capturing to Huffyyuv in Vdub or anywhere else. But I'm not averse to just buying a different card altogether...what's the deal with these 10-bit capture cards? Are they really 1000 dollars better than 8-bit for VHS capture? Also is there anyway to make Vdub open Divx captures? It gives me some error about VFW codecs?
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    Archaix: I'm in the same boat as you right now. I capture very old material off of VHS...I use a Pinnacle card and it saves everything to AVI, then I use virtualdub afterwards. It does a decent job, but you're cursed with having to use Pinnacle Studio ONLY, since pinnacle refuses to work with virtualdub or anything else for that matter. It's also a severe memory hog. I've been researching other cards like it's my 2nd job, and I'm not even close to selecting a final choice. It seems like every card out there has one major disadvantage. Many of them don't save to AVI at all, many others that have gotten great reviews (Winfast, etc) don't even seem to exist on the market anymore. It's just beyond frustrating. If you find something good, please send me a PM, in case I lose track of this thread.
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  22. Member GMaq's Avatar
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    .Archaix,
    There is nothing wrong with the hardware you currently have, I can see your starting to show symptoms of "Analysis Paralysis" I know them well, I've been there myself many times VHS is a shitty source, it sucks I know, Many of us have trusted our precious family memories to a media that history has shown to be inferior! 8 bit or 10 bit are both so far beyond VHS source is that it is a waste of money to change your capture hardware, If you were capturing HD then those 2 extra bits may be worth it. IMHO your money will be best spent on an inline TBC, Capture in MPEG-2 at 720x480 8000kbpsVBR burn it to DVD and sit down and enjoy the memories! It's true that there are many ways to do this project and yield good results, It's also true that "you can't polish a turd" VHS home movies will never look that terrific on DVD but at least you've got 'em!!

    PS, If VirtualDub isn't opening your DivX's then you need to install the DivX Codec either from DivX.com (which isn't a good idea since we already determined your CPU might not handle it) or an older version in a Codec Pack - Which can also cause problems, that's why you probably want to stick with MPEG-2.
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  23. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Archaix
    I'll try that out, although I'm not sure the Plextor ConvertX 402U will support capturing to Huffyyuv in Vdub or anywhere else. But I'm not averse to just buying a different card altogether...what's the deal with these 10-bit capture cards? Are they really 1000 dollars better than 8-bit for VHS capture? Also is there anyway to make Vdub open Divx captures? It gives me some error about VFW codecs?
    The ConvertX pre-encodes in the card. USB2 isn't adequate for an uncompressed capture. The data flow requires a PCI card and then the hard disk system needs to keep up. Huffyuv takes some load off the hard disk system using the CPU to compress on the fly.

    8 bit is adequate for good to high quality inputs but if levels are off or highly noisy, 8 bits doesn't allow enough quantization for multiple steps of filtering. The trick to making 8bits work is to do as much levels correction, timebase jitter and noise reduction before A/D.

    Each hardware encoding capture device tries to cope with these issues internally and within the target design price. But if you are going for higher quality than they can provide, you need to add upstream proc-amp and TBC/DNR.

    The 10bit capture devices are not designed for VHS, they are for working with input video quality levels several large steps up. In theory 10 bit capture followed by 10 bit processing can allow better filter performance because round off errors have smaller effect. REC-601 8bit video has 235-16 = 219 digital levels (plus overshoots) or about 1/2 % for each digital level. 10bit has 960-64 = 896 levels or 1/10 % for each level.

    The bad side of 10 bit processing is you have added at least 20% to processing times (more as filters are addded) and 20% to disk space used.

    So in priority.

    1. Do as much correction before A/D as possible,
    2. Or buy a capture device that does some levels corrcetion, TBC/DNR on the card.
    3. Or, accept the time and quality issues of doing it all in uncompressed 8bit RGB space with software.

    There is no one solution for all. Upstream processing requires ~$1000-2000 investment in VCR, proc-amp, TBC/DNR and capture device.

    Camcorder pass-thru can get good results if you have a camcorder with that feature.

