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  1. Originally Posted by manono View Post
    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    Is it free software with histograms that I could use to check the brightness levels?
    Yes, completely free. And with a pretty steep learning curve. I don't use any of them, but I expect NLEs have them available as well. If you want to use the Histogram in AviSynth, after you figure out how to open your video you add the line:

    Histogram

    to your script.

    ...but unfortunately I don't think I'll ever have the time to do that for all my videos.
    Then about the best you can do is to find some sort of a happy medium by setting brightness and contrast as best you can, but what the sample on YouTube shows isn't it. And why the black bars on the sides? Is that some sort of limitation of your capturing device?

    Would you recommend that I switch it to 7.5?
    Yes, as that's the US NTSC standard.

    http://www.glennchan.info/articles/technical/setup/75IREsetup.html


    Hi manono, thanks so much again for your response! I will be sure to set it to 7.5 IRE. I really appreciate the link you posted too, thank you! I'm trying to educate myself as best as I can on all this, haha.

    I had no idea that my NLE had a histogram, but you're right, it does. I use Sony Vegas Pro 12 to edit. I just imported my captures into Sony Vegas and looked at the histograms. Is there any advantage to using AviSynth over Sony Vegas, or do you think Sony Vegas should suffice?

    I have to be honest, I don't have much of a clue about what these histograms mean, haha. I did do a little bit of research, watched a few YouTube videos, and it appears that the idea is not to let the "giant white shape" go too far to the left or to the right, haha. But that's about all i understand. Is there any chance anyone knows of a good resource that could help a noob like me understand more about histograms? (I can't seem to find anything beyond random YouTube videos, which aren't very helpful).

    In any case, when I looked at the histogram for the capture I did in which the contrast was set to "30," the "white shape" was very much toward the left side of the histogram. While in Vegas, I upped the brightness (and really upped the contrast) in order to make the "white shape" more centered. I have no idea what this means haha, but I do have that white shape more "centered" with these settings! Here is a video of the before and after:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkctmhMN_0w&feature=youtu.be

    If there's any chance anyone could explain what the "white shape" means, or what the numbers at the top (from 0 to 255) mean, or how the "mean" or "standard deviation" apply to it, that would be greatly appreciated!! I'm also unsure of how to raise the "white shape" or lower it, i.e. make it go more toward the top or bottom of the histogram screen (or is that something I even want to do?).

    Additionally, as I mentioned, unfortunately I don't think I'll ever have the time to edit the videos after I capture them. So I'm guessing the best process for me would be to do several test captures (adjusting the brightness and contrast in StreamCatcher differently for each capture), then import the captures into Sony Vegas to take a look at the histograms, then go back to my capture software to adjust the captures accordingly until the histograms look good - would that be correct?

    So sorry to use such crude terms throughout this post, I am well aware of how much of a noob I am, haha. Thank you so much again, I really appreciate the help and the education!!!!!
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  2. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    It's best to use the 'scopes in your NLE or the histogram function of Avisynth. These will show you the actual levels that you are stuck with in the digital domain. A video oscilloscope is a great toy, but (1) you cannot assume a used scope is in good calibration, and (2) it only shows you what is going into the converter. There is nothing wrong with using your eyes, either. Although not optimal, adjusting levels to maintain dark and light detail will not hurt you if your monitor is in poor calibration.
    Awesome, thank you very much for the feedback JVRaines! It sounds like you're saying the scopes in Sony Vegas should suffice, so I will continue to use them as opposed to using AviSynth since that has a bit of a learning curve. I will also be sure to use my eyes in addition to the scopes - I'm not sure I like the way it looks in the YouTube video above even though I think the histogram shows it's more adjusted. I'll see if I can find a good balance. Thanks again, I really appreciate the help!
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  3. Originally Posted by jwillis84 View Post
    However, my Toshiba VCR does actually have an option in the menu screen for IRE. I currently have it set to "0," which according to the manual is "the standard NTSC reference black level for consistent brightness/contrast across all sources." I do have the option of changing it to "7.5," which the manual states "will enhance the black level for increased brightness/contrast when viewing DVDs." Would you recommend that I switch it to 7.5?

