Iím bigbadben and this is my first post on this forum. Iím not a video snob or audiophile. Iím not interested in paying for $3000+ worth of equipment which will be even more expensive because I live in Australia so I have to pay the Australia Tax plus double the price. I have a Samsung DVD-V70 DVD-VCR which I bought in 2005. I bought a cheap Honesttech rebrand EZcap usb dongle capture card to convert my home videos of my childhood, assuming that all the USB capture cards are bad so itís not worth spending a lot of money on it and if I were to get my 13 VHS tapes converted by a service it would cost me a fortune for $20+ per video and it would probably still look meh. I have a $200 budget to spend on this project to convert the videos myself and improve the quality so my memories are preserved as well as possible. The tapes have broken a few times and have had to have been reattached and they also skip. They were made in 1999.
After testing it out by connecting the EZCap dongle to the VCR with a new RCA cable, the video image is shaky, appearing for 2 seconds then disappearing constantly with green, red and yellow colours appearing, the colours are everywhere half of the video image appears like it should but itís flashing too so itís black and white in between when the colours reappear intermittently. There are also horizontal lines on the video image that appear on the top of the video and disappear constantly. I was very disappointed because the videos look perfect on a TV. So I started reading on this forum about the basics but find it all confusing as to how itís supposed to be all connected, which cables go where, how to record the video lossless and the equipment I need. The guides say I need a good VCR, a TBC and good capture card. The VCRs I have found are a Panasonic NV-FJ630 for $100 and Sharp VC-H705 for $75. If I bought the Sharp VCR would it make a different on the image quality? The cheapest TBC I could find is $100. I can buy a better capture card for $75 (Diamond VC500) or an AVerMedia EZMaker 7 for $65. Which is better to buy the Diamond or AVerMedia? Would a TBC make a better difference or a new capture card? Which free software and profile will record the videos lossless?
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Last edited by bigbadben; 23rd Sep 2020 at 07:30.
13 VHS tapes converted by a service it would cost me a fortune for $20+ per video
and it would probably still look meh.
I have a $200 budget to spend on this project to convert the videos myself and improve the quality so my memories are preserved as well as possible.
Wait, not 2 you ask? Video is never fast, period.
The tapes have broken a few times and have had to have been reattached and they also skip.
After testing it out by connecting the EZCap dongle to the VCR with a new RCA cable, the video image is shaky, appearing for 2 seconds then disappearing constantly with green, red and yellow colours appearing, the colours are everywhere half of the video image appears like it should but itís flashing too so itís black and white in between when the colours reappear intermittently.
There are also horizontal lines on the video image that appear on the top of the video and disappear constantly. I was very disappointed because the videos look perfect on a TV.
So I started reading on this forum about the basics but find it all confusing as to how itís supposed to be all connected, which cables go where, how to record the video lossless and the equipment I need.
The guides say I need a good VCR, a TBC and good capture card.
The VCRs I have found are a Panasonic NV-FJ630 for $100 and Sharp VC-H705 for $75. If I bought the Sharp VCR would it make a different on the image quality?
The cheapest TBC I could find is $100.
I can buy a better capture card for $75 (Diamond VC500) or an AVerMedia EZMaker 7 for $65. Which is better to buy the Diamond or AVerMedia?
Would a TBC make a better difference or a new capture card?
There are ways to take shortcuts, like non-TBC JVC S-VHS deck, with ES10/15, and a good capture card. But shortcuts have side effects that must be understood or compensated for.
Which free software and profile will record the videos lossless?
+1 to everything LS told you.
If all your tapes were unusually perfect, undamaged and recorded on top-notch gear back in the day, MAYBE you'd have a slight chance of getting passable PC captures the low-end way without sinking a ton of money into it. But if you're seeing all kinds of video defects, and the tapes have been damaged-repaired, you're looking at a big fat tedious expensive annoying P-R-O-J-E-C-T (compounded, as you noted, by the difficulty finding/shipping some of the needed stuff to Aus).
The only cheapish quick-n-dirty way out that MIGHT work is tracking down a good DVD/VCR combo unit that records on both sides (DVD and VCR, not just VCR like you have now). These digitize VHS to DVD within the same unit. While these machines are almost universally loathed by the technicians who post here, they're adequate for those at the consumer level who don't want to get bogged down in a half dozen pieces of gear and software (indeed, more than a few "transfer services" do nothing more than load your tapes into such a unit). The results aren't great, and most younger people don't even know what to do with a DVD if you hand it to them anymore, but its a dead-simple workflow and usually more reliable than a bare EZcrap dongle plugged into a random PC. The resulting DVD can be ripped to your PC hard drive for editing or conversion to other formats, but of course that entails a further quality erosion and getting/learning some software. The easiest route to a PC file would be copying the dvd to your PC and using a free utility to change the dvd-specific video files to generic MPEG2 or MKV format. This doesn't degrade the quality, just makes them more compatible with non-dvd-player devices, and the files remain as large as they were on the dvd.
