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  1. Member
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    Hello everyone! I've been transferring mine and my parents home movies from VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Digital8, and mini-DV. I'm working my way up in time so I've started with the oldest VHS tapes and 8mm so far.

    I use a Mac. My setup is VCR -> Sony Camcorder as passthrough with FireWire out -> computer (or straight from camera to computer for 8mm)

    I've been experimenting with different capture methods and I found all have their pros and cons. I tried Vidi, iMovie HD (old version I was able to find and install to capture analog footage since new iMovie needs timecode), Trial of LifeFlix, and QuickTime Player.

    (I had some audio sync issues during conversion to mp4 which led me to experiment with different capture software to see if issue was in the dv file or the conversion.)

    Anyway!

    The last method I tried was Quicktime on the maximum quality setting, which captures in ProRes 422. (The "high" setting apparently captures and encodes directly to H.264 which I don't want, and those are the only 2 settings.)

    I was able to overcome my previous sync issues by adding a few steps while converting the dv files (involving demuxing files and encoding A/V separately, then putting back together using ffmpeg.. kind of a process), but capturing to ProRes with Quicktime allowed me to simply capture and convert using handbrake with no sync issues.

    Now my question is - are there any DRAWBACKS to capturing in ProRes 422 with Quicktime (as a .mov file) vs capturing to DV, using Vidi, iMovie, etc.? (Other than file size, which is about 20 GB per hour vs 14 GB per hour for dv)

    I've been doing a lot of reading and lots of people say ProRes is superior because of the 4.2.2 vs 4.1.1 but also possibly overkill for Analog conversion - but if it solves my audio sync issues, am I creating any other problems? I've read ProRes converts interlaced footage to Progressive on the fly, and not sure if that's bad.. and I also have read that my Sony Camcorder is actually in "DV format" and that DV transfer is basically copying the footage out of the camera into the same format. But then other people say DV is not lossless and also not the ideal format for a few reasons, so I have no idea.

    Obviously these are home movies and don't need to be Hollywood quality films - all of my final files no matter which way I use look good enough and are more than passable for my needs. I just have over 50 tapes to do still and I'd like to settle on the best way to do this before I continue and then realize I should have done it another way, for unforeseen issues with incompatibility, conversion, or anything else.

    PS. I am archiving the DV / ProRes files on an external hard drive for storage, and using the encoded mp4 on a smaller external portable hard drive for use in Smart TVs and so on.
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    On a side note, does anyone know why the Quicktime ProRes capture would be ever so slightly sped up compared to the DV capture of the same footage? Over an hour tape, the ProRes version is about a minute shorter, give or take, and if I play the files simultaneously in sync, the DV captured footage starts to fall behind within a minute.
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  3. Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    On a side note, does anyone know why the Quicktime ProRes capture would be ever so slightly sped up compared to the DV capture of the same footage? Over an hour tape, the ProRes version is about a minute shorter, give or take, and if I play the files simultaneously in sync, the DV captured footage starts to fall behind within a minute.
    My guess for this is that DV keeps the VHS framerate, 29.97 frames per second in the NTSC system (I assume you're using this), while perhaps ProRes saves it at 30fps. Now, that issue can be overcome by editing the file header later, for example with Atom Inspector (freeware), or perhaps with Loosless Frame Rate Convertor (freeware). It at a loss, contact me (is there DM here?) and I'll give you the files.

    It's good that you mention this issue about ProRes, because I also experimented with encoding with Quicktime ProRes today for the first time, and I will not do it now.
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    Originally Posted by celsoac View Post
    It's good that you mention this issue about ProRes, because I also experimented with encoding with Quicktime ProRes today for the first time, and I will not do it now.
    I wouldn't rule it out based on my findings alone. Plenty of people use and are happy with ProRes so it just depends on what your needs are. I'm sure hardware and software also matter.
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  5. Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    Originally Posted by celsoac View Post
    It's good that you mention this issue about ProRes, because I also experimented with encoding with Quicktime ProRes today for the first time, and I will not do it now.
    I wouldn't rule it out based on my findings alone. Plenty of people use and are happy with ProRes so it just depends on what your needs are. I'm sure hardware and software also matter.
    Thanks. Another problem I had with QuickTime ProRes is that I have to digitize very long tapes recorded from TV, while QuickTime stopped recording after a few minutes (buffer issue?). So, I am also using and OLD version of iMovie which outputs DV, as you do, which is the only one that does NOT break the recording due to out-of-sync or to dropped frames. Final Cut Pro X, which is great for editing, does not have a "manual" option to avoid those breaks. In my experience, DV encodes very well in Final Cut Pro. I also archive in DV and make viewable versions in MP4. I would NEVER encode directly into MP4 for any serious purpose. As to lossless encoding, I also did encoding to AVI with Pinnacle in Windows, but I haven't found any app/system in Mac that allows for direct lossless import, do you?

