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Thread: vhs to dvd help

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  1. I'm sure this is here many times so I apologize for re-posing....however, all the posts I have found are several years old. I want to upload all my old vhs tapes to my pc and do not feel I need most of the extensive equipment I've read about. I'm thinking I can use one of the jvc vcr's with the tbc inside and that will be good enough for personal use. Am I correct or is there more current information that I am not aware of? I use Pinnacle Studio to capture and edit. I have a Canopus ADVC110 to convert. I also already have an LG model LRY 517 dvd/vcr. It gives me a pretty nice picture. I wonder if that is good enough? Or what if I added an outside tbc or is that necessary? Also, I wondered about the connections. My LG uses component and I wondered if that made a big difference over the units that will only connect with composite? Thanks for any help. All of these posts are very far above my head as far as the technical language. I'm just basically trying to decide what to try to buy on Ebay or if I can use what I have.
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:30.
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  3. Thanks for your response. The reason I want to capture to pc is to edit and combine video. And I should have stated, I don't already have a JVC unit, was considering buying one. But, to understand what you are saying....I could dub from jvc to dvd-r and then upload from there to pc in order to edit? And you're saying I should use something other than Pinnacle to capture, edit and render? I do understand most of what you are saying. And I do want good quality. Some of it, I didn't follow perfectly. Can you give a brief rundown of how it should go, if I wanted it really good....not perfectly professional, but as good as I can get it at home without spending too much.
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Mar 2014 at 11:30.
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  5. Well, I've read many many threads. At first, I did not understand a word you said, but now I think I'm getting there. I also see that you really know this stuff and are very much a perfectionist. I may not need quite the level you aspire to. Almost all of my video is home movies. None of it is movies or tv. It's been well cared for. I played a couple yesterday on my LG just to check it and it looks pretty good. Of course, I'm used to HD so it's hard to judge. I don't know if It could be better with tweaking. I wanted to mention that I also have a Sony VCR, SLV N500. I also have several camcorders, starting with a Sharp MiniDV, and a Panasonic DV, now have a high def sony. I mention this because I saw some pass-through suggestions.

    I'm thinking in 2 directions and need to decide which way to go. I could just do the pass through, but would still need a good player. I've seen all the commonly mentioned ones, JVC 9800, SR202, Panasonic 1980 and some others. You mentioned that I would need better than that. So one question is what should I get for that? I don't want to spend over $400, preferably less. Money is an object. I have a little to spend but don't want to do so unnecessarily. By the way, I have about 60 tapes to convert. Many of them are of my daughter singing in shows and I only want the part, 10 minutes, where she's performing.

    So, if I do the pass through, what equipment do I need. And the other direction would be yours. I would still need the player. And do I need the external TBC? And do I need the proc amp? And should I get a capture card and install? I saw that the Hauppauge is the best?

    I suppose there's a third choice, using my dvd-r. I don't want to use the player in the LG since you say it is bad. So, I could use a new player and record to that, then upload to pc for editing and burning. I'm not in that big a hurry to burn. Just want to get them stored properly. I have several external drives to use.

    So, I thank you in advance for the time it takes to analyze all this and give me information. Could you take all this and put it in some sequence of what I should do, first being what vcr to buy. Knowing what I have, which way should I go? This is not video we'll watch daily or even monthly, but I do want it preserved and enjoyable to watch as needed. There are videos of my dad who is no longer living.

    The sequence I have as best, I think, is JVC player,, external TBC, proc amp....then, a little unsure.....into Canopus? and then into pc? Also, how important are the brand of cables? One thing to note about my LG is that it has component in and out, also s-video.

    So, I hope that's not too all over the place to make sense of. Thanks!
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  6. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    mrsark87, it sounds to me like this elaborate PC route really isn't your kind of "thing." Not a criticism: it isn't my "thing" either.

    You seem overwhelmed by all the software and jargon being bandied about for what (in your case) is a simple desire: get the tapes digitized, make simple edits, and burn to DVD. Yes, samlyn is a perfectionist: and a damn good one. I have learned many valuable things from his posts. But his approach, in common with many others here, requires a familiarity and comfort with skittish software that takes more than a few weeks to acquire. You may never acquire it: the VirtualDub interface may as well be Latin to many users. You're either a wirehead who naturally picks up this sort of thing with ease, or you aren't. The only reason to use the PC is as samlyn said: to capture the VHS as faithfully as possible as a huge uncompressed file format. This allows using all kinds of complex software to tweak the video. But unless you are going to keep those huge files in your PC, for most tapes it isn't worth the trouble: as soon as you convert to DVD, you'll end up with roughly the same quality you would have gotten from a DVD recorder in the first place. Since most VHS is shyte to begin with, knocking yourself out trying to "improve" it with a PC gets a little silly unless you really enjoy it as a hobby akin to building ships in a bottle.