    Also, you mentioned that it'd be better for me to fix the problem on the input and not the output. Would it be better for me to see if I could change the brightness/contrast levels on the VCR itself rather than adjusting it in my capture software (StreamCatcher)?

    Thanks again for your detailed message, I really appreciate it!
    Basically "YES" you do want to turn that "on" to 7.5.

    If you have the option/equipment or skill to "fix" the Black and White levels "before" capture its always best. If you do not then you can sort of fix it afterwards in software with a penalty.. some quality will have been lost.. and you can't "make up a loss".. that's permenant.

    Mostly people worry about the Black and White levels.. and choose to forget about Color problems until they try to fix it in software after capture. Flipping an IRE set-up switch is low effort and worth your time. A proc-amp, scopes and learning to use them take a lot more time and effort.

    If you had to "Settle" for a B&W image with sound.. its better than nothing. It won't be that bad.. but its an example of setting priorities and expectations.

    Ultimately there is an infinite amount of time and money you could spend "perfecting" everything.. but the enemy of the "good" is the "perfect".

    At some point you just have to choose to do the "easy" things you can do to improve the picture and decide its "good enough".
    Awesome, thank you very much for all the info jwillis!

    You mentioned that it's always best to fix the black and white levels before capture. Since I have such an enormous collection of home videos, I don't think I'll ever have time to edit them after capturing them anyway, so fixing them before capture is exactly what I want to do!

    When you say I should fix the black and white levels before capture, is there any way to do this other than to make sure the brightness/contrast levels are set properly in my capture software? (StreamCatcher). Or is there something else you'd recommend I do? At the very least, I will be sure to turn up the IRE to 7.5.

    To be honest, you're probably right - I tend to try to perfect everything, but I'll probably have to settle for "good enough" in the end, haha. Thanks so much again for your help, I sincerely appreciate it!
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    You had better try both the "0 IRE" and "7.5 IRE" settings on your Toshiba to find out what's really going on. The explanations in the user manual appear to be precisely backward, or perhaps the engineers got the names switched. I wouldn't blindly set it to 7.5 without checking the result.
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  5. I agree with JVRains -- test both IRE settings. But I suspect it will make no difference with VHS tapes and that it's there only for DVD playback.
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    Jagabo is correct, the only way to be sure is try it both ways.
    Last edited by jwillis84; 8th Jun 2018 at 02:59.
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  7. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    I'd like to digitize all of my VHS home videos from the 1980s and 1990s
    Tony
    The VCR (S-VHS with internal line TBC suggested), and external TBC, are even more important that the capture card. I cannot stress this enough.

    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    The ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB TVW600USB is also well-regarded but has not been in production for at least 10 years.
    Some of us have a few extras to spare.

    Drivers for the TVW600USB may be found here:
    The Windows 7 driver download has both 32-bit and 64-bit device drivers.
    Unwise. Issues have been reported. Force installing the Vista driver works flawlessly all the way to Win10.

    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    Hauppauge -610-USB-Live-Digitizer
    Beware. Hauppauge likes to recycle card model numbers, and sometimes the actual innards of the cards vary in time. So the respected chipset may not be there anymore, even when the card has the same model number.

    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    I'm playing around with the StreamCatcher software
    Don't.

    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Most HD capture devices have trouble with VHS capture
    Again, cannot stress this enough. Many fail, even with a TBC in the workflow.

    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    Aren't there already about 2,500,641 posts that cover this same material?
    +1 more now.
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  8. Hello all!

    An update - I have been digitizing my old home VHS's for about a year now! (Very off and on!). Over time, I have switched a few settings that have improved video quality - figured I'd post them here for anyone out there who may be using the same technology! Using StreamCatcher, I switched the Video Deinterlace setting to "Low" (I previously had it on "High," but that seemed to create distortion of the picture anytime the camera moved around - made me a bit dizzy!). I also switched the IRE in my VCR to 7.5 (much brighter looking picture, and you can see more detail in the blacks/greys). I switched the "Brightness" to 60 and the "Contrast" to 42 (these settings seemed to give the best results for my VHS tapes). I spent months playing around with these settings, and these seemed to provide the best results.

