I've been getting back into video capture lately, and my family has some old VHS and VHS-C tapes that are begging to be converted to good quality DVD's or even Blu-Ray. I was happy with my Firewire-only capturing when all I was doing was Digital8 and MiniDV tapes, since with that I'm getting an exact digital copy of the data, and there's no way to squeeze any more quality out of them.
But from what I've been reading, analog is a whole other story. My only VCR is a combo VHS/DVD unit that does not support S-VHS but does have Hi-Fi audio. I have a VHS-C camcorder with a "TBC" built in but I strongly suspect it's not even worth considering a true TBC, and is probably just marketing nonsense. I don't have a capture card for lossless Huffy capture, or a TBC, or one of these expensive S-VHS decks, and I'm concerned that just feeding a VCR into a DV cam and then feeding that into WinDV is simply not adequate at all.
Or am I getting nervous over something that most other people wouldn't even ever notice in their lifetimes? When the tape is finally on a DVD and playable, would anyone, family or friends, even notice the "DV codec artifacting" or the slight fuzzy line here and there that didn't get caught by a real TBC?
It's not a professional setup by any means, but surely one could do a whole lot worse, right?
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Feeding a VHS signal through a DV-cam for transfer to a PC via WinDV has often been championed since the DV-cam can act as a TBC to tidy up the picture.
Now these days, particularily in NTSC-land, DV transfer is often frowned upon due to its low color subsampling. But if you are happy with the results that you already got there is no harm in not trying it.
And if you do not have a capture device, nor wish to get one, you do not have many options. I guess your combo is a dvd-player and not a dvd-recorder. If the latter you could also try a direct to dvd transfer with the combo.
Generally, a DV transfer is a reasonable compromise between lossy Mpeg2 (the dvd method) and lossless (Huffyuv eyc.). And there is always the opportunity for post-transfer clean up afterwards.
Not just "lower" sampling, but literally 50% reduced color. You lose all color detail, traded for B&W, at certain color sizes. It smears, badly.
And don't forget DV blocks. Yes, it has blocks, like DVDs did.
DV cameras just have line TBCs, not frame TBCs. A passthrough camera can still drop/insert frames, and have audio sync/skew issues, on the DV AVI/MOV capture file.
I've heard a lot of horror stories about JVC VCR's eating tapes like Santa eats cookies, While it is true to certain extent, all VCR's eat tapes when they get old and wear out or when a bad tape is inserted. Maybe JVC has a design flaw in the take up and supply reels hubs' brakes, I don't see it being different from other VCRs, they tend to get loose over time and the pads need to be replaced at a certain point like any other VCR. If your VCR start to eat tapes don't blame the manufacturer just fix it. Things to look for, hubs' brakes, bad pinch roller, take up/supply reels drive belts .... just to name few. If your VCR eating tapes due to worn brake pads for the hubs avoid rewinding or fast forwarding the tape and stop it in the middle because it will spill a large amount of tape, either fast forward or rewind all the way to the end of the tape or use tape search in the lowest speed to avoid excessive tape spillage.