A lot hinges on the specifics of how your VHS library shakes out. If you have a significant number that are damaged, or recorded in the very slow poor-quality EP/SLP (6-hr) speed, or are the small VHS-C camcorder tapes: forget the DVD/VCR combo recorder. You'll just end up with the tapes damaging the combo recorder or the combo damaging the tapes (or both). These types of tapes require more gear and more money to handle successfully.
Last edited by orsetto; 23rd Sep 2020 at 17:32.
I bought the Diamond VC500 from Amazon and am currently waiting for it to arrive from the USA in one month. The Panasonic DMR-ES10 mentioned is $200 including postage from the UK. Is the ES10 just a DVD recorder and or a TBC? How do the other DVD recorders that are $50 from eBay perform in your experience?
Do you know of any TBCs other than the DataVideo TBC-1000 and AVToolbox AVT-8710? These arenít available in Australia anymore. A JVC non-S-VHS with no TBC costs $600 including postage from Germany on eBay. A JVC 9600 TBC costs $836 including postage. A SIMA CopyMaster costs $150 including postage.
I found out that the skipping issue was actually just the way it was recorded. The tapes are fine, in very good condition for their age. Only one had a broken tape which was quickly fixed. I have them in a dark room so they donít degrade from the sunlight while I wait for the dongle to arrive.
My workflow is VCR Ė> $100 TBC Ė> Diamond VC500. My goal is now to preserve the tapes as well as possible for a reasonable amount of money. I want to save the files on my PC, then encode in H.264 onto M-Discs with an M-Disc supported DVD burner from Amazon.
Last edited by bigbadben; 29th Sep 2020 at 10:37.
Honestly you're between a rock and a hard place. Australia and New Zealand are now a horror show in terms of obtaining good video transfer gear at reasonable cost without jumping thru hoops and dealing with nerve-shredding international shipping. These smaller, isolated markets also don't lend themselves to the bromide "you're only buying this gear temporarily for a project, you can always resell after and recoup most or all of your costs". Maybe in USA/Canada/UK, but good luck finding somebody else in Adelaide who wants to buy your JVC SVHS for $836.
Your tapes sound like typical mediocre tapes: not that good, not that bad, with some inherent baked-in glitches that no amount of tinkering can really eliminate. These are the most annoying ones, because the siren call of "use the best equipment and workflow possible" is most confusing with such examples. Yes, its true: if you get one of the recommended JVC or Panasonic SVHS VCRs and run it thru a proper VHS TBC like the DataVideo (or a rare functional AVT), capturing with lossless compression, the result will be the best possible. Its also true the result will still look just as crappy as what you'd get from a Panasonic EZ-48 combo VHS>DVD recorder: the tapes "are what they are". It is not at all unusual to drop $2K (US) on all the recommended gear, then punch your fist through the nearest wall when the result still looks like crap. Some very skilled posters here, like LordSmurf, can indeed take that capture and do remarkable things to improve it. But this isn't a skillset you can just pull out of your @ss on a random Saturday just because you feel like it: it takes some time and intuition to develop. Have realistic expectations, or you'll spend the next decade on a hamster wheel in pursuit of "better quality" captures.
There are no "bargain" alternatives to the DataVideo TBC1000: it is unique, you will empty your wallet to acquire one, your chances of it flaking and going dysfunctional are disturbingly high given the cost, and reselling it in Australia will not be a one-day task. But whether we like it or not, most USB dongles sooner or later require the TBC1000 to create a stable capture.
The Panasonic ES-10 is similarly unique, however it doesn't do the same thing as the TBC-1000. The ES-10 is more of a juiced-up extension of the circuits in a JVC SVHS DigiPure: it adds that much more correction of visual distortions for tapes that require it. The ES-10 cannot perform the "invisible" DataVideo type of correction usually required by USB dongles. And the ES-10 isn't usually required for the majority of tapes: the hype for it has become a little excessive over the past ten years. It does one specific job extremely well, but its abilities are only truly necessary for a small percentage of tapes. If you see severe flag-waving (bending at the top of the screen), distracting wiggles on vertical objects like doorframes, and some types of jitter: the ES-10 is your cure. Otherwise, you generally don't need it if you already have a JVC or Panasonic premium VCR with built-in line TBC and DNR features. Some who live in locations with very narrow VCR options have reported success pairing the ES-10 with a plain-jane VCR to create a semblance of the JVC/Panasonic premium VCR functions, but results are highly variable.
Many recent dvd recorders will provide some degree of pass-thru frame sync correction. This may or may not be sufficient to get good results with a USB dongle: YMMV, and compatibility variables between dongle versions and dvd recorder models makes it impossible to suggest anything with certainty. The Panasonic ES10 (and to a lesser extent ES15/ES20) are known to definitely have useful pass thru abilities, every other dvd recorder will be a crapshoot. If you don't want to waste time or money, invest in a DataVideo (and ES10 if it proves necessary).
