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  1. Hi -- I'm very new to this and have tried reading previous posts on VHS conversion and I am overwhelmed by acronyms and terms with which I'm not familiar. (I build computers, so can understand some technical jargon, but not so much this stuff...)

    I've got a budget of $300 (would love to keep it lower), and need to convert old VHS and compact VHS tapes to a digital format -- mostly for family members to be able to view on a TV or a phone or tablet (I will eventually attempt to load the digital files onto a home network for TV viewing).

    Here's what I have: Quasar VHQ-940 VHS player
    JVC GR-SV3U compact VHS recorder

    I don't understand the following:

    1. Am I better off getting an external capture card (or whatever the device is called that plugs in between the VHS machine and the computer), or is there an internal video card for a PC that does the same thing?

    2. Regardless of the device best for #1., would I still need to get an internal video card that could accept the best signal cord? (Not sure I'm wording that correctly, but I don't know if those white/yellow cords are best or if some other connection from the VCR/camcorder is preferred...)

    3. Is there a solution that will work on both VHS and compact VHS conversions?

    4. Is there a link you could recommend that could help me understand the terminology used in the video editing process?

    5. I'd like to get the best recording I can for the money -- can you recommend whatever Windows 10 video editing software would help with the recommended devices?

    I guess I'm looking for a "here are the ingredients you need" list if such a thing exists...

    Thank you very much.

    P.S. I can't tell if my "edited signature" is showing this info, so here's my PC info:
    Windows 10 desktop; Intel i3-8350K CPU@4.00GHz, 4 cores; Gigabyte Z370P D3 mb; NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB video card; 16 GB RAM
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    Start by reading these articles and posts by lordsmurf at digitalfaq.com:

    http://www.digitalfaq.com/editorials/digital-video/professional-analog-workflow.htm

    http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-restore/1567-vcr-buying-guide.html

    http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/marketplace/8057-sale-complete-workflow.html

    Bottom line, you'll need to double your budget (much of which can be recovered by reselling the quality equipment) to do the job correctly.

    I have no connection with lordsmurf other than respect for his knowledge and offerings. Search out his name here and you'll see he's one of a handful of regulars here who have worked professionally in the video field and done professional capture work.
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  3. Thank you for the information. I’m very bummed to find out your budget suggestion... had no idea. Thanks.
    Windows 10 desktop; Intel i3-8350K CPU@4.00GHz, 4 cores; Gigabyte Z370P D3 mb; NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB video card; 16 GB RAM
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    Sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm a firm believer in "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right". Look at my profile and I'm currently ranting (some would say raving) on two other threads. One about capturing audio from a turntable and the other about transferring videos from DVDs to a hard drive.

    Also, I haven't done any video capturing in years, but have been following the topic ever since. So others will have to give advice on software and editing.

    The other sad reality is that good video capture equipment is only going to get rarer and more expensive in the future. So waiting it out will only make it harder and more expensive.

    Another sad reality is that if you do stick to your budget and come here or digitalfaq.com for answers to the issues you'll come across, the answer will almost always be: get better equipment.

    To hopefully inflate your bubble a little because you didn't come back with "But XXX site or video on YouTube says I just need..." (absolutely no sarcasm directed at you, but others), I recommend contacting lordsmurf and ask if he has any ATI USB capture devices available for sale (He just updated his sales post and they're no longer listed). Be sure tell him you're using Win10 (your hardware specs are fine, video capturing hardware requirements are low, other than ideally a separate hard drive for capturing). At least you'll have a known good device from a known reputable seller.

    The yellow video out is composite and lower quality an S-Video out, but your low end machines don't have S-Video out.

    Play around with what you have, including the capture device you bought with the understanding and acceptance that it's far from the best possible quality, and decide whether it's worthwhile for you to up your budget, as well as budgeting the time to learn how to do things before and after capture.

    BTW, whatever you do, stay away from any other capture device/card other than the device(s) sold or recommended by lordsmurf. Others may post on this thread that XXX device works great and you'll find many more posters talking about issues they've had with it.
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  5. Thanks lingyi — I’m glad you reiterated sticking to lordsmurf’s recommended capture devices; it seems like the more I read the more rabbit holes I stumble into...

    One thing I’ve seen mentioned a bit is that some hardware (and software?) seems to work better with Windows XP — a few articles referred to this card specifically: ATI All-in-Wonder 128 PRO 32MB AGP. I used to build older computers when my kids were small (so they could play cheap video games) — and probably have one or two xp machines. I also think I may have a newer one that ran xp in virtual mode. Is there any reason you can think of to dust one off and try some other components? (I tend to hang on to old video cards & cables...). Thanks again!
    Windows 10 desktop; Intel i3-8350K CPU@4.00GHz, 4 cores; Gigabyte Z370P D3 mb; NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB video card; 16 GB RAM
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  6. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by m123caren View Post
    Here's what I have: Quasar VHQ-940 VHS player
    JVC GR-SV3U compact VHS recorder

    I don't understand the following:

    1. Am I better off getting an external capture card (or whatever the device is called that plugs in between the VHS machine and the computer), or is there an internal video card for a PC that does the same thing?

