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  1. Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    United States
    Search Comp PM
    One capture box I'm considering is the ADSTech Pyro w/Premiere Elements... partly because it's known to be utterly indifferent to Macrovision, and partly because I can go out to CompUSA tonight and buy one (yeah, instant gratification is nice). HOWEVER, I'm kind of concerned about the lukewarm reviews it (or its previous version?) seems to have gotten with respect to capturing from old VHS tapes.

    As far as I can tell, the oldest ones with pre-3.0 firmware had major problems with dropped frames on VHS captures... or at least were noticeably worse at dealing with marginal video quality from old tapes than comparable units from Canopus and DataVideo. However, a lot of people seem to have indicated that the 3.0 revision finally fixed the problem, and the latest models are no worse than Canopus & DataVideo at dropping frames from VHS captures.

    Here's the thing: all of the reviews for the ADStech Pyro A/V Link look pretty old, and one towards the end mentioned that ADStech said it was obsolete. Yet, there are allegedly a half-dozen brand new boxes of them at my local CompUSA. That suggests to me that one of two things happened:

    1) ADStech decided to leave well enough alone, and left the hardware and firmware untouched since the happy days of late 2006 when almost everyone seemed to like this product (as opposed to the unhappy days before 2005 when everyone seemed to have endless problems with dropped frames).

    2) ADStech decided it was time for a new round of "value engineering" to try and shave another dollar or two from the manufacturing costs, and probably introduced a whole new crop of problems into the current generation of units now sitting in stores & rendering all the positive reviews from the past year or so moot & invalid.

    As much as I'd like to believe it's "1", I really want to be reassured by someone who's bought one over the past few months (preferably, the one bundled for retail sale with Premiere Elements since it's not inconceivable that they might have taken advantage of the SKU change to switch designs at that point, too). I'd also be tremendously reassured if someone could confirm that the latest ones are still completely oblivious to Macrovision (since that's really the one sticking point that's stopping me from throwing in the towel and getting a Canopus 55 or 110 instead... for 200 bucks, I really don't want to ever be bothered by it, or anything that might falsely trigger its detection).
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  2. Member
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    Well, I bought the Pyro from CompUSA last night and did my first capture. It dropped about 1,600 frames over the span of ~100 minutes (VHS source, JVC 7800 VCR w/built-TBC active). I used Ulead Video Studio 11 (I haven't bothered to install Premiere elements yet). The overwhelming majority of dropped frames were during the first 15 minutes of the tape (not entirely surprising... I know the tape's velocity relative to the heads increases as the takeup reel's effective diameter grows).

    Is it safe to assume at this point that neither Windows, its drivers, nor Ulead Video Studio (and its attempts to show a bad-looking preview window) had anything whatsoever to do with the dropped frames, and that it was entirely caused by the tape, the VCR, and/or what went on inside the Pyro itself?

    Insofar as Windows is concerned, the capture is literally nothing more than binary file download that's being dumped to disk, and even if the system and/or hard drive completely choked for a few seconds for some weird reason (say, Norton Antivirus or Windows Update deciding to go into convulsions for a few seconds for no apparent reason), Windows would simply dump the incoming data into a buffer somewhere (I have 2 gigs) until it finally managed to write it to the hard drive... right? Or are there still Windows-level gremlins that can cause dropped frames from a DV capture (say, by taking too long to transfer a chunk of data from the Pyro, causing the Pyro's working ram to get full and force the Pyro to metaphorically stand there tapping its foot & ignoring one or more video fields until the host computer gets its act together and grabs enough data to free up space for the Pyro to resume its capture activities)?
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  3. Member
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    Sep 2007
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    I recently bought pyro av link with prem elements. I've been trying for a long time to put my VHS tapes on my computer. I' tried a pci from pinnacle on my windows pc; bad color en audio not in sync. (few dropped frames) Now i've tried with pyro a/v link on my imac with Final Cut Express and imovie. I also tried with software from pinnacle and premiere elements on my windows laptop. Whatever i tried; Better picture than with the pinnacle pci but LOTS AND LOTS OF DROPPED FRAMES. I found out that even analog output to my television via the pyro a/v link (=analog in /analog out) resulted in bad video. While playing my VHS directly on my television ran very smoothly. I think i'm giving up unless somebody else knows a solution.
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  4. Member
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    Well, at this point, I'm mainly trying to nail down once and for all whether there's any possibility that Windows itself (or at least something running under it on the host computer) might be at fault, or whether I can confidently capture while rendering/defragging/virus-scanning/tarball-creating-to-usb2, with cpu utilization near 100%/100% for both cores, and feel secure knowing that incoming firewire data will always get the attention it needs in a timely manner come hell or high water, regardless of what else might be competing for the attention of Windows and the cpu's two cores...

