I digitized all my VHS about 10 years ago, and got rid of all my stuff. Like many, I actually kept a few tapes for some reason.
Now I was to digitize those again. I have 10-20 tapes. Some commercial, and some SP and EPs that are home-made.
My VCR plays my tapes well. It only outputs through RCA jacks.
My PC runs Windows 7, with a Pentium Core i5 2400 @ 3.1, 8 Gb of RAM, and tons of HDD space.
None of these recordings are very good to begin with: mostly copies of professionally/commercially produced originals circulated between professors for classroom use.
I'm sorry to ask, but I find this forum very frustrating sometimes ...
Could someone point me to hardware recommendations to do this job well but not perfectly?
Could someone point me to some basic directions about cleaning up my digitization and then compressing it?
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What model VCR?
If you "digitized" your tapes 10 years ago, how did you do it? VHS-to-DVD recorder? VHS captured to a PC?
A little more detail about how you're playing your tapes and how you transferred them 10 years ago would be helpful.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
It is a JVC HR-VP676U. It is 19-23 years old. It's been relatively well-maintained. I think the important thing is that the tapes I have play (as well as can be expected, and were often recorded) on this machine.
In 2001-3, I used an external unit (not sure which one). Plugged my VCR into it, plugged it into a USB, and off I went. I burned files that were the size of DVD quality file (about 2.5 Gb to the hour), did some editing and clean-up with Pinnacle Studio, and then burned those to DVD.
I am mostly now interested in getting files that are appropriate to the quality of the source material. I imagine that an hour of EP VHS tape does not contain that much data, and that if I do it right, I can make a digital copy, clean it up, and get something comparable that is way more compact (mostly so students can stream it to their tablets or phones).
Most members here would not recommend Pinnacle software. Basically, recording VHS directly to DVD (which is MPEG2 format) is not recommended if there is to be further processing. MPEG is a lossy final delivery format, not designed for editing. A somewhat better method is to capture VHS to digital video AVI (DV-AVI), another lossy format, but do so at the highest bitrate available. DV isn't exactly color-friendly with VHS, and analog defects would be somewhat more difficult to repair, but that can be fixed by decoding DV to lossless format and learning to use more sophisticated noise and color filters than you will find in budget NLE's. While DV can be edited and modified in smart-rendering editors that can handle DV, it must still go through another lossy encoding step to become DVD. To a very large extent, DV playback is limited to PC's and specialized devices.
The best way is to capture VHS to lossless AVI using huffyuv or Lagarith lossless compression, do your cleanup in Avisynth and/or VirtualDub, and encode with a high-quality encoder such as HCenc. One advantage to lossless capture is that a greater choice and a more effective level of filters are available -- a few hundred of them, in fact. Another advantage of lossless archiving is that you have a more true-to-source copy that can be re-used later. Still another advantage is that lossless video lends itself to a greater choice of output formats (MPEG, BluRay, AVCHD, PC-only or Web display, etc.) without changing the original capture. Finally, lossless media offers the best chance for the highest quality output. The disadvantages are that it's more time-consuming, requires more of a learning curve, and requires patience.
Most users would agree that capturing VHS directly to MPEG or other lossy formats is the lowest-quality way to transfer VHS source. Many would say that they cannot see a difference between capturing VHS to lossless or to DV-AVI. Many who do see a difference between the two would favor lossless. A pro shop or archival facility would use lossless or virtually lossless professional methods.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
This helps with the software, sanlyn. What about the hardware?
My previous comments don't even scratch the surface of software. The software depends on the capture and processing path you take. Hardware depends on what you can get your hands on, which in terms of "new, high-end" machines doesn't exist. Except for a very few and very expensive semi-pro and high-end players, the era oif the best VCR's began to fade by the late 1990's. By 2000, typical VCRs were plastic remnants of those from the early to mid 90's. There are no "new" VCR's worth considering; AFAIK the only new ones are really the horrors found in a couple of DVD/VCR combos.
