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  1. Member
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    First of hello everyone, I wanna say thanks in advance and let you know that I did my research prior to writing this post. I still have some questions because no situation was like mine in the posts I read.

    I am currently converting VHS tapes in the format of PAL/SECAM (to the best of my knowledge) from 12 to over 20 years ago. Once I finished using Movavi Video Editor (recommend a better capture software if you know of one please) I see a huge file (50-70GB in size) then I learned I need to compress the output file with Handbrake.

    Over there there are SO many settings and given I am not converting a High Definition video, I am aware some of those options are Not Applicable to me. For example, I don't think it is necessary or smart to choose the Fast 1080P 30FPS preset because the VHS resolution is 720x576. There are a bunch of other options like Codec types such as H.264 and H.265 as well as MPEG-4 and so on. I want to preserve the highest quality.

    There is another field asking if I want to convert to an MKV or MP4. So I am at a pretty confusing stage. I keep researching and the more I learn the more questions I have. I tried to convert the same file 6 times to see what would be the best setting but they all look the same. Keep in mind I don't know much about this stuff. I need help with every option on here, the more you write, the better. I also often see that the FPS is set to 29.97 by default and wanted to ask if I should set it to 30 or higher. So I literally need a step by step guide. So far everything I found made me ask more questions...

    Which settings are the ideal settings for VHS to the best quality digital conversion format which will also fit on a DVD?

    I also recorded my screen and went over the different settings and I can share the video if necessary.
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  2. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ) I see a huge file (50-70GB in size) then I learned I need to compress the output file with Handbrake..
    No. You're doing it wrong.

    You need to slow down here, otherwise you'll just make video that looks terrible, and it will be a complete waste of time, as nobody will bother watching crappy conversion work.

    Let's start over: What is the ultimate goal of converting the VHS to digital? How will it be used, watched, and archived?

    What it is? Old videos of junior playing football, or corporate training videos? What are we talking about here?

    Which settings are the ideal settings for VHS to the best quality digital conversion format which will also fit on a DVD?
    For starters, software like Handbrake isn't the correct tool whatsoever.
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ) I see a huge file (50-70GB in size) then I learned I need to compress the output file with Handbrake..
    No. You're doing it wrong.

    You need to slow down here, otherwise you'll just make video that looks terrible, and it will be a complete waste of time, as nobody will bother watching crappy conversion work.

    Let's start over: What is the ultimate goal of converting the VHS to digital? How will it be used, watched, and archived?

    What it is? Old videos of junior playing football, or corporate training videos? What are we talking about here?

    Which settings are the ideal settings for VHS to the best quality digital conversion format which will also fit on a DVD?
    For starters, software like Handbrake isn't the correct tool whatsoever.

    Hello and thank you for the clarification!

    Here are the answers according to the order of your questions:

    I want to preserve family home videos which my parents created over the years since I was 4 years old, I am 29 today. Initially what my parents asked of me was to convert the VHS tapes to the best digital format and then store it on a Hard Drive as well as make DVDs for every tape. Keeping in mind they want the quality to be the highest possible and the file to be not too large.

    We are talking about home videos of us throughout our lives. Birthdays, family events and pretty much everything else.

    I really appreciate the time you guys are taking to read my post and help me out. These tapes are very important to me.
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    Capture your videos with a lossless codec such as HuffYUV, Lagarith, or UT Video. This way you are preserving exactly what comes out of your digital converter. When it comes time to make a DVD, your authoring application (or some adjunct tool) will convert your lossless files into the lossy MPEG2 codec which is required for DVD-Video. If you want to share videos by file instead of disc, then you can make lossy AVC/h.264 (MP4) files with a tool such as Handbrake and get them down to a size which is easier to transmit by internet or sneakernet.

    Beware: losslessly compressed video files are huge. If these tapes are as important as you say they are, it will be worth purchasing the storage (and backup!) for them.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Capture your videos with a lossless codec such as HuffYUV, Lagarith, or UT Video. This way you are preserving exactly what comes out of your digital converter. When it comes time to make a DVD, your authoring application (or some adjunct tool) will convert your lossless files into the lossy MPEG2 codec which is required for DVD-Video. If you want to share videos by file instead of disc, then you can make lossy AVC/h.264 (MP4) files with a tool such as Handbrake and get them down to a size which is easier to transmit by internet or sneakernet.

    Beware: losslessly compressed video files are huge. If these tapes are as important as you say they are, it will be worth purchasing the storage (and backup!) for them.

    Thank you for the awesome explanation. So Handbrake is a good software to use but only for certain applications in this matter I guess.

    I heard that H.264 is better than MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 and that H.265 is even better cause it is newer.

    As for the software you are talking about. Can you name specific programs I can purchase for this project?

    I totally agree that everything should be backed up properly. So are you saying that I SHOULD keep a copy of the lossless compressed videos? Cause even though the smaller files are good for DVDs and sharing with people, the Lossless files are the highest quality?