    I do have one last question, and I can't seem to find anything in this forum about it. The Toshiba VCR I'm using to play the VHS tapes has a built-in feature called "3D Noise Reduction." I currently have this turned "Off." Should I turn it "On?" I'm playing around with it now, and so far I don't really notice much of a difference. Wasn't sure if anyone had any experience with built-in features like this on another VCR.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated as always! Thanks so much and I hope everyone is well!!!
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  9. Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    The Toshiba VCR I'm using to play the VHS tapes has a built-in feature called "3D Noise Reduction." I currently have this turned "Off." Should I turn it "On?" I'm playing around with it now, and so far I don't really notice much of a difference.
    I don't know that particular combo unit but 3D noise reduction requires simultaneous access to multiple frames. So the video must be digitized for 3DNR to be applied. It may be that the filter is only applied when recording onto DVD, not when simply playing VHS tapes.
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  10. Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    The Toshiba VCR I'm using to play the VHS tapes has a built-in feature called "3D Noise Reduction." I currently have this turned "Off." Should I turn it "On?" I'm playing around with it now, and so far I don't really notice much of a difference.
    I don't know that particular combo unit but 3D noise reduction requires simultaneous access to multiple frames. So the video must be digitized for 3DNR to be applied. It may be that the filter is only applied when recording onto DVD, not when simply playing VHS tapes.
    Thanks jagabo, that makes sense!! This VCR was mainly produced for copying VHS to DVD. I'll leave the 3D Noise Reduction off then. Thanks again, hope you've been well!!
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  11. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    HUsing StreamCatcher, I switched the Video Deinterlace setting to "Low" (I previously had it on "High," but that seemed to create distortion of the picture anytime the camera moved around - made me a bit dizzy!).
    Using deinterlace at all was a mistake.
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  12. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    HUsing StreamCatcher, I switched the Video Deinterlace setting to "Low" (I previously had it on "High," but that seemed to create distortion of the picture anytime the camera moved around - made me a bit dizzy!).
    Using deinterlace at all was a mistake.
    Hey lordsmurf! Haha absolutely, I can see that now - more a result of me not knowing what I'm doing, haha. It created some distortion any time the camera moved. Looks much better set to "Low" (I would turn it "off" if that was an option but it's not - although I think that "Low" might actually be "off").
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  13. Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    As rule of thumb, it's better to play back on the device which made the recording. Very small differences in tape path alignment and tension can introduce errors. However, if the camcorder has gone out of alignment since the recordings were made or is otherwise degraded, that would be a reason to use the VCR. Another reason would be if the VCR has superior signal processing. I would try both and pick the one with the best picture. If there is no difference, then I would pick the most convenient one.
    Hi everyone! I hope everyone is having a great summer!

    I finally got a chance to test out a couple of methods to digitize my VHS-C Tapes! I tried using the original camera, my JVC GR-SXM240u, to digitize the tape. I connected it to my StarTech device via S-Video cable. I was hopeful that this would work, since it sounds like using the original camera is the best method, but unfortunately it didn't come out so well, haha. Here's the result:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkCLbXepq10

    As far as I can tell, all the cables were connected correctly. The audio sounds great, however the video is obviously terrible. I even disconnected the S-Video cable from the camera and simply watched the VHS-C tape play on the camera through the camera's video screen; the tape plays just as terribly in the camera itself (with all the white static, although obviously it never displayed the "no signal" which keeps appearing in my digitization). So I'm assuming, as JVRaines said, my JVC GR-SXM240u is simply old and either out of alignment or just degraded? I'm assuming there's nothing I can really do to fix the video camera itself?