    2. Regardless of the device best for #1., would I still need to get an internal video card that could accept the best signal cord? (Not sure I'm wording that correctly, but I don't know if those white/yellow cords are best or if some other connection from the VCR/camcorder is preferred...)

    3. Is there a solution that will work on both VHS and compact VHS conversions?

    5. I'd like to get the best recording I can for the money -- can you recommend whatever Windows 10 video editing software would help with the recommended devices?

    I guess I'm looking for a "here are the ingredients you need" list if such a thing exists...

    Thank you very much.

    P.S. I can't tell if my "edited signature" is showing this info, so here's my PC info:
    Windows 10 desktop; Intel i3-8350K CPU@4.00GHz, 4 cores; Gigabyte Z370P D3 mb; NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB video card; 16 GB RAM
    Both VCRs are terrible, don't use those. Quality will range from terrible to unwatchable, with some tapes being entirely uncaptureable.

    External vs. internal doesn't matter. The quality of the card matters. And there are both internal and external cards with quality.

    VHS-C is a lousy format, a pain to work with. Many VCRs love to eat the tapes like candy, thus ruining the content. So the VCR must be chosen carefully. Never use the recording camera as the playback camera, all VHS-C are miserable at playback (and equally likely to eat the tapes at the late date). You can have a great capture experience, but it must be planned out well. It's all about the right hardware, right tool for the task.

    VHS-C plays in VHS decks, but you must use the metal/resin JVC CP7U-type adapter from Matsushita (branded under various models and brands, Panasonic to JVC).

    The "best recording" (aka quality) is not about software. It's about hardware. By the time the software accesses the video, it's too late. The capture software is free (VirtualDub for lossless), sometimes included with the card (MPEG capture, not crap like Arcsoft or WinDVR).

    VHS very much has a formula: recommended VCR, external TBC, capture card.

    Don't be afraid of the price tag. This is a project cost, not a forever cost. Buy it, use it, resell it.

    Your computer specs are fine. These days, almost any Windows specs are fine, even the cheapest budget systems. The only concern is the OS. Mac unusable, Linux fiddly, Win8/10 stubborn (but usually workable), WinXP/7 best.

    Getting quality is about research, not buying the first item you see (and makes false promises), or being a cheapskate. If you try to cheap out, you'll have a miserable experience with many problems. If you follow good advice (like mine, lingyi), you'll hopefully slice through the project without much effort. Video has a learning curve, takes time, has some (recoupable) investment costs.

    Originally Posted by m123caren View Post
    a few articles referred to this card specifically: ATI All-in-Wonder 128 PRO 32MB AGP.
    Maybe.

    That exact card predates Radeons, and could be really fiddly, sometimes unworkably so. But it also needs better system specs than the budget boxes of 2000.
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 4th Jan 2020 at 18:04.
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    Blue guy, you're becoming like Beteleguese. I mention your name enough times and *poof*, you appear!

    OP, the master (IMH, though very rightfully so respectful, Opinion) is here. Read his posts twice and absorb what he's saying. Neither he or I (though I'm not anywhere near his level when it come to video capture) have any stake in what we say except trying to help those who respectfully and with open eyes take what's said as the truth and best practices from experience.

    He's [too] humble to advertise it, but if you don't have a lot of tapes to do, I still think he does video transfers. Put it this way, he's been doing this for years and the equipment he's selling is his extra, extra, extra backups. He does and knows good work and equipment!

    Edit: There's only one other poster in my opinion on this forum that even comes close to lordsmurf in knowledge and experience, and his knowledge is primarily from his work in the movie industry, whereas lordsmurf has worked in broadcast for decades.
    Last edited by lingyi; 4th Jan 2020 at 18:19.
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  8. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Blue guy, you're becoming like Beteleguese. I mention your name enough times and *poof*, you appear!
    It only takes 3.

    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    whereas lordsmurf has worked in broadcast for decades.
    Studios. Adjacent to broadcast, interactions many times. Actually overlap due to streaming.

    Cornucopia is/was broadcast, as was gshelley.
    johnmeyer is sub-35mm films.
    BJ_M was interactives.
    Probably some others, which I forget offhand.
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    I've never seen a professional discription of transferring VHS to digital..... because there's no company that does so, because they are doing it for the money only and their "method" is being bitched already in several forum groups
    if there was any good equipment to transfer VHS to digital, you could not afford it.
    Having a good VHS player is more miss than hit these days, saying a certain OS is a bad choice is also nonsens/BS , but don't expect performance from a cheap USB dongle, with an underpowerd PC setup, there are good semi-pro capture devices that do a great job on a good installed OS/hardware setup, and are affordable.
    also the tape in a VHS-C cassette is the same as a normal format VHS cassette, so you can spool/edit the VHS-C tape into a regular VHS cassette housing.
    If you can't get a VHS player/recorder that has quality electronics and TBC (TBC is no guaranty in a consumer deck) you could also go the DV device "way" this can come in the vorm of a camera (with the right options and conections) or a DV converter which have both a Firewire output, at least you have a steady picture that way, with a "normal" VHS VCR as source.
    for you to decide what's important, remember also that we are talking about VHS quality, and it's low resolution, and maybe also some interference that was recorded, during that time.

