I am considering buying a Magewell USB Capture AIO ( https://www.magewell.com/products/usb-capture-aio ) to digitize old VHS tapes (mostly, PAL system). I am considering this as recommended on some VideoHelp forum. I use Mac's -- that's why I need an external device. I would appreciate some feedback on the following:
- I have some NTSC tapes as well. Does anyone know how the device handles PAL60 input?, that is, a NTSC tape being played in a not-true-tristandard PAL VCR, which outputs a PAL signal at 60i which some TV's and some capture cards recognize. I have a Canopus AVDC100 that does NOT handle that output well (however, a Roxyo USB 2.0 gizmo that digitizes in MPEG2 does).
- Do Final Cut Pro X and/or iMovie recognize the device? Specifications say that Quicktime should.
- The device output is USB 3.0. What happens if plugged to a USB 2.0 port?, that is, can it handle compressed output (lower bandwidth).
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It depends on whether the capture device is built in an internal TBC/Frame sync/frame stabilizer or not to work with a noisy signal like VHS.
Most experts here will tel you capture PAL in PAL and NTSC in NTSC, Changing frame rates for the standards is not a good idea, But it's up to you and chances to come across one who used that device on PAL 60 are slim to none.
As far as I know USB 3.0 is recommended for SD lossless, You are very close to a lot of problems using USB 2.0, Not only you can't capture and preview at the same time but you risk dropping frames. Big buck capture devices like the one you are after most likely won't allow you to capture via USB 2.0 anyway.
Hello, thanks for your reply.
Sounds like that is putting out not true NTSC, but PAL60. A few capture cards/devices can handle this, but not the majority. Most are much stricter in their requirement of compliance to the true standards. Caveat emptor.
I would not be at all surprised to find the Magewell line to go by-the-book.
No, like we said, unless you happen to have one of the few decks that specifically call themselves a "standards-converting" deck, you do not have a deck that TRULY plays NTSC tapes as NTSC. You have a deck that plays PAL tapes as PAL, and that plays NTSC tapes as PAL60. A true S.-C. deck would be able to play NTSC tapes as NTSC or as PAL, and PAL tapes as PAL or as NTSC.
In general, captures cards will capture PAL, or NTSC, but rarely capture PAL60.
You should try getting answers to your PAL60 questions from Magewell if you have not done so already to improve your chances of getting the information that you want. Due to its high cost, it is likely that very few VideoHelp members use a Magewell USB Capture AIO at all, let alone use it with a Mac.Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord
You might be able to create a custom capture Framerate/Rez profile with their Capture Express software, but IIRC, that is Windows only. Their Capture utility software may allow you to manually adjust timings, etc. but going against standards is a crap shoot.
Have you tried BootCamp? Since that's native, not emulated, it should talk to the hardware better.
BootCamp PC partition running Windows do not natively see the other (Apple) partitions. Though, if you had an APFS/HFS/HFS+ filesystem reader/writer plugin/app (MacDrive, Paragon, HFSexplorer, etc), you could. If you're using a Thunderbolt drive, formatted as FAT32, exFAT, you could swap back and forth (or NTFS if you had an NTFS filesystem plugin on the Mac side).
I happen to own one of these boxes.
I have the AIO XI100XUSB-PRO.
I live in the United States so most of my experience is with NTSC, but I think I could test with PAL60 using a Kramer Format Converter.
My experience with Magewell is they are fair "frame capture" devices, but all compression is done on the PC through software.
The company is based in China but has local reps in each country and region that they sell. Magewell depends upon them for handling tech support and any questions.
Its is a complex thing to understand these devices, they are expensive and perhaps overkill for most consumers.
First they have had several generations. I own the Gen #1 XI100XUSB-PRO the name of the device "encodes" its design and purpose. While mine is an AIO all that means is (All-In-One) or that it has multiple inputs. XI100 means it has one capture channel no matter how many of the inputs are attached.
The XUSB means its a USB attached device and the PRO means its part of the PRO "family" and uses the PRO device driver when not in UVC mode.
The Gen #1 AIO boxes could be run in PnP or UVC mode. Which mostly relates to whether they were firmware flashed to work best with Windows or Windows, Mac and Linux. Originally they were designed for Microsoft Windows DirectShow 9.0 later they released a firmware version that upgraded them to the UVC device protocol. Both the Mac and Linux can use a UVC device as a camera treating it as an unsophisticated frame capture device. Things like phase correction are left to the automatic decision of the device.. where with the Windows PnP mode you had manual control through the device driver.
Lesson from this is that they are not hardware encoder boxes and use the [Full] bandwidth of the USB connection, it should not be shared or video frames and audio samples will be dropped. For each firmware "mode" (PnP or UVC) there is also a choice of ISO (isochronous) or BULK mode USB protocol which means there are really four firmwares. ISO and BULK are two different USB protocols.. one is essentially "lossy" to keep up with current events, the other is "not lossy" to make sure all data is capture.. but can overrun the buffers. Not all operating systems support both protocols.