    By the way: do you have a problem hearing the tape with iMovie while you import? I get no sound, though the sound is there, finally. I've read this is a common issue that I'm trying to solve. Thanks!
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    Originally Posted by celsoac View Post
    So, I am also using and OLD version of iMovie which outputs DV, as you do, which is the only one that does NOT break the recording due to out-of-sync or to dropped frames. Final Cut Pro X, which is great for editing, does not have a "manual" option to avoid those breaks. In my experience, DV encodes very well in Final Cut Pro. I also archive in DV and make viewable versions in MP4.
    Uh oh, a DV fan. Watch out - you may get your head bitten off on this thread. I also finagled the old iMovie HD to install on my OS (which is also old, 10.10) since the new iMovie doesn't see analog video without a timecode like Digital video has. I also used a small app I found called Vidi which works just fine for DV capture too, as far as I can tell.

    Originally Posted by celsoac View Post
    As to lossless encoding, I also did encoding to AVI with Pinnacle in Windows, but I haven't found any app/system in Mac that allows for direct lossless import, do you?
    If you have a Mac computer that you can add a capture card to (I don't - I have an iMac where everything is basically in the monitor, and a Macbook Pro Laptop), then I presume you could install a capture card like the AJA and capture completely uncompressed or I assume possibly a lossless codec, whatever is available in the AJA software or whatever you use to capture. I don't know for sure as I don't have a setup that will allow this.

    Originally Posted by celsoac View Post
    By the way: do you have a problem hearing the tape with iMovie while you import? I get no sound, though the sound is there, finally. I've read this is a common issue that I'm trying to solve. Thanks!
    I don't have that problem actually and so I don't know much about it. I would try the Vidi capture app or something else, and see if you can hear it there, determine if it's the hardware on your computer or something iMovie is doing. In my iMovie, I can hear the audio while I capture and it was like that from the beginning.
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    the best quality that can be achieved from DV tapes is to copy the exact same information from the tape to the computer. DVavi -> DVavi over firewire. transferring the tape to the computer in any other format is going to involve re-encoding it. and if it wasn't DVavi to begin with like a vhs tape then there are 2 re-encodes in the path.
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    Capturing analog to lossy codecs loses 560% of the original color resolution, thriows away some original data thru lossy compression, requires yet another lossy stage of compression when you make your final output formats, blows out highlights and offers no control over invalid signal levels, and forever embeds tape noise and other analog defects as digital artifacts that don't exist inn the originals.

    After all that's been posted about these destructive lossy methods for years and years and years and thousands and thousands and thousands of posts, people do it anyway. It's as amazing as it is depressing.

    If you need any help cleaning up the artifacts and other damage, just ask.
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    Now my question is - are there any DRAWBACKS to capturing in ProRes 422 with Quicktime (as a .mov file) vs capturing to DV, using Vidi, iMovie, etc.? (Other than file size, which is about 20 GB per hour vs 14 GB per hour for dv)
    There is no reason to convert DV or Digital8 to ProRes 422. You cannot create color resolution where none exists in the first place. You are simply adding another compression step which will degrade image quality, however slightly. ProRes is fine for the other analog formats.

    I've read ProRes converts interlaced footage to Progressive on the fly
    ProRes stores video as progressive frames but does not deinterlace. The fields can still be deinterlaced in a separate operation.
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    @JVRaines, the only reason I was considering it was to avoid the mysterious audio sync issues I was facing with the dv capture converting to mp4, which worked. My intention was not to increase the quality, and my fear was that by fixing the audio problem, I might be creating another problem, like as you mentioned, degrading image quality and at the expense of larger files too. For my analog formats, I am still using an old Sony camcorder as a way to convert the signal to digital to get it into my computer, and so I assume that my analog signal is, in this case, actually dv before it gets to the computer, and therefore ProRes is also not good for my analog tapes. I don't know enough about it by I guess there is some way to capture analog signal to ProRes? That is neither here nor there - I am looking to preferably use what I have and hopefully I can chip away at this project for the next few months! Thank you.
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    @For my analog formats, I am still using an old Sony camcorder as a way to convert the signal to digital to get it into my computer, and so I assume that my analog signal is, in this case, actually dv before it gets to the computer, and therefore ProRes is also not good for my analog tapes. I don't know enough about it by I guess there is some way to capture analog signal to ProRes?
    Yes, the Sony is encoding to DV before sending over FireWire. DV is a lossy intraframe codec with rather low color resolution. If these tapes are important, it's better to save the converted data stream to a lossless format such as HuffYUV. In this scenario, use a USB analog-digital video converter, generally under $50.
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    Thanks guys. @LMotlow, I hear you - but many people, such as myself, are doing this to preserve memories, and ultimately are happy with having old VHS tapes in any watchable format, even with some color loss and digital artifacts. Even with those losses, I'm thankful I am doing this now, with the equipment I have in my possession, and that I am able to see my grandparents on the farm in Italy in the 1960s and my Dad as a kid (those were converted from reels to VHS at some point and some of those tapes are Green but we're still just thankful to have them) and everything that came after that. Basically it's either DV or ProRes files for me, or have the tapes rot in the basement never to be seen again. If I don't tackle this now, that's what I'm afraid will happen, and that's why so many people are probably ok with doing it this way

