I am looking into buying a video capture device for a couple of purposes. I'd like to digitize all of my VHS home videos from the 1980s and 1990s (they are VHS component videos). I'd like to have lossless copies of them (exact copies with 0 quality loss). I'd also like to digitize content I record on my DVR from time to time (in the highest quality possible as well - 1080p at 60fps would be great).
I'd also like a USB device (as opposed to a card). I'm willing to spend $200 to $300 if needed. If possible, it'd be amazing to have a PC-free device (because I have literally over a 150 2-hour VHSs, don't want to strain my computer), but I'm not going to eliminate a good option if it requires a PC. Does anyone have any recommendations?
I'm a total noob at this, but I have been doing some research - so far, the StarTech.com HDMI Video Capture Device ($180) (found here: http://amzn.to/2EJZAex) is the best thing I've been able to find that meets my needs. I like that it's a USB device, I like that it does lossless copies, and it's great that it could do both my VHS home videos as well as my DVR recordings. The only thing I don't like is it requires me to hook up my PC to the device.
Does anyone have any feedback on this device or any recommendations for other devices that might fit my needs even better?
Thank you so much in advance for your help!!!
Have a good one,
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PS: I heard that StarTech has fantastic customer service, which might be good for a noob like me, haha - does anyone have any experience with them? Thanks again!
You gain no additional quality by capturing those resolutions in 1080p60 instead of the video's actual resolution. All you get is larger files.
Avid DNxHD, which are nearly lossless. It does not accept analog input.
External devices which supply uncompressed video to the PC and use software to encode are required if you want to use lossless codecs. The bitrate for uncompressed SD video is low enough that an external capture device can use a USB 2.0 connection to the computer. Devices which supply uncompressed HD video require a USB 3.0 connection to a computer.
Lossless standard definition video (480i29.97) captures consume on the order of 25GiB to 30GiB per hour, depending on the lossless codec used, and some here do think that is a reasonable size for digital archives of their home video given how much 8TB hard drives have come down in price. HD lossless captures require considerably more storage space than SD, a fast separate capture drive, and a faster computer for encoding.
Assuming the compression ratio for HD resolutions stays the same as for SD:
Lossless 720p59.94 video has 2 2/3 times the number of pixels per frame and 2 times the frames per second as SD video, so lossless 720p captures consume about 5 1/3 times the storage space of SD video for the same number of minutes. Lossless 1080i29.97 video has 6 times the number of pixels per frame as SD video so lossless 1080i video captures consume about 6 times the storage space of SD video for the same number of minutes. Lossless 1080p59.94 video has twice the number of frames per second as 1080i video so lossless 1080p59.94 captures consume about 12 times the storage space of SD for the same number of minutes.
Given the enormous file sizes, to save space, you might want to re-encode lossless HD video captures to a lossy format or capture using a device with a built-in hardware encoder that uses a lossy codec. Also note that a computer is the only device that is able to to play losslessy encoded video.
If you don't want use your computer for HD capture, there are a couple of stand-alone capture devices from AVerMedia which capture HD video in H.264/AVC format using lossy encoding parameters, the Game Capture HD II C285 and the EZ Recorder 130. The files are of manageable size with about a 10% quality loss. Both devices have HDMI inputs and capture 1080i video without deinterlacing it. The Game Capture HD II C285 has component video connections too, but not composite. Both frame-decimate 1080p60 video to 1080p30, so you probably would not want to use them to capture 1080p60 video. Based on a problem reported here, I don't think that they can capture 1080p24 or 1080p30 video. Note that you will need to buy a device that strips HDCP to capture your DVR's HDMI output withe either of these two devices.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
Thank you so much for your detailed and very helpful response usually_quiet, I sincerely appreciate it!!! Turns out you are correct, my VHS recordings are composite (not component - that's how much of a noob I am, haha).
I did not realize most TV channels didn't broadcast in 1080p - I certainly don't need that big of a render for them then.
I will definitely consider different capture devices for VHS and DVR then, that is a good idea. I am tempted though to purchase this device:
Apparently it does composite video too. I e-mailed the company a few days ago about lossless VHS captures, and they said, "to answer your question, yes our USB3HDCAP is capable of converting to digital the exact same signal as received through the video connection: S-Video (Recommended) or Composite/RCA. This is hard to predict, but 2h of VHS-level recording at lossless would easily be many dozen GBs per hour."
