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  1. Member
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    After spending a day reading many posts, it occurred to me that perhaps there is something around that I just haven't found.
    What would really help me understand this entire process a little better is a flow chart that starts with setting up a capture using a capture card such as on of the ATIs, using a program such as virtualdub (along with a default set of capture parameters), then describing the set of post processing tools/settings/and scripts to arrive at a 'fully cleaned up' digital file. Yea, I know there will be a lot of detours based on the outcome of interim steps, but....a somewhat general flow chart with some of the most common detours would be really helpful in understanding the vhs capture to digital process.
    For example, after reading a lot I formed the opinion that capturing lossless in a .avi file is (for the most part) very desirable, and after that, deinterlacing is highly desirable (but I found an argument to the contrary).

    Is there anything like that around?

    thanks and best regards,
    J
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  2. Even though this sub-forum is labeled "restoration," that word doesn't mean one single thing. It simply means trying to make something look and sound better. Every video clip has different problems, such as noise; too dark or light; wrong colors; dropouts; sparkles; moiré patterns; dropped frames; duplicate frames; camera flashes; etc. I could fill several pages with a list of all the things that can go wrong with video and which, to some degree, various types of software can improve or restore.

    So, a general restoration guide really would be pointless because there isn't a "one size fits all" restoration approach.

    It's tough to even make general comments because there are so many different tools, including your favorite NLE (I use Sony Vegas to do a lot of restoration); VirtualDub; AVISynth (I have create 200+ scripts for various restoration projects); iZotope RX for audio restoration (others use the free Audacity); etc.

    What exactly are you trying to fix? What problems does it have?
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    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    snip
    So, a general restoration guide really would be pointless because there isn't a "one size fits all" restoration approach.
    snip

    What exactly are you trying to fix? What problems does it have?
    thank you for your reply. The points you make are well taken and I agree with no one size fits all. I thought that a general process/flow description that would be done with the intent of a) keep one 'out of trouble' by describing a process that would have (potentially) the least amount of undesirable side effects in converting analog video on vhs to a digital format, b) citing tools/settings/approaches to dealing with some common issues that ppl run into, even when following the process/template outlined in 'a'.

    I haven't attempted, with any serious attention to detail, dubbing vhs to digital format. I am trying to gather enough information to make a serious attempt and avoid any of the 'obvious' blunders that are either uncrecoverable, or b) spending huge amounts of time and cpu cycles fixing problems that could have been avoided if the proper step was followed from the beginning.
    My attempts revolved around capturing with Pinnacle USB adapter + Pinnacle Studio 11 and 12, and then trying a ATI all in wonder card with the pinnacle studio. I got marginally better results with the all in wonder card, but one the whole, the pinnacle sw sucks. But that is another story. So I have a different sw suite (Sony Studio, Pinnacle movie studio 16, and another pkg I can't recall ATM, virtualdub and AVISynth, Audacity) and trying to figure out the best way to put the puzzle pieces together, produce a good first effort that provides a solid baseline to do additional restoration efforts, without having to redo the capture of a 4 hr tape ten times to 'get it right'.

    For example, reading lots of resources of ppls experiences combined with digging into the various video formats and specifications pretty much convinced me that a good (if not the 'best') approach would be to capture the analog video in a lossless format in a .avi container using virtualdub. Certain happague cards and ATI cards all this to be done with virtualdub. The next step would be to de-interlace the file. A beginners guide would (ideally) validate this approach or outline another approach.

    Basically, I am trying to minimize what seems to be a steep learning curve based on peoples real world experiences.
    Hope this makes sense.

    -J
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  4. Capture Video --> filter video --> encode video to final viewing format

    That's the outline. The rest is all details specific to the source, available hardware, available software.
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  5. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    jagabo summed it up, but a bit more detail....

    It's not entirely clear on what format your original video is or what format you want to end up with.
    You mention VHS. If so, you need to have a high quality playback deck and usually a TBC (Time Base Corrector) to clean up the wandering VHS signal.