    On a positive note, I used the JVC C-P7U Cassette Adapter that came with the original camera to try to digitize the video. This worked just fine and appears to be in fairly good quality. Here's a sample:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ila9YVOAlpo&feature=youtu.be

    Interesting video of my teenage self playing the piano while randomly wearing a trenchcoat and sporting a terrible mullet, maybe I shouldn't bother to digitize these, hahaha

    If there's nothing I can do to fix my original JVC GR-SXM240u camera, then I guess I will just digitize everything via the JVC C-P7U Cassette Adapter.

    Thanks so much as always for all the help!!!!!
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  14. Member
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    Hi,
    If you are still looking for PCIe based capture cards there are only a handful of new devices still on the market.
    One worth considering is the "CE310B AVerMedia PCIe video capture card" this contains a 3D / YC filter which will help if you are capturing over composite.
    If you are in the UK I have found one supplier https://tinyurl.com/y5k98lqx

    If you looking for something a bit more portable, there are quite a lot of ex pro gear hitting second hand markets like ebay.
    These convert analogue video / analogue audio to SDI. The digital SDI will then need to be captured to a computer either using a SDI to USB-C device or SDI Recorder card.
    Last edited by ironwood321; 9th Aug 2019 at 11:13.
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  15. Did you try to clean the video heads on the camera? Based on your example that could be the issue.

    The JVC camera you are talking about is a Super-VHS camera. If the tapes were recorded in s-vhs format, normal VHS decks will either not be able to play them properly, or in some cases with SVHS Quasi Plabyack at reduced quality.
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  16. Originally Posted by oln View Post
    Did you try to clean the video heads on the camera? Based on your example that could be the issue.

    The JVC camera you are talking about is a Super-VHS camera. If the tapes were recorded in s-vhs format, normal VHS decks will either not be able to play them properly, or in some cases with SVHS Quasi Plabyack at reduced quality.
    Hi oln, thanks so much for the response!! No actually, I did not think to clean the video heads on the camera! I just assumed that the video camera itself degraded beyond repair, but I would be more than willing to try cleaning the video heads.

    I googled "how to clean the video heads on a JVC GR-SXM240u," but nothing relevant came up. Does anyone know of any meaningful resources (or have any useful information) as to how to do this?

    I also read this article: https://itstillworks.com/how-to-clean-a-camcorder-head-without-a-cleaning-tape-10407.html Cleaning the camera manually sounds way over my head haha, but I would be more than willing to try a head-cleaning tape; do they make those for VHS-C camcorders?

    Thanks again for the help!!
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  17. Dinosaur Supervisor KarMa's Avatar
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    Get a VHS-C cleaning tape and use that. Or play a clean VHS-C tape in it until it cleans itself (maybe hours). Or lastly learn how open it up and clean it by hand, using the suggestions on cleaning VCRs that have been repeated here for decades. Camcorders are more tightly built and harder to clean, so it's not going to be as easy as a normal tabletop VCR.
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  18. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    Any guide that says "use cotton swabs" was written by a moron.
    Cotton swabs will ruin the heads.
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  19. Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well!

    I am "chugging along" digitizing my VHS-C Tapes at the moment! Things have been going pretty well except for a very strange problem I noticed!

    After digitizing many of my VHS-C Tapes, I've noticed that flashing, white horizontal lines sometimes flicker throughout the picture. Sometimes it only happens at the beginning of the tape, but other times, these lines occur throughout the entire half hour tape. Here is an example of these white lines - this is from the very beginning of a tape, but the white lines actually continue throughout the entire 30 minute tape (sorry for the obnoxious footage of my goofy teenage self, haha):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpmMC3r4iJw

    As a note - when digitizing a VHS-C Tape, I fast-forward the tape to the very end, and then rewind it back to the beginning. I then fast-forward and rewind one more time before digitizing.

