I re-set up my 90's Videotape Editing Studio. I used it back in the day to edit all kinds of videotape based projects covering most analog videotape formats. I eventually received a couple dozen IMDB credits and a Los Angeles Emmy. I've decided to focus on VHS to Digital Transfers if there is a demand. Please let me know if it is ok to post a link to my VHS to Digital Blog. The purpose of the blog is to provide insight on when it makes sense to do a VHS studio transfer to digital, and when it does not.
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Probably a lot late. But for anyone who still has their original VHS tapes and wants to do a retransfer of a specific tape at the highest possible quality, it's not just about capture quality, it's also about playback quality.
Yes, you are late. Playback quality is where a good capture starts, and this site and digitalfaq have preached that for a very very very very long time. Basically it begins with a quality tape transport and with line and frame tbc's, which in themselves are subjects that have had tons of discussion here. You'd be amazed at how many users ignore all the advice given. They just want a quick and cheap way to get their video on YouTube or Facebook.
However, it would be interesting to hear and see more, especially since your title deals with "editing" and not with "playback' or "capture". Doesn't editing come after playback and capture? Does "edit' include repair and restoration as well as quality encoding? Does 90's in the title refer to the pro methods used back then, which are often adapted in several ways today? Why not suggest the name and location of this blog instead of keeping us in suspense? Readers here refer to other forums all the time, especially for specific interests and problems.- My sister Ann's brother
So as an editor I am suggesting that the first pass VHS to DVD or digital transfers are like a combo off-line / online transfer. After transferring all the home videos to digital or dvd, one would watch all of them and determine if there are a couple of VHS tapes that just stand heads and shoulders over all the other ones. If the answer is yes, then it might be a good move to have those couple of tapes retransferred in a studio where the playback of the VHS or SVHS image is maximized as it is being transferred to digital. It's even possible to stop and start the transfer if there is a dramatic change. The better the signal to noise ratio of the VHS image and sound that is being transferred to digital, the better the digital software being used can do either further enhancements or simply have a nicer signal to work with.
I stopped my video editing service 10 years ago to be a caregiver for both of my parents. Now that I no longer have that honor I wanted to see if I could still use my prior skill set.
I see what you mean by "editing". No skill required. People are already doing what you describe. Falls into line with the way this forum has been going for some time now. I can imagine there are a number of "pro"s who get paid for describing how it's done. The results are all over YouTube, which has become the quality standard nowadays. In what way would the"edit"process make use of those 18 of 20 rejected tapes? or is there some special expertise required in pitching them into a dumpster?
Last edited by LMotlow; 30th Apr 2018 at 04:14.- My sister Ann's brother
But it would be crazy to do the best possible quality if it costs a lot more because maybe only a couple of home movie tapes actually are worth the extra cost and effort. Maybe out of 20 vhs home movie tapes 2 really stand out.
So as an editor I am suggesting that the first pass VHS to DVD or digital transfers are like a combo off-line / online transfer. After transferring all the home videos to digital or dvd, one would watch all of them and determine if there are a couple of VHS tapes that just stand heads and shoulders over all the other ones. If the answer is yes, then it might be a good move to have those couple of tapes retransferred in a studio
where the playback of the VHS or SVHS image is maximized as it is being transferred to digital.
I can tell you've never done any of this. More likely, 10% of the tapes won't even play correctly, and will require a different deck/workflow/setup. It's not as easy as just having 10% of the tapes that "need to look better". And that's AFTER all the tapes have been given top attention. If you just cram tapes into a whizbang combo recorder, most will fail. (With a few rare exceptions, a few pro DVD recorders, but I'm betting you're not talking about any of that $1k pro gear. Even then, not even 90% effective most times.)
A bare essentials setup will cost about $1k, and any thing needed for pro work is going to at minimum triple that.
I wrote this recently: Whats in a Professional Video Workflow to Convert Analog Videotapes?
Even then, it's not just about the gear. It's also about the skill. It can be learned, but it takes time. Offering services to others adds a whole new level of complexity. You current proposed plan of a cheap combo DVD recorder will not at all work.
It's even possible to stop and start the transfer if there is a dramatic change.
The better the signal to noise ratio of the VHS image and sound that is being transferred to digital, the better the digital software being used can do either further enhancements or simply have a nicer signal to work with.
VHS (any consumer analog tape, really) is more than SNR. You have the chaos of analog to tame, especially when it comes to signal timing.
I stopped my video editing service 10 years ago to be a caregiver for both of my parents. Now that I no longer have that honor I wanted to see if I could still use my prior skill set.
Last edited by VHSAlessandro; 30th Apr 2018 at 13:15. Reason: corrected the word view to viewed.
There are cost issues involved here.
Cheap process = cheap work. And cheap = crappy, in almost all cases. So why bother making crap? If anything, buying a cheapo device is money that was wasted. Either do it right, or not at all.
