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  1. fluff text
    After looking them up just for the past few days I can only imagine how tired you are probably getting of all the samey "capture vhs" threads but since I still have not found a how-to that does not seem either outdated or unfathomably complex or overly simplistic here I am following a decade long tradition:

    actual subject
    I would like to digitalize some PAL VHS and VHS-C material via my VCR resp. VHS-C camera. The plan is to archive it only slightly compressed on a portable HDD for possible future editing and also make it accessible for viewing via TV.

    setup
    I am connecting them via composite (might try s-video for quality but since I am using a SCART adaptor anyway I think there will not be much difference) to a Canopus ADVC 55 and from there via firewire to a 2011 laptop (first gen mobile i3, 4GB, Win 7 32 bit - will that be enough or should I consider schlepping my i5 Haswell tower into the living room?). I did a short check for picture with the atrocious Win Movie Maker import function and the setup seems to work.

    more fluff text
    As this is probably the only time anyone will ever try to conserve the old home videos I would rather do it right instead of just clicking "don't bother me at all and record directly to DVD" in Magix Rescue Suite 23.5 or whatever. Having said that there clearly is a limit to my understanding of right. I am willing to spend some more time to get better results with what I have at hand but I am reluctant to buy a SVHS VCR or expensive programs and there is only so much patience I have for settling on codecs or visual enhancement scripts. In the end I guess I am ready for some inconvenience but not all of it.

    I am planning on digitalizing 30-60 cassettes so it would be nice if I could set up a rinse and repeat work procedure.

    That brings us to the next steps where I would really appreciate some help:

    actual questions
    0.1 Can I expect a quality difference between composite and s-video on a basic VCR when both exits are part of the same SCART adaptor?
    0.2 Will a first gen mobile i3, 4GB, Win7 32 be a hindrance?

    1. Which capture program do you recommend?
    1.1 VirtualDub seems like the go to since 2004 but did not get an update since 2013 (if that matters at all for my purposes) and is also constantly linked to sync issues.
    1.2 I also have WinDV, AmarecTV and STOIK on my list.

    2. Which codec do you advise? Since raw AVI is too big to archive I am looking for a bit of sice reduction while keeping the material editable and close to original quality.
    2.1 A friend suggested to go 50.000-25.000 Mbit DV PAL. It is not lossless but in his opinion the differences will be neglectable due to the low quality source. However I read in one of those capture threads that DV is actually not very suitable for VHS material. Which kind of confuses me since the ADVC 55 actually uses a built in DV, doesn't it?
    2.2 If I understood this right other options might probably be Huffyuv and Lagarith but I do not know about their suitability to my use case. From what I could gather huffyuv is a bit slower, easier on the hardware, a bit bigger and wider spread than lagarith, is that about it?
    2.3 I am expecting an approximate filesize of 400 MB/min for any of those three, so about 25 GB/h. Is that about right?
    2.4 Would any of those three be by chance playable on a smart TV or would I have to recode them again? (That one probably depends on the TV but maybe there are some genralizations about them being often or seldomly supported.)
    2.5 Should I capture RAW first and compress seperately afterwards or is it viable to do both at once?

    3. What about enhancements? This seems to be one of those rabbit hole niches that I really do not want to stumble into in fear of never finding out again so I will just ask one probably still way too controversial question:
    3.1 Which 3 easy to implement enhancements that work on pretty much all VHS based materials should I really consider?

    4. Do you have freeware recommendations for some really rough editing? Basically just cutting the tapes down to the individual recordings.
    4.1 Just for clarification: This can be done using the already compressed (DV/Huffyuv/Lagarith) material, right?

    And that is about it. Thanks if you read this far and even more so if you consider answering. If anyone happens to have a guide handy for a setup similiar to mine I would gladly take a look at it.

    Have a good day
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    Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    fluff text0.1 Can I expect a quality difference between composite and s-video on a basic VCR when both exits are part of the same SCART adaptor?
    S-video is always better in theory. Some cheap VCRs do a worse job on the s-video output. You have to try it and see.

    0.2 Will a first gen mobile i3, 4GB, Win7 32 be a hindrance?
    Not for SD legacy video material.

    1. Which capture program do you recommend?
    VirtualDub always gives me audio sync problems. Others find that it works just fine. I use AmaRecTV.

