I've never done something like sending priceless tapes through the mail for someone else to take a look at and handle, so before I would do it I'd have hoped to ask a few questions on how to do so. The first reply back took 10 days, then we talked for the next 2 days on and off. Then he didn't respond back for 8 days and gave his apologies for that, I replied back saying it's okay and with another question on packing/shipping them (30 tapes or so). That was 13 days ago, no response still.
I get it when people/small companies are busy for a couple days max...but I've never dealt with anyone that wants to do business that takes a week or 2 to simply reply back to an email, it sounds insane.
So did anyone ever (recently would be better) use their capturing services and/or restoring services? What are your thoughts, recommended? Are they trustworthy? And is this communication behavior normal? Obviously I want to use someone like them to do this for me but at this point I've been discouraged with how I've been treated and disregarded, it's odd. I first messaged them on April 25. :/
Let me know, thanks.
Edit: Speak of the devil, right when I submitted the thread he emailed me back to my last email from a half hour ago asking if he ever got my last one. Turns out the spam filter caught a link or something I tagged in the one from 13 days ago. So never mind about the first part of this thread and the communication I guess, but if you have used them ever or recently please answer the other questions I guess.
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Re: hech54 - the person I was replying to mentioned someone else on the team that was into old cartoon footage (probably lordsmurf?), so it has to be at least 2 people judging from that.
Anyways, yeah, I coincidentally emailed them back today and then I saw this thread was posted into as well. Wish I had more info for you at the moment, but I'm currently awaiting that as well, but so far the process and communication has been good.
Great, thanks for the update. That's the impression I had from reading their forums as well - that it's at least 2 or 3 people.
I'm probably just being overly cautious, but it's hard not to be since these tapes are irreplaceable. Hope everything turns out well for you. Let us know how it goes. Maybe I'll get my tapes done by a local place first, just for peace of mind.
For what it's worth, they just responded back quickly. They had a sys rebuild and that sort of pushed the tapes being captured and whatnot to the side, but it's back on track right now. I'll let you know how it goes (if I remember to in a few weeks/months of course!)
Where the tapes are unique and irreplaceable, I think i would try some sort of capture myself, before sending them off anywhere to be professionally processed. With non Macrovision tapes, a VHS/DVD combo capture should work OK - and be quite simple to do.
That way, if things do go pear-shaped - for whatever reason - you at least have something, even if it's not the very best quality.....
Just read this post and thought I would give you my experience. I sent a test tape for conversion to DigitalFAQ. I have a bunch of home Video8 tapes I wanted to convert. I made a go of it myself but wanted to see if a "professional" could do any better. I decided to only send in one tape to test the service. To put it bluntly, it was a total fail. Weeks would go by with no response despite multiple e-mails. I had almost written off ever seeing my tape again. Finally, after managing to find a phone number and leaving multiple threatening messages, the project was completed and I received my tape and conversion. The final product was not that good. I actually liked my conversion better and I was only using a USB stick. (I can share my set up if anyone is interested). Long story, short. I would not recommend this service based on my experience.
If you spend too much time reading the threads on this forum, you will find yourself sucked into thinking that unless you have that super duper VHS player with a blah blah blah TBC and the deluxe special capture card, your results will stink and be poo-pooed by the elitists on this forum. There is far too much bashing of equipment, mfr's, and even retailers on this forum for the reasonably minded to bother paying attention.
All one really needs these days is a standard VHS player, a $30 USB capture stick, and a laptop. It is that easy. If you have video that has degraded, then maybe, just maybe, you might benefit from someone with professional gear. The differences are not noticeable to the untrained eye, but serious discussion fodder on this forum.
As others have posted on this forum, nobody will treat your one-of-a-kind videos with the same TLC you would. But at the same time, many struggle with finding the on button on their 'puters, so shipping off their tapes is preferable. Just don't ship your tapes off somewhere thinking that the ONLY path to good results is a 3rd party service.
The problem with a huge percentage of VHS > digital advice on this and other forums is context, or rather the lack of it. While there will likely always be some laggard suddenly deciding to digitize their VHS, the vast majority started and finished such projects between 2002 and 2007, when DVD recorders and PC capture devices first became reasonably affordable. After 2007, the topic sputtered in fits and starts and all web threads discussing it kind of lost the plot. There was a big shift in video encoder capability AFTER most VHS conversions had already been done and most advice had been posted. This shift was never really made clear, so people looking for information today may not realize a lot of the advice is hopelessly outdated (esp if you aren't a pathological perfectionist).
