I need some assistance on how to improve the image quality I'm getting on a collection of tv-recorded VHS tapes I'm transferring to DVD.
I am using a Panasonic AG-1980 VCR connected to a Panasonic DMR-EZ48V recorder. The picture image looks amazing with the TBC turned on, but sometimes I notice during quick head movements of on-screen actors or fast movements in general can almost create a ghostly looking smear. It's not terrible, but I notice less of this when the TBC is turned off.
Can someone tell me if there's a control or something I have turned off (or on) that shouldn't be? I guess I can turn the TBC off, but then I notice the picture image on the dvd's after transfer tends to be a little more grainy...perhaps pixelated.
Is there a better TBC that I could use as a pass thru between the 1980 and my dvd recorder if I left the 1980's TBC off?
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Almost every mainstream or higher DVD recorder has a built-in tbc that can be used as a pass-thru device. Connect the VCR's output to the recorder's input, then connect the recorder's output to your capture device. Their tbc's are basically line-level tbc's but they also act to help maintain audio sync. While this won't correct some of the chroma problems or DNR that the VCR might be working with, it's still a major improvement. Note that on some recorders (e.g., Panasonic) the tbc is active only on Line 1 input. My preference for pass-thru devices is Toshiba. I've seen posts indicating that the built-in tbc of high-end VCR's doesn't always perform as expected. The tbc's in DVD recorders are often more effective because they are newer designs than those found in legacy VCR's.
Pixelation: people mean different things by that term, but basically it's a digital phenomenon, not analog. Unless the effect is actually present on the original tape (digital cable broadcasts onto tape often have this problem, but it's usually from the broadcast, not the VCR), then the effect is due to digital processing somewhere in the capture chain.
Last edited by sanlyn; 21st Mar 2014 at 08:33.
The effect you see is called "temporal distortion" and it is common among ALL consumer/prosumer VCRs with built-in TBC/DNR. The "smearing" effect is caused mostly by the DNR, but the TBC plays a part which is why you still notice it with the TBC turned off (on the AG1980, you can disable the TBC but not the DNR which is always active). You don't really have any alternatives other than to live with it, or use an ordinary VCR with no TBC/DNR at all (you'll get normal motion with no smearing, but will have to accept typical VHS color noise and grain (which translates as pixelation when digitized)..
External TBCs and pass-thru DVD recorders or cameras serve only to lock down the frame sync or remove copy protection: they don't clear up color noise or reduce grain very much. Color noise and grain reduction are easier to accomplish within the VCR itself, which is why the AG1980 and similar models from JVC and Mitsubishi are so coveted. Unfortunately, they are a compromise solution: you have to live with the motion smearing if you want the smooth noiseless video. I wouldn't recommend changing to another similar VCR: as bad as the motion smearing is on the AG1980, its worse on the JVCs and Mitsubishis and they soften the image more in the process. I use all three, depending on the tape, because I have a ridiculous huge collection to digitize, but for general use the AG1980 is about as good as you'll find. The JVCs and Mitsubhi use an all or nothing approach: both TBC and DNR turned on, or both turned off. With it turned on, they can be amazing (aside from the motion smearing). With TBC/DNR turned off, they are very pedestrian VCRs with some defects you don't necessarily want to put up with. If you want to see if the smearing goes away entirely with another deck, buy a nice used Sharp or a Panasonic AG2560 with no TBC/DNR. These track very well and make good backups for an AG1980. Easily found for les than $40.