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  1. Member
    Join Date: May 2010
    Location: Scandinavia
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    Hello all!
    Iím looking for a video capturing device to convert some old videos. Itís mainly PAL VHS cassettes.
    Iíve posted here before in this matter earlier but I had to postpone this project due to the addition of a new family member and everything that comes with that.

    Hereís my current setup:

    Fujitsu Lifebook series laptop:
    Intel Core i7 3630QM 2,4 GHz, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd, 500gb hdd 5,400 rpm, Windows 8 (64)
    Connectivity:
    Usb 3.0 ports (3x), eSata/usb 2.0 combo port, VGA, HDMI, Expresscard 34/54 slot

    Other stuff:

    90ís JVC S-VHS deck with TBC/DNR, Pal vhs tapes

    Capture device options:

    1) Firewire devices Ė e.g. Canopus/grass valley ADVC-55. According to some posts it seems a bit expensive for what it actually does and it only captures DV.

    2) Capture card with ExpressCard interface, e.g. Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1400. I havenít been able to find much info on this approach so I'd like to know if you have any opinions Ė I mainly mention this option because it would be "fun" to make use of the empty card slot in my notebook.

    3) External usb capture cards Ė ATI 600 usb or Diamond Video Capture VC500. Will ATI 600 USB work on my Windows 8 system? What about copy protected vhs cassettes, can it handle those?

    4) A DVD recorder (such as the JVC DR-M10SE/M10S) for pass-through. Is there any reason I should choose this approach before any of the above?

    I leaning towards the ATI 600 USB device, as Iíve read some good things about it here; I've seen a few on the american and canadian ebay sites lately. The DVD recorder approach is also interesting as I could probably get hold of a decent JVC recorder for a reasonable price the next week or so.

    One thing Iím curious about, and canít figure out by myself, is if it makes any difference if I capture videos through USB, ExpressCard or a DVD recorder, in terms of quality of the captured ďrawĒ files? Is there any difference in how well they handle the transferred data?

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
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    Using a laptop for this is generally a poor idea as it does limit you quite a bit, but these days almost everybody who doesn't work in IT convinces themselves that they simply cannot live at all without a laptop, so a lot of people are like you and want to do this on laptops.

    Realistically, what is your goal? Be honest. Are you REALLY willing to spend MANY hours doing this the "pefect" or "right" way where you do a captures and then do heavy filtering and re-encoding? Or do you just want to get this done as quickly as possible? If you just want to get this done quickly, for most people a DVD recorder works good enough and is a much quicker option.

    We've had arguments here on the process where I feel that most human beings really and truly are not all that obsessive and don't find it worthwhile to spend, say, 10 extra hours working on one tape for a 1 to 5% improvement in quality. Others members here strongly disagree with that. Are you REALLY willing to learn AviSynth and write complicated scripts to process/filter you captures and then spend HOURS re-encoding them? If yes, then capture losslessly if you can, although I still feel that at sufficiently high bitrates "lossy" captures are good enough for most human beings and few really notice the difference. If no, then just buy a DVD recorder. DO NOT buy a VHS/DVD recorder combo. That is a terrible idea. You need a separate DVD recorder from your VHS player so that if you run into problems with Macrovision, you can put a TBC (time base corrector) between the VHS player and the DVD recorder.

    Most recent laptops don't support firewire at all and if I remember correctly we've had reports that trying to do firewire over USB won't work for Canopus. So idea #1 is probably not going to be a realistic option for you. If you had a tower PC you could easily put a firewire card in it, but again, laptops limit what you can do.
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  3. Member
    Join Date: May 2010
    Location: Scandinavia
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    Thanks jman98 for swift reply.

    I see what you mean. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle of your description; I can see myself tweaking and learning something during the course, to a certain point, but I'm not willing to spend a fortune or stay home from work to make it work. And of course I realise that I'm dealing with a fairly low quality format and that I shouldn't expect so much in terms of quality.

    The DVD recorders I'm looking at are JVC DR-M10S and JVC-DR-M10SE. None of these are VHS/DVD combos. Will the DVD recorder output MPEG-2 files only?

