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  1. Member
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    Hello everyone,

    I have recently decided to take on the project of digitizing my family VHS tapes. I had done a few years ago, but never finished. I am looking for some help / advice before I get too far along in the process. I am looking at around 50+ tapes I need to preserve so it's going to be a bit of an undertaking. My ultimate goal is to create a set of DVDs and I give to my siblings and have a digital archive of the captured footage.

    So far I have captured about 5 of the tapes. Here is what I am working with:

    Capture Setup
    Panasonic AG1980 --- via s-video ---> Blackmagic Intensity Extreme -- via thunderbolt ---> Macbook Pro

    Captures seem to be pretty painless. The blackmagic and macbook are borrowed. The macbook also does not have any editing software on it. I am capturing to Prores 422 LT which outputs a .MOV that is about 15GB / hour recorded

    Next I am copying the .mov to my editing PC. It is an HP Pavilion with an E8600 CPU, 8GB ram, 320GB OS drive, 1 TB working drive, and adobe premiere 6CC

    From here I am not sure what I should be doing. Since most of the tapes are not of a single event I would like cut the clips apart, take out dead space, static, etc to prep them for compiling on a dvd.

    My first question then is what file should I be saving for my archive. Should I just keep the unedited .MOV file? Is there a better format to convert them to that would make better use of space but still be edit friendly if I needed something different down the road. Should I save the individual after they have been trimmed and edited? What format should I save them after trimming.

    After trimming the clips are there any edits that are best practice to do (noise reduction, color correction, etc)

    And finally how should I prepare the clips for burning to dvd to get the best realistic results. I have done a lot of reading but get a little overwhelmed not knowing what data rates, resolution, and other settings I should be using. I hope this is enough information to get started

    Thanks in advance for any help and advice.

    -Bill
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    After some more reading, I have decided to change to Prores 422 rather than the LT version and save this file as my archive footage.


    I am still looking for some guidance on my second question regarding project and export settings in Premiere Pro to get my movie onto DVD. I am just not sure what I should be choosing to avoid unnecessary conversions & encoding and to get the best end result possible.
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    With VHS captures to DV or lossless AVI (or whatever), you'll have to encode again for DVD anyway. Since you've captured to lossy media to begin with, you already have some inherent quality loss when re-encoding for DVD. There are varying opinions about that, but be aware of it. If you denoise or color correct with lossy media, your work will be lossy re-encoded several times over, meaning multiple quality hits. So I'd suggest you decode to lossless media for that kind of work and give it a final DVD encode as the last step.

    [edit] Oops. I unlogged myself, LOL! Not enough coffee yet.

    Premier Pro is excellent for color correction. For denoising the usual VHS defects, it leaves something to be desired. Adobe wasn't really designed with that sort of cleanup in mind. If you have specific noise problems or defects, just ask.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 9th Jan 2015 at 10:46.
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    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    With VHS captures to DV or lossless AVI (or whatever), you'll have to encode again for DVD anyway. Since you've captured to lossy media to begin with, you already have some inherent quality loss when re-encoding for DVD. There are varying opinions about that, but be aware of it. If you denoise or color correct with lossy media, your work will be lossy re-encoded several times over, meaning multiple quality hits. So I'd suggest you decode to lossless media for that kind of work and give it a final DVD encode as the last step.
    Wait, wasn't he going to archive in ProRes and handout DVD copies to those who are interested?

    Seems to me that if he stores the ProRes captures with care he is doing the right thing!

    This whole idea that MPEG-2 on DVD typical bitrates is some kind of archive format is all wrong in my opinion.

    If you insist on archiving on optical media, simply burn you ProRes files directly on a Blu-ray disk.
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    All he needs then are those who can share his videos using ProRes. He said he wants to distribute DVD's. Do all of them own BluRay players that can play ProRes video? Nothing wrong with ProRes for archive. I was referring to processing and distribution.
    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    After some more reading, I have decided to change to Prores 422 rather than the LT version and save this file as my archive footage.

