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  1. Hello,

    I am looking for some advice regarding VHS capturing. I have around approx. 70 VHS tapes that I'd like to transfer to my PC.

    My PC has the following specs:

    windows 7
    ivy bridge i5-3470 3.2 ghz quad core cpu
    16 gigs of ram.
    3 terabyte drive (disk space is not an issue, I can purchase more if needed)
    PCI firewire card (VIA VT6306 card).

    Combo DVD/VCR: Samsung DVD-v4500 (rca line out: yellow,white , red)

    The purpose of the project is to ARCHIVE(disk space not an issue) the videos before their quality degrades any further. I am looking for a CONVENIENT way to do this. If I do edit these videos, it won't be in the near future (3-5 years) as it is a time consuming process. I want an above mainstream capturing device that won't compromise video quality but I don't want it to cost me a fortune (less than 150 dollars). In other words, I am looking for the intel i5 cpu equivalent of VHS capturing devices.

    1) What is a convenient capture device that you'd suggest for my VHS tapes?
    2) If I get a vcr with a s-video out, will the video be much better than rca yellow line out?
    3) If I upgrade the VCR, will I gain a significant boost in video quality. I understand this question is highly subjective but I am looking to figure out if there will be a major difference in quality if my VCR is upgraded.

    Thanks
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  2. In fact, if there is a capturing device that is much more convenient than a 150$ one for my capturing process, I'd be interested in hearing what device that may be. I am willing to up my budget to 300$.
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  3. If 'convenient' is the main (or only, since you mentioned 'convenient' twice, and capitalized it once) requirement, then your combo DVD/VCR certainly is that.

    If quality is to figure in then there are a number of improvements you can make. You can, for example, buy a cheap USB capture device or a more expensive capture card, or use that firewire connection with some sort of a Canopus ADVC box. As for VCR, you can use what you have, buy a better SVHS one, or buy an even better SVHS VCR with a line TBC. Instead of the VCR with a line TBC, you could buy certain DVD recorders with line TBCs and use one as a pass-through. Then there's the capture format. You can cap in MPEG-2 (some capping devices/cards will only do that), cap as DV-AVI (all the Canopus boxes do that) or cap lossless. Lossless for 70 tapes may cause you to eat your disc-space-not-an-issue words before it's over.
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  4. I posted this in your other thread: use your D8 camcorder in passthrough mode.
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  5. @manono: I recently started capturing hi8 to my pc in the dv-avi format using a digital 8 handycam. I am satisfied with the DV-AVI format for its video quality and its playback on my PC and its facebook upload ability . Also, I am ok with a 2 hour recording of dv-avi that amounts to 30 GB. I won't be editing the hi-8 captures any time soon but I am really happy that they are preserved and accessible on my PC. I didn't mind buying the handycam off ebay to do it and I am very satisfied with the result.

    I have used my hi-8 capturing experience as the level of convenience I am willing to aim for. If I am looking to get a SVHS VCR with a line TBC, what brand/model should I get? For example, if I were to recommend capturing hi-8 to someone else, I'd recommend the sony trv-520 because it did the job very well and it was popular on ebay at the time of my purchase.

    As for the capturing device, what do average people like me normally buy for a vhs capture job like this?

    @jagabo: I checked through the trv-520 manual, and it did not mention that I could use pass through to send vcr output to my handycam. It did however state I could use an a/v connector cable to output A/V to my TV or VCR.
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  6. @jagabo, After giving the manual a second read through, it may be possible to passthrough vhs ---(svideo and rca audio)--> handycam --(firewire)--> PC, using my DCR-TRV520. I will definitely give this a try once I finish capturing my hi-8 tapes.
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  7. Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    @jagabo, After giving the manual a second read through, it may be possible to passthrough vhs ---(svideo and rca audio)--> handycam --(firewire)--> PC, using my DCR-TRV520. I will definitely give this a try once I finish capturing my hi-8 tapes.
    Yes, I saw that in the manual online.
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  8. Member
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    Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    I am satisfied with the DV-AVI format for its video quality and its playback on my PC and its facebook upload ability . Also, I am ok with a 2 hour recording of dv-avi that amounts to 30 GB. .
    If you're in US then the pass through should work OK... probably won't if you're in Europe though.
    If it doesn't work, then an alternative might be to buy one of these : http://www.grassvalley.com/products/advc55

