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  1. Member
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    I have a precious video that I do not want to play more than once if I can avoid it. I have just purchased the Diamond VC500 capture device. I have tested it out using less important tapes, and using the EZGrabber software for the capture, and it seems to be capturing fine. I have some questions, and really appreciate any help you can offer:

    1. Most important, what settings should the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and sharpness be set to? I just want to faithfully capture whatever is on the VHS - I don't want to attempt to improve or correct it. (I also don't know what the sharpness setting does). I am guessing I should set them all to 128 - this looks faithful on my trial capture.
    2. I am using "NTSC_M" video format and the "DVD" record format settings. The "DVD" setting seems to be the highest bitrate setting (36Mb for 30 sec), other than the "AVI" setting which took up 1Gb for 30 seconds. If I am trying to make a good archival copy of the VHS tape do you agree with using the "DVD" setting?
    3. Is there software that a beginner like me could use to capture video using the VC500 hardware but alternative freeware? Any advantages to this? Interested in archival quality / faithful capture.


    Thank you!
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  2. If you want the best it can be, Capture AVI, uncompressed or huffy or lagarith. The brightness controls, and others, are to improve or enhance areas where a particular tape is lacking. There is no "Correct" setting, there is what is best for each particular tape. A middle ground will likely be best most often, but ALSO will likely not be best for some tapes.

    Not familiar with that particular hardware.

    DVD-MPG is generally not considered best for either capture or archiving.
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:41.
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  4. Member
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    Sanlyn-

    Thank you so much for your advice. Bearing in mind that I am a rank amateur, could I impose on you to give some more step-by-step instructions for doing this? I mean GUI-level instructions like which menu, which dropdown, etc.


    I'm just not sure how one captures using VirtualDub, how you would choose huffyyuv/lagarith, whether those are things that need to be downloaded or installed separately from virtualdub. And when you say I should be doing brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma I have no idea where I would find those in virtualdub or what settings you are suggesting I put them on. And as for sharpening, you're saying I shouldn't do it - what setting do I need in order to not do it? (Same for hue - what setting does not change hue).


    I actually don't even know how to tell VirtualDub to capture from the VC500. That's how little I know. I know it might be annoying having such newbie questions, I apologize in advance, but hoping you or someone is able put together screenshots or step-by-step instructions. And hopefully that will be useful to others too.


    Best, Paris.
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  5. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by parisl
    how you would choose huffyyuv/lagarith, whether those are things that need to be downloaded or installed separately from virtualdub

    Just Google, download and install HuffYUV or Lagarith. It will be an option in your VFW options in VirtualDub. (I prefer HuffYUV. Yes bigger files, but easier to decode/capture/edit for me. You can encode it after capture/edits, later, to something else if you like.)


    Originally Posted by parisl
    And when you say I should be doing brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma I have no idea where I would find those in virtualdub or what settings you are suggesting I put them on. And as for sharpening, you're saying I shouldn't do it - what setting do I need in order to not do it? (Same for hue - what setting does not change hue).

    I highly recommend getting a Video Processing Amplifier ("proc amp") such as the one from SignVideo, on eBay (and others mentioned on this great Forum). It's very easy to use and has excellent results and you won't need to do much else with any other software, including VirtualDub. I won't get into gamma curves, etc, but, in short, it will make your blacks more black and your whites more white, and other neat things like brighten/adust colors.

    You should also be using a TBC as well, especially with precious content, and there is lots of information on this in this Forum.


    Originally Posted by parisl
    I'm just not sure how one captures using VirtualDub,

    Starting with File->CaptureAVI


    Then you set your file name (F2), find your device (click Device in menu and likely it will be a choice).


    Then go to the Video menu:
    Video source (enter the input you're using)
    Capture filter (this is taste, but if you have a proc amp you can stick with the defaults)
    Compression (select HuffYUV)
    Set Custom Format (choose 720x480 YUY2 YUV 4:2:2 interleaved, as sanlyn noted and I agree)


    Choose your settings in Audio menu (better results are from your sound card IMO)
    Choose your preferences in the Capture menu. Can explain more in detail here if you have questions.


    That should be a good start to get your feet wet.

    Originally Posted by sanlyn
    If you sharpen during capture, you'll get some really pinpoint-sharp digital artifacts for your trouble. They will never go away. Denoisers with the most capture setups, especially with those that you decribe, will do more harm than good and is nearly impossible to undo after capture.

    A Classic Debate regarding VHS capture!


    I see it as a see-saw.


    More sharpness brings more real detail and more VHS noise.
    Less sharpness brings less real detail and less VHS noise.


