It's your classic rabbit hole situation, and it's hard to know where the bottom is, lol.
My dad bought a full Sony U-Matic editing rig in the early 80s to put together footage for his (US)football training equipment company. A few years ago, he asked if I wanted to try archiving all the tapes and I said yes, so he dropped off the whole setup. There's probably somewhere around 200 tapes in boxes in storage. Lots of raw footage of college and pro teams training, as well as masters and in-progress edits of training tapes and trade show demo reels.
I took a shot at capturing straight from one of the decks to a cheap Hauppage card through composite and thought it looked pretty good. Then I compared it to what it looked like on one of the CRTs and realized it was nowhere close. So much more detail and dynamic range in the analog video. So I parked the whole project for a few years, did more research and collected a few pieces of gear.
The gear collection so far:
Sony VO-5850 U-Matic deck
Sony VO-5800 U-Matic deck
Sony CVM-1270 monitor x2
Sony RM-440 remote control unit
DP-210 transcoder. Took a while to track down an original 7-pin dub cable
AJA FS1 frame sync
AJA Kona LHi capture card
I also have a sync generator on the way
Sharp XC-A1 video camera
Sony VO-6800 portable U-Matic deck
[Attachment 56448 - Click to enlarge]
The signal chain is currently dub output into the DPS-210, then s-video into the AJA FS1 then SD SDI into the Kona LHi. The decks are in extremely nice shape and seem to operate fine. Through this current setup, I'm getting what I think is a really clean capture, but with a few issues. The biggest is it's dropping frames. I think it's between the deck and the transcoder. Watching on the CRT, there's no drops at all, but maybe a slight waver in the picture occasionally. Also a few waves and such here and there but not as worried about that for now. When the video drops, the FS1 says "no video signal" then comes back after a few frames.
Sample clean footage:
Sample with some drops:
It predictably looks worse on Youtube, so here are some MP4s:
I have a bad feeling it's tape degradation as other tapes capture fine without the video signal dropping out. These were recorded between about 1982 and 1989. Predictably, the earlier tapes seem worse for this.
I've got my big boy pants on coming into this, so if I'm really messing things up please let me know. It would be great to get what I can off these tapes before it's too late.
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It's definitely the VBI signal is dropping on the tape, I've never used Aja FS1 before so I can't comment on that but I noticed the BrightEye from Ensemble Designs copes better with this type of signal drop, Since you've already invested in the gear I can suggest some options:
- Remove the DPS-210 from the chain like this:
Umatic -> composite cable -> Aja FS-1 (TBC ON) -> SDI cable -> Kona -> PC
- Umatic -> DUB cable -> DPS-210 -> S-Video cable -> Aja FS-1 (TBC OFF) -> SDI Cable -> Kona -> PC and see how it goes.
- Hookup a sync generator right before the DPS-210 is possible, if not it won't do you any good because the DPS-210 is the one not correcting for dropped frames.
How about a Y/C mod to the deck? Is the DPS-210 add on better? What settings are you using on the DPS-210, if using RGB try switching over to YUV.
One more suggestion:
- Don't use the mixing console, any signal processing is better done in the digital domain on the lossless files.
- Also a silly suggestion, Remove the tapes on the left side of the CRT monitor and slide it all the way to the left and bring the PC monitor to the center of the equipment, will be a much better looking system.
Last edited by dellsam34; 26th Dec 2020 at 15:08. Reason: added suggestions
Thanks so much for the response!
The Horita BSG-50 came in so I added a reference signal to everything in the chain. Not sure if that's normally how it's done, but it seems to work and the picture is super stable now.
I shot a little video on my phone to try to catch the tape signal level on the deck's meter vs the output on the analog monitor vs the capture window.
Is the vertical blanking what we're seeing on the CRT right when the signal in the capture chain drops? It looks like something changes or shifts each time. If so, is that a fault of the tape, or just the gear being sensitive to it? From your previous reply, it sounds like a gear issue. I'll keep an eye out for a BrightEye 3, or whatever else might help. Thanks for the tip on that.
I tried running composite straight into the FS1 and it has the same issue. The original reason I wanted a frame sync in the chain was that AJA's capture software would stop recording every time it sensed a format change. I figured something like this added to the chain would stabilize the signal that the capture card was seeing. Being a bit of a noob, I'm not really sure how the SDI output from the FS1 to the card affects it, but it seems to be pretty happy about that part at least.