    Good quality conversion to DV, and you should get a pretty good price, if you decide to sell the device on Ebay after you've finished your captures!
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  9. Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    If you're in US then the pass through should work OK... probably won't if you're in Europe though.
    Why won't it work in Europe?
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  10. If I end up using my sony dcr-trv520 handycam as the capture device for this job, the only thing I need to obtain is a quality vcr with TBC to play the VHS tapes. After researching VCR guides for capturing VHS, I am starting to lean towards the JVC HR-S series. Anyone have any recommendations for VCRs with TBC that are used for this purpose.
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  11. Member
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    If your tapes aren't too whacked the TBC in your camera ought to be fine.
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  12. Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    If I end up using my sony dcr-trv520 handycam as the capture device for this job, the only thing I need to obtain is a quality vcr with TBC to play the VHS tapes.
    Does the trv520 have any TBC functions? Some have line TBC and/or full frame TBC functions.
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  13. It has TBC, DNR functions
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  14. Member
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Originally Posted by pippas View Post
    If you're in US then the pass through should work OK... probably won't if you're in Europe though.
    Why won't it work in Europe?
    Due to dreaded 'EU' regulations, things like AV inputs were mostly disabled on European camcorder models, to avoid extra tax. Even video capable 'super zoom' and DSLRs have the length of individual video shots restricted to 29 minutes and 59 seconds, again to avoid higher tax....
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  15. i am in north america.
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  16. Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    If I am looking to get a SVHS VCR with a line TBC, what brand/model should I get?
    I don't know. Digital FAQ has a list:

    http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video/capture-playback-hardware.htm

    But that list of the ones with line TBCs is far from complete. There are quite a few threads here that mention VCRs with line TBCs or using DVD recorders in pass-through mode. And if your camcorder can do it, you may as well use that. VCRs with the ability are pretty expensive. And now they're old and you may not get what you pay for. Me, in spite of the recommendation at Digital-FAQ I wouldn't touch a JVC model because the TBC is tied to the DNR, but would recommend a Panasonic instead. Maybe that's just me. I use a PAL Panasonic S-VCR with a line TBC for my caps.
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  17. if that's the case, I am looking for a S-VHS VCR with or without TBC and an s-video out that is in very good condition. I want to get the equipment right from the beginning of the job so I don't have to upgrade a component that makes the capture so much more better after I've already captured 20 tapes.
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  18. so i purchased a jvc HR-S9500U s-vhs vcr. The seller informed me that my sony digital 8 DCR-TRV520 handycam might not be the best capture device for vhs tapes if I am expecting to get the same hi-8 quality I captured. He suggested that I get an ATI capture card or happauge off a a black magic. Is acquiring an ati capture card/happauge/black magic worth the trouble? I am not concerned with disk space anymore.
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  19. Member
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    Don't use BlackMagic for VHS capture. There must be a ton of posts in this and other forums recommending against it. And consider the price tag for something that's widely reputed to be less than optimum for the task.

    It's kind of late in the game to start VHS capture projects. The best of the affordable but still not cheap ATI cards were discontinued years ago. Yep, they were and still are pretty good at it. But they used an AGP interface. AGP motherboards aren't made today. You can still find them on auction sites and whatnot, but it means building your own PC or using an old one. An old WinXP PC would still be OK, too. They're a little pokey for editing and stuff, but you don't need a lot of power for VHS capture with a vintage ATI card. After all, most were made to work with Win98 and XP. I have an old AMD PC with an All In Wonder 7500 Radeon that captures as well as it did in 2002. I transfer those captures to external drives anyway for archiving and for processing on newer PCs. If you find an ATI TV Wonder PCI mount, they're just as able.

