So I've taken on this project of archiving a ton of old VHS tapes for my brother in-law. Since the late-'80s, he's recorded hundreds of VHS tapes, all filled with old and new wrestling shows.
I originally tried to copy the tapes directly from VCR to computer via a USB capture card. I've had problems with this method from the beginning. On the computer, the footage would flicker every couple seconds, flashing a still frame from a few seconds prior. This re-occurs every few seconds, depending on how deteriorated the tape is. In most cases, this can happen well-over 100 times every half hour. So I was puzzled at first. The tapes played fine on the TV, but not through the adapter. What does the TV have that my capture card lacks?
So I pondered for awhile and did some research and that led me to discover that (1) old VHS tapes sometimes require a Time Base Corrector to keep the image intact and (2) TVs by-and-large have TBCs built-in to handle these issues. Since my TV doesn't have a video output, I can't simply route the connection.
For me, it just needs to look the same as how it looks when played back on TV. I've tried several VCRs and up to this point, the one I've had the best luck with is the JVC-XVC29. This is the one my brother-in-law used for his later recordings and it has a “Video Stabilization” feature that helps remove most of the problems. Then came the next hurdle: How do I get a TBC? I can't buy one standalone because they're outrageously expensive and hard to come by when you live in Canada.
After some time had passed, I stumbled upon a forum (probably from here) and learned that DVD recorders typically have a TBC built-in. I scooped up a second-hand unit right away, a Toshiba D-RW2. It's okay, even though it doesn't do a fantastic job at clearing up the jitters. At least it cuts it down to about 15-16 flickers in a 2.5 hour span of footage which is much easier to tolerate and fix in post-processing. It should be the end of the story and we all live happily ever after, right?
Not really. With the DVD recorder, comes a new problem. For some reason, the old tapes come out looking very dim. Not only that, but it doesn't affect the whole tape. One tape for example is only affected for the first 2 hours and ~12/13 minutes. Around this time frame, the tape cuts right into the next recording and the brightness and color accuracy is back to normal. The link below is a sample video I took demonstrating the issue when using the DVD recorder as a pass-thru device. I've even tried using two VCRs at the same time; one plugged into another. That didn't help. Instead, I received what I think was Macrovision. The image looked like it was going through trouble with tracking every couple seconds. Off, and then on. Off, and then on. I had tried another DVD recorder. This one was a DVD/DVR from Panasonic and it also exhibited the same brightness issue.
https://streamable.com/2u5fc. In this video, you'll briefly see how the prior footage was dim and then the last fight stripped the color entirely. Then I fast-forward the tape to around 2 hours and ~12/13 minutes in. At this time, the tape cuts right into the next fight and the brightness comes back to normal. Just to reiterate my point from earlier. The picture accuracy is on point when the connection comes straight from the VCR. Doesn't matter what output device I use, the TV or the computer (via USB capture). However, the brightness issues comes into play if I use the DVD recorder as a pass-through device. Then it'll look dark on the computer or the TV.
I'm not sure what to do about this. I would like some feedback from you guys to see if there's anything I could do resolve this. Luckily this issue is not present on all of his tapes. His recently-recorded tapes within the last 20 years (those from his PVR) are fine. It's the old ones that give me problems.
Here is a list of things I have tried to do to resolve this from the beginning to now:
• Uninstall and re-install USB capture card software
• Tried different VCRs, cables, computers, USB capture cards
• Played with VCR settings
• Fast-forward to the end and rewind the tape to the beginning before recording
• Tried different capture software (OBS, VLC, NCH Debut, icuVCR, MovAVI Video Editor 15)
• Plugging in USB capture card in different ports and unplugging all other USB devices
• Installed Windows 7 to see if it was a Windows 10 issue
• Messed around with Windows codecs and installed new codecs
• Capture footage using Linux (based on Ubuntu)
• Tried two DVD recorders because they may have an internal TBC and/or frame synchronizer
• Tried a Videonics MX-1 Digital Video Mixer. Didn't work. Output displays odd horizontal scan lines on all VCRs I've tried. Below are links to short 20 second clips demonstrating the footage from 3 different VCRs:
JVC-XVC29 (with video stabilization feature)
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We've been here before. Let's go through this again:
Those problems are false copy protection signals. Happens often with crummy tapes.
TV's don't have tbc's. They just just ignore copy protection errors.
DVD recorders used as pass-thru tbc's will not ignore or remove copy protection signals.
You need an external frame-level tbc that's designed for consumer VHS (not a studio model designed for broadcast tapes). Yes, they're expensive. Yes, they're hard to find. They often go on sale by advanced users who are finished with their VHS projects or by advanced hobbyists who have refurbished older tbc's. You can see them listed from time to time at digitalfaq forum's marketplace area (http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/marketplace/) along with other a/v items.
Sometimes you can find a capture card that ignores copy protection, such as the Diamond Multimedia VC500. It might depend on the product's version, but recent tests here with that card ignored copy protection. It's cheap enough to give it a try, and it happens to be a very good capture device. Amazon.ca will gladly take it back if it doesn't work. https://www.amazon.ca/Products-Diamond-VC500-Capture-Device/dp/B000VM60I8/ref=sr_1_1?k...gateway&sr=8-1
You would still need that Toshiba DVDR as pass-thru for its line-tbc. A frame tbc and a line tbc are not the same thing.- My sister Ann's brother
The VC500 doesn't ignore macro as far as I know (I have one).
You can try the hvr-1250. It ignores macro, but it's an internal card.