As I prepare to embark on my mass digitization effort, I have been trying to research hardware price an availability. I would say, with over 100 Hi8 tapes, along with a dozen-or-so VHS, I would like "the best". But, being realistic, I will have to settle for "optimal". Unfortunately, even there, I seem to have come to this game a little too late. Still, I would be interested in hearing some opinions.
Panasonic DMR ES-10/15: I am planning to pick up one of these, used, from Amazon. In addition to the pass-through line-TBC (for use with my Hi8) I also like the idea that these units have an S-Video out for use with my VHS tapes. Does the line-TBC also work when with the VHS output on these units? Or, am I misinformed?
Datavideo TBC1000/3000: Yeah, I would love to have one of these. But, even affordability aside, good luck finding one at any price! Ironically, if I had started this project 5-10 years ago, I may have found one at a much-more affordable rate. I have been doing some research on the TBC1000, and it seems that many failed, due to bad electrolytic capacitors. Cheap, knock-off electrolytic caps seemed to plague tech from the 90's. There is even an entire, online forum dedicated to "bad caps". This may explain the scarcity of these units. A lot of TBC units may have hit the trash, despite being easily repairable. Mistakenly, folks assumed that there was no longer a demand. Hence, the scarcity and astronomical prices.
AV Toolbox AVT-8710 (green): At one time, this was a more affordable option to the TBC3000. But again, good luck finding a working one at any price.
ATI AIW HD 600 USB: I have noticed these being praised in a number of different discussions. But, I have yet to find much info on these. Is this a good USB capture device? I currently have a cheap "Dazzle" and a Hauppauge USB-610. I am not really happy with either. They worked OK, for testing if my tapes were still viable. But, the high-contrast of the Hauppauge is insane, often blacking-out the darker areas. Plus, the Hauppage showed bad "combing" in panned shots. (see attached comparison---Dazzle on top, Hauppauge ont bottom). The Dazzle yields a better picture. But, it has a slow, USB 1.0 output. I really would like a better-quality capture device. But, it seems that now, the cheap ones are the only ones available---all others "discontinued".
[Attachment 58017 - Click to enlarge]
Magewell USB Capture AIO: Perhaps, the only high-end USB capture device still available. Worth the price? Honestly, I have seen absolutely no discussion of these.
Win XP Computer: I still have an old Pentium 4, 32-bit desktop computer, that runs Win XP. It is old and slow, with every boot-up being a new adventure. It does have the advantage of a second, 1TB HDD, which I use purely for storage. I built this machine myself, back in '06, for doing photo editing (large multi-layer image files, often more that 1GB in size). It still runs, and I still use it for photo editing. Might a PCI card in this machine be a better option for video capture? If so, where might I find a PCI card that would fit this old machine? I could still do my video editing on my much-more-powerful Win 10 laptop?
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Could you upload a short sample of the video captured with the Hauppauge? I'd like to see its Histogram. Or you can do it yourself and post the result:
At capture the procamp should be tuned to stay inside correct range.
If the Histogram is correct you can use AviSynth filters (ColorYUV, Tweak, ...)
Last edited by lollo; 25th Mar 2021 at 14:48.
I do not think that the images are representative when extracting the histogram.
Here one of my capture (raw, untouched, except removal of black borders and heads switching noise to do not alter the histograms) similar to yours. (in my case is very similar to the dvb-s stream; it is also possible that the dvb-s original stream does not have many details in the darks)
[Attachment 58023 - Click to enlarge]
[Attachment 58024 - Click to enlarge]
Last edited by lollo; 25th Mar 2021 at 16:52.
I would suggest investing in a ES10 or similar first, and starting from there. Very few capture cards really handle video straight from a vcr particularly well.
For the hauppauge, you will need to adjust the video levels when capturing, how to do it depends on what application you are using.
What do you mean by the dazzle being usb1 only? Does it only output compressed video? The image you show from it looks like it has been deinterlaced, while the hauppauge one is not. The "combing" is expected on interlaced material, what you are seeing is really 2 half-frames weaved together.
Oh, there is plenty of detail in the dark areas (note the top image). Both captures are of the same frame of video---just using different capture devices. I understand that i could use the software proc-amp to adjust this. But, I have to wonder about the results, when the setting is that far-off.
Oh, there is plenty of detail in the dark areas (note the top image).