    Would you say that a DVD recorder will output lower quality files than for instance the ATI 600 USB? (I've learned that the ATI 600 outputs other formats as well)

    I forgot to mention earlier, but I have a cheap "no-name" USB capture card that I bought for ~$10. I felt a bit crippled with that card and I would like to compare it with a different solution so that I can determine for myself where to go from there. There's where the ATI 600 USB and a DVD recorder enters into the picture.
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  4. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2006
    Location: Toronto Canada
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    I'm in agreement with Jman98, but will add my thoughts too to your posts.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    Hello all! I’m looking for a video capturing device to convert some old videos. It’s mainly PAL VHS cassettes.
    I’ve posted here before in this matter earlier but I had to postpone this project due to the addition of a new family member and everything that comes with that.
    If that's your situation now, you may want to rethink the "somewhere in the middle" you mentioned and maybe a tendency shift towards "as quickly as possible" as Jman98 mentioned. VHS capture/processing/etc at highest quality is demanding - some people have been at it for 30 years through various methods and editing!

    Nevertheless, here's my input in case you want to cut a few corners.

    (By the way, congratulations on the new family member. )


    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    Fujitsu Lifebook series laptop:
    Intel Core i7 3630QM 2,4 GHz, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd, 500gb hdd 5,400 rpm, Windows 8 (64)
    Connectivity:
    Usb 3.0 ports (3x), eSata/usb 2.0 combo port, VGA, HDMI, Expresscard 34/54 slot
    As expected, no firewire card, so no Canopus option, and given that it's a laptop, I too don't think you can install one without a USB adapter that will likely not work anyway.

    Also, even at good specs, laptops are not suitable for "heavy lifting" work, which includes CPU intensive tasks like capturing. What happens, given enough time, is that the processor slows down at some point to avoid overheating - laptop cases are not the best at cooling (like a tower's would be). This will lead to dropped frames and bad files. If you need to use the laptop you may have to shorten your workflow's cycle to shorter intervals.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    90’s JVC S-VHS deck with TBC/DNR, Pal vhs tapes
    Good option on a good amount of tapes. However, if you have a variety of tapes, from a variety of sources, chances are the JVC will flake out on some of them - tearing, overcompensated jitter from the TBC, color banding, wrong field order, off-tracking, etc. You need to consider a second, maybe a third, VCR in the chain for those events.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    Firewire devices – e.g. Canopus/grass valley ADVC-55. According to some posts it seems a bit expensive for what it actually does and it only captures DV.
    True. And DV is a fixed format as well. If you do get it to work on your setup, it's not a bad option as it's reliable and still relatively high quality, and DV edits quite well, and is smaller than lossless.

    Since you are in PAL-land, DV will not have similar problems in decoding as in NTSC-land with its 4:1:1 color space. However, I haven't checked whether the Canopus works in PAL. (Too lazy right now )

    Yes, it's overpriced IMO, but also IMO that's a small matter after many of our experiences here in this Forum. If it can get the job done, especially with a demanding task like VHS transfer, anything is sometimes worth the price (believe me) to spare much aggravation. That is, IF you can get the Canopus to work in your setup.

    But this applies to anything for this project, especially in this era of 2014 and beyond - if it works, price is less a consideration now.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    Capture card with ExpressCard interface, e.g. Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1400. I haven’t been able to find much info on this approach so I'd like to know if you have any opinions – I mainly mention this option because it would be "fun" to make use of the empty card slot in my notebook.
    Pass. It may be fun to use as a TV on your PC, but I don't see this as optimized for capturing. I don't have one, but I would imagine it may be similar to my 950Q which is a great tuner but is a (very) limited capture device.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    External usb capture cards – ATI 600 usb or Diamond Video Capture VC500. Will ATI 600 USB work on my Windows 8 system? What about copy protected vhs cassettes, can it handle those?
    This may be the best option for your laptop, or even on a desktop regardless. USB 2.0 has sufficient bandwidth for SD video. I don't know about the VC500, but the ATI 600 USB is great, however, since it's no longer in production, I have no clue if it will work with Win8. If so, you can look into the Hauppauge USB-Live2 or the eazycap.tv (the real one, not the fake ones around the 'Net) - also good choices.