    VirtualDub is a good place to start as it has many filters available and is easy to work with. Some filters: http://www.infognition.com/VirtualDubFilters/

    AVIsynth is a better choice, but a steeper learning curve. I also recommend Audacity for audio cleanup.

    For codecs, generally highly compressed codecs like Divx, H.264 and similar are not much good for frame accurate editing.
    That's where intermediate codecs come in.

    The downside is they can take huge amounts of hard drive space and don't work well with slower computers.

    Most other questions you won't know what to ask till you dive into capturing and editing. Good Luck.
    Last edited by redwudz; 11th Feb 2016 at 05:29.
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  6. If you are starting with VHS, follow the advice already give, but:

    1. Do NOT deinterlace. Deinterlacing always degrades the video, and you'll never get back the quality that you lose. Let your playback device do the deinterlacing, if it is needed.

    2. Don't bother with lossless capture.

    3. I never was able to get my ATI All-in-Wonder card to capture without problems. For VHS, I strongly recommend just using the passthrough on a DV or Digital 8 camcord, capturing to DV format. You can then either save in that format, or encode to DVD (MPEG-2) or MP4 format.

    Lot of people in these forums disagree with me on using the DV format, but the quality of VHS is pretty poor, and I really don't think you are going to see any difference saving to lossless formats or using fancy capture cards.

    However, at the risk of undermining your basic purpose in starting this thread, the best thing you can do is to do a few dozen 1-minute captures, using different hardware, different file formats, etc. and see which ones you like the best. THEN, after you have done those, you might want to come back and ask some questions.

    Finally, I have seen a LOT of people who want to restore everything before they've actually done any captures. In many cases, they end up never getting through the whole job because they make their workflow far too complicated. My advice is to just capture the tapes, and don't try to do any restoration until and unless you really need to take that step.

    The best "restoration" is to do such a good job capturing your tapes, that no restoration step is needed.
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  7. Although many around here disagree with johnmeyer's point 2, I also usually cap to DV AVI using a Canopus ADVC 300 and WinDV. If I want lossless - and I've done plenty of those as well - I use a little $30 USB capture device with VDub. But with DV AVI you get a format easy to work with and you never have any problems with out-of-synch audio.

    I also agree with his final statement that the best thing you can do before attempting restoration, is to capture your tapes properly. If you begin with crushed blacks and/or blown out whites, nothing you can do later on will ever recover the lost detail. And that's something so easy to get right. And, as VHS tapes have so little detail to begin with, you don't want to lose any when capping or elsewhere down the line, until encoding to your final format(s). So, at every stage of the work after the initial capture, I save everything to a Lagarith lossless AVI. But even with a good cap, I still do a ton of restoration work, all with AviSynth, and using Audacity for the audio work.

    I would also highly recommend a line TBC, either one built into the VCR or one in a DVD recorder used in passthrough mode.

    All this depends on how much you're willing to invest, how much work you're willing to do, and what you might consider 'good enough'.
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  8. Originally Posted by manono View Post
    Although many around here disagree with johnmeyer's point 2, I also usually cap to DV AVI using a Canopus ADVC 300 and WinDV. If I want lossless - and I've done plenty of those as well - I use a little $30 USB capture device with VDub. But with DV AVI you get a format easy to work with and you never have any problems with out-of-synch audio.
    That's all I was trying to say. THE ADVC 300 or passthrough from a DV or Digital 8 camcorder works really well with old VHS tapes.