    Strangely enough, in order to try to get rid of these lines, I started digitizing my VHS-C Tapes twice. (I do 2 "fast-forwards and rewinds" before the 2nd digitization as well). For whatever reason, it does seem like most of the white lines go away during the 2nd digitization. Here's the same tape after I digitized it a 2nd time - as you'll notice, the white lines are literally 100% gone - they don't appear at any time during the entire tape:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMg8nnKRMYE

    Is it possible that playing the tape all the way through at a "normal" speed (as opposed to fast-forwarding and rewinding) somehow "gets rid of" the white lines? (As if it is caused by dust or from not playing through for many years?). Or is this just all in my head, and playing it through or digitizing it twice shouldn't make any difference in regards to the white lines?

    Thought I'd check in here for feedback - looking to get rid of these white lines if possible!

    Thanks as always!!
    Tony
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  20. Member
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    Those white lines look like tape dropout.
    Could be caused by a bad head, tape degrading or problem with the dropout compensator on your vcr, Speed problem.
    Try a different player, try head cleaning.
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  21. They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player. It may be that some component heats up after playing for a while and the static goes away. You can sometimes eliminate them by soldering a ground wire between the stationary part of the head mechanism and the other electronics. You can reduce them in post via filtering. For example, RemoveDirtMC() in AviSynth.
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  22. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    That video looks horrible. And that's ignoring the white streaks.
    What VCR are you using?
    You may be wasting time with low end equipment, doing a rotten quality job.
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  23. Originally Posted by ironwood321 View Post
    Those white lines look like tape dropout.
    Could be caused by a bad head, tape degrading or problem with the dropout compensator on your vcr, Speed problem.
    Try a different player, try head cleaning.
    Awesome, thanks for letting me know! I have actually never cleaned the heads on my VCR - is it risky? Could I risk damaging it if I don't do it properly? (I was thinking of cleaning the heads a while ago, but decided not to because I didn't want to "mess anything up.") Thanks again!
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  24. Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player. It may be that some component heats up after playing for a while and the static goes away. You can sometimes eliminate them by soldering a ground wire between the stationary part of the head mechanism and the other electronics. You can reduce them in post via filtering. For example, RemoveDirtMC() in AviSynth.
    Hey jagabo! "Comets!" Awesome!! I spent hours looking for the "term," what to call them, but couldn't find it - thanks! How about that. So it sounds like you're saying that after I use the VCR repeatedly, a component might heat up and "chase away" the static that causes the comets? Very interesting.

    Right now, I capture a tape once - then I turn the computer and VCR off, and leave them off until the morning. The next morning, I recapture the same tape I captured the night before. Usually, the 2nd capture is the superior one.

    I will keep experimenting - if I can get rid of the comets by capturing twice, I'll probably do that. If not, I'll look into the ground wire you mentioned - I probably will not have time to filter in post, but wish I did.

    Thanks so much again for your help jagabo!
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  25. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by CaptainCatholic587 View Post
    That video looks horrible. And that's ignoring the white streaks.
    What VCR are you using?
    You may be wasting time with low end equipment, doing a rotten quality job.
    Hi lordsmurf! Haha yeah, the quality of the video on my computer is a little better than on YouTube (for some reason the video doesn't seem to be uploading to YouTube very well), but I am using a Toshiba D-VKR3SU DVD Recorder-VCR purchased in the early 2000s. If I had more money, I'd have a pro do it for me with better equipment - unfortunately the "rig" I have now is about the best I can afford!
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  26. So no luck with the SVHS camera? It would probably have given better quality video than the VCR you have, especially if your tapes are recorded in SVHS mode. The VCR can play SVHS-tapes but only in SQPB mode, which is reduced quality. Also, there should be a way to turn off the on-screen display. The camcorder also has a TBC to correct horizontal wiggle which the VCR does not.

    As for youtube, when uploading VHS or other analog material, it can be a good idea to upscale it to 960x720 (assuming it's standard 4:3) before uploading. If you upload 720 x 480 (or 576 for PAL) youtube will typically squeze it down to 640x480 at 30 (or 25 if PAL) fps.