    External encoding capture devices have some limited processing as do standalone DVD recorders.
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  24. So I've played with all of these suggestions and some of them look pretty promising...I'll have to do more research into proc-amp stuff one day, but I'm pretty happy with the color and brightness of the video I'm getting, all I really need to be able to do is crop it without having to reencode either the mpeg2 or divx capture...I may have to buy a cheaper card that supports raw AVI capture to get that done...(a little bit of irony there I think)
    Speaking of Divx what exactly is the deal with it? How does capturing in Divx stack up against capturing in Mpeg2 as far as quality goes? I checked my processor usage while capturing in Divx with highest settings and it's only using about 35% yet the video is twitching like crazy..I don't think it's a system issue because every now and then it will perform very well...I just have to exit out of the capture programs a few times and eventually it will start working (I'm leaning towards a codec issue but I'm not familiar with the correct way to install Divx...I just loaded the Intervideo program that came with the 402 and then installed new Divx codecs on top of it..seems like I should stick with the older stuff perhaps and uninstall the new codec)
    I finally got the good Divx captures to open in Vdub with the idea of cropping them and frameserving them to Tmpgenc Xpress to put them in DVD format, but for some reason I lose sound and at the very last encode step Tmpgenc freaks out and gives me an error "file type not supported"...heh makes me want to stick with mpeg2
    Also for my purposes all of these captures are going to a double layer DVD to play back on a home DVD player. So space isn't a huge concern as they are only 10-30 minute clips. I was originally going to put in some VH1 style pop-up video bubbles just for fun, but I think I'll stick to the basics for now.
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  25. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by edDV
    Method 5 is to use a stand alone DVD Recorder senario. Input processing chips are improving but none have optimized yet for VHS transfer.
    Oh, I disagree with that one. I think LSI Logic has done a great job on their DoMiNo chipset line, used in JVC, LiteOn, LG and others. It specifically address grain and chroma noise, major drawbacks to VHS quality.

    The only downside is they are not fully adjustable by the user. But then again, the default settings are perfect most of the time anyway. I have few tapes where I wish it was more or less.

    Unlike graphics cards companies that started to dabble in computer video, LSI Logic is experienced with integrated video hardware at the professional level. Several DVD chipset makers are like that.
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  26. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GMaq
    isn't opening your DivX's then you need to install the DivX Codec either from DivX.com (which isn't a good idea since we already determined your CPU might not handle it) or an older version in a Codec Pack - Which can also cause problems, that's why you probably want to stick with MPEG-2.
    If you want to play DIVX, install the XVID codec, which can do DIVX too, but without that obnoxious logo.
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  27. Originally Posted by Archaix
    Speaking of Divx what exactly is the deal with it? How does capturing in Divx stack up against capturing in Mpeg2 as far as quality goes? I checked my processor usage while capturing in Divx with highest settings and it's only using about 35% yet the video is twitching like crazy.
    The average CPU usage isn't critical. What matters in a realtime situation like video capture is that the CPU be available when it's needed. Imagine a system where the CPU is running at 100 percent for 1 second then 0 percent for 1 second. On average it is only running 50 percent. But during that second where the CPU is at 100 percent, if the CPU doesn't become available for processing new frames arriving from the capture card, the incoming frames will be lost.

    Obviously, the granularity in a real system is much finer, and programs use multibuffering techniques to reduce the sensitivity to timing, but the issues is the same: the CPU needs to be available at specific times to prevent loss of incoming frames.

    Be sure to set Divx up with its realtime (fastest) profile for video capture. If you can capture with no lost frames at that profile you can try the next step up, etc. Divx's fastest setting is much faster than Xvid's. And you can turn Divx's logo off via it's config options.
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    capturing to a lossier format (divx) to edit and then re-encoding to mpeg2 goes against everything I've ever learned here
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  29. Yeah it seems kind of counterintuitive to me as well. I was just going to experiment just to see what it could do. I think my current equipment is going to be able to give me Mpeg2 that I'll then have to recompress into Mpeg2 again to be able to crop it and maybe perform some noise clean up on it.
    Does anyone recommend the Tmpgenc Xpress filters over the VirtualDub? Also is there a better way to get an mpeg2 to dvd other than Nero Vision?
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