You might look into three brief but informative articles on VHS transfers that give more detail about ways to approach the task. Some of the technical info is a bit dated, but the basic principles and considerations remain exactly the same. The author does have a bias that considers high-end JVC's to be the only sensible choice (a contention with which many users -- including yours truly -- will forcefully disagree), but brand names, preferences, and availability have undergone quantum changes since a few years ago. For many first-hand notes on a great many VCR models and series, you can browse forum postings by a member named orsetto, who appears to have used and even repaired or modified every VCR ever made by anyone for the last 15 to 20 years.
The three source articles are from the digitalfaq guide to digital video:
- Introduction to the DVD-Video Format
- Digital Video Capturing
- Understanding Video Sources
You could probably make do with your current JVC player but it lacks a line-level tbc. To understand why you need one of those gizmos, try this post and its link to a short demo video: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/360511-Vhs-DVD-clarity-question?p=2287513&viewfull=1#post2287513 .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
Thanks for the links. Very helpful.
I definitely think I will replay the source tapes on my current VCR (the JVC mentioned above).
No one told me about a line-level tcb back then. Can someone recommend makes, models or prices?
Last time, I went straight to MPEG-2. I think this time I would like to do AVI.
So I need something to do the capture. My understanding was that external units were better (because of noise/interference sources inside my PC).
You might have seen the following link earlier, but in case you missed it: 2 short demo clips, one of damaged and really crummy VHS capture with no tbc, and the same video after tbc pass-thru with a Toshiba and some preliminary filtering: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/360511-Vhs-DVD-clarity-question?p=2287517&viewfull=1#post2287517
Here is one of several threads that discusses pass-thru, still in progress: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/319420-Who-uses-a-DVD-recorder-as-a-line-TBC-and-what-do-you-use
I do not have a standalone DVD recorder like you describe. I have a burner in my PC - probably not adequate for what you describe.
I am guessing that the early 90's vintage VCR I'll be using (JVC HR-VP676U) does not have line-level TBC (although is there a site that lists units that I could browse through, or something I could look for in the manual).
I do see in the manual that this unit can play s-VHS (it cannot record s-VHS). Does that help? My guess is that it's meaningless.
Also, as I remarked, it has the old-fashioned YRW RCA outputs only.
Is there a reasonable alternative to a vintage 2000-5 Panasonic or Toshiba DVD recorder for line-level TCB?
I have no objection to putting a new card in my PC. Care to recommend one? Alternatively, it sounds like you're saying some people would say the VC500 is just as good. Is that correct? It certainly is cheap, would save a little time, and has the YRW RCA jacks I need.
If I am correct in all this, my chain would be something like VCR > YRW cables > DVD Recorder inputs > DVD recorder output > some sort of cable (should it still be YRW, or should I switch) > VC500 or a some internal card > USB cable > PC with VirtualDub installed. This would bring in AVI cost effectively that is in good enough shape that I could clean it up, and then output to MPEG, right?
I am also wondering about quality of my source. At best this is (old and worn) commercially produced SP, at worst it is (old and worn) EP copy of some source that might have been SP.
P.S. I find this sort of amusing. I never was much of an expert, but I'd already digitized all my tapes and gotten rid of my equipment by the time you (sanlyn) joined the forum.
My thread is dying ...
To start with, I think it best to play my tapes on the unit that recorded them. This has only composite output.
It it worthwhile to find a unit with component or S-video outputs (that might not play nice with my tapes)?
Avisynth, and plugins. Most commercial tapes are copy protected: the pass-thru units recommended earlier will override most forms of Macrovision. A few flavors of Macrovision will require a frame-level external TBC. You won't know until you try one of the tapes, but it's likely that a frame-level unit won't be needed.
Last edited by sanlyn; 22nd Dec 2013 at 22:26.
Thank you sanlyn. I wasn't implying I was impatient with you ... I was kind of hoping someone else would chip in and ease your burden if I asked a shorter question.
There's a lot to process here. I will reply in a few days as I sort it out.
No trouble at all. Everyone has to do some digging when they first start this insane (but rewarding) activity.
My Firefox history for the last few weeks disappeared into the ether ...
I had some unsaved links about decent DVD recorders to put into my line - with the actual model numbers for Panasonics and Toshibas to look for on EBay.
Can someone just reply back with a handful of model numbers to use for line-level TBC between my VHS player and a VC500?
I seem to remember ES-10/15/20 as one of them ...
