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  1. Member
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    Sigh. It seems JUST like when I have this VHS to DVD-R transfer thing under control, another problem crops up! ARGHH!

    Anyway, I've been noticing an intermittent effect that I can only describe as a strobing/flickering on my DVD-Rs. On some DVD-Rs it doesn't occur at all. On some, it happens every few minutes and can last for a good 30 seconds. The screen flickers brighter (makes the blacks grayer and everything onscreen lighter appearing). GENERALLY, it seems most heavy during the first 20-30 minutes of the DVD-R. Strangely, I can reproduce this same "flicker" whenever I return a tape back to playback from fast-forward cueing or stop. It flickers briefly, almost as if to "stabilize" itself and then stops.

    Now, I've done a fair amount of reading on these forums and have tried to make my setup as correct as possible. My workflow is as follows:

    Toshiba M684 4-head VCR --> Pioneer 340H. I use only Verbatim 8X DVD-R media as well.

    *I have tried all kinds of variables/configurations to isolate the problem. It seems to be the Pioneer machine as when I just play the VCR directly hooked up to the TV none of the flicker occurs. But when I have the tape playing (or recording) through the Pioneer Recorder, the flicker occurs. Changing the IRE mode from 0 IRE to 7.5 IRE doesn't help nor does any other video settings (although I haven't fooled much with the DNR settings on the Pioneer, as I just have them set to "off").

    I should also mention it DOES seem to be somewhat dependent on the quality of the VHS. I tried transferring an old ex rental VHS to DVD-R and that was flickering like crazy! BUT, I still observe flicker even on fresh VHS recorded on Maxell professional VHS tapes (although generally not as much).

    And get this: One time I saw the same flickering effect EVEN WHEN THE VCR WAS OFF and just the Pioneer was on! The black Video screen was flickering! What the hell is that?

    ***Could it also be my VCR? Now, this is a great VCR from pre-millenium (back when they still knew how to build QUALITY VCRs) and I just had it professionally cleaned by a licensed Toshiba repair service. BUT, could it be sending a poorer quality signal to the recorder because it is just a cheaper consumer VCR? Would upgrading to a prosumer S-VHS JVC VCR for example improve the signal quality and stop this? I sure hope not, as I can't afford to buy anything else for this increasingly costly and infuriating project! **But then again, if it WERE the VCR, why then do some VHS not FLICKER AT ALL when they record?
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  2. I've had TBC's do that. Are you using one?
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  3. I'm a Super Moderator johns0's Avatar
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    What you are seeing is macrovision copy protection showing up,a good quality tbc will take care of that,read more about it.
    I think,therefore i am a hamster.
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    Well, I don't think it's macrovision. Some of the best transfers I've done have been on VHS that advertise they have copyright protection systems on them. In fact, I just did one that didn't flicker at all and that was a copy protected tape!

    I have confirmed that some of the tapes I try to record that flicker are in fact NOT copy protected and they still flicker! I confirmed by using a Grex unit (a video stabilizer, NOT a TBC, but it gets rid of most macrovision) and its diagnostic light didn't detect macrovision on certain tapes that DO flicker, like some of my grey market import horror VHS. In fact, using the Grex doesn't make ANY difference with flicker.

    Schematic: I've read the specs sheet on my Pioneer 340H recorder and YES it says it has a digital TBC built in. But would a built-in TBC have the same effect as an external one?

    *By the way: I've just tried all the different DNR settings on the fly, with the VHS playing through the Pioneer and it still flickers. So that won't help...

    Perhaps this is due to a faulty detection of macrovision when there isn't any?
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  5. I'm not familiar with the VCR or recorder you are using. Try shutting off the TBC and see the differences. The panasonic, JVC equip I use, have built in TBC and can cause a flicker if they are not needed....
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  6. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by ministry88
    Perhaps this is due to a faulty detection of macrovision when there isn't any?
    That's a possibility. One of your ex-rental tapes that definately has Macrovision would probably go a long way to confirming that, as you have noticed. Some commercial tapes have different levels of Macrovision because they got a lot of complaints with the first versions where you couldn't watch them directly on a video monitor. Then they lowered the levels a bit.

