Hello, just found this site while googling old video gear, and it looks like just the place to ask my noobish questions.
So, I fear I'm probably going down roads which have been covered before. But I've got a whole whack of video gear here, and I'm wondering if perhaps you guys could help me narrow down which of it is best suited to my tasks.
My goal is to take several analog mediums and make high quality digital versions. It'll be primarily laserdisc, VHS, and u-matic that I work with, though I expect some S-VHS and beta to come up occasionally as well.
I've ended up with a truckload of video gear from my day job in computer recycling. I should have everything I need to get starter. If anything, I have too much! Any suggestions on picking the best? The cream of the crap, so to speak?
To start with, the capture hardware:
I have an entire Avid given to me by a documentary maker who purchased it in 2001. It's Meridien era hardware, 2 channel audio input, composite, s-video, component, etc. I think it's something like Xpress instead of the full Media Composer, but I know nothing about Avid stuff. Still have a lot to learn.
I also have an older Avid, based around a PowerMac 9600 from 1996. This is Truevision hardware.
I also have a Media 100 board set with breakout box which I could build a machine around. Not the very first PCI one (Vincent,) but the later P6000. This has the advantage of supporting analog RGB as well as component, which would be handy for capturing the output of old game consoles and such. But that's a secondary goal.
Am I right in assuming that a 2001 Avid is going to outdo any of the others for analog capturing? Editing prowess isn't the point, I'm just concerned with getting a good digital copy first. From there I can edit it under Premiere on my modern PC if all else fails.
Is there any cheapish modern gear which would do an even better job than the above? My experience with PCI TV tuner cards and such has made me suspect not. But I'd welcome a surprise here.
Next, the decks:
For VHS I have a professional JVC BR-S811U, a prosumer JVC SR-VS20 that's not quite fully working, and a cheap little Mitsubishi HS-U747. All three are S-VHS decks. I imagine the S811U is the one to use, but I thought I'd ask given that it's quite a bit older than the other two.
For U-Matic I have a Sony VO-9850, and my Betacam deck is a BVW-D75. No options here, but I wonder what hardware below will suit them best.
And for Laserdisc I have a Pioneer HLD-X9.
Are any of these machines good picks, or should I keep my eyes open for something better? I know the laserdisc player is as good as it gets, but what about the rest?
Finally it's the in between stuff. From what I understand those VHS decks at the very least will need some time base correction, right? What about the u-matic and laserdisc and stuff?
I have a JVC SA-T400U standalone timebase corrector already, as well as an older DPS Personal Timebase Corrector IV inside of a video toaster Amiga. Would either of these be well suited? I notice that the JVC unit has a dropout compensation connector to match the JVC VHS deck, something the DPS card lacks. And that the Amiga unit has a slightly higher SNR, but I'm confused about how the bandwidth compares.
What about other stuff? I've heard about things like detailers and amps and stuff. Are any of these things needed for what I'm doing?
Is it worth getting one of the units that breaks s-video out of the dub port on the U-Matic machines? http://captain18.livejournal.com/140367.html seems to show a worthwhile quality improvement and a hack that might be adaptable, so I'm thinking I might try to follow in his footsteps.
Here's a picture of the beast coming together:
Thanks for taking the time to read through this whole mess, and for helping a vidiot out.
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Last edited by Jax184; 7th Jan 2013 at 17:42.
For SVHS: Stick with the SR-VS20. It has the Digipure TBC/DNR system which many recommend here for transfers. The BR-S811 doesn't even have a TBC inside of it.
For Betacam SP: You can't get a better deck. Just make sure its been serviced
For U-Matic SP: I'd say go for the dub connector adapter. Like the Betacam deck, make sure it has been serviced as these things get beat to crap. Also keep in mind that this unit doesn't have any sort of TBC built-in.
External TBC: The DPS TBC IV is a frame sync, it'll work fine. Its also never then the JVC and likely isn't worn out. I have not tested it for jitter/line correction yet. Just watch your video levels, my units here are all over the place when scoped. Make sure you have the Amiga or PC control software for the onboard proc-amp to tweak the video output. I don't see the Amiga in the picture either
Capturing: You'd be surprised at how bad some of these old expensive NLE rigs capture video. They were designed to capture pristine source footage for editing, not cruddy VHS tapes. They usually can't capture uncompressed video either. Considering how cheap and accessible the parts are in your line of work, build yourself an AGP P4 rig around an ATI All-in-Wonder 7500/9600/9800/etc. capture card.
Are you asking a question or just showing off your hardware?
Not sure if you mentioned the industrial Sony CRT as being picked up in that lot, but that is probably the nicest find of the whole lot.
Will either of the TBC I mentioned work with the u-matic deck? Is there any difference between TBC on VHS/U-Matic, etc? Or is it all the same?
Now that's a surprise. I've used all in wonders, TV wonders, etc and haven't been terribly impressed. Is that really the best option?
Then a month later he e-mailed me again to say I could have it if I got it out of his house. We got to talking about why he had one and what I wanted it for, and he said it was part of the Avid he'd bought back in 2001. Then he said I could have it too if I hauled it away.
I've had quite a few PVMs. Just sold off my 2030s. I still have a spare like the one in the picture if anyone in Vancouver needs one. Wouldn't be worth shipping though.
The JVC SR-VS20 can actually be used to capture, since it has a firewire port on the front. It's essentially half a Mini DV camcorder grafted onto a S-VHS deck. Sounded nice when I picked it up, but the captures I made with it were very soft compared to the original. And I've used some really lousy TV tuner cards. So it seemed like the only way I was going to get good results was to move up a bit.
Last edited by Jax184; 11th Jan 2013 at 17:25.
As for capture cards. The pro cards were expensive mostly because they they came out in the mid-90s and because they featured realtime compression (usually MJPEG, some did MPEG2 and DV). The biggest issue with them is the lack of uncompressed capture capabilities, and the lack of 3rd party application support for capture. Most of them forced you to capture through a limited and usually buggy Adobe Premiere plug-in.... which only seemed to work with equally ancient versions of Premiere!
The ATI cards have proven themselves for VHS transfers and don't seem to suffer weird issues like funky automatic gain control problems and over sharpening of captures. They also have a halfway decent 2D 3-line comb filter on their composite input (the popular BT8x8 series has a primitive notch filter for example). Of course you can always bypass the card's comb filters by using an external solution to convert the source to S-Video.
If I'm going to test capture hardware, I've got a hell of a lot of weird systems I could add to the test. An Edirol DV-7. An Amiga. Countless old computer video cards and such with video input. This could turn into a long and strange list.