    What is your recommended solution for what I'm trying to accomplish?
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    Thanks guys. @LMotlow, I hear you - but many people, such as myself, are doing this to preserve memories, and ultimately are happy with having old VHS tapes in any watchable format, even with some color loss and digital artifacts.

    What is your recommended solution for what I'm trying to accomplish?
    I detest excuses for why crappy work is tolerable. Once you see the differences, it becomes less palatable.

    ProRes422 is semi-lossy, more towards lossless than not.
    DV is extremely lossy, throws away 50%+ of the color data, adds blocks, etc.

    If you want lossy, then go for MPEG. It doesn't have the color loss aspect, just the blocking aspect.
    Or ProRes422.

    But do NOT use Blackmagic products, those work very poorly with SD video (VHS, etc), and will give you problems.

    Elgato is really crappy as well.

    Mac is really the wrong tool for capturing video. Editing from a camera, sure. But not capturing analog footage. Look into building/borrowing/whatever a Windows XP/7 system, anything from the past 10 years is fine, and get a quality USB capture option. Then you'll be in business, with quality, without problems.

    Note that you also need a quality VCR, and some sort of TBC (at very minimum, an ES10/15 can give some TBC'ish functionality).

    It's not as easy as buying any card, using any software, any computer, any VCR. Otherwise you'll find yourself in video hell.
    Want my help? Ask here! (not via PM!)
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Elgato is really crappy as well.

    Mac is really the wrong tool for capturing video. Editing from a camera, sure. But not capturing analog footage. Look into building/borrowing/whatever a Windows XP/7 system, anything from the past 10 years is fine, and get a quality USB capture option.
    What is a quality USB capture option in your experience?

    I do have an old PC in the basement with Windows XP that I built to be pretty powerful (wayyy back when) and it also has a firewire card in it too. I COULD see if that still runs, and then get a USB capture for the VHS stuff. I just don't know if or how that computer is running after sitting for so long collecting dust.

    I also have an unused Dell laptop from my job that is no longer being used, has Windows 7 on it but I am sure the specs are not good for video work. Capturing maybe... but without checking, I would guess the machine is not that powerful.
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    I do have an old PC in the basement with Windows XP that I built to be pretty powerful (wayyy back when) and it also has a firewire card in it too. I COULD see if that still runs, and then get a USB capture for the VHS stuff. I just don't know if or how that computer is running after sitting for so long collecting dust.

    I also have an unused Dell laptop from my job that is no longer being used, has Windows 7 on it but I am sure the specs are not good for video work. Capturing maybe... but without checking, I would guess the machine is not that powerful.
    My advice is to use a Windows machine. You'll have a lot more control that way.

    As you predicted, the Holy War rages over DV versus lossless. My advice is still to try to establish a lossless workflow. You've taken such good care of these tapes for decades ó you will convert them once and then you are stuck FOREVER with the digital results. Isn't it worth a little effort to get the best masters within reason? Along those lines, I would also advise you to use an s-video output. In most players, it provides a noticeably sharper image without color artifacts. And watch your audio levels as you convert; if they are too high, you'll get digital distortion.
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    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    Along those lines, I would also advise you to use an s-video output. In most players, it provides a noticeably sharper image without color artifacts. And watch your audio levels as you convert; if they are too high, you'll get digital distortion.
    None of the VCRs I have access to have S-video output (I checked) and I canít believe how much money people are getting for used SVHS VCRs. Plus you never know what itís been through and Iím afraid of it eating my tapes. There is no other way, other than a VCR with S video output, right? Im stuck with RCA at the moment.
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    @JvRaines, I thought those USB capture devices all captured and encoded in one step using H.264 and compressing audio. Is that not right? Iím not familiar with HuffyUV and a quick search shows itís for Windows and Iím using a Mac, can I still use it? If you know of a device like youíre referring to that works on a Mac, links welcome... thank you!
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    Some USB converters come with software that saves h.264, but nearly all can be used in uncompressed mode with proper drivers. (It's easier to do in Windows than in MacOS.)
    I know the Elgato and Startech USB devices work with MacOS ó they are a bit pricey. If you find a capture app that's based on FFmpeg, it will have HuffYUV codec. You'll need to search around a bit to see what's available; you have to get out of the Quicktime walled garden.
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    Depending upon the brand, they capture, & convert using choice of system-supplied codecs, or using subset of hardware-assisted codecs, or using proprietary codecs.
    IMO, it is better to have the former if you have a beefy enough system, as that gives you the most options. Next is the hardware-assisted, which is mainly only handy if your system is underpowered. Least desirable is the last, but one sometimes is stuck with certain purchases due to budget, circumstances.