Toshiba D-KR4, D-KR5, D-KR2
Panasonic DMR-ES15 (best of the Pannies), DMR-ES10, DMR-ES20
Many sites have variations on model numbers. You'll see "ES-15" for DMR-ES15, "DR-4K" or "RD-K4" for D-KR4, etc. A "K" in a model number usually indicates a silver finish rather than black. Some of these machines have noise filters; they are very basic in nature and are best left disabled. Panasonics have active TBC on "Line 1" input only. All of them have s-video outputs and can convert composite input to s-video out.
Note that if you want to capture VHS directly to MPEG2 (which is not recommended for VHS because of noise problems), these units have MPEG 2 encoders that are far better than the MPEG2 encoders in cheap capture devices.
Thanks for the refresher ...
As recommended above, I will probably just use these as a passthrough to capture AVI. I really don't have much interest in converting straight to MPEG-2 (I went down that path a decade ago, and am trying to improve on it this time around).
I have captured a few VHS movies to MPEG2, but the player and recorder were excellent quality, high bitrates were used, and the retail tapes were pristine to begin with. They are acceptable as far as typical VHS noise goes, but I saved most of those tapes -- watching those movies later, I'm always tempted to do a lossless remake. But I have too many ugly tapes still to be captured. Oh, well, one of these days if there's time . . .
I am confused by the variation in model numbers. For example, on EBay there is an:
RD-XS35SU with a current bid of $53
But there is also an
RD-XS25 for $650 or best offer
Is the SU on the end of the first one meaningful?
That's mighty cheap for a '35'. The model number is the same as one of mine. I note that some sellers don't specify a return policy. The S is for cosmetics, the U is for North American/US program guide setup (which won't work with today 's broadcast signals anyway).
The '25" was an earlier version than the 34, 35, and 55 series. The price is outrageous.
Last edited by sanlyn; 9th Jan 2014 at 19:21.
My hardware is now set up: VCR > composite cables > Toshiba D-KR2 > composite cables > Diamond VC-500 > USB > Windows PC.
Now I am worried about software.
The Diamond unit installs its own software (with codecs, I'm sure). Am I supposed to use HuffYUV instead? If yes, how do I do this: it just seems to be the bare codec with no front end.
I guess I have my choice of Avisynth or VirtualDub, right? Is this choice mainly variety vs. GUI?
Once I've post-produced my AVI file, then I should use HC encoder to compress, right?
Lagarith is only slightly slower (you won't detect a difference), and it makes slightly smaller files. Problem: huffyuv doesn't support YV12. Lagarith does. Why is that a problem? You'll have to convert eventually to YV12 because that's the colorspace used by DVD, BluRay, AVCHD, and DV-AVI.
If you're having a problem with Dolby digital Ac3, the codec is listed in VirtualDub tools: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/AC3-ACM-Decompressor
Last edited by sanlyn; 19th Jan 2014 at 12:19.
Many people in this forum are loyal fans of Avisynth, so you 'd certainly get this recommendation.
However, there are several GUI tools that I don't know why people here rarely mention...
1> AvsPmod --- an IDE for easier AVS script writing, with a preview window.
2> VirtualDubMod --- with a GUI allowing you to choose and arrange your AVS commands/filters
3> AviUtl --- A much better alternative than VirtualDub. Supports more file format trouble-free and also reads AVS script. The extra pack you can get from this site also includes a number of color correction, denoise, deinterlace/IVTC filters(better performance than vd).
but without a sample, we cannot tell for sure what filters will you need to cleanup the video.
so, get the hardware working and produce a digital video in any format first.
If you are a university staff, I'd suggest you to consult your IT department/colleagues first.
If you don't mind that the vids only play if ffdshow is installed and/or that a year from now ffdshow will change their version of huff or change their minds about it altogether. And you'll have to keep disabling their huff if you run into videos that didn't use ffdshow. But it will work. I've kinda had it with huffyuv compatibility screw ups anyway. I use it to capture, then recompress with Lagarith during processing.