    I am still looking for some guidance on my second question regarding project and export settings in Premiere Pro to get my movie onto DVD. I am just not sure what I should be choosing to avoid unnecessary conversions & encoding and to get the best end result possible.
    DVD formats and specs are here: https://www.videohelp.com/dvd#tech . I again suggest that for the detailed processing you want to do, you should decode to a lossless working format using something like Lagarith to conserve space. The working files can be deleted later. Can give more details if we know what format (aspect ratio, etc.) and other details about your source files.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 9th Jan 2015 at 11:51.
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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    I agree that capturing to lossless would be the ideal choice, however, with the amount of tapes I have to eventually process (100+ hours) I currently will not have the resources to have the amount of space needed for full uncompressed. My understanding thus far is that the Prores 422 would be the best 'meet in the middle' option to give me a higher quality backup (considering VHS as the source) and still save me on hard drive sapce (~20gb/hour vs ~80gb/hour)

    To help clarify, the 'archive' was simply to be for me, and be the the uncut captured footage. My thoughts were to not have to capture the tapes again (since my capture equipment is borrowed) and to have a good working copy to use for any future projects, not having to rely on rips of my dvd's to work with

    The DVD's I intend to make will be to hand out to my family. (most of them do not have BluRay, so I am stuck with DVD for now). Most of the edits I plan to make will be more along the lines of cutting out static, black space, and unimportant footage and compiling like scenes such as birthdays & Christmas.

    Noise & Color correction hasn't been a big issue from what I have seen so far, the tapes are pretty typical 80's/90's home movies, I was mainly just wondering if there was any best practice on applying cleanup on footage before exporting to the final format.

    My main holdup right now is just not knowing what settings to set my project for export to the final medium. For dvd 720x480 I believe is the aspect ratio. However things like bitrate, not sure if I should have certain minimum settings (I understand some of that will change depending on movie length). Is the Adobe products fine to encode with, or should I use another software such as TMPGenc to encode as I have seen in some tutorials.

    I hope that clears up my project thoughts a little bit. Just trying to save me some encoding hours if there are roads others know I shouldn't even bother going down. Thanks again
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    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    I agree that capturing to lossless would be the ideal choice, however, with the amount of tapes I have to eventually process (100+ hours) I currently will not have the resources to have the amount of space needed for full uncompressed. My understanding thus far is that the Prores 422 would be the best 'meet in the middle' option to give me a higher quality backup (considering VHS as the source) and still save me on hard drive sapce (~20gb/hour vs ~80gb/hour)
    I think ProRes is just fine for archiving VHS tapes, the difference between VHS captured lossless v.s. ProRes is mostly academic. I personally prefer lossless but if space is an issue you should do alright with ProRes.

    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    To help clarify, the 'archive' was simply to be for me, and be the the uncut captured footage. My thoughts were to not have to capture the tapes again (since my capture equipment is borrowed) and to have a good working copy to use for any future projects, not having to rely on rips of my dvd's to work with
    Excellent strategy!

    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    I was mainly just wondering if there was any best practice on applying cleanup on footage before exporting to the final format.
    For the archive less is better.

    For the DVD I would avoid sharpening, your SD video is typically going to be displayed on larger screens (e.g. larger than the old 25 inch CRT devices) so sharpening is completely counterproductive. You probably need color correction as old VHS tapes do fade. How they fade has to my knowledge never been scientifically measured. If would be nice to have a formula where you enter an age range and it will apply the correct color adjustments. Using Lumetri look overlays can be a big time saver to improve the color of old VHS sources. Also do not forget about cleaning up the sound.