    The JVC you mention is an OK machine. Used to own one myself, until it just plain died and no more parts were out there. The downside is that JVC's TBC is tied in with some pretty aggressive dnr. The more noise the tape has, the more filtering it gets. Results can be soft and blurry, and the 1990-era dnr designs can create motion artifacts. Disable the dnr, and you lose the tbc. So I didn't bother to fix my two old JVC's. For 6-hour home made tapes, JVC is not a good choice. It took months of searching, but I finally ended up with Panasonics from the 1995-96 era for most tapes, and eventually landed a rebuilt AG-1980. The used market is a lottery for just about all VCR's anyway. My current VCR's were found with the guidance of a member here named orsetto. You'll find dozens or more posts with his notes on many VCR's. Meanwhile the AG-1980 can be pretty ornery. It's gone through a maintenance tune-up since I bought it. It's a big, heavy machine, and good maintenance plus UPS shipping ain't cheap. But of course you can still use that JVC. I used mine for 4 years.

    What I use most of the time now has worked pretty well, recommended by orsetto and another member here. Besides the AG-1980, two other workhorses are a Panasonic PV-S4670 and a PV-S4672. Both are SVHS. Both made 1996. Each cost me a Ben Franklin plus change and had been serviced by a competent seller on eBay who specialised in that sort of thing. Meanwhile I went through three other (and cheaper) eBay buys from Panny and Mitsubishi that turned out to be useless. But that's about par for used VCR's.

    Those two Pannies have no tbc, but they track so well a tbc isn't needed sometimes. My "tbc" for those non-tbc VCR's are two other items often recommended here, Panasonic DMR-ES15 and Toshiba RD-X series DVD recorders used as pass-thru. Seems like the ES15 or ES10 are favorites, but some tapes look better thru the Toshiba. There are many threads about pass-thru devices. The longest is here: http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/319420-Who-uses-a-DVD-recorder-as-a-line-TBC-and-what-do-you-use .

    You might ask, if I have a big AG-1980, why use the other two? Frankly, some tapes don't look so great on the big one, especially after dnr gets to some of them. They never look "bad" exactly, but some look better on the other VCRs. Many people here recommend more than one VCR. For one thing, a TBC-equipped machine might not track your tapes. But if you're tied to that one machine, you're up the old creek.

    I'd be the first to admit that VHS capture is not simple or convenient. It could be, but the convenient results won't look so hot. It depends on what you expect and how much you're willing to learn and put up with. Many get a good Panasonic DVD-R and record directly to it. Results are haphazard, and a tape in bad shape will look like it on DVD even at high bitrates. But today's new DVD recorders -- there are only two that I know of -- have nightmare VCR players in them and are nowhere near as good recorders as those made in 2005 or before. I've been browsing this forum for several years and gone back through the archives to 2004. The number of threads about VHS capture and post-processing and the problems you'll encounter must number in the thousands. There's a lot to learn. So be prepared for that.

    I see you also have a camera that might work well. ATI 600 USB capture to lossless AVi with VirtualDub is used by many with good results. But, yep, the old ATI All In Wonders were the way to go and are still used everywhere. Finding one and getting it into a PC is the hassle.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 30th Jun 2014 at 11:40.
    - My sister Ann's brother
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  20. Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    Is acquiring an ati capture card/happauge/black magic worth the trouble?
    No, in my opinion. Just get a decent USB capture device. There are threads here on the good ones.
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  21. thank you very much for the info. I have to say that my hi-8 captures turned out very good using my handycam.
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  22. LMotlow, you sound eerily similar to Sanlyn, if I may say so. But good advice there.

    The choice to use well-built, regular VCRs with Pana/Toshiba TBC-equipped DVRs in passthrough is the way to go, rather than the costly and unpredictable prosumer VCR route. By splitting up roles, it opens up playback options while keeping some of the best TBC performance obtainable. With much restoration work assigned to other devices, and most of all software, all a VCR really needs to do is track tapes well and provide an acceptably detailed output.

    Multiple captures for averaging and median techniques, or mixing audio/video portions from different VCRs, can boost the quality significantly too. It's important to use more than one VCR anyhow - preferably many - as not one can handle all tapes well just on its own.