    If you have fifty 2-hour tapes to capture, you want a workflow where the capture is going to work each and every time, and you want to have video that is easy and fast to edit on the NLE timeline.
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    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Capture Video --> filter video --> encode video to final viewing format

    That's the outline. The rest is all details specific to the source, available hardware, available software.
    Wow, thats deep.....
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  10. Originally Posted by three_jeeps View Post
    Wow, thats deep.....
    And your contribution is ... ?
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    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Originally Posted by three_jeeps View Post
    Wow, thats deep.....
    And your contribution is ... ?
    None at this point (aside from thinking why did the respondent waste the BW)....I am trying hard to give the person the benefit of the doubt that this was not just a smart-ass answer. I would expect that sentence to be the second sentence in a guide document. My request dealt with gathering more in depht experiential knowledge which apparently hasn't been codified into a document.
    A general thanks to all those who responded, with the exception on one.
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    jagabo wasn't being smart. He knows his stuff. He is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable and helpful members of this forum.
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  13. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    jagabo wasn't being smart. He knows his stuff. He is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable and helpful members of this forum.
    Yep, and by giving such a smart aleck response to a perfectly valid post, three_jeeps hasn't endeared himself to others that have already or might in the future provide advice.
    Originally Posted by three_jeeps View Post
    My request dealt with gathering more in depht experiential knowledge which apparently hasn't been codified into a document.
    There are plenty of capture guides around and if you had bothered to do your homework before coming here to ask the most basic of questions, you might have discovered some of them, ones such as this one, for example:

    http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video/introduction-record-capture.htm

    And that site has many other guides and much advice if you search it out.

    As for full-on restoration advice, know any AviSynth? What are the captures like? How much time are you willing to put in per tape? An hour, ten, forty, more? What's your level of knowledge? All unanswerable without more information from you. And you thought jagabo was being a smart ass?
    Last edited by manono; 11th Feb 2016 at 14:04.
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  14. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    2. Don't bother with lossless capture. .
    What? No.

    That's like me telling you to not bother restoring film, and just Walgreens convert it to DVD.

    Lot of people in these forums disagree with me on using the DV format, but the quality of VHS is pretty poor
    DV makes it worse. You can make it better.

    the best thing you can do is to do a few dozen 1-minute captures
    ... and then show them to somebody like me, sanlyn, jagabo, manono, others. Here or at the digitalFAQ.com forum. We can quickly look at it, and ascertain what needs to be done.

    Finally, I have seen a LOT of people who want to restore everything before they've actually done any captures. In many cases, they end up never getting through the whole job because they make their workflow far too complicated.
    Very true.

    The best "restoration" is to do such a good job capturing your tapes, that no restoration step is needed
    No. It fully depends on what error you're running into. And yes, some are minor, and best left alone.
    Want my help? Ask here! (not via PM!)
    FAQs: Best Blank DiscsBest TBCsBest VCRs for captureRestore VHS
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  15. The word "lossless" must mean something else to other people than to me. To me, lossless means storing the digital file in a file format that doesn't use DCT or other lossy compression which degrades the picture. These lossless formats include uncompressed, HuffYUV, and Lagarith. There are some newer formats as well.

    I obviously agree that lossless will always produce a better results: how could it be otherwise?

    The first question is, can anyone tell the difference?

    My answer: it depends.

    The second question is: has anyone ever seen lossless video?

    My answer: probably not.

    The reason I am not a fan of a lossless workflow is that it has huge time and economic costs, and IMHO is not necessary for most of the work covered in this particular forum. If we were talking about digital intermediates for a Hollywood movie, I would have a different answer.

    The first issue (i.e., can you tell the difference between compressed and uncompressed) is how much compression is done? Many lossy codecs let you adjust the compression ratio, either as a percentage, quality factor, or bitrate. When using the highest quality settings, some compression schemes do an amazing job of retaining quality. An example which comes to mind is Cineform. This format was developed specifically for generating "intermediate" video files that were designed to be compressed, and then later re-compressed, in a workflow where more than one render was required. The changes to the video were remarkably small to the point that they were often undetectable.