    Leaving that aside for the moment, the most important point you keep repeating shouldn't be overlooked: you are more-or-less OK with the picture quality you're getting from the LG combo. If this is true, you can simplify your task enormously. Unless the unit is defective, most DVD recorders offer roughly the same PQ end result when copying from VHS. If you're happy with the LG PQ, then your problem is simply that particular recorder doesn't have the editing features you need. Other recorders are still available that do, tho for how much longer is anyone's guess. The two most popular are the Magnavox MDR533 at WalMart and the import Panasonic EH59 at B&H Photo/Video. These are DVD recorders like your LG, but instead of built-in VHS they have a built-in HDD (hard disk recorder). This turns them into dedicated mini computer workstations, designed specifically to edit videos before burning DVDs. You would dub all your VHS to the HDD first, then do all your edits (in comfort, from your armchair, using a remote and your big-screen TV). After you finish editing, press a button and the unit will copy from HDD to DVD in about 15 mins. You can make multiple backup copies easily.

    The Magnavox MDR533 costs around $230 new. It has a tuner, which means you can use it to record off-air TV as well as copy from a VCR. However it is clunky to operate and has trouble dubbing some kinds of VHS.

    The Panasonic DMR-EH59 has no tuner for US/Canada TV, but you can hook it up to an external tuner, cable box, or satellite box. More importantly, it has far more editing conveniences than the Magnavox and is easier to use once it is set up. It also has good resale value, so you could easily get most of your money back reselling it on eBay later. It costs $339 brand new from B&H but they often have demo open-box units for $239 (they have one today in fact).

    For the VCR, I would not recommend a "newbie" mess with the high-end second-hand VCRs prized by many of us old hands here on VH. These VCRs are very overpriced considering how old and beat up they are, in many areas you can only find them on eBay, and if they aren't working well finding a good repairman is next to impossible. Eight years ago it was worth seeking one out for the subtle improvements they offer, but in 2014 if you don't already own one, don't bother. Finding one in good shape is a fool's quest, and the improvement over a "normal" vcr isn't as big a deal as some would have you believe. Is it noticeable? Yes. Is it worth repeatedly buying and returning fragile diva vcrs made in 1995 at $400 a pop? No- not today. The moment has passed. You can get by perfectly well with your Sony SL-V500, perhaps supplemented with a nice recent 4-head hifi Panasonic like the AG2560, a JVC like the HR-S5910, or Mitsubishi 448 or 449. These are easily found for under $50 and are nice, sturdy VCRs.

    Regarding the AVT-8710 external TBC: this is only necessary for the PC, or really poor-quality tapes or to dub Hollywood tapes. Since this TBC costs $239, I'd recommend you wait until you discover a need for it. You may not ever need it. When it comes to old Hollywood tapes, its usually better to throw them in the trash and just buy the re-released Hollywood DVD version: by the time you add up the cost of the TBC and realize how much PQ you lose in the dub, you're better off buying the DVDs and avoiding the hassle. These days, the second a movie hits two years old it goes to the Best Buy Bargain Bin for $5.99, and thousands can be had even cheaper on eBay or Amazon.

    Finally, I'd suggest setting aside your faithful LG. It is seven years old now, ancient for a DVD recorder. If you force it to do a lot of dubbing work it may croak.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Dec 2013 at 12:29.
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  8. Again, thanks to all for sharing their expertise. You can't imagine how helpful it is when you know so little. I like Orsetto's approach simply because I just don't have the time to come up to speed. It seems that I can still get a good product this way. One question, though, is there a reason not to pull the video into my pc and work with it there and use the computer's burner. It seems like I would have more control over editing as well as avoid buying the dvd-r. I'm not arguing, just trying to learn and decide my best option. Also, I've seen people say that doing this with a laptop is bad. I have a good desktop but use it for work all the time. I would like to set this process up with my laptop, which is relatively new. Is that a bad idea? And let me add that although I'm nowhere near ya'll's level, the recording/burning/editing process is not new to me, so I don't want to simplify it too much and give up quality because of a lack of knowledge. One thing........we talk about the quality and whether it is acceptable.....I really don't have any way to judge that well..........I don't have any comparison other than current hd video. So, I'm not sure how to determine what is acceptable and good. I look at the video and think it's ok, but, on the other hand, could it be a lot better and I'm just not aware of it?
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  9. I wanted to add, I have about 80 videos. But, probably 60 or them can be burned over to dvd with very little editing, just cutting out some footage and leaving what I want. I would like to have a title screen with the date and name of event in between scenes. And then, I have several that are just independent videos of a kid's play or a cheer competition where I just want to burn that entire program to a separate dvd of its own. Just a bit more info about my goals.
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    Originally Posted by mrsark87 View Post
    One question, though, is there a reason not to pull the video into my pc and work with it there and use the computer's burner. It seems like I would have more control over editing as well as avoid buying the dvd-r.
    Its all relative.