    2. Which codec do you advise? Since raw AVI is too big to archive I am looking for a bit of sice reduction while keeping the material editable and close to original quality.
    The ADVC output is limited to DV, which already meets your requirements for editability and size reduction over uncompressed video. DV runs about 13 GB per hour.

    2.5 Should I capture RAW first and compress seperately afterwards or is it viable to do both at once?
    The ADVC does not output uncompressed digital video.

    3. What about enhancements? This seems to be one of those rabbit hole niches that I really do not want to stumble into in fear of never finding out again so I will just ask one probably still way too controversial question:
    3.1 Which 3 easy to implement enhancements that work on pretty much all VHS based materials should I really consider?
    Don't rely on digital processing to work miracles on a poor playback. The better picture you can achieve in the analog domain, the better. The most important analog facilities either built into your VCR or provided by outboard devices are timebase correction (fixes lines that wiggle back and forth) and frame synchronization (prevents rolling/jumping picture and can defeat some copy protection schemes). I often use a video processing amplifier to control levels: once the dark details have been clipped to black or the bright details clipped to white, you will never get them back.
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  3. Thanks a bunch for your answer, Raines.

    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    The ADVC output is limited to DV, which already meets your requirements for editability and size reduction over uncompressed video. DV runs about 13 GB per hour.
    Well that certainly simplifies things for me. Now that I think about Firewire more like an exotic USB port rather than a combined video/audio port this answer also becomes blatantly clear.

    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Don't rely on digital processing to work miracles on a poor playback. The better picture you can achieve in the analog domain, the better. The most important analog facilities either built into your VCR or provided by outboard devices are timebase correction (fixes lines that wiggle back and forth) and frame synchronization (prevents rolling/jumping picture and can defeat some copy protection schemes). I often use a video processing amplifier to control levels: once the dark details have been clipped to black or the bright details clipped to white, you will never get them back.
    Ok, I get it. Before capturing I will ask around if anyone has a SVHS VCR that I can use instead of my run-of-the-mill VCR
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  4. I agree with JVRaines. In addition to getting an S-VHS player, I'd also recommend either getting one with an included TBC (expensive) or getting a DVD recorder with a TBC to use in pass-through mode (less expensive).

    Use your ADVC box to digitize to DV AVI and use WinDV for the transfer to your computer.

    VHS tape is noisy and I always do some cleanup (denoising, especially) using AviSynth denoisers afterwards. Of course there's lots more you can do, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest.
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  5. Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    3. What about enhancements? This seems to be one of those rabbit hole niches that I really do not want to stumble into in fear of never finding out again
    In that case, forget about the ADVC-55. Buy a DVD recorder with a built in line-TBC and record everything on to DVD in SP mode (1 hour per single layer DVD). Nobody's going to want to watch more than an hour of your home video at a time anyway.

    Then use program like VideoRedo for (mostly lossless) simple cut/paste editing.
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  6. Originally Posted by jagabo
    In that case, forget about the ADVC-55. Buy a DVD recorder with a built in line-TBC and record everything on to DVD in SP mode (1 hour per single layer DVD). Nobody's going to want to watch more than an hour of your home video at a time anyway.

    Then use program like VideoRedo for (mostly lossless) simple cut/paste editing.
    That's probably a very easy and efficient way to capture. I appreaciate that. But I have a feeling that 20-50 (haven't sighted the material yet) DVDs will be inconvenient to store and use. Sure, I can transfer the files to a HDD but if I am going to do that then I could as well use manono's method right away and do some denoising (and maybe some basic other stuff) via Avisynth while transferring with WinDV/Amarec.

    Originally Posted by manono
    I agree with JVRaines. In addition to getting an S-VHS player, I'd also recommend either getting one with an included TBC (expensive) or getting a DVD recorder with a TBC to use in pass-through mode (less expensive).

    Use your ADVC box to digitize to DV AVI and use WinDV for the transfer to your computer.

    VHS tape is noisy and I always do some cleanup (denoising, especially) using AviSynth denoisers afterwards. Of course there's lots more you can do, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest.
    I get why I should look for a SVHS since that is basically just a question of output quality but does a TBC add that much more to it? I thought this was basically just a complex metronome which you would mostly need for production and broadcast. Does it do much else than helping with synching audio and video? (Well it probably does if you are recommending it so markedly.)

