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  1. I am trying to copy my VCR tapes to a DVD recorder, mostly are home recordings but a few tapes from the store I suspect are copy protected. Is this a sign of copy protection ? (This image was captured using mobile phone)

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    Then I tried using this USB device from eBay :

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/251969376591
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    Unfortunately the video flickers horribly. It's not so obvious in this static image, but in the video it's like waving vertically (left-right) continuously. I also get blue screens in between frames as if the video signal was too weak (this is worse in the home recordings).

    Click image for larger version

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    This flickering happens with BOTH home recordings (which I had no problem copying with the DVD-R) and copy-protected ones (although it seems to have removed the copy protection). However, the video captured when the source is from a DVD player is ok. Am I missing something or is the device unable to handle VCR signals? I have tried changing the settings in the software provided (Arcsoft Total Media).

    I have also tried other routes:
    VCR -> TV IN -> video out-> usb device - flickering
    VCR RF OUT -> TV RF IN or DVD RF IN -> video out -> usb device - no flickering but copy protection
    Last edited by dleboone; 24th Oct 2015 at 23:26.
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  2. .
    Hi,

    Though I do NOT have THE answer — not only I never tried digitizing copy protected tapes, but the problem could be due MANY causes —, I have digitized video from quite a few analog sources:
    Video-8 & Hi-8 camcorders, VHS from different VCRs + from big old VHS camcorders, U-Matic tapes from U-Matic VCRs, TV broadcasts (before digital TV), and even from a (digital) Mini-DV camcorder, but through its analog TV-out, before my PC was equipped with an IEEE 1394 (Firewire) capture card (in that — last — case, the result is way better than from the camcorder USB-out, almost as good as from Firewire). And more...
    Besides two old capture / digitizing cards, I also use an USB device, quite similar to yours. Name and brand: "Grabby", by "Terratec" (~40 € in Europe). After finding the right... everything , including audio (I mean "channels", "pins" and so on) and that sometimes takes a long time, in the end, it always worked OK (so far...).


    According to your informations, your USB device does not SEEM to be faulty, but I still wouldn't bet on that: depending on what equipment the original (source) signal comes from;
    "plus" and 1st of all, I've read bad news, about several of those USB devices, especially some "no-name" ones; therefore, I was expecting the worst when I bought mine. But when I (also) tested an other one — exact same —, that I bought for a friend, and from his old VHS-C camcorder to a Vista PC, it worked fine... So, it doesn't appear to be a "question of luck", here.

    No doubt that my "Grabby from Terratec" is a gadget but, MAY BE, the fact that it's a real brand helps — although I usually don't believe in brands, especially nowadays.

    When you mention "(VCR —>) TV IN —> video out (—> usb device)", does it mean you have an intermediate TV set, between the VCR and the USB device?

    If so, I suppose you also tried to plug the Video-out from the VCR directly into the yellow USB device Video-IN...

    If not, that's what anybody would recommend above all, of course...

    ... unless there is no Video out on your VCR? In that case, it would be a prehistoric model; I mean: you'd be using some... antenna plug (?) to extract the video from the VCR?

    Very old TV sets, that had no composite IN, forced the user to send the signal through an antenna plug... It was almost impossible to tansfer a CLEAN signal, that way...

    The reason why I'm asking is simply your second line, which mentions "RF".


    So, I know nothing about your equipment but, in the 1st place, you NEED a Video OUT, either composite (and the yellow IN, on the USB device, is composite); or Y/C = S-Video, since your USB device has one (black plug), but probably not you VCR; now, with the most professional OUT, i.e. "RGB", you would have a problem: no RGB-in, on the USB device...

    ... unless your VCR is equipped with a "SCART"-out; then, you would need a SCART to Cinch (RCA) cable, to video feed the USB device. That's how I "proceed", from VHS VCRs. And, to remind how random it can be: one of those cables, that I have, never works (although it worked to watch VHS videos on an old CRT TV set), while another one works fine...


    Depending on what plugs the back (+ sometimes the font) panel of your VCR is equipped with, especially if it's lacking some out plugs (very old VCRs), I would first try to find or borrow a different VCR (not that easy, nowadays...).


    Lastly, both with my capture cards and the "Grabby from Terratec" USB gadget, I just hate the bundled software — and always try to replace it with something, if not professional, at least more serious, such as:


    —— the easiest one: "Video Capture Factory 7.2.0.620" (commercial). Capture tested OK under Win. XP and 7. Easy... but still takes a while to configure, before the audio accepts to get thru (especially under Win. 7...).