    Sorry for all the questions but I never imagined it would be this complicated. Happy to learn whatever you will teach me. I have like 50 tapes. Some big ones and some small ones.
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  6. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Maybe we should also slow this down and ask some vital questions.

    According to your profile you are in Canada. Yet you talk about PAL which is a European system. Kindly confirm that you do have, to the best of your knowledge, PAL tapes AND a PAL vcr.

    PAL system is 720*576 (which you already mentioned) but is 25 fps so you do not want to be capturing at 29.97 fps
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    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    I heard that H.264 is better than MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 and that H.265 is even better cause it is newer.
    h.264 (also known as AVC) is a more advanced codec than MPEG2. It can make smaller files at the same level of quality. MPEG4, or more commonly MP4, is a container format wrapped around h.264 video and AAC audio. h.265 achieves even higher compression but it is overkill for SD material.

    As for the software you are talking about. Can you name specific programs I can purchase for this project?
    VirtualDub and AmaRecTV are the usual suspects for capturing the digitized stream and stuffing it into a file. There are all kinds of free and paid editing programs around if you want to get into that. And when it comes to enhancement, there is AviSynth, which can work wonders but at the price of a very steep learning curve. Check the software libraries here for DVD and encoding apps. Since you are working with videotape, you will need to learn about deinterlacing and decide how you want to handle that in your copies that are targeted to the digital platform.

    I totally agree that everything should be backed up properly. So are you saying that I SHOULD keep a copy of the lossless compressed videos? Cause even though the smaller files are good for DVDs and sharing with people, the Lossless files are the highest quality?
    Yes, that's right. You never know what amazing new enhancement filters will pop up down the road. If you have the best originals to work from, you are ahead of the game. For deep-archive storage, I encode my captures to the FFV1 codec for greatest lossless compression.
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    Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    Maybe we should also slow this down and ask some vital questions.

    According to your profile you are in Canada. Yet you talk about PAL which is a European system. Kindly confirm that you do have, to the best of your knowledge, PAL tapes AND a PAL vcr.

    PAL system is 720*576 (which you already mentioned) but is 25 fps so you do not want to be capturing at 29.97 fps
    I used to live in Israel, which is why the tapes are in PAL format/standard (I assume they are since I see PAL/SECAM on the tape enclosures). The weird part is that Movavi let's me sometimes use unrelated standards and it still works...

    The VCR I am using is SHARP VC-A50. Then it reads: [Multi System - 8 Hour Recording with PAL LP] and underneath it says: [PAL / MESCAM / NTSC PLAYBACK ON PAL-60TV]

    So when I tune the settings I should always pick 25? nothing less nothing more?
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    I heard that H.264 is better than MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 and that H.265 is even better cause it is newer.
    h.264 (also known as AVC) is a more advanced codec than MPEG2. It can make smaller files at the same level of quality. MPEG4, or more commonly MP4, is a container format wrapped around h.264 video and AAC audio. h.265 achieves even higher compression but it is overkill for SD material.

    As for the software you are talking about. Can you name specific programs I can purchase for this project?
    VirtualDub and AmaRecTV are the usual suspects for capturing the digitized stream and stuffing it into a file. There are all kinds of free and paid editing programs around if you want to get into that. And when it comes to enhancement, there is AviSynth, which can work wonders but at the price of a very steep learning curve. Check the software libraries here for DVD and encoding apps. Since you are working with videotape, you will need to learn about deinterlacing and decide how you want to handle that in your copies that are targeted to the digital platform.

    I totally agree that everything should be backed up properly. So are you saying that I SHOULD keep a copy of the lossless compressed videos? Cause even though the smaller files are good for DVDs and sharing with people, the Lossless files are the highest quality?
    Yes, that's right. You never know what amazing new enhancement filters will pop up down the road. If you have the best originals to work from, you are ahead of the game. For deep-archive storage, I encode my captures to the FFV1 codec for greatest lossless compression.
    Thanks so much for the response. I am still a little confused about the codec choice. When should I use each of them? Because earlier you mentioned using MPEG-2.
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    MPEG2 is required only for making a DVD.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    MPEG2 is required only for making a DVD.
    Oh okay. So MPEG-4 wouldn't work? Or it's just better to use MPEG-2
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ) I see a huge file (50-70GB in size) then I learned I need to compress the output file with Handbrake..
    No. You're doing it wrong.

    You need to slow down here, otherwise you'll just make video that looks terrible, and it will be a complete waste of time, as nobody will bother watching crappy conversion work.

    Let's start over: What is the ultimate goal of converting the VHS to digital? How will it be used, watched, and archived?

    What it is? Old videos of junior playing football, or corporate training videos? What are we talking about here?

    Which settings are the ideal settings for VHS to the best quality digital conversion format which will also fit on a DVD?
    For starters, software like Handbrake isn't the correct tool whatsoever.
    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ) I see a huge file (50-70GB in size) then I learned I need to compress the output file with Handbrake..
    Which settings are the ideal settings for VHS to the best quality digital conversion format which will also fit on a DVD?
    For starters, software like Handbrake isn't the correct tool whatsoever.
    Hi lordsmurf,

    any chance you can follow up on my response? I replied to what you asked, hoping it would make it easier to assist me. Every comment helps so I would like to know what you think as well.