    As for copy protection, MV, or "false positives", all capture devices will likely have problems here. You would need an external full-frame TBC in the chain, as Jman98 noted. Two good ones are the AV Tool AVT-8710 and DataVideo TBC 1000. They also help tremendously in preventing dropped frames from a harsh signal like VHS. Not cheap, but rather necessary if you are in the "somewhere in the middle" and more.

    I hear some people use a DVR pass-through for this? Not sure on that one though.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    A DVD recorder (such as the JVC DR-M10SE/M10S) for pass-through. Is there any reason I should choose this approach before any of the above?
    I'm skeptical with these DVR pass-throughs. I have not been impressed on my end from what I've seen. I do believe they compromise quality along the way compressing, and recompressing, with MPEG (leading to blocks and less detail and even more noise and artifacts). I believe the only reason you would want to use one is for vertical jitter, which I find is better corrected in post-processing apps, such as with Neat Video and its temporal filter.

    I suppose another reason would be to reduce dot crawl/crosstalk, from composite/RCA, but if you're using S-Video, then it won't be an issue. Then again, it can still be corrected with Avisynth regardless.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    I leaning towards the ATI 600 USB device, as I’ve read some good things about it here; I've seen a few on the american and canadian ebay sites lately.
    If you can get it to work on your setup, it's a good choice. But you can also look into the ones I mentioned earlier - also good choices.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    The DVD recorder approach is also interesting as I could probably get hold of a decent JVC recorder for a reasonable price the next week or so.
    Maybe not the highest quality choice, but you can be comfortably in the "somewhere in the middle" point with its ease of use.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    One thing I’m curious about, and can’t figure out by myself, is if it makes any difference if I capture videos through USB, ExpressCard or a DVD recorder, in terms of quality of the captured “raw” files? Is there any difference in how well they handle the transferred data?
    All are quite capable in terms of processing (such as not dropping frames) via a number of raw or compressed formats. Having established that, quality of the captures is more a function of product make and model, which has less to do with interface. Then it can be good or bad in differences.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    I can see myself tweaking and learning something during the course, to a certain point, but I'm not willing to spend a fortune or stay home from work to make it work. And of course I realise that I'm dealing with a fairly low quality format and that I shouldn't expect so much in terms of quality.
    Yes, it's low quality, and will look much weaker compared to modern video no matter what you do with it. But to save you time, learn a few AviSynth scripts just in case, and get Neat Video and learn that too if you want to venture into lossless formats and processing.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    The DVD recorders I'm looking at are JVC DR-M10S and JVC-DR-M10SE. None of these are VHS/DVD combos. Will the DVD recorder output MPEG-2 files only?
    This is hard to determine since it can do DvD (definitely MPEG-2) and has firewire (which could be true DV or bloated MPEG-2 under the hood, don't know). Definitely not as high quality as lossless, but it does sound like a nice solution for convenience and quality, and a good "somewhere in the middle" solution.

    As for the combo units, very easy to use, but not without their shortcomings, which I agree too with Jman98. With such a solution you are definitely in the "as quickly as possible" crowd like Joe Consumer and his housewife Betty.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    Would you say that a DVD recorder will output lower quality files than for instance the ATI 600 USB?
    Yes.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    (I've learned that the ATI 600 outputs other formats as well)
    Yes. Everything practically - MPEG-2, lossless RGB, lossless 4:2:2 (recommended), DV, even others (Xvid, DivX, H.264, not recommended for capture however). But so do the other devices I mentioned.

    I am not sure of the ATI 600 with PAL however...
    Last edited by PuzZLeR; 20th Mar 2014 at 13:14.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  5. Member
    Join Date: May 2010
    Location: Scandinavia
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    Thanks for you reply

    (By the way, congratulations on the new family member. )
    Thanks!

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    External usb capture cards Ė ATI 600 usb or Diamond Video Capture VC500. Will ATI 600 USB work on my Windows 8 system? What about copy protected vhs cassettes, can it handle those?
    This may be the best option for your laptop, or even on a desktop regardless. USB 2.0 has sufficient bandwidth for SD video. I don't know about the VC500, but the ATI 600 USB is great, however, since it's no longer in production, I have no clue if it will work with Win8. If so, you can look into the Hauppauge USB-Live2 or the eazycap.tv (the real one, not the fake ones around the 'Net) - also good choices.
    I read a review on the Hauppauge USB-Live2 (quoted from a review):

    ďWhile you can convert video to DVD, the software skips over some of the most important file types like AVI and MPEG-1. The only output options available are DVD, MP4/AVC and MPEG-2.Ē

    I assume these limitations are irrelevant when using third-party softwares (as you mention)?
    So basically what youíre saying is that the Hauppauge USB-Live2 is a very good alternative to the ATI 600 USB, especially for PAL conversions?