    Note, in nearly all cases your options are a good deal more limited if you are using a Mac. For example: with current Macs there are only a few allowed capture/storage codecs...DV (for legacy SD DV material), ProRes (for anything high quality to start with or needing to transcode & maintain reasonably high quality), and AVC/h264 or HEVC/h265 for everything else. If capturing from within iMovie you might have a few other options (AIC), or if capping within FCX you have a few more. And if you have Premiere, or Avid MediaComposer, you also have access to their preferred or proprietary codecs that aren't based on Quicktime or AVFoundation system APIs. Some are better than others. Older Quicktime (and FCP, etc) had lots of options, but those are dying or dead options now.

    If you have a decent budget, I'd suggest getting an Aja or Blackmagic device/card, as those are high quality & known to work well with Macs. And...you get what you pay for, so GIGO.

    I'd also suggest: if your material is originally on tape as DV (same goes for Digital8 which is DV under the hood), transfer via firewire to computer, retaining as DV, edit as DV, save master as DV. Then & only then do you create a converted copy for regular playback use (h264, etc).
    If you material is anything else, you are better served (for preservation purposes) capping as high a quality as possible (ProRes or better, on a Mac), keeping it that way throughout, and then also converting at the end to h264, etc.

    The previous guys' suggestions are overall good, and well-intentioned, but fail to fully take into account the peculiarities of Macs.

    Scott
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    If capturing from within iMovie you might have a few other options (AIC), or if capping within FCX you have a few more. And if you have Premiere, or Avid MediaComposer, you also have access to their preferred or proprietary codecs that aren't based on Quicktime or AVFoundation system APIs. Some are better than others. Older Quicktime (and FCP, etc) had lots of options, but those are dying or dead options now.
    FCPX, Avid and Premiere Pro will not recognize a lot of the cheap USB capture cards and even a lot of the PCIE capture cards.

    If you have a decent budget, I'd suggest getting an Aja or Blackmagic device/card, as those are high quality & known to work well with Macs. And...you get what you pay for, so GIGO.
    The BMD products do not capture 8MM, Hi-8 and VHS that well. FCPX will not even capture video using a BMD Intensity Shuttle. You have to capture video using BMD's Media Express software. The software is decent but the Intensity Shuttle needs a TBC more often than not to capture HI-8, 8MM and VHS. Having said that FCPX can playback video to broadcast compliant hardware using the Intensity Shuttle but it is kind of a pain in the butt compared to Premiere Pro.

    Transferring Digital 8 using the Fire Wire port is the best option for the Digital 8 tapes but using the Digital 8 to pass through VHS will work just fine. The DV codec will work just fine no need to trans-code.
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    Check out OBS Studio. It's based on FFmpeg and may provide HuffYUV under Mac OS.
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    True - if OBS can hook into the capture drivers, it should allow for other options. Though in my experience, most Mac products rely on QT/AVFoundation so they don't have to start from scratch.

    Scott
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    Thank you for all your suggestions. My next steps are:

    1. Look into OBS (I can already see I am one MacOS version behind their minimum requirements but I have a mac laptop on current OS that could probably do the capture, but I'd worry about doing the conversion to mpg on a laptop). I haven't updated my main Mac because I have other programs I need that don't run on newer OS. :/ Too bad - this looks like it could have been a winner otherwise, but will still check it out.

    2. Look into Elgato and Startech capture devices (I've heard Elgato a few times and with mixed reviews but have not looked into Startech)

    3. Look into AJA and Blackmagic - I would be willing to spend some money (within reason) to do this right and headache-free at this point. I've heard Blackmagic mentioned a few times but I've never heard of AJA. Will do a little research and probably end up with one of these solutions.

    Using an outside capture device opens up a whole new can of worms for me so if anyone out there has already done the research on any of the above devices, I'd love to hear your input.

    I also have to double check what outputs my VCR has. Are regular AV cables sufficient with these capture devices (with regards to the quality we're chasing) or am I looking for S Video?
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    Thank you for all your suggestions. My next steps are:

    Look into AJA and Blackmagic - I would be willing to spend some money (within reason) to do this right and headache-free at this point. I've heard Blackmagic mentioned a few times but I've never heard of AJA. Will do a little research and probably end up with one of these solutions.

    Using an outside capture device opens up a whole new can of worms for me so if anyone out there has already done the research on any of the above devices, I'd love to hear your input.