    Re: capture devices, I'm a fan of ATI-600 for lossless and Canopus for DV (the format the Handycam captured into). What I don't advise for archiving personal footage is MPEG2/DVD recorders. I've captured non-personal tapes before using LSI chipset JVCs which I'm told were the best encoders - and yet some of those captures are just unacceptable, and I can't imagine any models today doing any better.
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  23. Member
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    Originally Posted by SixFiftyThree View Post
    LMotlow, you sound eerily similar to Sanlyn, if I may say so. But good advice there.
    Most of what I noted came from orsetto and my own experience. Learned a lot from sanlyn's posts, though. And from other members. When I start to sound like jagabo, let me know.

    Originally Posted by SixFiftyThree View Post
    What I don't advise for archiving personal footage is MPEG2/DVD recorders. I've captured non-personal tapes before using LSI chipset JVCs which I'm told were the best encoders - and yet some of those captures are just unacceptable, and I can't imagine any models today doing any better.
    I don't advise it, actually. I just noted that many do it that way. I travel a lot and talk up video a lot and watch other forums, and I think that's the way most people archive VHS. I guess they don't know better, or don't care. Everyone has their way. The ES10 and ES15 have that LSI chip, I believe. Which i guess is why most people caution to turn off Panasonoic's dnr if they use them for pass-thru.

    But now I'm just repeating too much again from posts I've copied, so I'll refer the O.P. to that thread on pass-thru.
    - My sister Ann's brother
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  24. Originally Posted by buyabook View Post
    so i purchased a jvc HR-S9500U s-vhs vcr. The seller informed me that my sony digital 8 DCR-TRV520 handycam might not be the best capture device for vhs tapes if I am expecting to get the same hi-8 quality I captured. He suggested that I get an ATI capture card or happauge off a a black magic. Is acquiring an ati capture card/happauge/black magic worth the trouble? I am not concerned with disk space anymore.
    With VHS as your source you stand to gain very little by using an uncompressed YUV capture device. The main drawbacks of NTSC DV are the DCT ringing artifacts and 4:1:1 chroma subsampling. VHS is so noisy you'll never notice the mild DCT ringing artifacts added by DV compression. And VHS chroma is so low in resolution that 4:1:1 subsampling is still way more than you need. Just be sure to use a DV decoder that interpolates chroma when upsampling.

    The other issue you'll run into with DV camcorders is that there are usually no manual control of brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, sharpness, etc. As long as those aren't too far out of spec you can fix them in software.

    Blackmagic Intensity products are designed primarily as high definition capture products. Standard definition capture is really just and afterthought for them, nothing special. The devices are very finicky about what computers they will work in and the stability of the incoming video. Time base errors may cause them to stop capturing or lock up.

    Many ATI capture devices have problems with automatic gain. The result is brightness/saturation pumping, especially at scene/shot changes. There is no way to disable this AGC and it often results in clipped brights and darks.

    http://forum.videohelp.com/threads/326560-Which-is-better-usb-stick-vhs-cap-or-hd-pvr-...=1#post2023227

    The ATI Theater 600 may be free of this problem. The Theater 650 and 750 are not.

    They also have over aggressive Macrovision detectors which often kicks in on Macrovision free recordings, screwing up the picture.
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  25. seeing as I don't have access to an agp interface, I was considering if there were any decent pci/pci express capture cards or if I should just use a usb capture card. Please note I am also considering to use an external tbc. I currently have access to the following pci/pci-express ports on my mobos:

    I have an asus p8z77-v board with the following expansion slots: 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8), 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black), 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1, 2 x PCI

    I also have another pc with a z87-pro mobo having the following expansion slots:2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8), 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode), 4 x PCIe 2.0 x1.
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  26. Renegade gll99's Avatar
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    Just a note on usb capture devices. I have 2 versions of the Hauppauge usb PVR 1 and 2 and they are fine for HD cap and analog caps from a stable source but for the PVR 1 (Don't have the pvr 2 rca dongle but imagine its the same issue) using VCR if you do any rewinding fast forward or you get too many glitches on a tape it can lose the signal. It works ok if everything is stable in the path and I capture a tape start to finish. My old bt878 pci tuner card or the pass-through on my Sony DV camera are more stable for poor tapes.
    There's not much to do but then I can't do much anyway.
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