    One thing I DID check last night... my mobo DOES have the VIA chip (don't remember the number offhand) that supports two independent 1394 interfaces and DMA. The thought HAD occurred to me that some mobos & cheap "Firewire" cards (especially those that are Intel-based) might actually be usb2 devices with only a 1394 "bridge" chip (effectively giving the worst of all possible worlds and negating all of firewire's real-world benefits... thunking between 1394 and USB2 and PIO-driven transfers). But as far as I can tell, my mobo has "real" 1394, and it's implemented properly.
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  5. Member vhelp's Avatar
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    Mar 2001
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    Hi miamicanes

    I feel for ya. Really, I do. All these mysteries you've been having with your VHS
    captures have been very trying on you. Anyway.

    I noticed in your computer details that you have a current fast computer. So that
    eliminates that problem, and you should not have dropped frames during capturing.

    So many things can cause this problem but I don't think it is the capture card(s)
    you've been using up till now. I think it might be something else, but I think you
    should perform a test to be certain.

    I'm thinking that it might be the Tapes and how they were (video) Recorded to them.
    Prob bad tracking on those older vcr's recorded the video onto tape, and today,
    capturing them is more or less unstable for the capture card(s) you are trying with.
    And/Or, could be similulating macrovision aspects that the card is having trouble
    with, or possibly other things.

    Other causes of frame drops (believe it or not) can be your s-video. I've had this
    phenomina on my setup and it would drop frames on even store bought tapes.
    But, when I changed the connection to RCA (composite) connections, the drops
    stopped. So, do consider that as an option to ruling out or solving your frame
    drop problems.

    In any case, I would suggest you try the following steps and see if you continue
    to have frame drops during capturing:

    1 - If you can spend a few more dollars, I would suggest you go out to your nearest
    store (A&P, Shoprite, are some) and buy a movie on vhs tape.

    2 - Set up your Capture card and Software for a test capture session.

    3 - Then, load the store bought commerial tape into your vcr and begin playing it.

    4 - Start capturing the video from your vcr, using Huffy codec or Uncompressed YUV.

    Last piece of advise..

    Even though you seem to have a fast computer, you still should NOT be being
    activating any drafrag and virus and any other computer activity while you capture
    video. Never mind what others might be claiming how they can. You just shouldn't
    be doing it, even so.. but es-specially for vhs because this is (or can be) more unstable
    or unpredictable, depending on the condition/age/etc of the tape.

    Good luck,

    -vhelp 4397
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  6. Member
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    Well, I just had a weak moment (while accelerating down the slippery slope), said 'screw it', and ordered a AVT-8710 from Enhanced View Services. Through pure blind luck, I realized they're local & that I can have it by Friday without paying ~$40+ to have it FedEx'ed halfway across the country. If I get lucky, they might even let me come pick it up in person tomorrow. Yay. It's occasional perks like these that occasionally make up for the hellish gridlock and high cost of living in Miami

