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  1. I'm looking to purchase a capture card to capture my VHS and laserdisc movies, but since its my first time actually buying one I don't know what features I should be looking for or what brand would be best. I'm basically looking for one with the most highest performance & quality, the way a Pioneer HLD-X9\X0 is for a laserdisc player.
    Last edited by roseofpain; 3rd Sep 2015 at 14:04.
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    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    I'm basically looking for one with the most highest performance & quality, the way a Pioneer HLD-X9\X0 is for a laserdisc player.
    You don't really mean that. Or, if you do, are you ready to spend $1000 or more? That will get you some of the best capture devices in the business, if you don't mind knowing beforehand that some legacy $250 AGP capture cards are almost as good. In any case, rest assured that no capture card at any price will make VHS look like it's coming from a laserdisc.

    Along the way, if you stay in the usual consumer video blogs or CNet-style sites, you won't have any trouble using the term "rip" the way you used it here. But in more techy forums, "rip" does not mean transferring tape or laserdisc video to a computer. Analog tape and laserdisc are captured to digital media. The meaning of "rip" is here: https://www.videohelp.com/glossary?R#Rip. Also be prepared for odd response patterns to your questions, because VHS/laserdisc transfers to digital have been talked to death on most forums of the type you're reading now. Browse through the older Capture section threads and you'll see what I mean. Actually the best of those threads are the older ones.

    Until 2005 or so, the cream of the crop for analog capture fans was the ATI line of All In Wonder AGP capture cards. They are still prized, but one problem is that they aren't manufactured any more and anyone who still uses one, including many pro transfer shops, won't let them go -- at any price. The best that's around today are the ATI TV Wonder 600 HD USB capture devices, with the Diamond Multimedia VC500 running a decent second place. You might also come across this same stuff in the "650" and "750" series, which you should avoid like the plague because their notorious and godawful AGC and autowhite "features"will ruin your captures. The best of the analog capture cards and USB or PCI/PCIe devices are able to capture analog source to lossless media. If you're willing to go that route, the best alternatives to the old AGP line of cards is suggested at http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/3200-best-ati-wonder.html, along with a brief blurb on why the old AGP's are still preferred:

    The Canopus and Black Magic crowd is bound to hit this thread sooner or later. If your taste runs to oversharpened and really noisy oddities from your analog tape and your laser disc, or you just like to spend money on stuff that's not the best for your analog sources, go right ahead with analog to DV capture and stop at this point. You'll have to learn to use an encoder anyway, since DV is PC-only playback and not supported on the internet, so you'll spend most of your time re-encoding your captures and very little time cleaning up tape defects or laserdisc noise (yes, laserdisc video is noisy, as you'll find out).

    No one is kidding when they say the lossless route is the best way and the longest way to get analog sources into digital, clean it up, and make it look reasonably viewable on a modern display. There are many who say that cleaning up vhs tape captures is only a small improvement for the effort, but frankly I believe those folks either don't know much about cleaning analog source, or they're blind as bats, or both.

    But, seriously, if VHS noise and laserdisc buzzy edges don't bother you, and (even more seriously) if you aren't inclined to bother with post-processing and the learning curve involved, you're better off going down one of these roads: (a) Find a decent DVD recorder with hard drive at Walmart (there are only two or so being sold today and they're both made by the same OEM) and record your sources directly to DVD. Then copy them to your PC or edit them in your recorder, and burn them to disc or archive on external storage. (b) The other choice is to get one of those hardware encoder cards that goes directly to lossy DV or lossy MPEG instead of lossless, then find a copy of Sony Movie Studio Platinum for $100 less on sale, and start burning DVD's or converting those noisy captures to h264 encodes.

    You'll also need a decent VCR with either built-in line-level tbc or a legacy recorder as tbc pass-thru, and likely a frame-level tbc if any of your sources are copy protected. A "decent" vcr has s-video output, although you will use composite for laserdisc (composite requires a y/c comb filter somewhere in your capture chain). If you don't know what dot crawl is or if you're unaware that trying to remove it can kill detail and make your video life difficult, you'll soon find out.

    If you decide to use a pass-thru device for tbc and y/c filter alike, you'll save a ton of $$$ on tbc's. But you'll still need something better than a VCR that sold for $100 new. https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/319420-Who-uses-a-DVD-recorder-as-a-line-TBC-and-what-do-you-use

    Finally, if you're using Windows 8 or later or a Mac, good luck. Choices are severely limited. Most serious hobbyists still use XP for capture. Win7 comes second.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 3rd Sep 2015 at 03:15.
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  3. Based on the information given seems that my best options are

    1) ATI All In Wonder 9600/9800 AGP
    2) ATI TV Wonder HD 600 PCI
    3) Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 600 PCI
    and possibly these
    4)Grass Valley ADVC-100/110 DV capture box
    5)Canopus ADVC-300 DV capture box

    I, of course, am going to do this in a lossless format with all necessary post-processing & additional restoration work needed, even if I have to learn it; and will be using these articles as a guide for the capturing chain http://anarchivism.org/w/How_to_Rip_VHS http://anarchivism.org/w/How_to_Rip_Laserdisc

    I will have to buy a new VCR as I have a Mitsubishi HS-U540 Hi-Fi Stereo which I'm sure has none of the functions mentioned and, if recommended, I'll also be looking into Processing Amplifiers & Audio Processors and maybe a Detailer.