    Thanks for your answers. So far I gathered the rather valuable insights that I do not have to worry about codecs anymore and should try and get my hands on a SVHS player.
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  7. Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    I get why I should look for a SVHS since that is basically just a question of output quality but does a TBC add that much more to it? I thought this was basically just a complex metronome which you would mostly need for production and broadcast. Does it do much else than helping with synching audio and video? (Well it probably does if you are recommending it so markedly.)
    If your capture device does at least a mediocre job at Y/C separation, the upgrade of using S-Video is minor.

    The TBC in most S-VHS VCRs straightens horizontal lines; it has no benefit for A/V sync or vertical stability.

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/383020-In-depth-TBC-comparison-with-bad-VHS-%28video-samples%29 (I can add the non-multigen samples if you want a more typical comparison)

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/376526-VHS-waviness-in-digital-conversion-comparis...ts#post2429160

    Having said that, I think the ADVC-55 uses the same video decoder as the ADVC-100, and that the ADVC-100 has better horizontal stability with typical tapes than most of the devices in the 2nd thread. If you post a short sample containing vertically-running lines like power poles, we can see whether TBC would offer much benefit with your particular tape and workflow. (Other tapes may be worse, and if the camcorder was jostled during recording you definitely want line+frame TBC).
    Last edited by vaporeon800; 2nd Jun 2017 at 08:54.
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    The Y and C signals overlap in composite video and can never be separated perfectly. I use very respectable gear and the improvement with s-video is always noticeable.

    Another reason to use a synchronizer is to prevent dropped frames. The ADVC is rather good in this respect, but it will still drop frames that are too far out of sync.
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  9. Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    I get why I should look for a SVHS since that is basically just a question of output quality but does a TBC add that much more to it? I thought this was basically just a complex metronome which you would mostly need for production and broadcast. Does it do much else than helping with synching audio and video? (Well it probably does if you are recommending it so markedly.)
    If your capture device does at least a mediocre job at Y/C separation, the upgrade of using S-Video is minor.

    The TBC in most S-VHS VCRs straightens horizontal lines; it has no benefit for A/V sync or vertical stability.

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/383020-In-depth-TBC-comparison-with-bad-VHS-%28video-samples%29 (I can add the non-multigen samples if you want a more typical comparison)

    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/376526-VHS-waviness-in-digital-conversion-comparis...ts#post2429160

    Having said that, I think the ADVC-55 uses the same video decoder as the ADVC-100, and that the ADVC-100 has better horizontal stability with typical tapes than most of the devices in the 2nd thread. If you post a short sample containing vertically-running lines like power poles, we can see whether TBC would offer much benefit with your particular tape and workflow. (Other tapes may be worse, and if the camcorder was jostled during recording you definitely want line+frame TBC).
    Thanks for linking your comparison. I'll have a look at it tomorrow.

    As far as I know ADVC 55 and 100 are more or less the same device except for the analog output. Which actually gives me hope I might not need a TBC after all. I'll try to get some test footage over the weekend.
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  10. Mod Neophyte Super Moderator redwudz's Avatar
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    DV is only digital. VHS tapes are analog.
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  11. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    The Y and C signals overlap in composite video and can never be separated perfectly. I use very respectable gear and the improvement with s-video is always noticeable.
    I was referring to VHS capture specifically, not sure if you are here. The color-under signal overlaps with the luma on VHS in the first place; only S-VHS finally separated them completely. And because the bandwidth is so low, post-processing after capture to remove composite dot crawl doesn't really add artifacts.
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  12. Originally Posted by redwudz View Post
    DV is only digital. VHS tapes are analog.
    I was referring probably in a somewhat lost in translation imprecise manner to the fact that the ADVC 110 has an analog input connector and an analog output connector whereas the ADVC 55 only has an analog input connector. At least I think that is what you were after. If you merely made an educational statement I appreciate that.
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  13. TL;DR: Massive miscalculation. This is now about a dozen VHS-C cassettes and circa 5 VHS tapes. I provided two capture examples. TBC necessary? Recommendations for corrections?