    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player.
    This is an issue with some Samsung decks, at least the slightly older ones, from what I've read (though never experienced it myself). The mentioned Toshiba here, or at least the VCR part is Samsung made judging by the service manual. The metal bit that provides ground connection between the metal chassis the drum and rest of the mechanism sits on and the PCB can get dirty/corroded/not make contact over time, but it should be an easy fix if that is indeed the issue here. Check the metal spring thing behind the mechanism, and clean with electronic cleaner and/or maybe bend it to make sure it makes contact.
    Last edited by oln; 10th Dec 2019 at 19:02.
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  27. Originally Posted by oln View Post
    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player.
    This is an issue with some Samsung decks, at least the slightly older ones, from what I've read (though never experienced it myself). The mentioned Toshiba here, or at least the VCR part is Samsung made judging by the service manual. The metal bit that provides ground connection between the metal chassis the drum and rest of the mechanism sits on and the PCB can get dirty/corroded/not make contact over time, but it should be an easy fix if that is indeed the issue here. Check the metal spring thing behind the mechanism, and clean with electronic cleaner and/or maybe bend it to make sure it makes contact.
    Yes, I would clean it and the comets would go away for a while. But they'd eventually come back and another cleaning would be required. Soldering a flexible wire was a permanent fix.
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  28. Originally Posted by oln View Post
    So no luck with the SVHS camera? It would probably have given better quality video than the VCR you have, especially if your tapes are recorded in SVHS mode. The VCR can play SVHS-tapes but only in SQPB mode, which is reduced quality. Also, there should be a way to turn off the on-screen display. The camcorder also has a TBC to correct horizontal wiggle which the VCR does not.

    As for youtube, when uploading VHS or other analog material, it can be a good idea to upscale it to 960x720 (assuming it's standard 4:3) before uploading. If you upload 720 x 480 (or 576 for PAL) youtube will typically squeze it down to 640x480 at 30 (or 25 if PAL) fps.

    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player.
    This is an issue with some Samsung decks, at least the slightly older ones, from what I've read (though never experienced it myself). The mentioned Toshiba here, or at least the VCR part is Samsung made judging by the service manual. The metal bit that provides ground connection between the metal chassis the drum and rest of the mechanism sits on and the PCB can get dirty/corroded/not make contact over time, but it should be an easy fix if that is indeed the issue here. Check the metal spring thing behind the mechanism, and clean with electronic cleaner and/or maybe bend it to make sure it makes contact.

    Thanks so much for the response! No, unfortunately I did not have luck with the original camera - I do still have the camera, and it appears to be in great shape. However, when I play a video back in it, the audio works just fine, but the video is atrocious (a billion white streaks, you can barely see any of the actual video at all). Now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if it's just the heads - is it possible to clean the heads on a tiny little VHS-C camcorder? That didn't occur to me.

    As far as the onscreen display of the VCR, man I wish I could get that annoying display off. I actually tried several things but could not figure it out.

    Great information about the metal chassis, thank you so much!!!!!! I will have to try that in addition to cleaning the heads. Really appreciate your help!
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  29. Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    Originally Posted by oln View Post
    Originally Posted by jagabo View Post
    They are called comets and they are cause by static electricity discharge within the player.
    This is an issue with some Samsung decks, at least the slightly older ones, from what I've read (though never experienced it myself). The mentioned Toshiba here, or at least the VCR part is Samsung made judging by the service manual. The metal bit that provides ground connection between the metal chassis the drum and rest of the mechanism sits on and the PCB can get dirty/corroded/not make contact over time, but it should be an easy fix if that is indeed the issue here. Check the metal spring thing behind the mechanism, and clean with electronic cleaner and/or maybe bend it to make sure it makes contact.
    Yes, I would clean it and the comets would go away for a while. But they'd eventually come back and another cleaning would be required. Soldering a flexible wire was a permanent fix.
    Got it - thank you so much again jagabo, really appreciate your help!! I will start by cleaning the heads this weekend. If that solves the problem, I'll probably stop there. If not, I will have to try soldering a wire. Thanks again!!
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