    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    The DVD recorder approach is also interesting as I could probably get hold of a decent JVC recorder for a reasonable price the next week or so.
    Maybe not the highest quality choice, but you can be comfortably in the "somewhere in the middle" point with its ease of use.
    I guess a DVD recorder would take some work load off my laptop, if I choose to go down that lane.
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  6. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    I read a review on the Hauppauge USB-Live2 (quoted from a review):

    “While you can convert video to DVD, the software skips over some of the most important file types like AVI and MPEG-1. The only output options available are DVD, MP4/AVC and MPEG-2.”

    I assume these limitations are irrelevant when using third-party softwares (as you mention)?
    I'm quite certain that such issues are with the packaged software that comes with the devices. Such apps are quite inferior, and I never use them, or even about limitations, such as output options, DvD/MPEG-2, MP4/AVC (really?), are those that the software, WinTV in this case, itself outputs.

    (Skip MPEG-1, it's an old and low quality format.)

    However, the USB-Live2 works very well with VirtualDub (an excellent "third-party" app) and AVI, or lossless formats, so I don't think you have to worry about that if you go this route.

    As well, a good capture app has many picture quality benefits.

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    So basically what you’re saying is that the Hauppauge USB-Live2 is a very good alternative to the ATI 600 USB, especially for PAL conversions?
    Although the ATI-600 USB is my favorite, I tend to like the ezcap.tv over the USB-Live2 in my opinion. The ezcap.tv is very similar to the ATI 600 USB, and even has similar architecture under the hood (and also works well with VirtualDub). Keep in mind to get the real one from ezcap.tv, not a fake one.

    I can vouch for quality in picture and reliability for all three devices, but you would have to confirm for PAL systems and Win8 compatibility as I have yet to test these waters for any devices. (Or maybe someone else can confirm.)

    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    The DVD recorder approach is also interesting as I could probably get hold of a decent JVC recorder for a reasonable price the next week or so.
    Maybe not the highest quality choice, but you can be comfortably in the "somewhere in the middle" point with its ease of use.
    I guess a DVD recorder would take some work load off my laptop, if I choose to go down that lane.
    Yes, it would take a load off any computer. Nothing can be simpler than feeding the machine and walking away and coming back after done. No, it is not the highest quality solution, and you can't benefit from advanced processing using (true) lossless formats, but it's really an easy workflow, and can get you very decent quality.

    Hopefully it has a line TBC under the hood, which compensates for jitter and even tape drift. But you'd also be better off with an HDD on the unit so you can edit/manage captures. VHS capture directly to disc is not recommended.

    Also, it won't handle copy protection, MV, or even that "false positive" every once in a while without something else in the chain.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  7. Member
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    The ATI600 and EzCap both work well for PAL captures.

    I run Windows 7, but the EzCap has active support/development so most likely it should be fine in W8 (check their site/forum). As for the ATI, someone who has tried needs to pitch in.
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  8. Member
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    Thanks for your input (all of you).

    I found a few ATI 600 USB devices on ebay but one was branded "Visiontek" and Another one was branded "Diamond". Are they both the same Product as the original ATI 600 USB, manufactured under a different brand, or are they fake?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vision-Tek-TV-Wonder-HD-600-USB-Windows-Vista-HDTV-Tuner-for-P...item51b9d8af6a

    They look authentic but thought I'd ask experts like you first.
    Last edited by MrTemplar; 21st Mar 2014 at 09:39. Reason: spelling
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  9. Member
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    Originally Posted by MrTemplar View Post
    Thanks for your input (all of you).