    Turns out my mother who was the one firmly implanting her wish of digitalizing the old collection in my head for the past two years and thus was in charge of assessing the material did an astonishingly bad job at actually assessing the material. After seeing the cassettes myself for the first time I realized that probably a good 3/4 of them are just shit people recorded from TV 20 years ago. Means that from the herculean effort of capturing 300+ hours my task just got deflated to a dozen VHS-C tapes 45mins each and maybe 5 VHS tapes with self shot footage which I couldn't find yet but she assures me should be in this massive pile of outdated "popculture" probably with the wrong labels on them. I am a teeny bit miffed because if I knew this beforehand I wouldn't have made such a fuss about it but since this reduces my workload significantly I won't complain.

    Good news though: I remember reading somewhere that it is preferable to capture VHS-C via the recording device instead of those adapter cassettes. I tested the VHS-C camcorder and it still works. I captured (composite to ADVC) the first minute of the oldest and newest VHS-C cassette I could find to give you an example.

    oldest
    This actually holds up surprisingly okay in my opinion.

    newest
    Whereas this looks noticeably worse. The image is noisier, the scan lines (probably not the correct term) are more obtrusive. There is strong jittering (probably not the correct term either) and wavy lines are running slowly through the image from top to bottom (Is that tearing?). I don't know if this is an actual issue with the material or a case of hightened noticeability caused by the different lighting, tripod vs. handheld and the higher amount of small details due to the wider angle. The image lapses are annoying but fade after 30 seconds so that is arguably just the camcorder getting to grips with the tape.

    I don't know if a TBC is still a sensible option here but I would be delighted if you could quickly glance over my examples and tell me if in your experience I should bother with some basic corrections.

    No material from the VCR yet since the treasures are still buried below the rubble.
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  14. Strange how the top lines are blacked out. The ADVC is clipping the very top peaks of brights, but not enough is lost to bother investing in a proc amp.

    Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    The image is noisier
    They look equally noisy to me, and most of it doesn't appear to be tape "grain" or sensor noise. IMO the speckling looks like bad tracking or dirty heads.

    the scan lines (probably not the correct term) are more obtrusive.
    Dunno what you're referring to. Interlacing? You should be viewing them deinterlaced. My media player (MPC-HC) does this automatically via my GPU.

    The random black/grey lines are dropouts and are likely recorded as part of the signal on the tape. A better player could at least mask some of these using video from previous lines, though.

    There is strong jittering (probably not the correct term either) and wavy lines are running slowly through the image from top to bottom (Is that tearing?).
    Jitter is correct. Tearing, no: dunno the cause of those rolling bends.

    The image lapses are annoying but fade after 30 seconds so that is arguably just the camcorder getting to grips with the tape.
    I suspect this tape was reused. Perhaps only the first 30 secs had material on it already?

    I don't know if a TBC is still a sensible option here but I would be delighted if you could quickly glance over my examples and tell me if in your experience I should bother with some basic corrections.
    Line TBC is advisable if you care about the '05 recording. Not sure what you mean by corrections. It appears that all of your tapes will require managing the superbrights, bringing them from 255 down to the valid 235 level.
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    Originally Posted by vaporeon800 View Post
    There is strong jittering (probably not the correct term either) and wavy lines are running slowly through the image from top to bottom (Is that tearing?).
    Jitter is correct. Tearing, no: dunno the cause of those rolling bends.
    No severe tearing, but the top of the frame is warped and there's mild flagging toward the left without actually tearing up the top border. A good line tbc would likely smooth the rolling wiggles.

    Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    I don't know if a TBC is still a sensible option here
    Think again about vaporeon800's advice. You definitely need a line tbc of some kind. If not a VCR with one built-in, consider seriously a pass-thru device like a Panasonic ES10 or ES15. The line sync errors are pretty obvious on both captures.
    Last edited by LMotlow; 6th Jun 2017 at 09:33.
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    Originally Posted by stuttleberry View Post
    I don't know if a TBC is still a sensible option here
    Take it from someone who spent months researching video capture, searching eBay and local ads for a good quality VHS deck and even purchasing an expensive capture device. You NEED something to stabilize the video signal, I thought I was all fine after spending hundreds of dollars on equipment but once I got it all together the result was exactly the same as my home VCR with a $10 capture device.

    Panasonic ES series DVD players serve this function fine as per recommendations.
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