The most popular and well-regarded of early DVD recorders and capture cards were paradoxically allergic to VHS videotape signals: they choked to death and crapped all over themselves. The go-to remedy was to use one of the scarce and fragile "premium" SVHS vcrs with "line" TBC/DNR as source playback deck, often coupled with an external "frame" TBC. Then came all the software tweaks and filters and whatnot. At the end of this tedious expensive process, most people ended up with a digital video file or dvd that was mediocre at best. VHS is what it is: a low-res analog format expressly designed for the analog CRT displays of its era. No matter how much money, hardware and expertise you throw at VHS, it inevitably looks muddy on huge modern LCD HDTV displays. It was never intended to be digitized, let alone blown up to a 50" or 60" screen (it was already borderline unwatchable on a 32" Trinitron CRT).
The "cult" SVHS premium vcrs do in fact make a lot of tapes look better in some respects, but today they aren't absolutely required and finding one in perfect condition is as difficult as finding a unicorn. They WERE required ten-fourteen years ago, because they compensated for glaring deficiencies of the early capture cards/dvd recorders. Today, such VCRs are a nice option but not a necessity. All dvd recorders made after 2006 have beefed-up encoders capable of handling VHS without imploding, as do most recent (good) USB capture devices. The old premium VCRs can clean up noisy colors if they bother you, eliminating things like streaking in red areas, but otherwise aren't strictly necessary to get stable recordings anymore. Ditto the external frame TBC: an absolute necessity in 2004, today not so much.
A modern USB capture device or DVD recorder will encode a usable (albeit mediocre) file directly from any ordinary decent-quality VCR. If the tape is degraded to the point of showing obvious geometric distortions in the video, the picture can be improved by passing the VCR output signal thru an intermediary dvd recorder en route to the final capture device. Modern DVD recorders "massage" their input signals to smooth over many of the most obvious poor-VHS issues, making the signal more acceptable to the final encoder you connect to their outputs. The older Panasonic ES-10 and ES-15 dvd recorders are particularly adept at straightening extreme wavy verticals and flagging frame edges when a vcr signal is passed thru them, but nearly any recent DVD recorder will serve nearly as well.
Its a different world today. Viability of formats and professional services trend and die off with alarming speed: if you don't jump on a tech curve before it nosedives, you're left having to make do with whatever options remain. VHS conversion as a "thing" is over and done with: the market for hardware and services is all but vanished. I can't speak for DigitalFAQ, other than to say LordSmurf lives and breathes for perfection and despises the concept of "good enough" (so I would assume if he personally supervises a conversion, results should be as good as you can get). But the majority of "VHS conversion services" still in business aren't offering a product any better than you could do yourself with a used DVD/VHS combo recorder.
The key with VHS>digital conversion is to take a breath and slow your roll. If it is only just now occurring to you that you have some tapes you want to digitize, be aware you're a decade late. So another few months or couple years are not going to matter: don't freak out thinking you have 30, 50, 100 tapes and they need to be digitized RIGHTNOW in "pro quality". If these tapes didn't cross your mind in 2005 or 2010, odds are your life does not depend on them today, either. You can convert them yourself, one at a time, getting decent results but not immediately. All you need is something like a Hauppauge USB Live 2 for PC capture, any reasonably good fully functional VCR, and perhaps a second-hand DVD recorder to use as passthru signal conditioner. You'll get nicer colors from a premium SVHS or DVHS vcr, which might also eliminate any need for a passthru dvd recorder, but finding one that lives up to hyped expectations isn't easy (or cheap).
Last edited by orsetto; 29th Aug 2016 at 15:05.
This really needs to be said more on this forum.
Too many people fail to do so, and end up with horrible work. It's the often the "local guy" (aka, the goober using a generic VCR, no TBC, a cheap EZcap USB stick etc -- sound familiar?) that you need to worry about. In the past 20 years, I've read some real gut-wrenching horror stories of how video quacks have destroyed the work and memories of others.
- You sent a tape, and before it even arrived "Is it done yet?"
- We'd send emails that you'd never get. -- hint: You're using AOL, which is notorious for disappearing email. They don't bounce, they blackhole without warning. In fact, we warn about this very thing on our site.
- It was done within 4 weeks; typical projects are about 3 weeks.
- The exact cause of the delay was explained: the audio card used in the Video8/Hi8 workflow needed to be replaced, and that takes time.
- You never said anything about being displeased. In fact, you never said anything at all, and it's been 4 months.
This is always how the world works. You can please a major studio (demanding!!!), but you can't please a guy that paid $25.
And FYI: First complaint in 10 years.
But on the other hand, tape is so fragile. You can actually easily screw up a tape. The biggest issue I come across is natural tape curl from aging, which causes massive issues, and can even lead to eaten tapes. Many tapes suffer from this, and need special care before it care even be captured. Very often, tapes must be wound manually to a certain position, and left there for a week or more -- aka, why projects can takes weeks minimum.
Some people have no idea what goes into professional capturing. It's not a simple matter of cramming a tape into a VCR.
But I have no doubts that you will tell me that my cap is terrible.
You have a public presence, so my advice is be careful because very often what goes around comes around.
Good point, although it's getting difficult to recognize so many similar storm troopers at VH throwing tantrums of entitlement for mediocre results. As it should be, everyone has their own level of enthusiasm and desire. Some are willing to work for better, some are not, some don't know the difference. I suppose that's what an "average consumer's" forum is about.
Led to this thread by PM's from two other forums. Most revealing, IMO.- My sister Ann's brother
There is no doubt that you know more about capturing than most people....me VERY included....but don't be dumping on me for
It's actually one guy, and he is a member here.
It's the often the "local guy"
We both can be jerks....that's why I like you.
VCR: There is visible difference on all tapes between a standard VCR and a good VCR (like Panasonic medium and high end models). Most of of all household VCR´s are low end, so many has never seen the difference. Built in TBC and noise reduction are not mandatory but can make a difference on bad recordings.
However many tapes are 2. generation recordings, originally recorded on a camcorder and then transfered to VHS. These 2. generation recordings benefits more from the right equipment like high end VCR and TBC (Time Base Correction).
In this video made by http://www.datanord.dk/ you can see the difference between VHS Capture without TBC and VHS capture with TBC on an old 2. ( or more ) generation VHS recording.
Last edited by jwnielsen; 4th Oct 2017 at 19:23.
Resurrecting a year old thread? Were you led to this thread by PM as well? There is a cadre of individuals in this forum who like to pile on in this manner. I am just as nerdy as anyone on this forum but in our 4K, HDR, 10-bit, 60 fps, BT.2020, 4:2:2 world, chasing after some perfectionist result in the VHS realm is a waste of time. VHS has a certain aesthetic, just learn to love it.
Let's agree to disagree.
There are verifiable, impirical improvements in quality even coming from VHS to using the better decks, the better cap cards/boxes, the more linear codecs, the more tasteful & tech-savvy processing and storage, and in appropriately using such noise & corruption-reducing methods as line and fullframe TBCs and median stacks.
But we all also know that there are in play the law of diminishing returns and of GIGO, and people have varying levels of tech experience, of tempers, of funding/budget and of urgency/priority with their source assets. Especially when dealing with personal memories.
So it bugs me when one gives advice here that is a one-size-fits-all-and-that's-the-way-it-is style. Doesn't matter if it's on the high end being perfectionists or on the low end saying it's not worth anything beyond LowestCommonDenominator barebones efforts.
Each user has different needs & issues, and each will have to navigate their own way doing what steps they think best. And I don't begrudge them that, nor look down upon them.
I will as a media engineer with high standards ALWAYS offer what might be the best quality option, in hopes that they can make that effort (and ultimately later be rewarded for it), and I might explain that certain shortcuts would be detrimental to those good outcomes, but most often I try to lay out the range of common possible strategies so the end user is fully informed in order to more smartly make the choice appropriate for their circumstances.
Give the user the ideal (and the understanding of the reasoning behind that option), then lay out the descending tiers and their likely corresponding results. Then stand back and don't judge, bully or BS.
To get on topic: Lordsmurph has long proven himself to quite knowledgable and reasonable in the realm of digitization/capture of legacy formats, regardless of his day-to-day attitude (which does vary). If I needed to, I wouldn't hesitate to send my tapes to his company to professionally serviced.
Last edited by Cornucopia; 9th Oct 2017 at 21:22.
A good analogy is "The Price Is Right". You want as much as possible (best quality), without going over(board).
So a good VCR, good capture card, good TBC, etc? Absolutely. Great bid!
Trying to remove every single flaw in the video? Usually complete foolishness, and you lose sight of why you did the capturing to begin with. You overbid, and lost.
SameSelf is the $0.01 bid -- AND when he's not even the 4th/final bidder! It rarely works as planned. (He's the resident VH troll, and his knowledge/advice is similar to info you'd glean from a low-knowledge Best Buy employee. He irks most VH users, especially the video pros, with his nonsense postings.)
I deal with both fringe ends of the spectrum all the time. But most people realize it takes some quality hardware, and some degree of expense, plus time to get the learning curve down, in trade for some degree of quality. Some choose to DIY, some choose to pay an expert.