In fact, it seems that you want to pass the buck on costs. Requiring a quality workflow does not make tapes cost $100+ to transfer. That's ridiculous.
Editing is about the management of video clips. The best way to manage video clips is to be able to review the clips without having to playback the fragile VHS tapes over and over. The preservation of the VHS originals then allows for the option of a retransfer with a professional playback set up at a later time. The knowledge of what is on the VHS tape that was collected by studying the first set of digital copies made allows for a much more efficient retransfer process in a higher end studio or set-up.
Editing isn't about scrubbing.
And again, I can tell you've never done anything like this. Sometimes you only have one shot to convert the tape, because it literally degrades in the deck (oxide sheds, etc). So you can't do a sloppy job that first time. There isn't always a second chance.
As I've said many, many times: Your own experiences with your own tapes means nothing. When you start working with tapes, you're subjected to things you've never seen before. Even now, 20+ years later, I see new things. But the difference is, I usually know a process to defeat the problem. And a cheapo DVD recorder setup from Best Buy or Walmart isn't it.
I don't really understand why you are being hostile
VH (and many others sites) have had quacks come and go for 15+ years now. As years drag on, members get tired of the nonsense. So it's shut down right away. And honestly, it should be. Some sites value quality of information. When you claim that a "studio" should use a DVD recorder, "due to costs", you're going to have said cowpie thrown at you. Because it's BS.
I'm nicer than most, but I'm not going to budge on facts.
I have over 20 I.M.D.B credits and have won a Los Angeles Emmy
But your credits were for editing. That's where your skills are.
Again, conversion isn't editing. Almost zero overlap in the skills needed. You can probably learn, but so far you have bad info. Don't argue with us, as we know better. Certainly don't give the weak defensive excuse of "but it costs money" (because that gets a "no shit, Sherlock" response).
And I must say, you're trying to enter a niche field that is shrinking into oblivion. Unless you have some locals queued up for service, perhaps not the wisest move. You're 10-15 years late to the party. Editing, however, isn't affected.
LordSmurf, I gave polite, researched answers based on my professional video editing experiences. You in turn replied in a hostile manner again. I get it. You don't want to acknowledge that there is another level of quality for VHS playback above and beyond what consumers can do on their own. All I can request is you not state your position as fact, just a request, that's all.
What I can do is possibly offer to do a free NTSC VHS transfer to digital so an impartial observer can judge if there is another level of VHS quality above and beyond consumer vhs grade playback. I'm located in Los Angeles in case anyone is located here and is curious.
No point to argue anymore. I'm sure you're the resident expert and are offended at new information coming this late in the game, I get it.
All you've done is made the asinine suggestion that a "studio" uses a combo DVD recorder, and for "costs reasons" pretending it's 'best". As I stated, there's a few pro combos, but results vary, and are very dependent on the source. But when you say things like "words like frame TBC", apparently meaning that you don't know what a TBC is, then it's safe to assume you're not talking about such units. So that mostly leaves consumer junk, where your DVD will almost always look worse than the tape. Yes, worse. Again, exceptions to the rule, decent consumer units, but none are combos.
Using a DVD recorder is something I've long been a proponent of*. But not like this. You're looking to cram tapes into a DVD recorder like a transfer mill did/does. It won't be quality, so don't pretend otherwise. (*We had heated discussion on VH 10+ years ago on it, as the then-new tech rifled feathers of lossless capturing purists. Or even DV purists. But I'm not a purist.)
From what I see, you came here trying to impress others with your accolades (but that fell flat), were skittish about spamming the site (as you should be), and simply wanted assurances that it was fine being a cheapskate with a setup that even a hobbyist would poo-poo.
Feel free to PM me your blog link. Perhaps I'm reading you entirely wrong?
Well then, let's start over. Again, feel free to PM the blog link.
(But, just to reiterate, you're the one that mentioned combo DVD recorders, the low-end transfers, etc. I didn't just pull that from the sky, or darkened orifices.)
I'm curious what you have in your "90s studio" gear. Unfortunately, stuff like RSS 422 editing bays just isn't all that useful anymore. Hardware like that won't even sell for pennies on the dollar on eBay these days. It's just too old to be of real use.
Well bog, sorry blog, aside just what professional equipment do you use for VHS to digital transfer ?
While I probably shouldn't wade into the middle of this slightly edgy discussion, because people seem to have fun beating up on this guy, but just to clarify, for the benefit of the OP, he did NOT say he was using a combo unit. He merely used the word "combo," and did so in a way that did not imply he was using a VHS to DVD combo unit.
Of all the quotes in the thread, this didn't give a good omen: "I think I remember seeing words like frame TBC's, I was very impressed that you even bothered"
Or "it would be crazy to do the best possible quality".