    —— "VirtualDub" (freeware), since it has a capture option, somewhat complex, though, but efficient; captures to AVI only = result has to be recoded to AVC H.264 later (or, with a powerful PC, directly to AVC H.264 AVI that requires no recoding but a simple remux to MP4 container, using "AviDemux": freeware). Capture tested OK under Win. XP and 7.


    —— Old "Intervideo WinDVR 3" (next versions: lousy), not to be confused with "Intervideo WinDVD" (both commercial); captures directly to MPEG-2: not very recommended, as direct MPEG-2 cannot be as good as coded later from good AVI (OK with videos that you don't consider too important; otherwise: avoid). Capture tested OK under Win. XP and Vista, but no way under Win. 7 (in one of my Win. 7 PCs anyway).



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    Last edited by bulgom; 25th Oct 2015 at 11:06.
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  3. Hi,

    Sorry I did not mention it, but the first route I tried was the most direct i.e. VCR video out -> USB device. But the video is flickering badly as I tried to show in the image. Audio is fine and syncs with the video.

    My equipments: Philips VCR VR496 (late nineties), LG DVD recorder (about 5 years old), Sharp TV (recent).
    The VCR has only two outputs - video (yellow plug) and RF antenna out.
    My home recordings were made using the same VCR. I have successfully digitized these using the DVD recorder. Except the copy protected store tapes.....
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  4. Member
    Join Date
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    Search Comp PM
    There are two pieces of equipment capable of removing analog copy protection. Full-frame time base correctors (TBCs) do the best job, but cost $200 and up, unless you are lucky enough to find an appropriate used model in good condition. Copy enhancers/video stabilizers/video clarifiers cost $50 and up, but may be less effective or make the video darker or less colorful. If the content on these commercial VHS tapes is available on DVD, you would be better off to spend your money on DVDs.
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  5. .
    So you have that "yellow-out" (= composite), on the VCR...
    [ Beware of cables, that are sometimes not good... ENOUGH; I mean: half way... Always test another cable. I sometimes observed the least weakness of a cable or plug to be able to alter video transfer!

    Test with different non protected tapes too, at least two or three (not one only). Some VCRs also come with various settings, such as "skew"... though I doubt it would fix anything, here. ]

    "OK", in your place and to begin with , I would leave the copy protected tapes aside. One problem at a time...

    And, step by step: after a last attempt to unplug everything and reconnect, firmly, + after verifying that all plugs are perfectly clean,

    and trying (additional test) to transfer silent video: nothing plugged into the red & white INs of the USB device,

    I would try to solve what appears to be some very particular * COMPATIBILITY problem, in the chain (one of those bugs that happen eventhough every link of the chain works OK individually, or in other configurations)...

    ... * since the USB device works OK in ONE case, but not in this case: "VCR -> TV IN > video out > usb device", neither in that one: "direct VCR connection to > usb device", even with non protected tapes.


    So: I know it sounds tedious (already), but I would of course try to borrow a different VCR; AND, in case of no progress, to (borrow? or) find another USB device. Or a PCI capture card.

    [ About the "Time Base Corrector", I remember using one of those, during the late '80s, but never tried that against copy protection. ]

    Lastly, I realize just now that I MAY be missing something too, by the way...

    In your initial post, something remains unclear to me:

    Originally Posted by dleboone View Post
    This flickering happens with BOTH home recordings (which I had no problem copying with the DVD-R) and copy-protected ones (although it seems to have removed the copy protection). However, the video captured when the source is from a DVD player is ok. Am I missing something or is the device unable to handle VCR signals? I have tried changing the settings in the software provided (Arcsoft Total Media).

    I have also tried other routes:
    VCR -> TV IN -> video out-> usb device - flickering
    VCR RF OUT -> TV RF IN or DVD RF IN -> video out -> usb device - no flickering but copy protection

    I read: "flickering"; OK. And also: "copy protection" (garbled image); OK.

    But, though I've read "BOTH on home and store recordings", I read nowhere: "VCR RF OUT > TV RF IN or DVD RF IN > video out > usb device" configuration: tested on PERSONAL tapes (= non copy protected).

    Although I'm quite sure you tested that also, and since your indications are precise, why do you only mention the copy protection problem, and no personal tape test, in the case or route "VCR RF OUT > TV RF IN or DVD RF IN > video out > usb device"?

    Unless you get the copy protection effect even on personal tapes because of the TV set ? OR because of the DVD player? ** , the no flickering result in THAT case (configuration or route) tends to prove that, either the "RF-out" is better (and that'd be a scoop, but why not...),

    ** = can't you find some default / factory copy protection setting, to disable of course, either on the TV set or the DVD player, if not on both?


    either the TV set (or DVD?), somehow corrects or amplifies the signal... meaning that the signal coming out of the VCR is not good / strong enough: for the USB device. If so, again, I see no other solution than trying another VCR, and/or another capture device.