Note the DataVideo TBC is not a cure-all, and it can be picky about the VCRs that feed it. If any of your tapes have segments of second generation (copied or dubbed material from other tapes), the DataVideo will puke all over them if the VCR used does not have a rock-solid transport mechanism. I was astounded by the difference between a garden-variety consumer Panasonic and a low-end Panasonic AG model with SuperDrive transport: the consumer model played second-gen material just fine on a TV but when patched thru the DataVideo resulted in a ripping, tearing, scrambled picture. The Panasonic AG patched thru the DataVideo was solid and perfect. Similar differences were observed with some low-end vs higher-end JVC models. The moral being, if you use a USB capture dongle you're probably gonna need a DataVideo TBC, and if you need a DataVideo TBC then you'd better not cheap out on the VCR. Its kind of an all-or-nothing proposition.
Last edited by orsetto; 29th Sep 2020 at 14:18.
Go for it:
I have one of these, it works well to stabilise my videos.
Try it with your VC500 then if that is a flop, you can try something else.
Are my numbers incorrect?
13 tapes * $20/tape = $260
Doing it yourself = $200 (your budget for equipment)
The $60 savings doesn't seem worth the dozens and dozens of hours you will spend.
But, it's your time and your money.
The catch is finding a quality service for $20. As many times as recommendations for a quality transfer service, anywhere, is asked I've never seen a solid recommendation other than lordsmurf, and I think his services start at $25-30/tape.
The one thing that idiot with his VHS Restoration Studio got right is he's risking his equipment with every transfer. Would you or anyone else here risk their VCRs for $20?
Last edited by lingyi; 29th Sep 2020 at 23:20.
If I were the OP, I'd do some research, get one tape transferred, watch the result, and decide if he likes it. Also, if he has some equipment already sort of working, he can transfer ten minutes with that equipment and compare.
I have seen both quality extremes with transfer services. You can usually tell, not only by getting one tape transferred, but by asking a few questions. I used one local service for duplicating DVDs. I verified what blank stock he was using (it was the good Taiyo-Yuden, back in the day) and what burners he used. Everything looked top-notch so I had him dup 250 discs for me. I tested a random sample when I got them back home (using DVDSpeed) and they were A1.
I also later got a chance to use his equipment myself (story below) and it was all top-shelf (the reasons for that are also contained in the following short story).
The story? Well, his lease got cancelled so he moved the business to his house, located in a VERY sketchy part of town. My HDV camcorder's Firewire got toasted by a bad 1394 card and I had to transfer a wedding, so I went to his house to use his very professional HDV transfer equipment. He let me do it myself, and while I was waiting, he noticed I was stooping a bit and asked me if my back was sore. I said it was and he said I should try some pain relief lotion. I said sure.
The next thing I know, I'm rubbing cannabis oil on my back!
Absolutely nothing happened (too bad, I had high hopes --<couldn't resist that one>), so I went into the other room to monitor my transfer. Then, about half an hour later I hear someone else come into the house and it is a customer for what turns out to be this guy's other business: selling drugs!! So here I am, trying to get my work done for a client, and I'm in the middle of a drug deal.
Point of the story: ask lots of questions although, if you're like me, you probably won't think to ask whether the guy is dealing on the side.
Agree with johnmeyer: most people with just a dozen or so tapes, but no great hardware already on hand, really are better off just getting them done by a service, even a mediocre one. While its true there are some truly dismal services out there, most are at minimum going to be slightly better than DIY with a random VCR and random generic Chinese USB dongle plugged into a random PC. Getting the results talked about by heavy hitters here is going to require a monetary investment that is breathtakingly beyond what most casual amateurs are expecting. Other than some of the capture dongles, none of it is available new anymore: you must look for it second hand, it isn't easy to evaluate or purchase, and availability in some countries is extremely limited.
There are always exceptions to the rules, of course. Some people hit the jackpot and find a decent USB dongle that doesn't choke to death on VHS input. Some (like Alwyn above) find a fairly inexpensive dvd recorder used as passthru is all they need for their USB dongle to get a solid lock on their VHS. But the variables are endless when you try to put together a system for under $200: its a matter of your tapes vs your VCR vs your USB dongle vs whatever you're trying to use as a TBC.
BTW forget the Sima Copymaster: all that's good for is defeating MacroVision to allow capture of protected Hollywood tapes. It isn't a true TBC, its more of a "hack", and most examples I've seen mess with the colors and contrast. Fifteen years ago some found them an affordable route to digitizing their movie collection. Today, when any movie that was available on VHS can be streamed from the web for pennies or bought on disc for $10, there isn't much point to making a digital transfer of a Hollywood tape thats contaminated with MacroVision and will get degraded further when you try to filter out that defect. The Sima does absolutely nothing useful for personal tapes made with a camcorder or recorded from broadcasts: it only makes them look murky.
John, you've got to consider the "I did it" factor. I find this stuff is hugely rewarding, even if it does take a lot more time and (reasonable) extra cost. Bigbadben is potentially only an ES-15 away from getting video he is happy with, and which he can always on-sell (not many ES-15s available in Australia). Worst part would be packing it back up for posting to the next "video capturer".
Even non-quality is more than $20. That's the rate from 10-20 years ago. Most start at $30 now, can go to $50-100 depending on level of work needed. $20 is an outsourced operation, maybe some dude in his basement with his old VCR from 1990 and an Easycap.
The more corners you cut, the more issues you'll face. Even with ES10/15, good VCR and capture card are needed.