    As I already stated, uncompressed video is as good as it gets. However, even with old-fashioned SD video, the file sizes are really large, and with HD they get to be monstrous. And I don't even want to contemplate what a 4K uncompressed file would look like. Lossless codecs can reduce those sizes a little, but you are still left with huge files. These large files slow down your entire workflow, and make it impossible to archive your work, unless you want to invest in hundreds or thousands of disk drives (even more if you want to make backups). So, at the end of your workflow, almost everyone puts their work into some sort of "delivery format," not only for delivery to a customer, but for long-term storage.

    And that delivery format is heavily compressed.

    But if you are going to compress your final video -- and EVERYONE does this -- will it matter if you compress it earlier in the workflow?

    Answer: no, not if you use the correct codec. I've already mentioned the Cineform codec which was designed to permit half a dozen or more re-compressions during the editing workflow without visibly degrading the image. That company sold their codec to customers for hundreds of dollars, prior to merging with GoPro, and professionals gladly paid that price because the technology worked, and it provided a great benefit.

    Finally, I've made my point elsewhere about DV. It was the format that ushered in the digital video era for consumers and was used in almost all consumer cameras (DV and Digital 8), with only a handful using the inferior MPEG-2 capture (they recorded to spinning discs). When HD came along, we transitioned to HDV and then eventually to AVCHD both of which use HUGE amounts of compression. All OTA and other forms of broadcast video are also heavily compressed. So, every consumer camcorder video you have ever edited was already compressed, and with SD video that was already in DV format. If you used a high-grade commercial DV codec in your NLE (Sony Vegas Pro or MainConcept are two that I use), you can generate intermediates and, like Cineform, you will almost certainly not be able to see any degradation.

    Given the fact that all camcorder footage is already compressed, I have to wonder out loud: exactly where does anyone even get their pristine, uncompressed video? The only way I know to do that is a direct capture from a very high-end camcorder that provides the raw HD output. You then capture directly to hard drive. This is done in some studios, but not many.

    Yes, when you are capturing from analog sources, which is the topic of this thread, the A/D converter does spit out bits that are, for a moment, uncompressed, but the quality of that digitization process, including process amp settings (if available), time base corrector, and all sorts of settings on the analog side will probably create far more artifacts than those created by a proper, high-quality, but lossy, codec.

    Thus, virtually all video I know about is compressed before it ever gets recorded.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 12th Feb 2016 at 10:46. Reason: typo
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  16. Mountains of gear vaporeon800's Avatar
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    Yes, when you are capturing from analog sources, which is the topic of this thread, the A/D converter does spit out bits that are, for a moment, uncompressed, but the quality of that digitization process, including process amp settings (if available), time base corrector, and all sorts of settings on the analog side will probably create far more artifacts than those created by a proper, high-quality, but lossy, codec.
    DV conversion vs lossless capture - comparison (Hi8) [WARNING: auto-load!]

    It varies depending on scene content, but I find the DV compression artifacts with Hi8 to be immediately noticeable during ordinary playback.
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  17. Originally Posted by three_jeeps View Post
    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Capture Video --> filter video --> encode video to final viewing format

    That's the outline. The rest is all details specific to the source, available hardware, available software.
    Wow, thats deep.....
    He is one of a couple of guys who can provide you a working script for restoration here, it was already mentioned that restoration depends on ..... , why would you need to hear that again. You gotta have sample and then it goes further.

    The way couple of guys here could exercise their magic with Avisynth - lossless capture is perhaps better. If you just regular guy like most of us, not really being aware how to call an artifact and to choose correct tool(filter) or better - sequence of filters in proper order and setting for particular clip (that's that magic) to treat captured video, then DVavi seems to be just fine. But even DVavi could be fixed considerably. Decide how to capture your video and then things start to make sense. Otherwise you going to have a thread with dozen disputes what is better or the best. That never works. Post a sample or your thread would degrade ...
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  18. A beginner guide hmm let's see. Oh yes i have this in my pocket:
    http://www.engon.de/audio/vhs4_en.htm
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