    Hello and thank you for the clarification!

    Here are the answers according to the order of your questions:

    I want to preserve family home videos which my parents created over the years since I was 4 years old, I am 29 today. Initially what my parents asked of me was to convert the VHS tapes to the best digital format and then store it on a Hard Drive as well as make DVDs for every tape. Keeping in mind they want the quality to be the highest possible and the file to be not too large.

    We are talking about home videos of us throughout our lives. Birthdays, family events and pretty much everything else.

    I really appreciate the time you guys are taking to read my post and help me out. These tapes are very important to me.
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  13. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by iSolo;2527309The VCR I am using is SHARP VC-A50. Then it reads: [Multi System - 8 Hour Recording with PAL LP
    and underneath it says: [PAL / MESCAM / NTSC PLAYBACK ON PAL-60TV]

    So when I tune the settings I should always pick 25? nothing less nothing more?
    Absolutely.

    Although you do state that you have read extensively, you do appear confused. When you do the initial capture, you want the highest available format. To put it simply that would mean the one with the least compression on the captured video. Mpeg-4 is NOT a good choice since it could give even higher compression than mpeg-2 and will be hardly to edit. Conversion to mpeg-2 (for dvd) always loses some quality so if you have low quality to start with......

    Compression is related to file size so your 60-70 gb files infers low compression anyway. But that is all we know right now. You may have read of an utility called mediainfo. Download it and load one of you captures in to it. Post a text-mode report here.
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    Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo;2527309The VCR I am using is SHARP VC-A50. Then it reads: [Multi System - 8 Hour Recording with PAL LP
    and underneath it says: [PAL / MESCAM / NTSC PLAYBACK ON PAL-60TV]

    So when I tune the settings I should always pick 25? nothing less nothing more?
    Absolutely.

    Although you do state that you have read extensively, you do appear confused. When you do the initial capture, you want the highest available format. To put it simply that would mean the one with the least compression on the captured video. Mpeg-4 is NOT a good choice since it could give even higher compression than mpeg-2 and will be hardly to edit. Conversion to mpeg-2 (for dvd) always loses some quality so if you have low quality to start with......

    Compression is related to file size so your 60-70 gb files infers low compression anyway. But that is all we know right now. You may have read of an utility called mediainfo. Download it and load one of you captures in to it. Post a text-mode report here.
    thank you for your time. I will definitely do that when I get home back from work. I saw it was suggested in the past. I will edit this message or post a new one.
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    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    MPEG2 is required only for making a DVD.
    Oh okay. So MPEG-4 wouldn't work? Or it's just better to use MPEG-2
    The DVD-Video specification requires either H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 or MPEG-1 Part 2 encoding. It does not allow H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 encoding.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    MPEG2 is required only for making a DVD.
    Oh okay. So MPEG-4 wouldn't work? Or it's just better to use MPEG-2
    The DVD-Video specification requires either H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 or MPEG-1 Part 2 encoding. It does not allow H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 encoding.
    Can I tell you how amazed I am with how complex all of this is. I think it was a little stupid of me not to predict it will be THIS complicated since we are talking AV here. AV is never simple. So many "ifs" and "buts" situations which change the entire outcome.

    I am a music producer. I understand sound fairly well but I'm still learning when it comes to Analog and conversion. I understand some pretty advanced matters when it comes to music production and I find it complicated understanding what you're explaining
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  17. Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ...and I find it complicated understanding what you're explaining
    But it's not all that hard to bring yourself up to speed. For example, this site has pretty good definitions and explanations. Here's the one for DVD:

    https://www.videohelp.com/dvd

    What you buy and how you do the conversion from VHS tape to DVD depends mostly on how much you're willing to spend and how much work you want to do. Capturing to DVD is certainly the easiest, but it also produces the worst quality. Any editing done to your captured DVD will degrade that quality further. Maybe you have a high tolerance for crap, in which case you might not care. Increasingly better quality requires increasingly better equipment and increasingly more knowledge and work.
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    Originally Posted by manono View Post
    Originally Posted by iSolo View Post
    ...and I find it complicated understanding what you're explaining
    But it's not all that hard to bring yourself up to speed. For example, this site has pretty good definitions and explanations. Here's the one for DVD:

    https://www.videohelp.com/dvd

    What you buy and how you do the conversion from VHS tape to DVD depends mostly on how much you're willing to spend and how much work you want to do. Capturing to DVD is certainly the easiest, but it also produces the worst quality. Any editing done to your captured DVD will degrade that quality further. Maybe you have a high tolerance for crap, in which case you might not care. Increasingly better quality requires increasingly better equipment and increasingly more knowledge and work.
    Then I think I should sink into that site for a few days before I write anything else on this forum, out of respect for everyone who's been so helpful. I gotta do my own research with the information I gathered here thus far. I will learn and be back in a couple days with more concrete data and questions I might have about what I learned.
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