I've run across talk about the Y/C mod and am fairly handy but not an EE so I hadn't seriously considered it. Especially with gear that can transcode the Dub output.
[Attachment 56461 - Click to enlarge]
Way better And the console in the previous post is just a remote for controlling two decks in an editing suite. Shouldn't affect the signal, as far as I know.
Beauty, isn't it?
That Aja capture program looks neat, I have a similar app called MediaExpress for Black Magic Designs hardware. What are you outputing as lossless? Just a plain YUV 4:2:2 AVI?
If you are having dropped frames from the composite out, that rules out the DPS-210 being the culprit, I don't know much about it but it seems it's doing a great job converting the chroma under signal in the DUB connector to a full C signal, Is it built in line TBC?
When there is tape drop outs due to degradation of the magnetic layer it affects the signal recorded on it, The signal that is affected the most is the VBI (vertical blanking intervals), HBI and scan line signals are only affected at the line level so it won't affect the whole frame much, but the VBI will eliminate a whole frame or frames. Usually a frame TBC/frame sync or a reference signal will replace the VBI signal by a new clean one, Though a reference signal is only needed when you are switching between two sources, So the TBC in the Aja FS-1 should work, if it's not doing its job maybe an SD version of the device will do a better job, How are you connecting the FS-1 to the Kona?
Consider cropping to 704x480, de-interlace with QTGMC and encode to h.264. If youtube is the goal, de-interlace, crop to bare minimum active area and resize to 1440x1080 on one go, save as HuffYUV and upload directly to youtube without encoding.
Drop a lossless sample here or on the cloud (keep it less 1GB) and I will show you how it would look like.
Last edited by dellsam34; 26th Dec 2020 at 23:24.
The goal here is primarily archiving this old footage, anything else is secondary. It could be at least partially posted to Youtube at some point. I'm pretty new to 'real' video work so I haven't gotten to the codecs and such yet. AJA's software has limited options for the captured file. The 10 bit YCbCr option is probably what I should capture to. Then keep those files for archive and process a second set for viewing or possible uploading purposes. Anyway, AJA saves a .MOV at 224Mb/s 4:2:2 YUV. I could also do Cineform (I have no license key), MC DV25 NTSC, MC DVCPRO50 NTSC, 10 bit BE RGB and 8 bit YCbCr.
Yeah the DPS-210 seems to be doing great work with the DUB signal. Pretty sure the DPS unit is just a transcoder and nothing else. I tried other outputs from it like having it transcode to component out and everything but DUB-in-Svideo-out degraded the picture somewhat.
I really appreciate all the great info you've given me on this! There's always this anxiety going into a new forum and asking questions, lol. But yeah, it looks like the AJA FS1 is kinda dropping the ball a bit. I might see if AJA's tech support could help at all. I sorta wonder if the reference signal is doing its thing. It's connected to the 'External Ref' connection on the VCR and the 'ref in' connection on everything else. My assumption is that should lock the frame timing of all the equipment. Is there a way to test if it's working properly?
Finding SD versions of this gear is a definite possibility. If necessary I could set up a Windows 7 or XP PC just for a capture station, but obviously easier to keep it all on my Win10 workstation. In fact, I missed out on a BrightEye 3 last night on ebay by like 30 minutes.
Wellll then... Just did a little testing. I connected the CRT monitor to the composite output of the FS1 and the frame dropped showed the same on the CRT as they had been through the capture software. Then I connected it to the composite out of the DPS-210 and bam, rock solid picture, no drops at all. That makes me feel sooo much better. I was afraid we'd waited too long and some of the tapes were too far gone to capture. So it looks like I'll poke at AJA's techs and if they don't have any ideas I'll be in the market for a different TBC/frame sync.
Yah very few members here are familiar with broadcast formats, so you won't get much help on this than you would get on encoding.
Later on you will find yourself downsampling to 8 bit because as far as I know none of the de-interlacing and encoding filters work with 10bit files let alone RGB, So get use to capturing YUV2 8bit if available.
On the FS-1, Yeah it's a shame that it cannot cope with dropped frames, Is it still dropping frames even with the injection of the sync signal? I'm pretty sure there is options to access its menu via a USB port connected to a control PC app besides just the front display and buttons. By the way the FS-1 is actually the capture device that is converting analog video to digital not the Decklink.