    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    My main holdup right now is just not knowing what settings to set my project for export to the final medium. For dvd 720x480 I believe is the aspect ratio. However things like bitrate, not sure if I should have certain minimum settings (I understand some of that will change depending on movie length). Is the Adobe products fine to encode with, or should I use another software such as TMPGenc to encode as I have seen in some tutorials.
    I think Adobe is fine. A higher bitrate is obviously better but this is especially true for MPEG-2 because this codec is not very good in encoding wiggly VHS sources
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    No one said anything about recapturing to lossless media. newpball mentioned two points worth noting. VHS tapes do fade and undergo color changes, because the magnetic layer itself undergoes an aging process (just like the rest of us!). Look them over to determine what you might or might not want to do concerning that. The reference to working with lossless media, which your ProRes originals can be converted to, is this: if you make fundamental changes in your Prores working files, you encounter two hazards. The first is colorspace conversion errors in Premiere Pro, which is well documented, and a colorspace conversion back to YV12 for your DVD encode. The second is that color correction, denoising, cropping off noisy borders, that sort of thing, involves lossy re-encoding, and so does color correction etc. You avoid quality cost by working with lossless media working files, not by recapturing.

    The second hazard mentioned was "wiggly" lines, jitter, and other timing errors that are inherent in VHS playback when they are captured without benefit of a line TBC. But it's too late for that.

    Originally Posted by zinkatres View Post
    My main holdup right now is just not knowing what settings to set my project for export to the final medium. For dvd 720x480 I believe is the aspect ratio. However things like bitrate, not sure if I should have certain minimum settings (I understand some of that will change depending on movie length). Is the Adobe products fine to encode with, or should I use another software such as TMPGenc to encode as I have seen in some tutorials.
    Adobe has an OK encoder. Likely at the same bitrate settings you'd see no difference between Adobe and TMPGenc. But DVD 720x480 is an encoded frame size, not an aspect ratio. DVD allows either 4:3 or 16:9 display aspect ratio at that frame size. Likely your home tapes were for the old square format (4:3).

    Noisy tape requires a fairly high bitrate, and so do action scenes. Interlaced video should be about a minimum of 6000 kbps variable bitrate (VBR), and I would set the max under 2-pass encoding to 8000. Some people use 9000, but older players have problems with it. With the low detail of VHS, 9000 will probably never be reached on playback from the encoded DVD anyway. The 6000 figure would be called your "target" bitrate -- with 2 pass VBR encoding, the encoder will decide when it needs more data bits and when it needs less. You just set the target and the encoder takes over. 6000 kbps on a standard DVD disc will get ~90 minutes of play. You'll get more time with lower bitrates, but less quality, more noise, and less motion control.
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    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    With the low detail of VHS, 9000 will probably never be reached on playback from the encoded DVD anyway.
    Nope. Low "real" detail yes, but noise and usually very shaky camera work and all interlaced needs LOADS of bitrate. 9000 max for DVD-compliant MPEG2 is easily touched with typical consumer VHS captures and shaky camera work and very desperately needed also. I found myself more than once in the situation where even a CBR encoding of 9400 KBit/s is not enough to be really free of any artefacts in those very bitrate hungry parts. But what can you do, at 9400 plus 256 for audio the bitrate is almost entirely maxed out for DVD (by the way, never found a player not playing a disc like this, even really old players).
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    9400 -plus? For DVD, use at your own risk. For noisy VHS I use 6500 or 7000 VBR/9000 max myself. But my dad's old Coby DVD player froze up on it near the end of the disk as soon as something in the video starting moving. Up to the O.P., I guess.
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    No one said anything about recapturing to lossless media. newpball mentioned two points worth noting. VHS tapes do fade and undergo color changes, because the magnetic layer itself undergoes an aging process (just like the rest of us!). Look them over to determine what you might or might not want to do concerning that. The reference to working with lossless media, which your ProRes originals can be converted to, is this: if you make fundamental changes in your Prores working files, you encounter two hazards. The first is colorspace conversion errors in Premiere Pro, which is well documented, and a colorspace conversion back to YV12 for your DVD encode. The second is that color correction, denoising, cropping off noisy borders, that sort of thing, involves lossy re-encoding, and so does color correction etc. You avoid quality cost by working with lossless media working files, not by recapturing.
    That makes sense, when I originally read the remark on the lossless format, I just assumed you meant to recapture. I see what you are getting at now with working with the lossless format. What do you recommend then for using as a working format and how to do you recommend getting the prores .movs to it?