    Compared to using a DVD/HDD recorder, the PC gives you slightly finer control over the edit points, an infinite number of options regarding menu design of the DVD, and infinite ability to futz around with the digitized VHS (adjust color, brightness, contrast, filter out noise, crop edges of the frame).

    BUT: all that PC flexibility comes at a price. The software is a bitch to learn and use, and the really good software costs money (only the most deeply religious gearhead insists on "freeware only"). PC video input accessories absolutely LOATHE vhs tape signals, all but requiring the external TBC for all tapes- another big expense. The whole initial process of capturing is more complicated, and you need quite a lot of hard drive space. Tweaking uncompressed VHS captured on the PC to "improve the quality" sounds like a great idea until you actually try it: then you start wishing you never ever heard of VHS, computers, or watching television at all. Anyone can install the software and screw around with it, but it takes a combination of computer nerd and gifted visual artist to truly make a significant improvement over what you'd get simply using a DVD/HDD recorder (if you don't know exactly what you're doing, you could easily end up with worse). And to repeat what I posted previously, even if you're a computer genius, the "gotcha" in this whole process is what format you want at the end. If you want a standard DVD, any gains you made using the PC get significantly degraded during the conversion process (because DVD is a "lossy" format, and what you'll "lose" are all your tweaks).

    Of course I'm making a broad generalization with all that, in an effort to simplify and make the points clear. There are some extremely talented posters on this forum who can eloquently dispute my opinion, and point to their excellent work where the VHS they captured to a PC and tweaked survived conversion to DVD and is indeed somewhat better-looking than what you'd get from a DVD recorder. I'm not saying improvements using the PC aren't possible- I'm saying they're impractical to achieve by a "newbie" with no prior training or skills. Unless you were genetically gifted with an aptitude for such work, the improvements possible with the PC workflow are moot until you get experience and/or training. It is not simply a matter of choosing the PC over the DVD recorder: you could just as well say "I choose to be a heart surgeon instead of a file clerk." It doesn't quite work like that.

    Going further, the vast majority of consumer tapes aren't worth such a ridiculous amount of effort. Anything recorded from TV, satellite or cable cannot be improved much: if its that important to you, spend your $400 on professional studio releases of that material. The quality is leagues better than even our top VideoHelp experts could ever wring from a VHS tape. That leaves bootlegs or rare videos that have never or will never be released commercially: some will insist they love that material so much its worth the effort. I say hogwash and call BS: the worse the initial quality of the VHS, the less chance you have to improve it. The only tapes the "average Joe" has a shot at "improving" are personal family camcorder videos- but perversely, those are often so good, they capture easily without needing to tweak them. You can go around in circles on this topic- many of us have. The truth is, both answers are correct: the PC is worth it, yet it really isn't. Depends how much of a nut you are and how much time you want to spend on the task.


    Also, I've seen people say that doing this with a laptop is bad. I have a good desktop but use it for work all the time. I would like to set this process up with my laptop, which is relatively new. Is that a bad idea? And let me add that although I'm nowhere near ya'll's level, the recording/burning/editing process is not new to me, so I don't want to simplify it too much and give up quality because of a lack of knowledge.
    A laptop is not ideal, even if its a new souped-up i7 with pre-production liquid-cooled mystery caches. A laptop is portable and prone to moving around: there are many wires involved, you will get sloppy, and if you need the laptop for anything else you will kill your momentum every time you disconnect it from all the video gear. Its almost always better to use a decent desktop PC, which has easily changeable burners, plus limitless hard drive and video input options.