    Some devices may be more sensitive and you may be getting 'false Macrovision'. I don't know if the built in TBC can handle any sort of Macrovision as the Macrovision company wouldn't like that. It may also be the VCR signal is a bit too strong and that is triggering it. See if there is anything common with the video frames when you get the flicker.

    You may have to use a outboard TBC to eliminate the flicker entirely. (That's if it really is false Macrovision.)
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  7. Member
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    Here's another possibility: a video cable that's going bad. It is a common cause of picture break-ups and flickers, especially when there's an analog source in the mix.
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    OK. I just got off the phone from 220 volts electronics (a store specializing in region free DVD players and recorders) and they seem to think it is a copy protection program problem too. They suggested I buy their DP-3000 copy protection removal unit. Link is at the bottom of my post.

    I don't think it is a TBC, but they say it removes ALL copy protection signals and "cleans up and enhances the video signal." The tech guy said there were many kinds of copy protection programs, not just Macrovision, and my Grex is only good for Macrovision. So perhaps I need a more comprehensive solution.

    Speaking of comprehensive, WOULD a TBC completely remove any/every kind of copy protection? I certainly can't afford the TBC-1000 (the one that gets the most talk here) but I know there are cheaper TBCs on the market. But I've heard that sometimes stand-alone TBCs are NOT good for removing copy protection as sometimes the copy protection signal can "leak through" the TBC! And doesn't a TBC soften the image? What do I believe?

    To sum up, all I want is the brightness fluctuating to go away, which I think is due to copy protection of some sort. Otherwise my tapes are in rock solid condition and there is no other faulty playback.

    **It seems I'll choose between the DP-3000 and the AVT-8710 TBC for my problem as these are within my budget. Which would you recommend for the widest range of copy protection removal?

    http://www.220-electronics.com/dvd/copyenhancer.htm#dp2000
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  9. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    That's a bit pricey just to remove Macrovision interference for your own backups. If it does other things, a bit better. Most cheap Macrovision removal devices go for about $20 - $40US and work with 'most' VHS tapes. I would also be suspicious that it says it can remove DVD protection, which is a digital encryption, where Macrovision is just analog 'damage' to the video stream.

    I'm not completely sure this is a Macrovision problem. If you want to get a TBC, I would recommend one that does a bit more for stabilizing VHS video.

    You might look at this Wikipedia article on Macrovision: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrovision

    I don't want to lead you astray.
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    The strange thing is this brightness fluctuating can be reproduced at will whenever I fast forward cue a tape and then return it to play. Again, the brightness flits up and down for a few seconds and then it stabilizes. The only problem is some VHS do this on their own throughout the film during playback.

    I've also just noticed this sometimes just happens whenever there is an edit in a film changing scenes (especially if it is abrupt, going from a dark scene to a bright one).

    *GOD this is so frustrating! I've been trying to do the seemingly simple task of transferring VHS to DVD-R to no avail since December! ARGHHH!

    But I do appreciate everyone's help here so far
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    ALRIGHT! I brought in some artillery and filmed the weird flickering in question and have uploaded that footage below.

    There are TWO files (small size, about 35 MB each, doesn't take long to download). The first one is a clip from HAROLD AND MAUDE. The effect I'm talking about occurs at these times:

    Clip 1) At six seconds. It occurs after I finish cueing. You can clearly see the brightness go up. This is an example of where I have purposefully recreated this effect. I recreate it again at 10 seconds. The rest of this clip is me recreating the effect for easier diagnosis. THERE ARE NO INVOLUNTARY BRIGHTNESS FLICKERS IN THIS CLIP! I "created" them all.
    Clip 2) Here's the real trouble. This is a clip from the Spanish horror film NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS. All brightness flicker is INVOLUNTARY in this clip and is the trouble I'm precisely talking about. It starts off slightly around 8 seconds in, and then continues throughout, becoming especially noticeable around 21 seconds. This happens in the SAME place EVERY time.