    The second hazard mentioned was "wiggly" lines, jitter, and other timing errors that are inherent in VHS playback when they are captured without benefit of a line TBC. But it's too late for that.
    The VCR I am using, does have a TBC built in and I have been using it. I havn't really noticed any timing errors so far. I have noticed some horizontal bars around the bottom 4-5 lines.

    Adobe has an OK encoder. Likely at the same bitrate settings you'd see no difference between Adobe and TMPGenc. But DVD 720x480 is an encoded frame size, not an aspect ratio. DVD allows either 4:3 or 16:9 display aspect ratio at that frame size. Likely your home tapes were for the old square format (4:3).
    Thanks for correcting me, I believe I was probably going to say resolution, why it came out aspect ratio I have no idea


    For the DVD I would avoid sharpening, your SD video is typically going to be displayed on larger screens (e.g. larger than the old 25 inch CRT devices) so sharpening is completely counterproductive. You probably need color correction as old VHS tapes do fade. How they fade has to my knowledge never been scientifically measured. If would be nice to have a formula where you enter an age range and it will apply the correct color adjustments. Using Lumetri look overlays can be a big time saver to improve the color of old VHS sources. Also do not forget about cleaning up the sound.
    newpball, thanks for bringing up the sound, I hadn't even thought about cleaning that up. What do you typicly do? So far a lot of it sounds ok, but there is a good amount of clipping (wind noise, too close to camera, etc) but not sure I can do much about that.

    ----------------

    I know a lot of this learned with trial and error and just hands on experience, but it really does help to have some guidance and direction
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    Originally Posted by Skiller View Post
    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    With the low detail of VHS, 9000 will probably never be reached on playback from the encoded DVD anyway.
    Nope. Low "real" detail yes, but noise and usually very shaky camera work and all interlaced needs LOADS of bitrate. 9000 max for DVD-compliant MPEG2 is easily touched with typical consumer VHS captures and shaky camera work – and very desperately needed also. I found myself more than once in the situation where even a CBR encoding of 9400 KBit/s is not enough to be really free of any artefacts in those very bitrate hungry parts. But what can you do, at 9400 plus 256 for audio the bitrate is almost entirely maxed out for DVD (by the way, never found a player not playing a disc like this, even really old players).
    What you can do?

    Use H.264 on a flash drive.

    I know, what a concept! Expecting people to have a modern TV and blu ray player and have them stick in a $20 flashdrive, unheard of newpball, the nerve!




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    I can see your sarcasm but really, it's DVD for me all the way. I cannot buy several USB flash drives every time I want to share something among a group of people, of which about half cannot even playback from a flash drive in any place other than their computer.
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    Originally Posted by newpball View Post
    I know, what a concept! Expecting people to have a modern TV and blu ray player and have them stick in a $20 flashdrive, unheard of newpball, the nerve!




    No, you're the one with the nerve. Cut the juvenile crap, man, we've seen enough of it. Spend some time with your parole officer and see if he'll recommend a social worker.
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  15. Originally Posted by Skiller View Post
    I can see your sarcasm but really, it's DVD for me all the way.
    Me too, and I can't understand his constant refrain about moving ahead and leaving old technology behind. There are all kinds of people here doing all kinds of things, from making VCDs to making H.265 encodes for his beloved flash drives. My projects almost require the making of DVDs. I might use MakeMKV on some to play on my TV through Plex and my Roku box, but for distribution and even for archiving making DVDs is still in many ways the best.

    I use 9500 as a max bitrate and have never had any problems at all playing them (unless the DVD disc itself has gone bad from a scratch or something).
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