Or "to have those couple of tapes retransferred in a studio where the playback of the VHS or SVHS image is maximized"
It wasn't just about the word "combo".
I'm not trying to beat the guy up. You know that's not who I am. Perhaps it's just an issue of him saying things really badly? He hit a nerve, and it wasn't just me. As I said, VH has had too many quacks over the years (and trolls like SameSelf), who insist that cheap methods "work fine". But most of us know it's nonsense. The idea that "you don't need to do high quality" runs contrary to everything I've written online for the past 15 years. Perhaps he meant something else?
I'm really not sure what he means by "combo off-line / online transfer", if not referring to combo DVD recorders, or internet download/streaming. I vaguely remember now-antiquated analog jargon using those words, but it's just been too long since I did any sort of analog editing (90s). I was never an editor, and am only just competent at it. Not my main video skill set.
I'd be thrilled to meet a peer, somebody else that knows the intricacies of conversion. When I have issues, there's not many people I can turn to. I really miss gshelley, BJ_M, and some others who used to haunt this forum in the 2000s. I'm glad Cornucopia is still here.
Again, OP, PM me the blog link, if not posting it.
Thanks, @lordsmurph. Appreciate the sentiment and the feeling is mutual.
@VHSAlessandro, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I'm also going to keep my skeptical frame of mind.
If you have a "studio" or "rig", why not just plainly state its contents/setup? And your process, which still seems somewhat elliptical in explanation to me.
To give background, in addition to other gigs, I worked at a production/post-production house for 17 years doing everything from audio (my core) to producing, to videography, authoring, to editing, to processing/restoration/enhancement, to forensic work. In the field, in the studio. Indie films, TV shows, beauty pieces, instructional educational clips, many many commercials, and more transfers that you'd ever want to recollect. This shop had a broadcast/pro wing and a consumer wing, and when it was necessary I did both sides (including, heaven help me, weddings). Have since moved on to other AV/IT areas in Higher Ed.
So I remember the gear & nomenclature & skillset & techniques of the 90s (and beyond).
Much of it does NOT translate well to nowadays. Because much of it has been surpassed by technology, or is superfluous as a workflow. Take "offline/online" that you mentioned, for example. This made sense back when there were rooms dedicated to edit-assistant or "B" cuts only edit bays for creating EDLs that would then graduate to the fancy A-suite where the expensive switcher/mixer and DVE effects would "render" the finished product. The only equivalent to that now is using a team-shared SAN multi-user workspace with bare bones (no plugins) licensed installs on modest workstations and other rooms with hefty installs with a full complement of plugins, and possibly a better set of audio & video monitors. And that kind of setup is RARE, because Joe Blow alone in Podunk can do lightyears beyond what the old ONLINE suite could ever do in fractions of the time, just with a couple grand of gear & a pro NLE/DAW/CC setup in his/her house (assuming he/she has the skill).
People want their memories of family & friends & significant events, etc. That's why they want a VHS transferred now. Not to find out "the best shots", but to retain every precious (and even most NOT precious) moments. And, unlike in a zero-sum-gain analog world, there is NO reason to limit them from the beginning stage. This is not a scripted show that you must find the best dailies and only transfer the starred logged scenes.
Give them E*V*E*R*Y*T*H*I*N*G. If they want to edit it down the road, let them do it. It may be a fun hobby/pasttime for them, and they can do so at their leisure.
But it is NOT the role of a "transfer house" these days to be a gatekeeper, parceling out limited resources. Drive space is cheap. There no longer need be the paradigm of "rarity".
And while your time is not necessarily cheap nor infinite, it make more sense to give them a complete linear "transcription" of their original.
Also, while it might be well-intentioned to "optimize" each clip or sequence (setup/pedestal, WB, CC, NR settings), you are still thinking along the lines of an editor who is expected to do so by their demanding client who wants each shot to SELL IT.
But that's just not how (most) people who shot on VHS recorded. They used the same camera with the same settings (usually in autofocus and auto-WB). So that means that often you can set your tape up optimally at the beginning and then just let it roll, and often that's the best you could do anyway.
And, barring TC/sync discontinuities, you SHOULD just let it roll. lordsmurph was spot on with the reference to the (increasing) fragility of tape quality in the analog domain. Sometimes you only get one shot to get it at all, so just get it as right as you can and go for it.
It's fairly clear what most VHS-->Digital premium setups should be like these days:
A couple or more of well maintained VHS and/or SVHS decks, some consumer, some pro. With backups and alternates to accommodate workflow and optimization & compatibility issues.
Hopefully more than a few of those will have switchable line TBCs built-in.
Then there should be the switchable option for full-frame TBC or "frame-store/sync" or "signal regenerator" with ProcAmp and possible DNR or transient NR/dropout compensation.
Monitoring via waveform/vectorscope, cross-pulse, etc is beneficial here.