    I found a few ATI 600 USB devices on ebay but one was branded "Visiontek" and Another one was branded "Diamond". Are they both the same Product as the original ATI 600 USB, manufactured under a different brand, or are they fake?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vision-Tek-TV-Wonder-HD-600-USB-Windows-Vista-HDTV-Tuner-for-P...item51b9d8af6a

    They look authentic but thought I'd ask experts like you first.
    Both the Diamond and VisionTek products are genuine and the same hardware. I have used the Diamond version on a Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 32-bit system using the Windows 7 drivers from this website. https://www.diamondmm.com/tvw600usb-ati-amd-tv-wonder-hd-600.html I haven't tried it with a 64-bit OS.

    The included Catalyst Media Center software did work for me on a Windows 7 32-bit system at first, but apparently I changed something on that system (Windows 7 drivers?) that caused it to stop working. Since by that time I had found other software that I liked better, I never bothered trying it with Windows 8.x
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  10. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrTemplar
    I found a few ATI 600 USB devices on ebay but one was branded "Visiontek" and Another one was branded "Diamond". Are they both the same Product as the original ATI 600 USB, manufactured under a different brand, or are they fake?
    I'm not sure what their relationship with ATI was then or now, but they are distributors more than anything of the authentic ATI product. Both are equal products. I am in the same agreement with Usually_Quiet. But if it helps, and just to be picky, I have 3 of them, all from Diamond, so I would say get the Diamond to be safe.

    Originally Posted by usually_quiet
    The included Catalyst Media Center software did work for me on a Windows 7 32-bit system at first, but apparently I changed something on that system (Windows 7 drivers?) that caused it to stop working.
    What is it with CMC? It stopped working for me too, even when I reformatted the HDD and reinstalled, it still stopped working after a couple of months again. Some conflict always seems to bother it.

    Regardless, there are better capture apps to use with the ATI 600 for VHS or TV . I never liked CMC anyway. First of all, it was buggy. Second of all, it won't do any lossless caps so you are pretty much limited to MPEG. Even so, its weak MPEG-2 encoder would produce lower quality at higher bitrates than other cap software no matter what I'd do in the settings, its weak MPEG decoder would spit out wrong field orders on my TV caps, and that 4GB limit for the older FAT storage was annoying. Very outdated software.

    Maybe they had an MPEG-4 option if I recall? No thanks.

    I would recommend to the O/P, don't bother to install CMC if you get the ATI 600. All you need are the WDM drivers for it you can find online.

    (This is more rule than exception IMO when using packaged software that comes with most capture devices...)
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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  11. Member
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    Thanks Guys. I Will give the Ati 600 USB a go, the Diamond version if available, otherwise I hope the Visiontek works as well. hopefully I'll make it work on my Win 8 (or Win 8.1 in the future) setup. Although it won't ouput MPeg-2 with PAL videos, with AVI at least I Will be able To convert To Another format later if needed. Maybe I'll get a dvd recorder as well, if only for comparison. (I'm Writing this on a Windows Phone and the keyboard is a real pain in ***).

    I reallly appreciate all your input.
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  12. Member PuzZLeR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrTemplar View Post
    Thanks Guys. I Will give the Ati 600 USB a go, the Diamond version if available, otherwise I hope the Visiontek works as well. hopefully I'll make it work on my Win 8 (or Win 8.1 in the future) setup. Although it won't ouput MPeg-2 with PAL videos, with AVI at least I Will be able To convert To Another format later if needed. Maybe I'll get a dvd recorder as well, if only for comparison. (I'm Writing this on a Windows Phone and the keyboard is a real pain in ***).

    I reallly appreciate all your input.
    MPEG-2 output for caps is more of a convenience than anything, (ex: numerous TV shows that don't need processing and are deleted after view anyway).

    As for precious VHS caps, lossless is ideal - better quality and you can clean it up after better.

    If you really need MPEG-2, yes, as you mentioned, you can always capture to AVI lossless and convert to MPEG-2 with a good MPEG-2 encoder - you will get better results this way than direct-to-MPEG-2. (Or you can get the ezcap.tv as well when you want that direct-to-MPEG-2 convenience.)

    And if you do compare DVR vs lossless caps on a PC, you will see a difference in quality.

    I'm quite certain the Diamond version isn't different, just mentioned that I've had success with it if you need a certain confirmation.
    I hate VHS. I always did.
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