    Anyway, I came to the conclusion that a TBC is mandatory for large-scale VHS capturing.
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  7. Member
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    Using my older ADS Pyro AV/Link, and a cheap VCR, and using the RCA cables, I have captured numerous older VHS tapes, with extremely few dropped frames. One VHS tape I had was done 15 years ago, and has 5 or 6 different video events on it. The ONLY dropped frames I get, is from spots where the video was started and stopped (very old zenith vhs camera). On a 90 minute VHS tape, I had 7 dropped frames, and all of those were trash frames from the camera starting and stopping. I have done about 20 old vhs tapes (including a couple of tapes that I had to cold iron some wrinkles out, and splices), and all totaled I've had a little over a dozen dropped frames. Try some different cables and see what happens.
    Rob
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  8. Member turk690's Avatar
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    Frames are dropped, for one, because the A2D converter did not receive a valid sync signal in the time it expects to. VHS tapes, no matter how old or new or from wherever they were recorded, have a linear control (sync) track that can miss a pulse or two. Even if there are unbroken valid video signals, if no sync can be decoded from the control track and inserted as a sync tip for that particular frame in the analogue output, the A2D capture device drops that frame. There are fancy TBC devices or VHS decks that feature these (industrial players) that may or may not alleviate dropped frames from the capture point of view by continuing to provide clean sync even if there are drop outs. Because devices like the ADSTech Pyro A/V Link will always be at the mercy of VHS missing sync, I've let go of them ages ago.
    If the VHS tape is a VERY important tape, what I do is to record them to miniDV first (keeping on hand camcorders for the purpose, Elura 100 for NTSC & MVX460i for its PAL counterpart). THEN, I capture that DV tape onto the PC HDD. This step may seem to be more work and initially it is, but the benefits are at least two. 1st, the camcorder generates its own sync and merrily keeps on recording whether or not the analogue output from even a cheap VHS deck drops out. Unlike any other capture device, for some reason, the camcorder is simply unfazed by the vagaries of good ole VHS. And it's easy to edit out these drop outs later in Premiere. 2nd, transferring data from tape to the PC is simply that: transferring DV data. No horsepower is required from the CPU by the FireWire connection because all the A2D has been done by the camcorder. The result is absolutely zero dropped frames. Note that I recorded the VHS tape outright to miniDV tape, as opposed to merely choosing the A/Vin-to-DVout pass through feature of the camcorder (a method still sensitive to VHS drop-outs)
    I've long ago simply given up on frame-drop happy internal or external A2D devices from whatever brand or repute level; countless are the instances that I'd much rather jump off a high-rise building than go through the ignominy of dropped frames. I'd much rather pay the $300 or $400 for an upscale A2D to a new camcorder that has analogue inputs (which seem to be going the way of the dinosaur even as we speak). It takes time and is a bit unwieldy, but my setup is simple, hassle-free, not costly, and above everything, DOES NOT dop frames.
    For the nth time, with the possible exception of certain Intel processors, I don't have/ever owned anything whose name starts with "i".
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  9. Member
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    Originally Posted by miamicanes
    Anyway, I came to the conclusion that a TBC is mandatory for large-scale VHS capturing.
    Actually the Panasonic DMR-ES10 has great sync. circuits. It does not have a TBC. but it is great for what it does.
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  10. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Yikes! Time to separate issues.

    Try capturing from a cable box as a test of the Pyro, IEEE-1394 and PC disk system.

    At this level the main issue is whether DirectShow is working and if the drive system can keep up. Try WinDV as an alternate to Video Studio or Premiere Elements to remove them as issues*. WinDV is a bare bones DirectShow control panel.

    Issue 1: Hard drive system -- You will be capturing at ~13GB/hr. This is best done to a second drive that has been defragmented and has adequate space (2Hr=26GB, 6Hr=78GB). If you must capture to the main drive defragmentation is more important and other processes need to be stopped.

    Issue 2: If all goes well with a cable box capture, there may be problems with the VHS deck or the tape. Old tapes get sticky. Run the tape in fast forward to the end and rewind before capture to unstick them. If an old tape won't work, try a new tape. If the new tape won't work, the deck may need service.

    I haven't used the Pyro but it should behave like the ADVC.


    * I suspect you may be set to realtime capture to MPeg2 which is a different set of problems. You should be capturing to DV format.
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