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    Last edited by bulgom; 26th Oct 2015 at 18:01.
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  6. I didn't have time to do more tests, but to clarify...

    VCR RF OUT -> TV RF IN or DVD RF IN -> video out -> usb device - no flickering in both cases, but affected by copy protection

    Similarly, for VCR video out -> DVD video out -> TV (haven't tried this with usb device in place of TV - but I guess it should be the same)

    But now this looks strange: VCR -> TV IN -> video out-> usb device - flickering .... either my mistake or the TV video out is as bad as the VCR out (unless I use TV RF IN).

    And the cables, I did try a few.... can't be all bad.

    I quite agree with your last conclusion, seems like that the signal coming out of the VCR is not good / strong enough for the USB device.
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  7. .
    Right, ALL cables can't be bad.


    About:

    "VCR RF OUT —> TV RF IN or DVD RF IN —> video out —> usb device - no flickering in both cases, but affected by copy protection"

    I assume that "both cases" means: both with personal AND store copy protected tapes.

    And, if I understood right, it's absurd, since you didn't copy protect your tapes (unless you left some hidden or factory protection option ON, when you recorded them, which I doubt).

    So, that would confirm you need to find how to deactivate the copy protection option (if any?), either on the TV set or the DVD, or both — as it might solve the whole problem.

    (except that... we are still not sure the image you posted is copy protection garbling).


    And about:

    "Similarly, for VCR video out —> DVD video out —> TV (haven't tried this with usb device in place of TV - but I guess it should be the same)",

    well, I would try that ALSO, of course.
    So, as soon as you find some time,

    PLUS to test my (very few + unsure) other suggestions (previous msg.).



    Yep, though I know nothing about electronic components and their values, I see clearly that one old "Harmann Kardon" audio cassette recorder I have, supposedly "professional" or quite... sends too strong a signal to the Line-IN (blue female minijack) of my PCs,

    while my cheap cassette players don't! Lousy audio quality, but at least, they don't flood.

    Or countless USB devices that drew more (altogether) than the max. allowed by Windows, especially between, 2000 and 2008...


    One thing's sure: matching the (ideal or very) standard electrical input/output values between — or REQUIRED by — devices of all kinds, is not always respected. And some of them are built with a very narrow range of tolerance.

    But there, I wouldn't know how to amplify? or reduce? your "OUT" VCR video signal... Or even if it's possible... Probably possible, but: without risking to burn or blow out something? No idea. Electronics forums, may be?


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    Last edited by bulgom; 27th Oct 2015 at 16:55.
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  8. Member
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    Noise in the signal can sometimes have the same effect as Macrovision and CGMSA.
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  9. "VCR RF OUT —> TV RF IN or DVD RF IN —> video out —> usb device - no flickering in both cases, but affected by copy protection"

    Oh, what I was really trying to say is.... no flickering in both home-made and store tape, but the store tape showed the copy protection signal (that black-white bar in the first image attached). ----> case A
    The other case being flickering in both home-made and store tape, but in the store tape the copy protection signal is gone (it looks good except for the flickering) ---> case B (e.g. VCR -> usb device)
    And the best case which I am trying to achieve, case C - no flickering, no copy protection signal (e.g. watching the video on TV: VCR-> TV IN)
    So for all the various combinations that I have mentioned, the result is A, B or C.

    I will try more and other tapes when I have the time.
    Although I am tempted to just park a digital camera in front of my TV screen to record it !
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  10. .
    Before trying what they call a "screener", at least, find time to test other personal tapes, may be recorded by somebody else (i.e. using other equipment).

    It wouldn't solve your tapes problem, but may be, you could then blame it either on your tapes, either on your equipment (or equipment chain configuration).


    Now, in your case, even a "screener" might yield better results than what you get so far. But probably with quite grainy or "somewhat" blurry a picture (+ cropped).

    Why not (even) give that a try... but first, I would:

    check, in depth, the settings (if enough available) on both the VCR and the TV set, seeking for a copy protection one, to deactivate;

    and, if nothing comes out of that, borrow another VCR.



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  11. Member n8tvm's Avatar
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    From the top image you can see the white blocks in the vertical blanking interval (the black bar) that is macrovision (a copy protection used on a lot of VHS tapes). there used to be devices to remove it or some capture devices don't care and are not sensitive to it.
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