I'm working on a project to digitally convert a rare out of print documentary from France, which really only exists on a few (presumably SECAM-L) VHS original tape production copies. The production & distribution companies are defunct. The producer is no longer present. I don't know if the tapes I'm about to receive have Macrovision encoding or not. I'm in the US.
I've taken it upon myself to digitally preserve the documentary, because no one else is doing it nor has done it really, at least not in a way which at the very least displays "VHS quality" for the film. There's a much-less-than-VHS quality version out there, but it's largely unacceptable quality-wise.
In any case this is the background.
Now I'm working to choose between digitization methods. In searching I see there's a few potential VHS to DVD copying decks which I believe do SECAM-L (found on French sites). Some very pricey multisystem VHS decks exist on US sites. And I think there's some straight SECAM-L / PAL only VHS players on the French sites.
For the VHS players which don't directly copy to DVD, I presume I could use devices like this:
https://www.amazon.fr/convertisseur-Cassettes-numérique-CamCorder-Numérisez/dp/B0772PKK3F <- but not sure if SECAM-L is supported
https://www.amazon.com/ClearClick-Wizard-Video-Grabber-Support/dp/B010MIN9A2 <- SECAM-L support?
Seems like the least expensive option would be to get a non-multi-system SECAM-L VHS player, and merge it with a capture device of some sort. But, I don't want to sacrifice capture quality.
As noted above it's unclear as to whether Macrovision will be an obstacle. But the film isn't a major motion picture. Rather it's a small-French-firm produced documentary. When all the original producers are gone, it's sometimes up to individuals to preserve films they find valuable using the means at hand even if the source material is a VHS tape.
Let me know what you'd recommend taking the above into account. I know there's third party companies who could maybe help, but I have a preference for doing the work myself for various reasons especially working to ensure that a rare film isn't lost due to mishandling by others.
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Just my two cents.
Firstly I would imagine that a VHS/DVD combo for the French market would input SECAM but actually output PAL since there is no such thing as a SECAM dvd. Even if that was acceptable for you, it is probably the worse method since you capture all the noise from the VHS.
Personally, I would also avoid that little hand-held capture. I guess you would have little or no control over the capture quality.
No idea about that 'grabber'. But there are scores of these around and most are rubbish. Also SECAM could be an issue whilst capture programs such as vdub can be configured from SECAM-L your capture device must still support it. My Hauppauge USB-Live2 does not specify it unless it will just through one of the 'plain' composite lines.
What I do know is that an ADVC-300 has a dip-switch to detect SECAM-L and, again, the resultant DV file will be PAL. But you will potentially get better quality than mpeg2 which is what most capture devices will give you.
As for Macrovision there is only one way to found out. My gut feeling tho is that it will not.
Whether the tape has Macrovision or not you still need a decent SECAM VHS player and a decent capture card (not the ones you linked in your post), If the tape worth the effort you may need to get a decent S-VHS SECAM player from Europe, for capture card get one from the late 90's to early 2000's, they accepted most analog video formats and the ADC chips were decent not like the crap made in China nowadays.
If that's the only tape you have, instead of investing in digitizing equipment have someone like Lordsmurf do it for you for a fraction of that money.
I also have a French SECAM-L tape......and a Hauppauge USB.....still never been able to capture this tape.....and I'm in Germany.....one country away from the old SECAM-L.
Thanks for the replies.
Today I ordered a couple of SECAM-L & PAL combo VCRs. I'm having to have them shipped to a German package forwarding company because the sellers won't ship directly to the US.
I understand that getting a TBC (time base corrector) may help with the capturing, but finding one which does SECAM-L (or one at all) is a hurdle, and avoiding paying a large amount for such a device is another. My looking around today revealed that all of the sub-$500 models are not available anywhere. Thus perhaps no TBC b/c they don't seem to be available for "small fry" like me.
Easiest thing to do in the short term would be to get one of those USB capture things, just to see which of the original tapes I'm receiving are of the best quality, plus probably a SCART to RCA adapter. Later I'll think about a capture card, unless I happen to find one quick (found faster than one of the stop-gap USB ones). Maybe there is a reasonable quality USB capture unit, that might support SECAM-L?
Last edited by psittacus; 2nd Oct 2019 at 15:08.