Hey all, I'm new to the forum and to video restoration in general. I have a large home video collection I would like to convert to digital. I only have a few VHS tapes but a large number of HI8. I've converted a few old family VHS and HI8 tapes in the past using what I'd describe as the "quick and dirty" method. Basically I have a crappy Daewoo VHS/DVD combo player, a Panasonic HI8 cam from the early 90s, and an ElGato GameCapture HD.
This setup has a number of problems, chief among them that the HI8 and VHS tapes I'm working with have many small gaps between recordings that cause the signal to the GameCapture to drop. This means that I have to sit and watch for these gaps and stop and start the recordings to prevent video loss. In the past I tried passing the video through a MiniDV camera. Although this solves the problem of the capture stopping, several frames are still lost at the start of each new segment.
Obviously I want to get the best quality I can from these tapes but they are pretty old and weren’t exactly professional quality recordings to begin with.
What I need is a setup that can capture both VHS and HI8 tapes. I will need a time base corrector to solve my signal loss issue. My question is am I better off using a standalone TBC device and keeping my current VHS/DVD and HI8 cam, or buying a better VCR with a built in TBC and just use passthrough for the HI8 camera? Since most of my tapes are HI8 is the VCR overkill?
Any help is appreciated.
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I doubt the TBC will help the signal loss that you get from gaps in the recording. From your description, these are gaps where the camcorder was stopped and then re-started, and the next video segment didn't have continuous time code. This usually happens when the camcorder was turned off for a long time and the tape shifted slightly. The way to avoid this was to replay the last bit of video and press pause just before the end of the scene. Failing to do this usually caused an actual gap on the tape, with no signal. No matter what technology you use for your digitizing, it will take many frames to reacquire the signal at these points, and you are going to have a gap and glitchy video at the beginning of the next scene, no matter what you do.
The "solution" is to simply capture the tapes and then edit out the glitches. You should still get a good TBC, but its contribution will be a better-quality capture. It will not solve your gap problem. There are hundreds of posts in this forum about TBCs, both standalone and built-in. I think there is a FAQ. Follow the advice you get there. The most important thing is to finish the job. Since you are starting with consumer videotape, you are not going to have great-looking video no matter what, but you'll have no video at all if you don't finish the job.
So, get a good TBC (or VCR with TBC that is on the recommended lists in the FAQ and posts in this forum); capture the video through the MiniDV camera using Scenalyzer (my recommended workflow); edit out the gaps (I have some AVISynth scripts I wrote that will find blank spots automatically and create a frame number list you can use to go directly to the beginning and end of each blank section); and then put the resulting video onto DVD, putting no more than 90 minutes on each single layers disc. Use either Verbatim or Taiyo-Yuden (now manufactured by JVC) discs.
My main advice is to focus on your workflow so you can get through the job.
That's exactly the problem I'm having. Whoever made these tapes left some pretty sizable gaps of no footage when they stopped and started the camera. Of course I'm not expecting a TBC to magically generate frames where there aren't any but it was my understanding that a full frame TBC would make sure that the capture device always got a signal regardless of what the VCR said was on the tape; this would solve my problem with the stopping and starting of the capture software and I'd deal with the gaps manually later. Is this not the case?
Once the timecode is interrupted by having a blank spot (no signal at all) on the tape, it takes many frames (many >> 30) for the tape deck to get the sync back. This has to do with the mechanics of a helical scan tape. The TBC doesn't really help because it is regenerating the signal as opposed to generating a signal to begin with. You may be thinking of what happens (I think) in a broadcast studio. In that setup, all the cameras were gen-locked to a common signal so that the switching console could mix and switch multiple cameras. However a TBC is a corrector, not a generator.
So, you'll just have to live with having to discard the first several seconds after a blank spot.
I would get an old panasonic DVD recorder and use it in passthrough mode for time base correction. ES10, ES15, etc.
Most of the JVC-made media is gone now. The CMC-made media is called “CMC Pro” and includes the notation “Powered by TY Technology” on the package. CMC's version isn't quite the same: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/380738-CMC-Pro-Powered-By-Taiyo-Yuden?p=2461762
Verbatim AZO and Verbatim Data Life Plus is still available and very reliable, but usually has to be purchased online. The Verbatim Life Series DVD media sold in brick-and-mortar stores is the same sort of lesser-quality product as the other brands you'll find sitting beside them on the shelf.
I never had this problem when transferring on my VHS/DVD combi. It would record every second of the video, including the blank spots.
I guess the only way of restoring those lost seconds would be to extract it from a DVD recording and edit it in.