    As well, over-sharpenning will bring terrible artifacts, and no more details - there is definitely an optimal "sweet spot" IMO.


    Having said that, I bend the see-saw to my advantage. I sharpen to what I believe is the "sweet spot", then eliminate the associated noise that comes with it using Neat Video (fabulous filter). With the right settings you will get a result that retains almost 99% of the details, and removes, maybe, 80% of the noise. That's a good steal, err... deal, in my book.

    Yes, it's as slow as evolution itself, but much better with a later model PC. And worth it.
    Last edited by PuzZLeR; 5th Dec 2013 at 14:36.
    Been away for a while and busy with work the last few months so I had no time for forums. My apologies for any emails I couldn't get to in time - missed you all! :-)
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:41.
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    Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
    There are lots of nay-sayers who say you don't gain anything by capturing dirty old discolored stained noisy crappy VHS to lossless media. I've seen the results. I'll stick with lossless.
    While you are not calling me out, I am a nay-sayer but I want to explain why. Arguing about how great lossless capture is is kind of like being a forum where guys are modifying Mustangs and adding turbo chargers to them and talking about how to squeeze a few extra horsepower out of them. You actually do have a point, but my point is that the vast majority of human beings are not concerned with doing lossless captures and hours worth of filtering for ONE freakin' tape like the OP has. Granted "the vast majority of human beings" do not participate here in the forums, but I do question whether telling random newbies "OK, this is the ONLY way you can do it and it's going to take a LONG time, but you'll like the results" is really worthwhile when honestly, most people just aren't that fussy. If it doesn't look like crap (and what you may think "looks like crap" may be a lot different from what your neighbor next door will find completely acceptable) then most people just want it done. I personally don't believe that we're talking night and day differences here about lossless AVI vs. MPEG-2 at a high enough bitrate, but you and others disagree so that's how it is. I question too whether the vast resources of time and energy spent to improve VHS tape captures, which is a really crappy format to begin with for reasons listed earlier in this thread, is really and truly worthwhile if you're not going to watch it over and over again. I admit that I've got movies in my collection on DVD that I will honestly probably never watch again in my life. If this is some precious tape that will get repeated viewings, then it probably does make sense if you are so inclined to spend a lot of time doing it as well as possible. But if you're just going to watch it once and nobody else is ever going to see it, is it REALLY worth spending hours to "fix" it? Maybe not. And I'm not even touching on one of our veteran members who sears he gets "DVD quality" regularly from his VHS tape captures or the newbies who think that they can turn a crappy VHS tape into BD like clarity. Sometimes we get questions on this topic from newbies who really do think that they can turn garbage into gold with the right help.
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:41.
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  9. Oh yeah, we should preface all of this by saying that if you're comfortable sending your tape in the mail, just return the equipment, send the tape to Smurf, and live happily ever after.

    Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
    Brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma filters are all you should be using during VHS capture.
    I agree with everything in this post, but I don't think any capture cards actually offer a gamma control. The only time I've seen it available is with a Viewcast Osprey card, and if you dig into the manual for those cards it says that unlike the other Proc Amp controls that are implemented in hardware, the gamma function is just a software "correction" to the video data.

    Originally Posted by parisl View Post
    1. Most important, what settings should the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and sharpness be set to? I just want to faithfully capture whatever is on the VHS - I don't want to attempt to improve or correct it. (I also don't know what the sharpness setting does). I am guessing I should set them all to 128 - this looks faithful on my trial capture.
    With this device and most others, the neutral Sharpness setting is 0. Never set it higher or you will just get digital edge enhancement, which you can add in software later if for some reason you desire a sharper looking picture. As sanlyn said, leave Hue untouched -- the 128 midpoint.

    Unfortunately there's no single answer for faithful/transparent/neutral/accurate settings for the other adjustments. It varies by equipment, tape, and scene. 128 is a good starting point for each control but you may find that you need to lower them to avoid clipping, or raise saturation to bring some life to the colors.

    Originally Posted by jman98 View Post
    You actually do have a point, but my point is that the vast majority of human beings are not concerned with doing lossless captures and hours worth of filtering for ONE freakin' tape like the OP has.
    You have a point as well, but this particular OP is concerned enough that he only wants to play his precious tape a single time and is jumping through the hoops of testing with other tapes. Seems he may care to go the extra miles.
    Last edited by vaporeon800; 5th Dec 2013 at 15:04.
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  10. Member
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    Hi Puzzler-

    Thank you for the detail - that was what I was looking for. I don't have the cash to spend $500 on the signvideo proc amp that you listed. I was hoping that with just my VC500 hardware, my desktop, and either the bundled EZGrabber software or some other freeware I could do this capture. My plan is to follow the instructions you gave above for using the VC500 plus VirtualDub with Huff YUV. But can you or someone else on this forum fill me in with what settings I need to choose for brightness/contrast/hue/saturation/sharpness? I'm just looking for the actual settings I would use in VirtualDub.