Also depending on the connection used, SDI, HDMI, DVI, VGA, Component, Composite or S-Video only specific frame capture resolutions are supported.. sometimes people want a custom resolution to manipulate pixel aspect ratios and this just is not possible with these devices.
The video decoder is an Analog Device with a TBC feature permanently disabled because that reduces its ability to capture HD video perfectly. These are optimized for HD or above capture and SD is secondary. If you need a TBC for stablizing video, this box will not do that even though the decoder chip has the feature.
This is more a box for Computer output or HD video capture than for SD video.. it has the Inputs for SD but I think it will frustrate you being used that way.
Macs had excellent firewire options for video capture in the distant past, but you had to settle for hardware encoded DV or something from AJA. Those options are gone these days since Apple removed many of the features for SD video capture starting with 10.7 Mountain Lion its just not a good capture platform anymore. It has upgraded to Mobile Camera video and pre-captured video imported as files. It never was very good at lab capture situations.
Professionals tend to use standalone video capture "devices" in mobile or studio situations which produce flash card or other hard media formats which can then be read off and into a Mac for editing. Think of it like a DSLR camera being used for video capture and then ejecting the compact flash card and inserting that into a USB reader on a Mac.
Consumers really never did that. They used a DV Camcorder or some external device like a Camcorder with a built-in TBC for stablizing the video signal then captured that to a digital file on tape. Then they hooked up firewire between the camcorder and their Mac and simply (copied) the digital file over to the Mac losslessly without any generation loss.
USB dongle capture devices became popular on Windows and then sort of got supported on older Macs using Quicktime plugins which treated them as UVC cameras (smart frame devices) which produced a data stream something like iMovie could capture. It was never great and often had dropped frame problems.
The Magewell is used in the same way with a Mac today. But the Apple world is about to change again with the end of Quicktime support.. so beware. Videoglide makes/made capture software for many of the USB capture dongles but anticipate the end of support with the end of Quicktime.
Its still possible to buy a Professional standalone HD video capture device and import the compact flash, ssd or usb media onto a Mac.. but it is costly.
Personally I've collected old gear from the early 2000's for the Mac that work perfectly fine on older Macs and Macbooks, some of it as uncompressed, or mpeg2 or dv. But they just don't make anything like that for SD capture anymore the new stuff is highly substandard for SD video.
Last edited by jwillis84; 28th Jun 2019 at 10:32.
Thank you very much for your post. I did end up buying a Magewell USB Capture AIO. It is versatile in terms of capturing PAL 60, that is, of defining framerate, color (fine) and line resolution, that looks good. I haven't had time to capture extensively, as I am still looking for the right capturing software. I haven't yet found any capturing software for Mac which is lossless. Quicktime captures in ProRes pretty well if you predefine settings and save them into the device. But I still am not sure if it makes such a difference over DV in terms of perceivable quality, and if the purchase is therefore worth it. I haven't detected frame drops. Mac OS recognizes the Magewell as a "webcam", not as a capturing device. I'm not sure whether that makes a difference.
The native capture app per operating system is generally the best. On Windows that tends to be the DirectShow derived capture app provided by the hardware manufacturer. In this case Magewell CaptureExpress or Capture Studio, version appropriate for your Generation of device. CaptureExpress and Capture Studio have had three generations of software. They usually only work for the generation they were introduced and aren't backwards compatible. So for Gen #1 like I have of the AIO Gen #2 of CaptureExpress and Capture Studio. Alternatively the SDK for the Magewell on windows has compiled and source code for a generic Windows AMCap Capture application (the old ActiveMovie Capture application) customized to work with the Magewells.
As a UVC device the format it captures (uncompressed or compressed) will depend upon what the software requests (not all software allows a choice between compressed and uncompressed, many only offer compressed choices). On Macs iMovie is considered the standard "test application" or "photobooth or chat" from there you can step up to Quicktime Pro which will create new movies and allow you to select the compression method. All the apps tend to assume you will not want to do raw Uncompressed.. the hardware is usually stressed too much, either the port connecting the device doesn't have the bandwidth, or the drives catching the video tend to be limited to the OS drive and its too busy to capture without frame drops for very long. ProRes was somewhere close to lossless and very large, and good enough for broadcast work back in the day. (Think of ProRes as DV compressed video for professionals). True Uncompressed capture software on a Mac is rare, and usually only broadcast studio 'class' editing software will allow capturing in uncompressed.
Pros and Semi-Pro People tend to gravitate towards a Non-Linear Editor (NLE) that has a built-in capture application "function" like FinalCut Studio (FCP) 7 or X for UVC devices. Or Adobe Premiere. Ingesting the video (performing the capture) is sort of considered low level grunt work.. so its not treated elegantly. Most of the times the "editors" expect the video footage to be "delivered" and served up on a file server for them to work with.
Good luck with the Magewell if it suits you for SD work. I purchased mine for a good discount, if I paid full price I probably would have returned it because its not in my opinion the best for SD work.. it needs a lot of gear in front of it to prepare the signal for a good capture. With poor tapes or poor signal quality it is not very tolerant.