    I don't think you will like the BMD products for what you want to do because the AJA and BMD products probably will not work for VHS capture. The products main purpose is not video capture but instead real-time broadcast compliant playback for Avid, DR and Premiere Pro. Keep in mind streaming with the BMD products is different than capturing old worn-out VHS tapes that will probably require a TBC. Having said that I love using the BMD Intensity Shuttle but I use it for playback more than capture.

    As far as research you can simply watch the video clips below to find out more about using the AJA and BMD products. If you want broadcast compliant playback then the AJA and BMD products are a must have and are well worth the price of admission. On the other hand if you are trying to capture VHS tapes using your Digital 8 camcorder to pass through old VHS tapes using iMovie that method should work just fine. You can leave them in the DV format. No need to trans-code.


    https://youtu.be/PTQYJKQpazk

    https://youtu.be/barrJWuBzCA
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    Originally Posted by medeamajic View Post
    On the other hand if you are trying to capture VHS tapes using your Digital 8 camcorder to pass through old VHS tapes using iMovie that method should work just fine. You can leave them in the DV format. No need to trans-code.
    Medeamajic, after lurking in this forum for a while, I would be surprised if this comment doesn't start a whole debate over DV and all its horror.

    VHS (and VHS-C, and 8mm etc) is what I am trying to do so thank you for saving me the trouble of extensive research on AJA and Blackmagic only to find out they're not really what I need. Once I get to my Digital8 tapes, then it's easy... until then I'm searching for the best "for me" analog solution.

    DV is still on the table for me as an option, as horrible as it may be, and as much as it makes some people cringe.

    ASSUMING I continue with DV... When you say leave it in DV, no need to trans-code, for what application do you mean? My plan was to convert all the tapes, save a copy of DV files (for my own archives, and for future editing if I ever want to compile clips into a project), convert all to mp4, save to a different portable hard drive for watching on TVs, and make copies of the mp4s for my siblings onto their own drives.
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  26. Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    ASSUMING I continue with DV... When you say leave it in DV, no need to trans-code, for what application do you mean? My plan was to convert all the tapes, save a copy of DV files (for my own archives, and for future editing if I ever want to compile clips into a project), convert all to mp4, save to a different portable hard drive for watching on TVs, and make copies of the mp4s for my siblings onto their own drives.
    Hi, Christina;

    As someone who is in your (virtual) shoes, with my own ongoing/endless "project" of digitizing old photos, slides, 8mm/S8mm films, VHS, Beta, and 8mm/Hi8mm tapes (whew!) to share with family and friends, I've read all the posts here, with all the good and useful and interesting advice/commentary, and all I can say is ... good luck to you!

    Okay seriously, it sounds like you're doing extremely well already with what you've got, you may not consider yourself experienced but hell, I'm impressed with what you've done so far, and your attitude and creativity going forward. Along those lines I'm coming at this from a possibly related perspective, where the first goal is, get something transferred and watchable for starters, to at least share with people who frankly would be satisfied watching old home movies on their phones for the most part. And as you go along, if you're having fun, then you go down the rabbit hole of avisynth scripting and lossless capture and all that fun (but slow) stuff that'll keep you entertained on those long winter nights. But until then, I think what you're doing so far is a very solid start.

    1) Being you've already got a DV input/capture setup working for your DV tapes, assuming your DV camera has an analog/composite video input for your VHS tapes, just stay with that for now -- you'll have a consistent work-flow to get you going, you'll have stable video that you can then edit/encode into various other formats for sharing with family, and if it looks good enough for you, that's all that matters. It's not like you're throwing your tapes away afterwards, you can always re-do things later if you get a bee in your bonnet about "improving" quality, but whenever I start hearing from anybody starting to go on a bit about "best" quality, it gets me thinking of guys I know from car and motorcycle shows and swap-meets, we/they spend a hell of a lot of time debating the finer merits of flat tappet cams vs. roller cams, as roller cams have much more aggressive ramp rates that would cause a flat tappet lifter to dig into the ramp, whereas with your roller cam the ramp rate allows the valve to open faster and stay at a higher lift while ... see, it's a path to madness, and a good way to never get around to digitizing any of your old tapes.

    2) You definitely want to keep DV archives of all your conversions, which you backup to at least three different locations (two local, one remote), keep your old tapes safely stored for if/when you decide to convert them later, and then convert the DV into mp4 (x264) via Handbrake (as you've already worked out) just for sharing purposes and for your average viewing. The reason why I say convert everything to mp4 is that it's a highly sharable format, with much support from pretty much any viewer, whilst DV is watchable but not terribly friendly to any and all playback hardware/software. That is, you can watch DV video straight out of the bottle, but it's kinda big and heavy -- it just takes more horsepower to play DV direct, much much easier and faster to view/share mp4.