    I would say go with the Panasonic DMR-EH59 while you can still buy one. It has very stable input circuits for connecting a VCR (much more stable than any PC). It has remarkably flexible editing features, very close to what you'd get with a PC. You can choose individual names and thumbnail button pics for each recording in the DVD menu. And you can do all this without tying up your computer. Best of all, when you finish your dubbing project you can resell the Panasonic and get most of your investment back. With all the stuff you need to do this on the PC, there's no resale option: you're stuck with it forever. The only limitations you'll face using the Panasonic vs a PC are having only one choice of DVD menu layout, and very slightly less precise editing (a PC will let you cut on any frame, a DVD recorder forces cuts in 15 frame intervals (to make them fall on a "key frame" which is easier for the recorder to burn to DVD-R). In practice this is no big deal: the edit preview is accurate and 15 frames is a half second- fine enough for most editing.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Dec 2013 at 17:33.
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  11. Originally Posted by mrsark87 View Post
    I wanted to mention that I also have a Sony VCR, SLV N500.
    This model is from 2003, which I think most here would say was past the heyday of VCRs. I had the opportunity to use one briefly and found that it added nasty processing to the picture. I just went though the manual and I don't see any option listed to disable it.

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    I'm not sure whether Mr. Jordon's face is supposed to look like plastic in Space Jam, but I do know how ugly Titanic looked playing on it.

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  12. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    You can certainly try using Studio with your PC first, since you already have it (I think I missed that info in your initial posts, mrsark87, I thought you only had the LG unit). You could experiment using the VCR in the LG connected to the Studio, since it has S-video outputs that seem decent. If you are happy with the results, problem solved! Sometimes we get lucky.

    But if you run into trouble with significant jumpiness or other weirdness that doesn't appear on the TV when playing the tape itself, the Studio will be a problem (as often happens with VHS feeding into a PC). You would need to try one of the very expensive and hard to get premium VCRs, and/or the AVT-8710 TBC. At that point, I'd forget the studio and try the Panasonic EH59 recorder. DVD/HDD recorders are specifically designed to cope with VHS input, PC input systems are not (they are designed for a super-clean signal from some imaginary perfect external source that no one actually has). The Panasonic has many of the features of Studio, in some cases better implemented and more foolproof.

    You may or may not need another VCR. If the LG proves problematic, try another VCR- *any* vcr. Ask around: family and friends doubtless have Panasonic, Sharp, JVC, RCA, or Mitsubishi VCRs laying about unused that they could lend you. Try as many as you can to see which works best. Odds are at least one will stand out as better than the others. Worst case, buy one of the models I suggested in the thread.

    These 2nd-generation copies of your daughter's performances are among the trickier kind of tapes to digitize. The only thing that can really noticeably make them look nicer is one of the high-end VCRs: fooling around in the PC won't accomplish much, grain and color noise need to be addressed at the VCR level. The problem with those VCRs is they're damned expensive and many are old and dysfunctional. They were always rare, because back in the '90s not many people wanted a $899 vcr. But in 2003, when VHS>DVD-R took off, everyone here went bananas buying them off ebay. Because there are so few, they've been used, reused, abused, sold, and resold counltess times over the past ten years. Most are in bad condition, and can't be fixed (those that can, add $300 repair costs on top of the $300 purchase cost).

    So buying one of these fancy VCRs is a very expensive risk today. The only ones that can be counted on as good condition are the more recently discontinued DVHS models from JVC and Mitsubishi. These can run $300 to $500 in mint or like new condition. They can work wonders with color and grain at the push of a button, BUT as they say in that TV show "all magic comes with a price." Personal 2nd-gen tapes of material like your daughter's performances are often the very tapes that conflict with the improvement circuits in these fancy VCRs. You'll get beautiful smooth color, but you might also get so much vertical jitter the dub becomes unwatchable. In that case you'd need to turn the TBC/DNR feature off, which means you wasted $400 on a VCR feature that isn't compatible with your particular tapes.

    You see how infuriatingly vague and unpredictable this whole VHS digitizing process becomes? Its painful sometimes, it really is: you have to gin yourself up to accept ridiculous expense and learning curves, and that you might lose money (quite a lot of it) if you invest in the wrong VCR or PC capture device. Unfortunately there is no way to avoid trial and error: everyone's tapes are different and will react differently depending on the VCR model and digitizing device.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Dec 2013 at 18:20.
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  14. Yes, I've tried the Sony and not had good results. I've seen several of the JVC's in the 9000's as recommended on Ebay for around $300. Would it be a good idea to order one of those? If they are assuring that they work well, can I trust that? I won't be using is for years....I'll only use it til I get my conversions done, maybe a few weeks. I don't mind buying a player, just want to get something that will play fairly nicely. I've also looked at the ones recommended by Orsetto. Trying to decide what to do. What is Dvhs? And is that better than Svhs
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  15. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    The overhyped JVC 9000 series, along with the equally hyped Panasonic AG1980, are a very big risk second hand these days. The JVC 9000 series is divided t into two eras: older, built like tanks, but about as dependable as the weather and a nightmare to calibrate, and later models like 9911 that are built like disposable Crackerjack toys. The 9911 was a $200 vcr retrofitted with the 9000 TBC/DNR feature and repositioned as "top of the line" for $599. Was it worth it? Depends when you bought it and whether you got a good one. The horrors of the AG1980 are the subject of multiple threads here: I'll save you the trouble of reading them by advising you avoid the AG1980 like you would avoid gum surgery.