However, I will definitely look at both of the capture devices you mentioned. My Dad actually does have a VHS to DVD machine and has transferred some of the VHS's to DVD (and then I've digitized them on my computer using a few programs). They look decent (720 x 480, 29 fps, 8040kbps data rate; audio is 256 kbps and 48 kHz sample rate). But I was thinking I'd like to have lossless copies of possible. If it's really such big file sizes from lossless though, I'm wondering if the VHS to DVD machine maybe is good enough (it is very simple to use).
Thank you so much again for your help, I sincerely apprecaite it!!!
The Startech USB3HDCAP is a very versatile capture device which enjoyed some popularity with those doing video game capture using lossless codecs. It encodes using software running on a PC, not an onboard encoder. It is a re-brand of a generic capture device made by Yuan and supposedly there are better drivers for it, developed for another variant of the device sold by Micomsoft. See https://thethrillness.blogspot.com/2015/01/startech-usb3hdcap-review.html for more information. The download link from GoogleDrive seems to work. Read the technical requirements before you buy: https://www.startech.com/AV/Converters/Video/usb-3-0-video-capture-device-hdmi-dvi-vga~USB3HDCAP
You are concerned that the demands of VHS/SD capture might be too much for your computer, so my guess is that you should probably get something else, but I have found out through past experience that trying to talk newbies out of a device that they have already decided they want is a waste of effort. If it doesn't work out for you, there is always ebay.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
My specs are below:
Computer: Dell Precision T3600, 635 W
Processor: Four Core XEON E5-1620, 3.6GHz
RAM: 8GB NECC RAM (4x2GB), DDR3 UDIMM 1600
Graphics Card: 1 GB NVIDIA Quadro K600
OS: Windows 7
1TB SATA Hard Drive
Haha, I definitely know what you mean about noobs like myself not wanting to switch from buying something they're leaning toward! I am definitely willing to change my opinion though - if the StarTech device isn't best for my needs, I'll definitely buy something that is more recommended. In fact, the more I'm reading about this - I am feeling completely in over my head, haha. I actually might end up just using my Dad's machine to copy the rest of the VHS's, and maybe just buy a very cheap option to get "good-enough" compressed copies from my DVR.
My Dad's player is a Toshiba D-VKR3SU from 2004. I have copied a few VHS's to DVD using this machine, and then I've used software to digitize the DVD. From what I can tell, this is the quality of the VHS footage that I've digitzed:
Size: An average of about 4GB (so fairly high quality)
Resolution: 720 x 480
Data Rate: 8040kbps
Total bitrate: 8296kbps
Frame rate: 29 frames per second
Bit rate: 256kbps
Channels: 2 (stereo)
Audio sample rate: 48 kHz
Would a "lossless" copy using StarTech really be that much better than what I already have? If not, I might just stick with this machine.
Thank you very much again for your help, I sincerely appreciate it! You are incredibly knowledgeable!
BTW Your computer appears to be good enough for losslessly encoding both SD and HD video, although it would be wise to buy a large SSD to use just for losslessly capturing HD files if you decide that you want to do that. A dedicated regular hard drive would work for lossless VHS capture.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 3rd Mar 2018 at 11:18.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
I have a Micomsoft XCapture-1 which uses the same Yuan chipset as the USB3HDCAP so is very similar. Here's my observations from doing some VCR captures.
As usually_quiet mentioned, the XCapture-1 is extremely sensitive to signal timing, you'll need a frame TBC, otherwise expect to see 'NO SIGNAL' pop up randomly while capturing.
On S-Video input (not sure on composite) the picture is shifted slightly to the left, I've been capturing on component to get around this.
For lossless captures I use Virtualdub and the XCapture-1 struggles to send a stable signal to the PC, resulting in dropped/inserted frames and audio sync issues. Doubly annoying is that I have a cheap as chips capture box that has rock steady timing.
Another consideration is that both XCapture-1 and USB3HDCAP require your PC to have Renesas or Intel USB3.0 controllers, so that's worth checking first.
Good thread on the Startech here: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/369761-Startech-USB3HDCAP-opinions
Thank you very much for the information and advice!! When you say your devices struggle to send a stable signal to your PC, does that mean that your final product ends up with glitches? (Or does it just take longer for the device to capture the full video?)
My computer does have USB3.0 so I should be good with that fortunately! Is a frame TBC a separate device or application that I have to purchase?
Thank you very much again!!
Here's a quick explanation of TBCs: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-restore/2251-tbc-time-base.html
I will do some more research and see if I can look at some other threads on this site - thanks so much again for your help!!
