I just joined this forum in search for some answers to some questions I have in regards to a project of mine. I am converting all of my family precious VHS memories from the last 25 years to digital form. I am not experienced in the matter and I started a thread with a few questions and quickly learned just how complex this process can be and who knows, maybe I don't even own the right hardware/software.
Here is the thread:
My question to you is, in my case... Would you suggest to find a company which provides a VHS to digital conversion service? Or do you not trust other people handling such sensitive data since it is so old already. My friend says they will be more careful with the tapes than I am since it is their livelihood and their profession.
Wanted to see what you guys think.
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Well like any service there are reputable firms and there are 'cowboys'.
Some of our own members here do this on a professional basis. It comes down to money. If you are prepared to pay then do seek out a reputable firm or just continue the thread and learn as you go.
So-called "pro" conversion services differ wildly. Frankly, as DB83 points out, the majority of services are pretty awful and a lot of those guys don't know any more about digitizing video than you do. Many have contacted a member here named lordsmurf who has many years of experience in this matter and is connected to a service that has an excellent reputation. If nothing else, he can offer some knowledgeable advice. The service can also save you some dough by capturing to lossless media that you can fix up yourself using your own software, much of which you can find here for free. http://www.digitalfaq.com
Last edited by LMotlow; 21st Aug 2018 at 18:19.- My sister Ann's brother
- My sister Ann's brother
You might consider this as two separate jobs: capturing (hardware) and filtering/editing (software).
If you want the best possible captures you'll need to spend a lot on hardware, US$500 to US$1000. You'll need an S-VHS deck with a line-TBC, a full frame TBC, maybe a proc amp, and a capture card. S-VHS decks haven't been made in 10 or 15 years so you'll be getting a used one. Given their age, getting one that's in good condition is hard. This task may be best left to someone who already has the hardware. Send them a hard drive and have them capture YUY2 (or other YUV 4:2:2 format) with a lossless codec like Lagarith, UT video codec, etc. These become you master archival copies. And for long term storage you will want at least one more copy stored at a separate location.
Filtering in software can be free with tools like VirtualDub, AviSynth, VaporSynth... The latter two are script driven and have steep learning curves (and difficult for complex color adjustments). No capture house is going to spend a lot of time perfecting every shot (unless you really want to spend big bucks), getting the white balance correct, adjusting levels, gamma, saturation white balance, noise reduction, etc. And even if they do do it for you what they do may not be what you want. There is a lot of artistic and personal judgement involved here. In a shot of grandma sitting in in a dark room next to a bright window -- do you want to brighten the interior to see grandma, letting the window blow out? What if it's more important to see what's going on outside? Only you know what's important here.
Editing (cut, paste, transitions, titles, music, etc.) is best done in some commercial program like Sony Vegas. The basic packages cost about US$100. More advanced packages cost about $300+. You probably don't need the advanced stuff.
If you are willing to live with quality similar to your current VCR playing on an HDTV, and don't want to send a lot of money and time, recording on a decent DVD recorder with a line-tbc and frame sync is a viable option. Record at the highest quality (1 hr per 4.3 GB disc). You can get an old Panasonic ES10 or ES15 for about US$100 now. This is strictly for viewing and rudimentary cut/paste editing (with a smart editor like VideoRedo). It's not a good path if you need to filter.