Alternatively, have you tried the analog inputs of the Decklink? I know you are just using it to ingest the SDI signal for now but I believe it has a breakout cable where you can connect an analog A/V signal, If so try to connect it directly to the DPS-210 with S-Video and it too should work with the control app as well to turn things On and Off, Get with Aja team and ask them how to get the control app for your devices.
The BE3 is video only, You want to capture both audio and video to be embedded in the SDI signal, So forget the BE3, What you need is the BE75, other alternatives are Snell & Wilcox TBS190AD and the GrassValley version of it the CVR600AD, Though these devices are not easy to come by.
There's some detailed capture info on U-matic in the digitalFAQ.com forum
Other members discussing, I'm not really involved much in those.
Even professional dub houses do a lousy job with U-matic, because the format hasn't held up well. In several cases, the person got the tapes captured, and sent the files to me for further processing. They were often rough, worse than an average VHS tape. It's somewhat disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. If your tapes on pristine image-wise, count yourself lucky. But you're running into signal purity issues.
Same methodology applies: VTR > TBC > capture card
This is a place where ancient broadcast rackmount TBCs can actually work well, as it expects the source. While not better, the issues are different than VHS. But from what I've read, interactions I've had, sometimes TBC-1000/etc type TBCs are still working best here. Newer rackmounts are confused, older gear is in need of maintenance and repair.
Yes, Professional studios always had TBC's and Genlocks in their analog gear regardless what tape format used.
Interestingly the DOC in that box can recover some of the corrupted v-blanking lines and actually can avoid frame drop, Though it connects directly to the head RF signal with a special connector, That's what that box was made for, old decks like the u-matics and reel to reel players, Later decks such as analog Betacam and Betacam SP were built in such processing circuits.
Last edited by dellsam34; 29th Dec 2020 at 07:07.
Thanks so much for both of your replies! I've learned a lot from this.
It looks like the DPS-375 might've been a PAL only unit. I don't see much reference to it outside the UK. Bummer because it looks like it'd do everything in one box since it takes a DUB input.
Going from what lordsmurf said, I did another dig around and got a DPS-470 coming. I see on here that it's not highly recommended for VHS work, but we'll see how it handles U-Matic. DPS seems to have done a lot of work around that format, so they must've known a few things about it. But if it can clean up or at least cope with the vertical blanking issue then I'll be happy. The 470 does have SDI outputs and also handles analog audio so at least the audio should stay synced.
The FS1 certainly seems too new to be useful. There's a misleading reference here and there to it being a TBC, but the manual only mentions that in the features and nowhere else so maybe it was a planned feature that was dropped? Who knows.
I'm pretty sure the FS-1 has a TBC on/off function you just have it off that's why you got frame drop, Have you tried the decklink analog inputs or you don't have the breakout cable? Either way accessing the menus of the devices should solve all dilemma's. Good luck.
Oh yeah, I meant to mention that in the last post; the LHi connected to the s-video output from the DPS-210 captures fine with no drops from the vertical blanking issue. The problem I was having is any time there's a scene change, especially in a raw tape from the video camera, the capture software would see it as a format change and drop the recording. I figured a processor/TBC/frame sync in the chain would prevent that, and it does. But now the FS1 is dropping frames.
I'd love if there's a hidden way to turn on a TBC mode on the FS1 but I've been up and down through the menus several times looking. I just emailed AJA about it.
Last edited by DopeNessMonster; 30th Dec 2020 at 04:49.
If I was in your shoes I will focus on the decklink as the main analog capture device and find out how to access its menu from a control app, if it has TBC functionality get rid of the FS1, I've seen them sell for at least $500 on ebay, some over $800, A lot of cash in the pocket plus saving space, extra cables and power.
If you can post the exact model # of the decklink or a picture I will look through the manual to see how it works.
There is no doubt the FS1 has a frame TBC, that's what it's made for, Here is the main page of the product, see the diagram at the bottom of the page, it shows clearly the TBC chip:
But you can't compound TBC's with professional gear, you have to use only one in the chain. If you use two, the first should be a genlock/syc gen and the second is frame sychronizer/digitizer.
Here is the installation software, it contains the control app:
AJA Software Installer v15.5.3 for Windows:
This unified software, driver and firmware package contains everything you need in order to start using your AJA video I/O hardware and includes maintenance updates. Please read the Release Notes for complete detail.
The following AJA applications are installed in v15.5.3
AJA Control Panel v15.5.3:
-For setup and control of your AJA KONA, Io or T-TAP product, including firmware updates.