More important than what capture device you use is the VHS deck and TBC. This question is asked here several times a week. There are hundreds of threads about it.
I actually have no clue what a TBC is, haha. I am googling what that is now, but I am still very confused about what it is, haha.
However, you've given me a lot more to look into and be aware of - thank you!! Phew, this is way more complicated than I would have thought, haha. (I thought i'd just buy a machine, press a few buttons, and have perfect lossless copies on my computer - would have been nice!)
Aren't there already about 2,500,641 posts that cover this same material?- My sister Ann's brother
Lossless capture merely requires capture software able to use lossless codecs, such as HuffYUV, Lagarith, or Ut Video. Virtualdub is one popular capture program able to use lossless codecs, but other members here prefer DScaler or AmaRecTV. ...and there is certainly other software capable of lossless capture. (The lossless codecs I mentioned, available from VideoHelp's Software section, are installed separately.)Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
I recorded the same 1.5 minute long clip using each Codec. The AVI clip was the largest file size at 274,768KB. Next was the MP4 at 260,630KB. And the smallest size was the TS file at 257,289KB.
I'm not as concerned with file size, but more so with quality. Does anyone have any recommendations based on their own experience?
MediaInfo could be used to confirm what is in those files. (Use the Text option under View on the menu bar if you want to cut and paste the report into a post.)
Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
About the last setting I'm unsure about in Stream Catcher is the Video Deinterlacing feature. The default setting for Video Deinterlacing is "High." Other options are "Medium" and "Low." (There is no option to turn it off). I assumed I'd keep it on "High," but after reading more about it, it seems as if most people recommend not doing any deinterlacing during video capturing for VHS's. Would you agree? (I gotta be honest though, I did some tests using "High" versus "Low" video deinteracing, and I really didn't notice any difference).
Thank you so much as always for sharing your wealth of knowledge!! I definitely have a lot to look into before proceeding.
Last edited by CaptainCatholic587; 25th Mar 2018 at 01:16.
Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
Lossless could be uncompressed too.
Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
Being entirely honest, “Lossless” isn’t exactly completely uncompressed. When it comes to capture devices, and especially USB capture devices, there will always need to be some kind of compression to allow capture to flow smoothly. A truly lossless capture setup would consist of very expensive equipment and very high performance setups. Aside from this truly uncompressed video is very difficult to work with and play back, and requires more effort to use and work with in general
The StreamCatcher option “Lossless” is mainly regarding the encoding of the video involved in the capture to get as close as possible to the maximum quality able to be sent over USB 3.0. For normal use, and for capturing from something like a VHS source, this should be very close to the best quality possible, and you will see the file size will be much larger than normal, as well as the processing power needed goes way up too.
In this instance you are choosing to have the smallest amount of compression possible, however the video is still being recorded in MPEG4 format so it will need to be slightly compressed to adhere to that standard and be easily useable, playable and accessible to a wide variety of media player programs or editing programs. What this means is that overall, you have chosen the settings to get the best video quality from the capture device that we can possibly provide.
I do apologize that the setting name is a bit misleading there, and I hope this is not too disappointing or inconvenient to you and your intended use of our capture device.
As you can see, they are super helpful and friendly, so I would definitely recommend them for that! I am actually very satisfied with their "lossless" setting even if it isn't totally uncompressed. And as you pointed out usually_quiet, it seems like totally uncompressed captures would take up an absurd amount of space on a hard drive (I was fine with 25GB video files, but 80GB files wouldn't be possible for me). And the captures I'm getting via the Star Tech 'lossless' capture is fantastic quality - I don't think I'd notice much of a difference even if I did do the totally uncompressed files, so that's what I'm going to stick with.
I was thinking of using my Dad's original video camera (instead of the Toshiba VCR) in the video captures, but it turns out it doesn't have an S-Video cable. So I will just put up with the very annoying "tracking bar" OSD, haha. Overall though, I'm extremely happy with this. I can't thank you all enough for all your helpful information, especially usually-quiet, for always commenting on my questions!! Thank you very much again!!!
Hopefully anyone who has the same needs/questions as me will read this and be able to see what I did - I would highly recommend the Star Tech USB3HDCAP, it's super easy to use and I haven't had any problems yet. Quality looks great!