    (And if I use EZGrabber, would I set everything to 128? And save in the "DVD" format?)


    I don't know what a TBC is, BTW.


    When everyone here is saying that one route to go is just to use a DVD recorder, what is an affordable model? And are you saying you'd just plug component cables from the VHS player to a DVD recorder unit?


    Finally - once I have my lossless, high-quality, large file format capture file, if I want to create a smaller compressed file, what freeware program is the best for conversion?


    Thanks everyone for the hand-holding!
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:41.
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    I'm almost there . . . can you explain how, in virtualdub, I view the histogram, and how I make adjustments in response, and where I make those adjustments?

    And, if I do the capture instead in EZGrabber, does using 128 for all settings represent the right starting point?
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  13. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    Sanlyn did well in your questions, but I'll take another angle at it.

    Originally Posted by parisl
    I don't have the cash to spend $500 on the signvideo proc amp that you listed. I was hoping that with just my VC500 hardware, my desktop, and either the bundled EZGrabber software or some other freeware I could do this capture.
    I don't think you'll have to spend nearly that much. If you shop around on eBay you may score a nice SignVideo PA-100 or Elite Video BVP-4 for much less, used. If you Google around, you will find that they have other names, from different distributors, yet are the exact same thing under the hood (for example: Studio 1 Productions).

    I can't help you with the histogram since it's been ages since I've played with one. I've become heavily dependent on my proc amp.

    However, I understand if buying one isn't an option for you. In case the histogram route is too complicated, you can simply just use the proc amp in VirtualDub. (Video->Capture filter). These are not VirtualDub settings. They are pulled from your capture device (selected in Device menu). So what will be offered will be what your device offers.

    No, not as robust as a physical proc amp, or using a histogram, but you can still get good results. But I don't have a VC500, so it would have to be by taste, or follow what others may offer.

    As for the EZGrabber, if it's anything like the authentic ezcap.tv, it will have a good set of options in VirtualDub.

    Originally Posted by parisl
    I don't know what a TBC is, BTW.
    Didn't mean to throw one on you, and it's not cheap. However, if you're serious about tape transfer then it can be crucial. It stabilizes jitter, keeps frames in sync from tape drift, and delivers a cleaner signal to your capture device so it won't drop frames, among other things.

    This highly depends on the condition of your tape.

    Originally Posted by parisl
    When everyone here is saying that one route to go is just to use a DVD recorder, what is an affordable model? And are you saying you'd just plug component cables from the VHS player to a DVD recorder unit?
    Yes, they are really that simple (most are composite/RCA and S-Video. S-Video is better if available). The DvD recorder w/HDD (or DVR) route is the highest quality you'll get for minimal effort.

    You are less likely to need a TBC, and some have internal modest proc amps. They are headache free for most people. You will also not need to agonize yourself with the intricacies of VirtualDub capturing.

    Many are good: Toshiba, Pioneer, Sony, LG.

    However they will not be the best solutions for quality if you're a picky person like me, or others in this Forum.

    I too will say regardless - AVOID the combo VHS/DvD units. Yes, the "easy factor" is high, but it is just as counter-productive in quality.

    Originally Posted by parisl
    Finally - once I have my lossless, high-quality, large file format capture file, if I want to create a smaller compressed file, what freeware program is the best for conversion?
    You may want to edit first. Almost any consumer editor can do that.

    I'm assuming you want DvD. You can get dozens of fine recommendations here. You will need an MPEG-2 encoder and a DvD authoring program (and a DvD burner of course).

    If you're new to this, you may want to download Daemon Tools and ImgBurn to create "virtual DvDs", such as the ISO format, so you can test your final production on your hard drive before you commit to a disc.
    Last edited by PuzZLeR; 6th Dec 2013 at 00:03.
    Been away for a while and busy with work the last few months so I had no time for forums. My apologies for any emails I couldn't get to in time - missed you all! :-)
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:41.
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  15. If you use VirtualDub's built-in Histogram, I recommend temporarily enabling its Cropping filter and removing the "black" edges of the incoming video so they don't interfere with the readings. But be sure to disable the Crop again before actually capturing.

    Originally Posted by parisl View Post
    does using 128 for all settings represent the right starting point?
    128 is wrong for Sharpness, as I said before.
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