    **So does anyone have any ideas what the hell this is? This little problem is starting to become my Moby Dick!

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/rjzzyctixk3/haroldandmaude.mov

    http://www.mediafire.com/file/0gzkiyyinqn/nightofthesorcerers.mov
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  12. Member classfour's Avatar
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    Do you have the option to capture with a capture card? I use a Hauppauge, and it could care less about MV
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  13. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    I think it's anti-copy. Not necessarily Macrovision, just an anti-copy. Grex units and other non-TBC filters miss a lot of anti-copy protections. Only a TBC that strips and replaces those damage signal areas would fix this.

    Without running this through an AVT-8710 or TBC-1000, I would not be convinced otherwise.
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    Guys - I finally figured it out! IT WAS THE TRACKING! The VCR is showing its age I guess. The tracking level the autotracking selects is problematic for some tapes. If I just decrease the tracking by a little bit, it goes away on most tapes!

    However, I am considering buying a replacement VCR as this isn't a 100% fix for all tapes.
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  15. TRACKING

    It would seem by rhe posts that the [problem was Mrovision }
    The Toshiba is not showing its age
    The VHS tapes Are

    I have a Toshiba 6 Head, some Panasonics, a Sharp They all work perfectly BUT I do not use them because of Tracking problems

    Iuse a Go Video combo VHS/DVD [Player only] It does not react to tracking issues
    It works fine [VHS or DVD] and have no such problems If the tapes are good the DVD recording is as good but some think they look better

    Garbage IN Garbage Out
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    Sigh. Now I'm more confused than ever.

    OK. I really don't think the tapes are showing their age. Why? Because some of these tapes (the ones that flicker) are only 3 years old, have only been viewed ONCE, and were professionally transferred using Panasonic AG equipment onto Maxell Black Magnetite Professional VHS. And they have been stored in a smokeless, temperature controlled climate.

    Some of these tapes (all from the same source) flicker and some don't, leading me to believe that it isn't the tapes.

    And I've heard unanimously from this forum to stay far away from combo VHS/DVD units as the build quality is often awful. In fact I have some personal experience with a Toshiba VHS/DVD combo recorder that I returned because it was outsourced Funai junk. Plus it would be useless for me since I DO have some tapes that have copy protection. But I know for a FACT that the ones that flicker don't have copy protection because said brightness flicker goes away with a simple tracking adjustment.

    But I'm going to rule out another variable tomorrow by hooking up another VCR to the recorder with the flickering tapes and seeing what happens...
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    I would take all the tapes to a friend's or relative's home with another VCR and see if the same thing happens.
    I think the problem is with the VCR itself. It doesn't matter how well it was built or if it was professionally serviced,
    when machines age they tend to cause problems. And using a current high grade tape won't help, because machines
    manufactured pre-millenium were designed for tapes of that era. Whatever brand or grade of VHS tape you buy today
    is certainly not the same as tapes made 5 to 10 years ago.
    I own VHS tapes that date back to the 1980's which still play like new. Yet other tapes from the late 90's have problems
    that can't be corrected by tracking controls and video stabilizers.
    Last but not least, I never, ever record straight to DVD-R under any circumstances. I always record to rewritable discs
    first, if the DVD looks good, then I'll copy the DVDRW to a -R or +R disc for final archiving.
    Indeed current DVD/VHS combo units are cheaply made, however a recent combo machine I bought, the Panasonic
    DMR-EZ48VK seems to have a great VHS picture, and plays all my old VHS tapes without a problem.
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  18. Member
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    Hmm interesting perspective Joe!

    I'm taking your advice and going to my dad's tomorrow and checking them on his VCR.

    Thanks!
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