-For high quality capture, playback and output.
AJA System Test v15.5.3:
-For testing storage to determine if it will be possible to sustain frame rates for chosen format(s).
AJA Control Room v15.5.3:
-For high quality capture, monitoring, playback and output.
AJA NMOS v15.5.3:
-An optional component providing discovery, registration and control for KONA IP running in SMPTE ST 2110 environments.
Reading through the manual the Aja Kona LHi does not have a TBC, But here is a way that can probably work better, Bypass the FS1 and connect the sync signal to the sync input of the the Aja Kona and see how it handles transitions.
Last edited by dellsam34; 30th Dec 2020 at 13:40.
Oh, good call, I haven't tried the LHi on its own with the genlock input. I'll try that this afternoon once I mod it with a bigger heat sink. The stock LHi fan is really annoying.
In my limited research leading up to this, I was under the assumption that a frame sync served the same purpose as a TBC, but I likely misunderstood.
I was also thinking, does the genlock loop on the FS1 need to be terminated? I haven't tried that yet either.
Last edited by DopeNessMonster; 30th Dec 2020 at 15:47. Reason: Added question about genlock termination
Got a pretty good update on this project. Found a DPS-230 TBC on ebay and after repairing the rotary encoder it seems to be working well. It completely fixes the frame dropping problem and even stays locked on while pausing or searching on the Umatic deck, which surprised me. Video seems quite solid and stable, but some tapes show some bending at the top right corner.
So the current chain is Umatic deck outputting DUB to DPS-210 transcoder which sends s-video to DPS-230 TBC which sends s-video to AJA Kona LHi capture card. Your basic VCR-TBC-capture chain with the extra step of converting DUB to s-video.
[Attachment 56721 - Click to enlarge]
I still have one more TBC on the way, a DPS-470, so I'm going to wait to see how that compares before committing to capturing all these tapes.
For now, I guess I could use some opinions on how the video I'm getting looks. The plan is to archive everything as-captured in a lossless format, and then process them into a second set of files that are more useful for viewing and maybe posting onto Youtube.
Sample raw videos:
This one is straight from the video camera, first-gen: http://www.rupelli.com/dump/Oakland_Invaders_clip.mov
This clip was shot on 16mm film and transferred to video: http://www.rupelli.com/dump/Lions_Brute_Sled_clip.mov
Here's a worst-case, from a promotional video, some native video, some transferred film, likely a few generations deep: http://www.rupelli.com/dump/Keep_the_Drive_Alive_in_85_clip.mov
And a Youtube upload of that whole promo video from the capture I did a few years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LtFdtGr4Z0
Bending on the top corners of the frame indicates scan lines timing errors, Some U-matic decks do have a line/field TBC which can address that, I don't know how your deck handle these errors, if only few tapes you can do them with the previous workflow that worked without this issue. Alternatively if the DPS-230 has SDI out, have you tried connecting it to the Aja Kona with SDI cable just to see what difference does it make to get a setup that works for all tapes?
Your samples are in DVCPRO 50, It is not a lossless format and working from it incur further loss, You should be capturing to lossless AVI 4:2:2 @ 8bit pure D1 standard, I don't understand why Aja software doesn't have such output? You may want to try Black Magic SDI only PCIe card and MediaExpress app, I've seen such cards go for as low as $10 used. The expensive ones are the ones that have HDMI/SDI input because gamers are looking for them for HD/4K HDMI game capture.
The usual workflow for youtube uploading is as follows:
1- After capturing the master file in lossless AVI 8bit, drop the file in VDUB2 and output as HuffYUV to get the YUV version that works in script software at the same time you are reducing the file size to about a third with no quality loss.
2- De-interlace with QTGMC using "Fast" option.
3- Crop from 720x480 to 704x480 to remove the padded 16 pixels while viewing the edges and upscale to 1440x1080 in VDUB2 using LanczosResize in one go.
You can do 2 and 3 in one step using AvsPmod with the following code and output to vdub2 for one step processing:
AviSource("C:\File Path\FileName.avi") QTGMC(Preset="Faster") prefetch(4) Crop(X left, X right, Y top, Y bottom) LanczosResize(1440, 1080)
If for whatever reason you want to encode the upscaled version for offline viewing use this code with FFMPEG (NTSC only):
ffmpeg -i InputFile.avi -vf setsar=sar=1/1 -c:v libx264 -crf 18 -x264opts colorprim=bt709:transfer=bt709:colormatrix=bt709:force-cfr -c:a aac -b:a 192k -movflags +faststart OutputFile.mp4
ffmpeg -i InputFile.avi -vf "format=yuv422p,setsar=sar=10/11" -c:v libx264 -crf 10 -x264opts colorprim=smpte170m:transfer=smpte170m:colormatrix=smpte170m:force-cfr -c:a aac -b:a 192k OutputFile.mp4
Wow, thanks so much Dellsam!