    Once you've transferred your stuff via DV, and made mp4 copies for everybody, then you share everything and one or more of your family members calls you up and goes, "Wow, I love that tape you have of Uncle Joe at the wedding, that was hilarious!" and you look at your DV file and go, "Yeah, that looks pretty good" or you go "Hmm, he looks a little less red in the face than I'm used to seeing him, maybe I can tweak the saturation and hue in editing ... or maybe I should just redo the entire tape and see if I can get just a little more 'oomph' out of this picture..."

    Anyway, that's what I'd do. Or tell myself I would do, I've still got boxes of old 8mm home movies I've been telling myself I'll convert last winter ... well, maybe next Christmas. And never forget, if you're not having fun, it ain't worth it.

    Have fun out there!
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    Originally Posted by ozymango View Post
    Okay seriously, it sounds like you're doing extremely well already with what you've got, you may not consider yourself experienced but hell, I'm impressed with what you've done so far, and your attitude and creativity going forward. Along those lines I'm coming at this from a possibly related perspective, where the first goal is, get something transferred and watchable for starters, to at least share with people who frankly would be satisfied watching old home movies on their phones for the most part. And as you go along, if you're having fun, then you go down the rabbit hole of avisynth scripting and lossless capture and all that fun (but slow) stuff that'll keep you entertained on those long winter nights. But until then, I think what you're doing so far is a very solid start.
    Ozymango - thank you for this reply! I loved reading it and appreciate your advice and your analogies. I am already a bit down the rabbit hole as you said - mainly because I experienced some sync issues in the beginning and started searching for a better way, to jump through less hoops and streamline my process without having to pull apart files only to put them back together in order to keep the audio in sync (which is so counter-intuitive!). I've learned A LOT, read a lot, tested a lot, and I've lost a lot of sleep in the past 6 weeks or so since I started doing this again. I say again because I started this project over 10 years ago, when I had a PC. I was using the same equipment (VCR, Sony Camcorder, etc) and was capturing DV/AVI via Sony Vegas back then, with a firewire card I installed in the PC. I now am in Mac-World and experiencing issues I never had before, mainly with audio sync. (The DV file plays in sync, but once I converted to mp4, it was losing sync as the video progressed.) Quality, to me, looks pretty good! Although I guess I don't know what I am missing by using a "better" way to do analog.

    I'd like to hopefully only do this once, although if someday I come across a better way, and the tapes aren't all disintegrated before then, I could do some of the more important ones over. But like you said, for now I just want to get them all done NOW while the tapes are still in decent condition. We're talking about tapes over 38 years old. Luckily we stored them well and they still play so far, but I don't know how much life they have left in them.

    Would I be doing myself a disservice if I used something like this:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/905778-REG/startech_svid2usb23_s_video_composit...BI%3A514&smp=Y

    ... which captures directly to mp4 (I think - I'm not sure if I can use other software to capture to a less-lossy format)? Plenty of people seem more than satisfied with the results they're getting but I don't know what type of eye they have or quality they're expecting compared to us crazies who spend hours combing through forums and talking to strangers about flat tappet cams vs. roller cams!

    Or just stick with DV per your recommendation? I'm trying to wrap my head around how a USB capture device can do a better job than DV/Firewire because, without going into the limitations of DV (chroma, lossy, etc) I didn't think the data transfer rates of USB could keep up with a good quality transfer rate.

    I'd really like to just find a solution that doesn't cause Audio Sync because the way I have to convert to mp4 is a pain. This is what I figured out and I don't know why it works. With my DV captures:

    Converting with Handbrake, ffmpeg, etc. creates audio sync drift. If I use Quicktime to open the DV file, save audio stream only to m4a, convert DV video stream only in Handbrake (just delete the stream in audio tab), then use ffmpeg to put audio and video back together, somehow, that doesn't cause the sync issue. Go figure. But what a pain (kinda).

    Somehow my ProRes422 Quicktime capture I did on my underpowered mac laptop, which I thought was going to melt when I converted it using Handbrake, came out perfectly. I don't know what it was about it that fixed the issue as there were too many variables and I only did one 8mm tape that way. But I used a different computer, on a different OS, using Quicktime to capture (instead of Vidi or iMovie), and an 8mm tape I hadn't converted yet any other way.

    Anyway, let me get out of the rabbit hole. Thanks again for your (and everyone else's) feedback on the topic. With all the info in this forum, it's easy to get lost, and I appreciate the knowledge from everyone as it relates to my specific scenario.
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    [QUOTE=ozymango;2547045][QUOTE=

    1) Being you've already got a DV input/capture setup working for your DV tapes, assuming your DV camera has an analog/composite video input for your VHS tapes, just stay with that for now -- you'll have a consistent work-flow to get you going, you'll have stable video that you can then edit/encode into various other formats for sharing with family, and if it looks good enough for you, that's all that matters. It's not like you're throwing your tapes away afterwards, you can always re-do things later if you get a bee in your bonnet about "improving" quality, but whenever I start hearing from anybody starting to go on a bit about "best" quality, it gets me thinking of guys I know from car and motorcycle shows and swap-meets, we/they spend a hell of a lot of time debating the finer merits of flat tappet cams vs. roller cams, as roller cams have much more aggressive ramp rates that would cause a flat tappet lifter to dig into the ramp, whereas with your roller cam the ramp rate allows the valve to open faster and stay at a higher lift while ... see, it's a path to madness, and a good way to never get around to digitizing any of your old tapes.