This should all be going into a capture device/box/card that allows for uncompressed capture to lossless files. Could be RGB, could be YUV444, could be YUV422. But it's going to be 8 or 10 bit, because there really isn't more that can be gleaned from a VHS or SVHS signal. Similary, no need to cap in HD, as VHS only came in SD (not counting the extremely rare WVHS or DVHS). Heck, even M2 was SD.
Lossless, Intraframe top&tail editing (or more detailed, if that's what is truly warranted). Then lossless master saving.
THEN comes conversion, compression & distribution.
Monitoring digital is also helpful, but if you do it properly in the setup prior to capping, it shouldn't need major tweaking, and so not need external monitoring at this stage.
But, there are lots of bad masters, so you have the physical prevention/restoration challenges, and then you'd have digital restoration options, and of course that is where AVISynth, Vdub, ffmpeg, etc. shines. As well as some commercial ware, but even there, you'd be hard pressed to beat AVISynth's ability.
Also, you may need to resort to the median multi-transfer method to improve SNR prior to processing.
That's the BEST you can get. And that really doesn't brook any argument - one cannot further improve on any link in the chain that would materially affect the outcome (mainly because the weakest link here is usually the source).
But, that being said, in those cases of expediency or budget consciousness (and there are many), there are reasonable shortcuts or corner-shaving: DV-style transfer, slightly lossy formats, DVD/MPEG2 recording (also sometimes doubles for TBC). And since VHS is such a $h1tty format to begin with, even fudging like composite transfer, or noticeably lossy storage formats, may still be acceptable if the editing is done minimally & smartly (IOW, using smart-rendering). It behooves to have those options to provide to clients, because they're the ones who ought to make that decision (as long as they are made FULLY aware of the differences).
Now, not counting a full-frame TBC and analog wvfm/vctrscp, I happen to have all those things (including as backup, 3 duplicate SVHS units and 3 combo units, still unopened pristine in box). But I wouldn't call my setup a "studio". However, just because someone has a "studio" (whatever one means when they call it that now), still doesn't mean the outcome could be good enough quality for the customers' needs. Heck, it probably couldn't beat what my "non-studio" can do.
Being a good transfer provider is much more than equipment. And it's more than editing skill, whether you see it that way or not.
Also, note that the workflows mentioned above really have no pressing need for RS-232 or RS-422 or even RS-485 control.
This may sound a bit heavy-handed or condescending, and if so, forgive. I've just seen way too many old-school-pros-turned-freelance with chips on their shoulders, and smooth talking fly-by-nights, and script-kiddie-Spielburg-wannabees to get overjoyed at yet another VHS transfer offering enthusiast, however truly ernest & sincere. But, more power to you if you walk the walk.
Last edited by Cornucopia; 1st May 2018 at 00:46.
I have read many a post on these hallowed pages. But sincerely the one above this drivel by Cornucopia is one of , if not the, best I have read.
Forget my poor attempt at humour to diffuse what was getting a wee bit out of hand. Even so I still believe the OP owes it to this topic to declare his equipment.
There may be many a definition of the word 'studio'. Yet, ultimately, I believe it simply means 'a place to work' without any of the connotations of professionalism (even that word has different meanings in different spheres - example that in my working life as an accountant I was a professional)
I would be the last to judge anyone on their ability in the field of video capture/restoration simply that I have not had the benefit of seeing their work same that no one, I guess, has seen mine. True that I had a small business for some months in that field and did a lot more in that regard for not-for-profit (yet another minefield of a word) trading, has seen mine. Yet I believe that what I did was as good, if not better, than what I had seen before. Totally self taught since I found this place quite late.
But I still read here to expand on my knowledge since one day I could get back to editing/capture if only for my own benefit. Maybe the VCRs still in this household will still work then
I think "studio" was too much, when I hear studio I think Pixar "studio", ABC "studio" and so on. I do video restoration with some gear back at my house, in a small place, I think more like a joint place, not a "studio".
And I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments about the quality of your post.
You're all like my own LOVABLE dysfunctional family!
I still hope the OP shows a little guts and comes back here. I'll get back to my cave now
I found the OP's website:
I've formed my own layman's opinion, but will leave this little snippet here:
"Announcing the Amazing Analog VHS, SVHS Videotape to Digital Transfer and Archiving Studio.
If you have a VHS or SVHS videotape that means a lot to you I have reopened my Videotape to Digital Transfer Studio. I can transfer from multiple Analog Videotape Formats to a digital format and do it at the highest quality. You can even supervise your session if you either live or will be in Los Angeles.
A three hour session costs 500 dollars and as an added incentive, if you do not feel the transfer is as good as I say it can be, you can stop the session within the first hour and get a 400 dollar refund. You simply take your tape with you and leave the work already done behind. However, lets not dwell on what probably won't ever happen."