So I just stumbled on something that is a total game changer for me, and I was wondering if anyone else had any experience with using this program - it's called Lossless Cut. Here's more information on it:
So as I mentioned, I have about a hundred 2-hour long VHS tapes that I'm going to digitize. Each tape might have 15 different "days" on it (i.e. August 28, 1988, March 25, 1989, etc.). I was thinking of capturing one day at a time from the two-hour long VHS tapes, so that instead of having a two-hour long mp4 file, I'd have about 8 smaller mp4 files (one file for each day). I thought this would be a neat way of organizing it.
The problem with this is that when using Stream Catcher, I end up recording a little bit of the "day" before the day I was attempting to record, and also a little bit of the day after the day I was recording. This ended up looking sloppy. So I searched online for a program that would let me trim the videos. Lossless Cut was the first thing to come up - I'm using it now, and it appears to work amazingly.
I would never want to use a program that would re-encode my video or alter its original quality in any way, especially since I've spent so long trying to get my video capture to be as "lossless" as possible. However, Lossless Cut doesn't seem to re-encode it at all. Basically, you just import your video, you set a "start" and "end" point, and then when you're ready, you press the scissors icon and LosslessCut saves the specified portion of the video without re-encoding it. This supposedly ensures there's no loss in quality.
I just wanted to see if anyone else has any experience in using this program - is anyone aware of any glitches or have any reasons as to why I shouldn't use it? (It seems too good to be true!). I would hate to spend all this time capturing my videos only to find out years later when viewing some of my captures that LosslessCut caused glitches in the video (i.e. random audio/video sync problems or whatnot). But as far as I can tell, it looks like an amazing program that works flawlessly.
The main reason this would be so helpful is because instead of capturing a few minutes of video at a time while I sit in front of my computer waiting to turn off the "record" button, I can just use Stream Catcher to record my entire two-hour long VHS player while I walk away from my computer. Then, after that's done, I can use LosslessCut to scrub through the video and just cut it wherever I want. This would save hours of time and end up creating a neater-looking product in the end.
Any feedback from anyone who is familiar with this program would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you all for all the help, I can't imagine where I'd be without this message board!! I hope everyone is doing well and having a great week
This is a really minor issue. If you use any of the previously talked about lossless codecs then just use Virtualdub or Virtualdub2 (previously Virtualdub FilterMod) with both audio and video settings set to 'Direct Stream Copy'. If you end up capturing to mpeg2 or H.264 then have a look at VideoRedo. I can't comment on Lossless Cut, but the general rule is that if it works for you - and you're not doing anything Really stupid - then fine.
It's nice to see someone here still enthusiastic and excited about this stuff . . . I think I vaguely remember being like that? Keep having fun!
p.s. You can use the original Virtualdub to see if the aforementioned lossless codecs have installed correctly.
I will often capture VHS tapes with x264 in AmaRecTV. x264 (which conforms to the H.264 standard) can capture interlaced content and I normally do this as a lossy method of recording tapes; in order to cut the bitrate in half of what something like Lagarith would encode at. For lossless I would go with Lagarith or the handful of other lossless only codecs. Lagarith will often output ~25-30GB per hour of SD YUY2 content, so if I'm ok with some minor loss then I go with a CRF of around 10 in x264. x264 is CPU driven only, and can't be used with any external game recording hardware that I know of which uses their own hardware encoding chips. Hardware encoding, whether it be on external hardware or GPU driven, is generally considered worse than CPU driven codecs.
About the only question I have left (and I'm not sure if this makes any difference) is regarding the VHS tape itself. For example, I've read that, before recording, it's best to fast forward the VHS tape to the very end of the tape, and then rewind it to the beginning to "pack" the tape.
After doing this, would it be better for me to capture the entire 2-Hour VHS tape at once? (i.e. just hit "play" and record the entire two hours of footage at once?). Or would it be better to record let's say 15 minutes at a time, then stop the tape, and then continue with recording?
I wasn't sure if this would make any difference in the quality. I'm using LosslessCut to split up the footage anyway, so I'd be fine with recording 10 minutes at a time or whatnot in separate recordings if that would be better.
Thanks so much again!
Retensioning videotape does not provide as much benefit as for audiotape. For one thing, print-through is not a problem unless you have a linear audio track. For another, as long as the tape is not grossly miswound, it will be pulled in precise sync by the capstan servo locked to the control track. This is quite unlike audiotape, which depends on the capstan alone and can suffer wow and flutter with a bad tape pack. So it's a tradeoff against tape wear. I generally skip winding back and forth unless the tape is shedding, in which case the action encourages loose bits to fall out instead of clogging the heads.