    2) You definitely want to keep DV archives of all your conversions, which you backup to at least three different locations (two local, one remote).

    Anyone that has read my posts knows I agree. Some use a DV cam and loop through process and other use DV converters. They just work! No drivers needed.
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  29. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    What is a quality USB capture option in your experience?
    ATI 600 USB is the main one, and some clones.

    I do have an old PC in the basement with Windows XP that I built to be pretty powerful (wayyy back when) and it also has a firewire card in it too. I COULD see if that still runs, and then get a USB capture for the VHS stuff. I just don't know if or how that computer is running after sitting for so long collecting dust.
    That'd be great, and it probably is still running.

    I also have an unused Dell laptop from my job that is no longer being used, has Windows 7 on it but I am sure the specs are not good for video work. Capturing maybe... but without checking, I would guess the machine is not that powerful.
    Find out the model, there are some Dells that make for nice portable capture studios.


    Originally Posted by ozymango View Post
    Okay seriously, it sounds like you're doing extremely well already with what you've got, you may not consider yourself experienced but hell, I'm impressed with what you've done so far, and your attitude and creativity going forward.
    No, stop, back up. We've not seen any of her actual video captures. So I'd not say that whatsoever at the juncture.

    1) Being you've already got a DV input/capture setup working for your DV tapes, assuming your DV camera has an analog/composite video input for your VHS tapes, just stay with that for now -- you'll have a consistent work-flow
    Consistent, but not quality. And the whole reason she's posting is she ran into issue, wanted to seek advice on what better methods existed. Odds are, even if subconscious, she's seeing quality issues relating to DV.

    It's not like you're throwing your tapes away afterwards, you can always re-do things later if you get a bee in your bonnet about "improving" quality,
    Why waste time redoing it if you know how to do it better the first time?

    but whenever I start hearing from anybody starting to go on a bit about "best" quality, it gets me thinking of guys I know from car and motorcycle shows and swap-meets, we/they spend a hell of a lot of time debating the finer merits of flat tappet cams vs. roller cams, as roller cams have much more aggressive ramp rates that would cause a flat tappet lifter to dig into the ramp, whereas with your roller cam the ramp rate allows the valve to open faster and stay at a higher lift while ... see, it's a path to madness, and a good way to never get around to digitizing any of your old tapes.
    That's not what we're ding here. It's not a finer point whatsoever, but a fairly large issue. If you went to a car show, do you really want to debate the merits of a 1995 Ford Taurus vs. a 2009 Toyota Corolla? Because that's what DV vs. lossless is like. Some old never-really-great (Taurus) vs. somewhat newish model with good resale value (Toyota).

    2) You definitely want to keep ... archives of all your conversions, which you backup to at least three different locations (two local, one remote), keep your old tapes safely stored for if/when you decide to convert them later, and then convert the DV into mp4 (x264) via Handbrake (as you've already worked out) just for sharing purposes and for your average viewing.
    Yes, good backup policy.
    For the H264, you need to deinterlace with a good method -- something not done in NLEs.

    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    I am already a bit down the rabbit hole as you said - mainly because I experienced some sync issues in the beginning and started searching for a better way, to jump through less hoops and streamline my process without having to pull apart files only to put them back together in order to keep the audio in sync (which is so counter-intuitive!).
    You need a good S-VHS VCR, some sort of TBC, and a better capture card. You're losing audio sync due to dropped frames. There are known good, and easy, ways to convert video. But you need the right tools to do it. You can't just get any random VCR, computer, software, not have TBC, etc. You'll give yourself a miserable experience trying to rush, cut corners, use the wrong tools, etc.

    I'd like to hopefully only do this once,
    Yep, do it the best you can the first time around.

    But like you said, for now I just want to get them all done NOW while the tapes are still in decent condition. We're talking about tapes over 38 years old. Luckily we stored them well and they still play so far, but I don't know how much life they have left in them.
    This is a myth instilled by companies that want to convert your videos (and usually using garbage methods themselves). Your tape are not disintegrating on your shelves, nothing is "fading", etc. If stored properly (not attic, not basement, not garage, etc), they should be fine for another 10-20 years (assuming 80s/90s recordings). So don't rush, do a bad job, but do a diligent job, without procrastinating.