    I'm also using Windows 7 which while coming in second should hopefully be good enough, unless there's a feature that's exclusive to XP.
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    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    Based on the information given seems that my best options are

    .........
    and possibly these
    4)Grass Valley ADVC-100/110 DV capture box
    5)Canopus ADVC-300 DV capture box

    I, of course, am going to do this in a lossless format with all necessary post-processing & additional restoration work needed, even if I have to learn it;
    #4 and #5 do not capture to lossless media. DV-AVI is not lossless and is not friendly with analog sources. Cleaning and repairing VHS captures to DV is a great exercise in clinical masochism. But many members here who love analog-to-DV captures will be glad to help advise about making those captures better and re-encoding to useful formats without too much damage. I myself don't take on VHS->DV work any more, it's an unnecessary hassle and makes VHS look rather ugly and raw.

    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    and will be using these articles as a guide for the capturing chain http://anarchivism.org/w/How_to_Rip_VHS http://anarchivism.org/w/How_to_Rip_Laserdisc
    I'd stay away from an amateur website that doesn't know what "rip" means and unwittingly uses it incorrectly in their website title. That sort of marks the site as a copy-cat of the same mythology found on similar (and seemingly identical) sites. There is another capture guide at digitalfaq. The hardware mentioned is mostly long gone at this point but the techniques, quality considerations, and basic methodology haven't changed. Don't be put off by the old hardware brands mentioned, although some of them are still around at highway robbery prices, and no one captures directly to formats like half-frame MPG unless they're stuck with 14-inch CRT TVs for viewing them. Another uncorrected deficiency is that the authors repeatedly mention "tbc" without differentiating between the two basic types. This old guide is mostly NTSC info, but I think you know that almost everything except frame size and frame rates are similar to PAL. http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video.htm

    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    I will have to buy a new VCR as I have a Mitsubishi HS-U540 Hi-Fi Stereo which I'm sure has none of the functions mentioned
    You can't repair the disturbances and distortions that occur with non-tbc playback, because fixing it later in post-process is not possible. But you can always use a pass-thru tbc unit. Again, this thread discusses several choices, good and bad, in some detail: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/319420-Who-uses-a-DVD-recorder-as-a-line-TBC-and-what-do-you-use. Here's a quickie one-frame sample of a pass-thru at work on a bad tape: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/299682-Wavy-video?p=1837208&viewfull=1#post1837208.

    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    if recommended, I'll also be looking into Processing Amplifiers & Audio Processors and maybe a Detailer.
    The analog capture cards from ATI/Diamond have built-in proc amp-style controls that can be accessed via VirtualDub's capture app. Better than that, VDub also has a histogram that allows you to check your own settings for proper video and workable video levels before capture starts. That makes proc amps a waste of money, especially since a good one will cost at least $200 used and were $400 USD and higher just a few years ago. Most of the popular quality proc amps haven't been made for a while, but the cleanest and handiest (with its own built-in luma LED meter which alone is worth the price of admission) was the SignVideo PA-100: http://www.signvideo.com/products/product_information/video-proc-amp.htm.
    There might still be a few new ones around, and there are pro shops that specialize in maintaining and rebuilding them. If you're thinking of the kind of "enhancers" that BestBuy and CircuitCity used to sell, save your money and save the disappointment: your capture device's controls are a better bet.

    "Detailers" aren't recommended. Why would one want to "detail" VHS noise and defects during capture? The "lowering" detail types are basically primitive blurring filters whose effects can't be repaired. Post process filters today are far more sophisticated and less damaging.

    Originally Posted by roseofpain View Post
    I'm also using Windows 7 which while coming in second should hopefully be good enough, unless there's a feature that's exclusive to XP.
    A few Virtualdub filters and some of the popular free software will crash in Win7. But mostly you'll be OK. Be sure to use 32-bit versions of Avisynth, VirtualDub, and the filters, and most other free apps. There are 64-bit versions of those programs, but the number of 64-bit filters is seriously limited. 64-bit apps aren't "faster" than 32-bit apps. 64-bit allows apps to access memory above 3.5GB but doesn't necessarily mean they process faster. CPU speed and cores have more to do with that factor.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 4th Sep 2015 at 08:03.
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