Let me preface this post by saying that while I am literate enough in computing to be running a Debian web/ssh server from my bedroom closet, the sheer amount of information available here on capturing analog video overwhelms me completely.
I have some videotapes - mostly VHS, but also some 8mm and VHS-C - which I would like to digitize. From what I've read, I think I should be aiming for x264 mkv as an end result. I'm very confused, though, as to which capture card I should purchase. I currently am using a Geniatech iGrabber I bought on Amazon a few years ago for $30, but it's predictably fickle and grossly exaggerates the colors on certain tapes; I'd like to replace it with something a. better-documented and b. higher end.
I am assuming that I should be looking for a card/box that only acts as a pass-through device. To my understanding - please correct me if I'm wrong - the Canopus ADVC line has some form of electronic sorcery that optimizes the output (resolution) for DV. It seems that makes it unsuitable for use as a "neutral" interface. I know a number of people here seem to use cards manufactured by Hauppage, but I'm unsure whether they are a good choice for what I'm trying to do.
I'd like to constrain my budget for this capture device to below $300. Does anyone have any suggestions?
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Since you mentioned iGrabber... are you on a Mac? That will severely limit your choices.
If you're on a Mac, as vaporeon800 speculates, you HAVE to tell us. I'd say 99% of the time that means that your post needed to go in the Mac forums where you can get Mac specific help. If you're not using a Mac but you only have a laptop, we need to know that too. It limits your choices somewhat.
The Hauppauge devices work well for this kind of thing. The Colossus card has a TBC you can turn on with a Windows registry hack. Don't know if you can turn on the TBC on a Mac. If you have a Mac you'll likely have to look into the HD PVR family if you want Hauppauge. Note that Hauppauge cards do best if recording to TS format containers. Audio sync problems may occur if you record to MP4 containers with their devices/cards. There is some Mac support for various Hauppauge devices, but it's through 3rd party products and I don't think we've ever had a poster here who has posted about using the Colossus or HD PVR devices on a Mac.
Right now, my primary machine (a Dell Latitude D630) is running a derivative of Debian, but it's not very powerful, so I've been using my father's Windows 7 laptop for elementary experiments in capturing. I'm saving up for a 27-inch iMac for use as a media production hub of sorts, though, so a card that would be compatible with OSX would certainly be useful.
Others have said it, I'll say it, and I'll insist on it no matter how Mac fans scream and holler: working with modern video on a Mac is like banging your head against a brick wall and boasting about how hard the bricks are. It's not 1984 any more.
Otherwise: enjoy. It helps to have one of those raised cooler platforms for your laptop.Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau