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  1. Member
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    I'm starting the long job of putting my old VHS master tapes from the 1980s/90s into the digital format.

    For playback I'll be using a JVC HM-DR10000EK D-VHS deck which delivers superb VHS picture and audio.

    But what to feed it into? I want as little loss as possible so I'm minded to archive it by connecting via a good S-VHS lead to my Panasonic DMR-BWT720 blu ray home deck/recorder. This would mean recording in the highest quality SD format to the deck's HDD ("XP" setting, this equates to one hour of footage on a single DVD) before copying it in XP mode to a blu ray BD-R (on the same deck.)

    But is there a better way using a Mac and iMovie, say?
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  2. Originally Posted by Gil T Remnant View Post
    But is there a better way using a Mac and iMovie, say?
    Realistically, no, not with a Mac: unless you're willing to invest in a Windows PC dedicated to this video project, you may as well stick with your VCR>BD Recorder workflow. While Mac was once a premier video platform, and Apple's Final Cut Pro became an industry standard, in recent years Apple's interest in video has waned considerably (and software/hardware followed suit). In any case, most of the software one would employ in a VHS restoration project is either Windows-only or works better under Windows.

    You are already ahead of the game in using a top-line DVHS as playback source. The TBC/DNR circuits in your JVC get you well past the halfway point to top-quality captures. Beyond that, things get tricky. Using a BD recorder at XP mode will give you quite decent captures, but you do sacrifice some quality and ability to re-work the captures at a later date. If all you forsee needing is a disc that can be played in a BluRay deck, you don't particularly need to change your current workflow. But if you think you may eventually want to try your hand at "improving" the initial video capture via computer software, or want to leave your options open for seamless conversion to future video formats, it is better to capture directly to a PC in as close to "lossless" format as you can manage.

    There are countless threads and tutorials here on VH that you can peruse for an overview. My personal opinion is each archivist needs to be realistic about their personality and time constraints. Restoring and improving VHS via PC software can be incredibly tedious and time consuming. There is a lot of trial and error involved: even if you follow some of the expert instructions regarding hardware choices and software settings, VHS is a wildly unpredictable signal source that defies easy, repeatable digital encoding. Each tape is different. And some of the best, most-recommended software is from Geek City: tricky for the average Windows user and baffling to any Mac user who has never invoked a command line to bypass the Finder shell. Be honest about your temperament: if you enjoy sitting in front of your computer and tinkering endlessly, then PC capture/restoration might be an almost enjoyable avocation. If you'd rather be doing anything but nailed to a chair in front of a screen, you might be happier if you accept the "good enough" disc-based results of sticking with your BD recorder.
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  3. Member
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    Originally Posted by Gil T Remnant View Post
    But is there a better way using a Mac and iMovie, say?
    Yes, using an AJA Kona video capture card. You can get a used LHe (with proprietary breakout cable!) for about $150 on eBay. The new model, LHe Plus, retails for $900. You might find a Plus on eBay, but not so common.
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  4. Member
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Originally Posted by Gil T Remnant View Post
    But is there a better way using a Mac and iMovie, say?
    Realistically, no, not with a Mac: unless you're willing to invest in a Windows PC dedicated to this video project, you may as well stick with your VCR>BD Recorder workflow. While Mac was once a premier video platform, and Apple's Final Cut Pro became an industry standard, in recent years Apple's interest in video has waned considerably (and software/hardware followed suit). In any case, most of the software one would employ in a VHS restoration project is either Windows-only or works better under Windows.

    You are already ahead of the game in using a top-line DVHS as playback source. The TBC/DNR circuits in your JVC get you well past the halfway point to top-quality captures. Beyond that, things get tricky. Using a BD recorder at XP mode will give you quite decent captures, but you do sacrifice some quality and ability to re-work the captures at a later date. If all you forsee needing is a disc that can be played in a BluRay deck, you don't particularly need to change your current workflow. But if you think you may eventually want to try your hand at "improving" the initial video capture via computer software, or want to leave your options open for seamless conversion to future video formats, it is better to capture directly to a PC in as close to "lossless" format as you can manage.

    There are countless threads and tutorials here on VH that you can peruse for an overview. My personal opinion is each archivist needs to be realistic about their personality and time constraints. Restoring and improving VHS via PC software can be incredibly tedious and time consuming. There is a lot of trial and error involved: even if you follow some of the expert instructions regarding hardware choices and software settings, VHS is a wildly unpredictable signal source that defies easy, repeatable digital encoding. Each tape is different. And some of the best, most-recommended software is from Geek City: tricky for the average Windows user and baffling to any Mac user who has never invoked a command line to bypass the Finder shell. Be honest about your temperament: if you enjoy sitting in front of your computer and tinkering endlessly, then PC capture/restoration might be an almost enjoyable avocation. If you'd rather be doing anything but nailed to a chair in front of a screen, you might be happier if you accept the "good enough" disc-based results of sticking with your BD recorder.
    Thanks for running me through the options and encouraging me to approach the task in a pragmatic and realistic way. I shall opt for the hardware solution, as it happens. Thanks again for your time and care.
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  5. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    iMovie is honesty good for nothing.
    Macs are great for editing, but painful to capture. Wrong tool.
    Want my help? Ask here! (not via PM!)
    FAQs: Best Blank Discs • Best TBCs • Best VCRs for capture • Restore VHS
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