    btw. stability of the video signal will be an issue with camcorders, i've seen a camcorder tape that played fine, but had issues when captured, just becaused the camera(recorder) had moved, while the camera-man was walking during the recording

    https://forum.blackmagicdesign.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=78838
    Last edited by Eric-jan; 5th Jan 2020 at 08:58.
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  10. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Eric-jan View Post
    I've never seen a professional discription of transferring VHS to digital.....
    Huh? I've described the processes, at length, many times, for 20+ years now.

    because there's no company that does so, because they are doing it for the money only and their "method" is being bitched already in several forum groups
    I guess you're referring to those Walmart-grade video mills? Yeah, lots of bad work exists. Customers are treated like cattle, the videos treated like cow dung.

    if there was any good equipment to transfer VHS to digital, you could not afford it.
    Huh? You can get an amazing setup for $1500. I guess the definition of "could not afford" varies.

    Having a good VHS player is more miss than hit these days,
    Only if buying from places like eBay or Craigslist, where the sellers almost never know anything about video, just that they found a VCR that lights up when plugged in.

    saying a certain OS is a bad choice is also nonsens/BS ,
    No.

    Win10 is a tablet OS that was further raped by GDPR nonsense. Forums web-wide were massively flooded by "Win10 uninstalled my hardware" (like a capture card) "and won't reinstall" posts. Even with the workarounds, some devices would never reinstalled for some folks.

    Mac has never been a capture OS.

    Linux is fiddly and variable, even for tech-minded tinkerers. The distro, the versioning, custom firmware, etc. It falls between Windows (non-8/10) easy, and Mac impossible.

    but don't expect performance from a cheap USB dongle,
    False. USB is just the communication port. Both good and bad cards use USB.

    with an underpowerd PC setup,
    Almost anything from the 2010s, ie the past decade, should have adequate power. It's when you get in early 2000s systems that specs matter.

    there are good semi-pro capture devices that do a great job on a good installed OS/hardware setup, and are affordable.

    also the tape in a VHS-C cassette is the same as a normal format VHS cassette,
    No. The VHS-C size has some very definite considerations. The construction of the tape is fragile, and even the tape itself can have more timing errors due to looser specs.

    so you can spool/edit the VHS-C tape into a regular VHS cassette housing.
    If you have the extra shells, and the time, go for it. That works.

    you could also go the DV device "way" this can come in the vorm of a camera (with the right options and conections)
    Most DV/D8 cameras do not have TBC on passthrough. In fact, offhand, I don't recall any that do.

    or a DV converter
    at least you have a steady picture that way, with a "normal" VHS VCR as source.
    No. The only DV box with a claimed TBC (for consumer analog sources like VHS) is the ADVC-300, and it has issues. The TBC is so pathetically weak than the ES20/25 recorders are better (equally weak, do almost nothing). The bigger issue is how the always-on video filters actually harm quality more than a normal DV box (NTSC 4:1:1, not PAL).

    remember also that we are talking about VHS quality, and it's low resolution,
    Nonsense. "VHS quality" is most often used for an excuse to justify lousy quality. You can get "DVD quality" or even "digital quality" (SD cable/satellite channels) from a quality VHS conversion. VHS looks far better than people seem to realize.

    btw. stability of the video signal will be an issue with camcorders, i've seen a camcorder tape that played fine, but had issues when captured, just becaused the camera(recorder) had moved, while the camera-man was walking during the recording
    That would highly likely be resolved with a proper workflow, line+frame TBCs.

    blackmagicdesign.com
    BM cards are some of the worst capture cards for VHS source. Those are HD cards, with HD in mind. Analog SD capturing is/was an afterthought feature, and even BM techs have stated that BM cards are intended for pro SD sources (BetacamSP/etc), not chaotic consumer sources like VHS.
    Last edited by lordsmurf; 6th Jan 2020 at 05:59.
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    Originally Posted by Eric-jan View Post
    I've never seen a professional discription of transferring VHS to digital..... because there's no company that does so, because they are doing it for the money only and their "method" is being bitched already in several forum groups
    [/url]
    There's the guy with the 10+ year old unused, now restored VHS Restoration Studio that has 12 secret adjustments that no one else knows about and charges $500 for up to 2 hours with him in his studio with [no] guarantee of results!

    Sorry, still think this is one [of] the funniest VHS "experts" on this forum!

    Oh...he's never provided his promised pics of his studio and his expert advice here and on his site was torn apart for inacccuracies.
    Last edited by lingyi; 6th Jan 2020 at 10:46.
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