However, the levell adjustement is mandatory for every card if the default is not good for your particolar tape. Often also for different sequences inside same tape.
Replying to your impressions of the DataVideo TBC1000:
It is a problematic device, yes, but not entirely for the reasons you've conjectured. While it can indeed suffer from dead caps issues, it is no more or less prone to this than other electronics mfd in the early to mid 2000s. If anything, the Panasonic ES10 is more likely to suffer caps failure, but thats neither here nor there. The point is, almost every desirable audio or video item mfd between 2000 and 2010 will probably need its power supply caps replaced sooner rather than later (which is not that difficult to do or get done, as you've surmised).
The killer issues with the TBC1000 involve some crappy "mechanical" parts, like the utterly misbegotten cable harness (and matching flimsy sockets) that connect the useful TBC board to the completely bogus crappy distribution amp that nobody asked for and only one out of twenty buyers ever actually used. Of the hundreds of posts here on the TBC1000 since 2005, I think I've only seen one member mention they made frequent use of the stupid flakey distribution amp, which unfortunately all buyers of the thing are stuck with. It can be bypassed for slightly better video quality and much improved reliability, but the modification takes some skill. The unit can also develop issues with failed solder joints and fragile S-Video connections, and some suffer catastrophic, irreparable failure of key IC chips.
Sudden spiking demand vs finite limited supply is the cause of skyrocketing prices and dwindling availability, not any particular history of failing units. Most of them survive in working or easily repaired condition: I've handled many, and 60% of the problems stem from that damned crappy harness connecting the TBC to the distro amp. It can often be cured by jiggling the harness and board sockets until the video plays clearly, then locking everything in position somehow with cable ties, shims, whatever you can improvise. Keep the unit firmly secured in a stable location and it should work fine for a good while after. Its also a good idea to look into the beefier power bricks offered by specialists like TGrant Photo: most TBC1000s came with a somewhat inadequate power brick. Underpowering causes video noise and glitches.
Unfortunately there's no way to determine from most eBay listings whether a DataVideo has failing caps or a dead IC chip. So make sure you see a return policy in the listing, and use your credit card thru eBays new payment system (instead of PayPal) to ensure ironclad refund in case of a problem. $600 to $1200 is a lot of money to risk on this little box, way more than most of us want to spend, but theres no alternative at this point. Most of the AVT product out there is crap now, and TBCs from "pro" suppliers that are recent enough to work well with VHS can be harder to find and fix than the DataVideo.
Last edited by orsetto; 25th Mar 2021 at 21:43.
I found "Ensemble Designs" devices' design is very interesting, Caps used are of a different kind:
Thank you for the replies, so far. I am intrigued by the Ensemble Designs "BrightEye" units. Has anyone worked with one of these? I gather, from the claimed specs, that some of these units incorporate both A/D conversion and frame TBC (e.g. BrightEye 3). Any good? The prices are definitely more reasonable. However, these would require capturing SDI video. I would be interested in hearing about the workflow.
dellsam34 (latreche34) is using this workflow: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/9475-brighteye-75-first.html
He will jump on and explain everything, in his excellent way as usual.
As a cheaper alternative for Analog-SDI conversion you may also explore Datavideo DAC-7 Analog to SDI Converter
Both approach require SDI-USB converter (BlackMagic, etc...)
Last edited by lollo; 26th Mar 2021 at 11:36.
These SDI devices and workflows are really hard to find that's why I never really recommend them at least to the average Joe who seeks a $5 capture device from China. The reason being is they were not mass produced like consumer devices, and when production houses and studios who used them moved to 100% digital most ended up in the recycling facilities, The few that survived the dump are being used and passed on to others with high price tags.
Ensemble Designs is one of the few companies that perfected a device for a noisy consumer format like VHS and they are the very few who put a TBC in their devices, I had a conversation with the ED lead design engineer and asked him about how the TBC is implemented in the BE family and he was very informative.
Some senior members here don't like such workflow and prefer the consumer workflow whom comfortable with, For me I tried many workflows and this is the closest to the best VHS-decode capture done so far, and the main benefit is that after the TBC is applied the signal stays in digital and never converted back to analog like in some other workflows that use a stand alone frame TBC. Off course the TBC can be turned off just like physically removing an external TBC from the workflow.