    These SVHS VCRs really were quite nice when they were new, but they were flakey, undependable, limited-production divas even when new and were not remotely expected to survive 12-20 years and still work flawlessly thru thousands of tape cycles. While strangely enough, the much more common midrange and low-end vcrs (without the fancy TBC/DNR) have proven nearly indestructible: its impossible to kill a Panasonic AG2560 or Mitsubishi 448, and I've picked up 4600-series Panasonics from 1996 for $10 that still work like Swiss watches. The trouble with the "high-end" vcrs is they were always one-off showcase models with unreliable cutting-edge mechanics and electronics: thats what makes them a really bad risk second hand. Ordinary VCRs of the mid to late 1990s were mass produced with bulletproof unibody chassis.

    If you really want to risk hundreds of dollars on a VCR dice roll, go with a newer DVHS instead. DVHS was the successor to SVHS: it made hi def recordings on special Digital VHS blanks. They were extremely expensive and total failures in the marketplace, BUT for our purposes they are much newer (made roughly 2002-2009), the mechanics are improved, and they were invisible to all the nuts who were banging doors down in search of JVC and Panasonic SVHS models. So a lot of them are mint, and some (like the Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U) can still be found new in box for about $500. They are backwards compatible with VHS and SVHS, and they have similar TBC/DNR features to the JVC 9000 series. JVC made countless DVHS models, lord knows why because nobody bought them, while Mitsubishi made just two (and only the 2000 model has the TBC/DNR).

    The most common JVCs are the HM-HD 30000 and 40000, but these are early and have some bugs. The later SR-VD4U and others are preferable, and the Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U is marvelous: really dependable and nice to use. A DVHS in good clean condition will hold resale value better than a beater SVHS: there is a cult of DVHS users, and they prize the Mitsubishi most of all followed by the later JVCs that have ATSC tuners. eBay is the default source for DVHS nowadays, unless you live in abig city and see them on Craig's List. If you shop eBay, look for a seller who explicitly includes a return policy in their listing. While eBay will back you up and force any seller to accept returns on defective items, it is a lot faster and easier to deal directly with a gracious seller.

    Remember what I posted earlier: don't assume one of these fancy VCRs will be 100% compatible with all of your personal family tapes. The TBC/DNR feature that works wonders to improve color and noise has a 40% chance of backfiring spectacularly, making your tapes jitter like the San Francisco earthquake on speed. If that happens, you need to turn the feature off, which in essence means you spent $300 for a vcr no better than one you could get for $30. Also, the improvements in color and noise come at some sacrifice of realistic detail: akin to the "Plastic Michael Jordan" image above. This may or may not make your daughter look like a dept store mannequin: personal taste comes into play here. So temper your expectations: you may get lucky, but if not be prepared to return the fancy VCR.

    If you look at the captions below vaporeon800's sample images above, you'll see he compared your Sony to a Panasonic AG1970, and the AG1970 looks quite a bit nicer. If you try a JVC 9000 or DVHS, and it doesn't work out for you, the next best thing would be a Panasonic AG1970. This is an earlier variation of the AG1980 that is much more reliable and a lot cheaper (easily found for $50-$100 depending on seller and condition). The AG1970 does NOT have the desirable TBC/DNR feature of the AG1980 or JVCs, but it is a well-built semi-pro vcr with very decent basic picture quality and several controls to let you customize PQ. It does have a mild version of TBC which is often more compatible with 2nd-generation camcorder copies than the full-strength TBC in the AG1980, JVCs, and Mitsubishi. I find I keep returning to the AG1970 for most of my digital dubbing work.
    Last edited by orsetto; 7th Dec 2013 at 11:41.
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  17. Member classfour's Avatar
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    I fell out of love with Sony VCRs after owning one - it was such a piece of crap that it wouldn't even play back something recorded on it. I'd never seen a VCR that would not play back it's own recording until that one. A friend owned the same model - which did the same thing.

    I reconnected the five year old Panasonic and haven't looked back since.

    That was before DVD recorders were available - so it's not recent.
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  18. Thanks for all the good information and expertise. I have been reading up a storm and am narrowing my focus on process thanks to the people willing to put in the time here.
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