I actually started out capturing lossless then figured DVCPro50 would save some space without hurting things too much. The built-in options are 10 bit BE RGB, 10 bit YCbCr and 8 bit YCbCR, all 4:2:2. Would it make sense to capture in 8 bit YCbCR since it's going to another 8 bit format anyway, or would 10 bit be better?
I'll do a test run of the workflow you suggested and update with the results. Thanks again!
You want 8bit YCbCr if encoding will follow, Honestly 10bit for SD is a little overkill and I did visual comparison tests between the two and I couldn't see any difference (yes with my glasses on ).
I'd like to jump in on this thread.
I'm about to purchase the FS1 with a blackburst generator because I was under the impression that it would help with the dropped frame issue I'm having with my Decklink 4K Extreme. I'm copying from a profesional Hi8 deck (EV0-9720) but every now and again I'm getting a black screen on my capture monitor. I'm taking S-video out of the deck and going right into the Decklink card. I'm sure it's a VBI issue as well.
I'm really surprised your reference signal did not correct the issue you were having. I was led to believe the capture card and FS1 would sync to the reference signal regardless of what came off of the VTR.
Are you ditching the FS1 completely?
And the benefits of higher bitdepth use are very clear, striking even, when it comes to intermediate manipulation (editing, mixing/compositing, synthesis/processing) of the data.
There is no script apps that work reliably in 10bit for the capturing task. In theory yes but in real world it's a different story. I made extensive comparisons of 10bit and 8bit AVI of VHS/8mm footages and found no real visual difference, anyone who does a lot of video capture knows this.
Last edited by dellsam34; 30th Jan 2021 at 09:31.
Not everyone working in 10bit requires scripting. You know this as well.
The very few who are interested in 10 bit capturing like myself I don't think they can find a better compressor than HuffYUV or Lagarith and a better de-interlacer than QTGMC, The masses who use consumer capture cards are limited to 8bit anyway. So yah I tried hard on 10 bit route and it didn't go well.
I added the FS1 back into the chain to try to fix that issues, which obviously it didn't, but it did seem to help with the overall color of the picture. If I can iron out the DPS-210 I'll reevaluate keeping the FS1 in the chain or not, but it certainly didn't do anything to help with the frame drops, with or without the sync generator.
Once I have a minute, I plan on fully recapping the DPS-210. That might mean it needs recalibrating, but I figure fresh Nichicon caps must be closer in value than the 30 year old ones in it. I really need to track down a service manual for it, but that's a needle in a haystack.
Did the drop in frames cause the card to stop capturing or did it continue capturing? Without anything between my deck and the decklink, captures stops as soon as the signal becomes unstable. FS1's are relatively cheap now so I'm thinking buying one can't hurt.
What you're describing sounds like a loss of genlock on the Frame sync device. My guess is that in order for that setup to operate as it is supposed to you'll REQUIRE a sync/burst genlock device to run genlock (basically black video with color burst) to BOTH machines and any other devices you might include into the setup like switchers, CG devices etc... You can test this theory by simply connecting both machines to the each other and RM-440 direct (no frame sync or intermediary devices) and try some edits/playback etc... If the machines are working correctly along with the RM-440 there won't be any artifacts happening that you described. IF the frame sync has an "INTERNAL" sync mode you might try that as well and see if it cures your problem.
Last edited by thghgv; 23rd Feb 2021 at 14:03.
Sure, the raw captures may be 10-bit, but processing is inevitable these days.
Want to upscale? Script it.
Want to deinterlace? Script it.
We're talking U-matic here.
Numbnuts amateur newbies with Topaz software, Handbrake, etc, are not the user base here.
It will be scripted eventually.
That "archival" master capture of 10-bit isn't really going to do anything for you.
"Look ma, 10 bits!"
"That's nice dear."
"But ... but ... it's more and more is better!"
"That's nice dear. Run along and play."
10 bits is mostly just measurebating, in reference to SD analog formats.