    Would I be doing myself a disservice if I used something like this: ... which captures directly to mp4 (I think - I'm not sure if I can use other software to capture to a less-lossy format)?
    Maybe. It does work with VirtualDub in Windows, I have one here for testing. It works in Mac, but I've never tested that aspect. The "free" software it comes with is for sure crap, and don't capture to "MP4" (a meaningless nonsense term, since MPEG-4 is a wrapper, and you don't know the actual codec in use, though probably H.264, with unknown specs). BTW, I have probably 100 different capture cards, for testing, going back decades now. So understand when I tell you XYZ card isn't good, it's because I either have it myself, have used it, or have colleagues that have knowledgeable experience with the card.

    Plenty of people seem more than satisfied with the results they're getting but I don't know what type of eye they have or quality they're expecting compared to us crazies who spend hours combing through forums and talking to strangers about flat tappet cams vs. roller cams!
    A lot of people have zero idea about quality. They just assume VHS looks bad, because their conversion methods are garbage. That's also given rise to "VHS filters", which are really just "bad VHS conversion" filters.

    I'm trying to wrap my head around how a USB capture device can do a better job than DV/Firewire because, without going into the limitations of DV (chroma, lossy, etc) I didn't think the data transfer rates of USB could keep up with a good quality transfer rate.
    It's not about data rates. DV is not Firewire, DV is DV. Firewire surely could have supported a lossless device, but none were made. USB was chosen, mostly because even Mac abandoned Firewire before USB cards were popular and being made.

    Originally Posted by medeamajic View Post
    use DV converters. They just work! No drivers needed.
    To me, that's just laziness. I don't care if the worse method is easier, I'm not doing it.
    For example, I'd rather mash my own potatoes, because it tastes much better, than whip up powder from a box into hot water. It's not the same. And it's not like mashing a few potatoes is so overly laborious that I can't do it. Boil them, chop them with a knife, then smash with a big spoon. So much tastier! Also easy, if not completely lazy, or ADD about it.

    Originally Posted by JVRaines View Post
    My advice is to use a Windows machine. You'll have a lot more control that way.
    As you predicted, the Holy War rages over DV versus lossless. My advice is still to try to establish a lossless workflow. You've taken such good care of these tapes for decades ó you will convert them once and then you are stuck FOREVER with the digital results. Isn't it worth a little effort to get the best masters within reason? Along those lines, I would also advise you to use an s-video output. In most players, it provides a noticeably sharper image without color artifacts. And watch your audio levels as you convert; if they are too high, you'll get digital distortion.
    That's exactly it.

    Originally Posted by Christina View Post
    None of the VCRs I have access to have S-video output (I checked) and I canít believe how much money people are getting for used SVHS VCRs.
    I'm guessing you're not aware of the original prices. S-VHS VCRs are selling for about half of original costs these days, which is about accurate for used photo/video gear. These weren't something you'd buy at Best Buy, but places like B&H and Adorama. High end video, not home VCRs. Consumer VHS VCRs were low-end crap, while S-VHS decks retained the full quality of the original signal. Many had better transports, filters, internal line TBCs for sync/stability, etc.

    Plus you never know what itís been through and Iím afraid of it eating my tapes.
    That is a concern, you must be wary of eBay, even the supposedly "working" units that are not. About 85% of the VCRs sold on eBay are junk, and that includes at least half of those "tested" and "working" decks. The key is to realize that sellers are rarely video folks, but recyclers and estate resellers. Their idea of "works" is to see a power LED of any kind, and "tested" means any quality image is seen on any sized screen. It could have massive issues, and often does. You can find the quality gear, but it often won't be from eBay, Craigslist, Goodwill, etc.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    Yeah, that's the problems with used equipment, Unless you have the repair skills it's hard to find a qualified technician and parts nowadays.
    This is the primary reason I started to acquire some quality gear from my various sources, after selling off my own extra gear. Every VCR I get is thoroughly tested, even though it was pre-tested and sworn to be good. I actually test, multi-point inspection, graded on a scale of A+ to F. Cleaned, maintenance run, realigned as needed. Refurb'd as needed, and it's needed probably 90% of the time. Getting the gear back into like-new condition is not easy, but I can do it. I spent decades helping others with info online, with guides and posts, but it'd be useless if they didn't also have access to the gear. I'm spread thin these days, but I know people value what I do.
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 3rd Apr 2019 at 14:04. Reason: typo
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    My parents have a Samsung Combo VCR/DVD player at their house and on the back it has both composite and component outputs. I assume the component outputs are only for the DVD player? Or can a VCR output to component too? There is no S video output though. It's a Samsung DVD-V9800. I have a photo of the back but the upload image function isn't working for me here.

    The VCR I have been using is a regular JVC VCR, I forget the exact model number but it says Pro-Cision 4 Head on the front. It seems to work fine but I have nothing to compare it to.

    If only I had known 20 years ago to buy a S-VHS VCR!
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