I can't say I've ever had a problem decoding huffyuv with ffdshow regardless of which version was used for encoding. I converted a short AVI with Video To Video Converter and ffdshow decoded the AVI it created, reporting it as HFYU (huffyuv), output YUV. After using ffdshow to encode the same AVI the codec was reported as FFVH (ffvhuff) and the output as YV12. It looks like ffdshow should decode either flavour, even if ffdshow is required to decode the ffdshow flavour.
I only ever use it as an intermediate lossless format myself, so it's not so much of a big deal. Once the final encoding is done I'd delete the lossless file. Although I guess if it wasn't for the fact I already have ffdshow installed I'd use something else such as Lagarith.
I am still digesting the most recent posts.
My hardware chain is updated a little: (the original for most copies JVC HR-VP676U) VCR > composite cables > Toshiba D-KR2 > S-video and audio composite cables > Diamond VC-500 > USB > Windows 7 PC with a second, brand new, video-dedicated, SATA HD.
I am not using the capture software that came with the Diamond VC-500.
I solved my audio problem: it was wetware not software.
I did finally get huffyuv_mt to work with VirtualDub. I have been able to capture large, lossless files with zero frames dropped (and have been really impressed with what I got).
1) Is frame dropping the criterion I should be judging my capture by at this point?
I will be converting primarily two types of VHS: 1) original SP commercial productions, mostly educational shorts that you'd get with textbooks (so probably not that great quality to begin with), and 2) copies of same, some SP, some EP.
The goal is to produce decent looking digitizations, mostly for posting on a website. This is mostly old, curiosity stuff, so I anticipate users mostly downloading them to view on a device of their choice rather than streaming.
Sanlyn is kind of hung up on me doing DVDs because I mentioned at the top of the thread that I'd digitized to DVDs before. But that was 10+ years ago. This not my goal this time around.
2a) So, for my current purposes, should I use huffyuv_mt or Lagarith for capture?
2b) I have been using VirtualDub for capture, is that OK?
I do not have much of a preference for filtering software. I have been playing with VirtualDub filter stacks (but am not so invested that I couldn't switch to AVIsynth, AvsPmod, VirtualDubMod, or AviUtl).
I am confused when Sanlyn says that I should use Lagarith for processing. It seems to me that I will have one codec for lossless capture, that I will process with filters, and then save with another codec in a lossy format.
3) Where does Lagarith fit in that process?
One immediate problem that I am having that I don't see mentioned in discussions of filters is that I am getting occasional frames that are solid blue. Since VirtualDub is reporting zero dropped frames, this makes me think that the source tape is damaged in spots, and the solid blue frame is a correct capture of non-existent data.
I am guessing that the solution to this is a filter that will blend adjacent frames and substitute for the blue one.
4a) What is the recommended filter for this?
4b) I am guessing that this filter would need to go first in my stack, right?
Lagarith is lossless. I suggested Lagarith for compressing intermediate files because it has no problem with machine-to-machine transfers as far as I know. There are many flavors of huffyuv that often give people a problem when a video is transferred to another PC for work. That's strictly matter of choice. However if you use ffdshow's huff, you're tied to having ffdshow installed. Lagarith losslessly compresses to slightly smaller files.
Why do you think there's something wrong about lossless capture using VirtualDub?
VirtualDub has no filter that creates new frames using motion interpolation. You'll need Avisynth for that. I don't think VDub creates blue screen frames. The last time I saw that during a capture (maybe 15 years ago), it came from the VCR.
Since you are capturing lossless media, you can encode to just about any final delivery format you choose.
[QUOTE=sanlyn;2299794]Lagarith is lossless. I suggested Lagarith for compressing intermediate files because it has no problem with machine-to-machine transfers ... </QUOTE>
So, you're envisioning me doing some processing on a lossless file on one machine, and then taking that file to another machine for more lossless compression. Is that the reason to use Lagarith?
[QUOTE=sanlyn;2299794]Why do you think there's something wrong about lossless capture using VirtualDub?</QUOTE>
I don't have any problem with VirtualDub. Just asking.
AVIsynth filter that can remove them?
To interpolate a new frame in place of the blue frame I use gavino's FixBadFrames filter:
or jagabo's (and others') ReplaceFramesMC which can also replace two or more in sequence:
Last edited by manono; 4th Feb 2014 at 21:10.