You can also use the USB Capture Utility from Magewell now in version 3 ( it does exist a version for Mac) that is much more flexible then Capture Express ( Mp4 and AAC only) or you can try OBS Studio it does have a Mac version and it does capture also lossless. In windows it does work pretty well with Magewell cards / devices even if I do generally prefer VirtualDub2.
Not sure however if it does have any limitations on Mac as I donīt have one.
I do have a an HDMI Pro card and it does capture analog SD quite well directly ( using svideo or component), however you can perhaps get slightly better results namely if you do need stabilization capturing over hdmi using a Panasonic DVD Recorder or similar as pass-through ( I do use generally a DMR-EH65 and sometimes even an Onkyo-tx-nr1009 receiver with HQV Vida VHD1900 processor and Marvell QDEO)
Yes, the key is to know the limits of the capture device and accommodate them.
Its very frustrating to have many successful captures, then one failed that wasted hours of capture time only to find voice and video out of sync due to poor signal.
And sometimes the damage is very stealthy. Dropped frames are "not" recorded as a "log" by most capture software.. you might get one notice that "some" were lost and no detail. Only later after careful examination do you notice sync drifting back and forth.. or check the very end to find it badly out of sync. We usually just scan the video and assume everything is fine.
Its only with experience and healthy skepticism that you come to know the right gear for the right job.
A pass-through is a good choice if you can't find a good TBC.. and its better than nothing if the VCR doesn't have any signal correction features of its own.
If the tapes are long, people also tend to try and set and forget the capture 6 or 8 hours at a shot of many clips or recordings.. and assume all is well. Really thats convenient but can waste a lot of time. The safest approach is to queue the recording to be transferred up, then capture only that one recording and carefully check it for problems. You can't always be certain the signal made in each instance was recorded at the same speed, or with the same audio or even on the same VCR.. each recording "session" on the tape may require special attention.
Thank you very much for your tips ( jwillis84 , FLP437 ) about using a TBC (I do run the VHS signal through a Panasonic DVR) and about OBS , which I had actually tried earlier but for some reason I hadn't managed to make it see the Magewell. Now it works, and so far, it is indeed the best capturer. I have two issues, though: 1) Sound gets recorded but it doesn't come through while recording; this also happens with Debut . 2) As for lossless recording, it does capture in AVI with the huffyuv codec; but, for a MOV envelope, which lossless codecs work? FCP Uncompressed, for example, doesn't show.
As for iMovie, I would gladly use it instead... if it would recognize the Magewell! It doesn't. Natively for Mac, only Quicktime does, but Quicktime only uses ProRes (which is good enough, but OBS is much much more flexible).
There is a utvideo (lossless) version for Mac it must for sure support a mov container as it is a Mac version, it could be a good alternative as utvideo is a good and fast codec. Magicyuv does seems to have a a QuickTime component for Mac OS not sure however if it's not only a decoder. I think several lossless codecs as h.264 (lossless also) can use mov containers however I am not a Mac user and I don't use frequently mov containers so only doing a small research something a Mac expert knows for sure.
You can also use avi and convert to mov with a very simple ffmpeg command
Related to the no sound problem during capture could be a default feature as sometimes activating sound during capture increments the possibility of lost or inserted frames. It do happens sometimes with Virtualdub. You have to see if there is a feature to turn on the sound. However it's probably safer for the reasons appointed to capture it with the reproduction off.
Last edited by FLP437; 29th Jun 2019 at 00:03.
Not only is Apple completely discontinuing (their existing meager) support for 3rd party codecs, but they are making their next OS version, due out in the fall, also completely incompatible with any & every 32bit app.
One important of which is the QT7 3rdparty mov converter.
This will orphan nearly ALL 3rd party codecs, unless you keep around a Mac(s) that you intentionally retain legacy OS and apps on, for use as a converter.
If you MUST encode to MOV filetype (which I no longer recommend for nearly any master), use *ONLY* the modern, approved Apple codec options: ProRes (for high-bitrate master quality), h264/AVC (common/former lower-bitrate distribution quality), h265/HEVC (current/future lower-bitrate distribution quality).
By drumming out support for third party applications OS X is on course to merge with IOS at some future point. Its becoming a sealed and locked up platform that may only support approved third party apps from the app store soon. With Sherlocking still occurring it will practically become firmware. Windows isn't much different both are narrowing their general purpose use cases to nill. I really feel they are abandoning users completely. The days of the Apple 1 and Commodore 64 may be returning.
In the interim older PCs with general use cases and former PC purposes may see more use soon.
Glad you can use the magewell on a Mac until September.. but then you will have to make a choice, to upgrade or not upgrade.. in the name of progress and security. I wonder if OBS can be ported to a phone App since they support UVC over their USB port.
It seems odd that iMovie doesn't work for you. I thought it supported all UVC devices. A very odd thing indeed.
Last edited by jwillis84; 29th Jun 2019 at 11:12.