If you are up for the hunt and have some money for it (which is what you will pay for an external TBC anyway) then go for it, Be aware of the technical names though even the manufacturers' ones are misleading, The main analog to digital capture device is called converter, The SDI to PCI or SDI to USB interface is called the capture device (even-though it's a straight 1:1 AVI transfer from SDI to HDD), So use the manufacturer terminology when searching for them, Not all of them are built in TBC, So the datavideo linked above is just a camera converter, not for consumer sources.
the datavideo linked above is just a camera converter, not for consumer sources.
I've been shown some really extraordinary captures made with customized Ensemble, BrightEye, AJA, etc SDI setups by "dormant" VH members who no longer actively participate in threads (but do occasionally PM their old friends). The results are very tempting but acquiring the hardware can be difficult (and the workflow a bit arcane depending on specific models/marques one ends up with). The learning curve can also be intimidating for some potential users, as there are far less forum threads and other web resources available vs the usual consumer capture dongle + TBC workflow. But if one were transferring a fixed number of prized tapes (say 50-100) or involved doing the work as a paid service for others, the various SDI routes are definitely worth serious evaluation as an alternative to more typical "A>DTBC>A>D" methods.
Last edited by orsetto; 27th Mar 2021 at 07:44.
Answering your question of searching the ultimate VHS capture workflow, you can consider 2 additional options, developed in Germany:
- Canopus NX capturing uncompress YUV (then reduced to HuffYUV with VIrtualDub)
- A Panasonic HDR converting to HDMI and then a HDMI capture (similar principle to the SDI approach)
https://gleitz.info/forum/index.php?thread/47572-tutorial-hochwertiges-digitalisieren-...en-und-andere/ in german
To give an idea of the "issues" that I wish to address, I am attaching a couple short video samples. These are glitches that seem to result from either blank spots in the tape, or the camera being bounced around during recording. Capture devices seem to be really sensitive to such flaws. So, what level of TBC (line or frame) would I need to correct these? (I have over 100 tapes to digitize) These video samples have been de-interlaced greatly slowed (~8:1) so that the "glitches" can be more clearly seen.
On the topic of capturing with SDI video, are there capture devices that integrate the audio? Are there audio sync problems? Can such captures still be done with VDub or AmaRecTV? Or, does this require special software? Any preferred SDI capture devices?
HDMI and SDI are two different things, HDMI is a display port conveniently made a data port for extracting video (mainly for video games), SDI is a data port conveniently made a display port for previewing and calibration purposes by technicians, Kind of like firewire, it transfers data and video but TV's were made back in the 2000's capable of displaying video from DV camcorders.
SDI is the foundation of analog video capture, It was standardized in the 80's when capturing lossless analog video was only possible via an SDI port to a digital tape deck such as the digibeta, computer was very primitive back then, The data carried by an SD SDI is exactly what's called lossless AVI 4:2:2 480i/576i as defined by the D1 standard ITU-R 601 or CCIR-601 a.k.a Rec. 601.
Depends on the HDMI capture device, SD HDMI doesn't have to abide by that standard, It can carry all kind of resolutions and scan types 480i/p, 576i/p, some cards/devices can only output progressive encoded formats, some others upscale on the fly.
I agree. The guys behind that project showed a full PAL 720x756 YUV 4:2:2 properly interlaced within Rec.601 transfer from VHS, except the capture of range 0-16 and 235-255.
I never experienced my self that approach: if I had to choose between the 2, I will gor for the Canopus NX (but difficult to find and operate).
Your SDI approach is probably the best of all in principle (I never tried it either) but it seems much more expensive.
One day may be, I will try
Just a quick addition to the original problem.
If by any reason you are uncomfortable with extensive procamp level adjustements you can give a try to hdragc() plugin. In this example I used default parameters except corrector=0.5.
In any case, to recover the details the blacks must not be crushed.
[Attachment 58147 - Click to enlarge]
I'm sure you mentioned it in a past thread, but what player(s) are you using for the Hi8 and VHS? Most Sony Hi8/Digital8 models already include a digital line TBC.
Color flashing at the start of a new analog recording is pretty typical, regardless of what you use for playback, TBC, decode, or display. Even I, with my mountains of equipment and crippling perfectionism, wouldn't spend any time worrying about a couple-second chroma or luma flash when a new segment on the tape starts.
Can definitely be resolved by the good DVD recorder "line TBCs":
- Panasonic DMR-ES15, DMR-ES25, DMR-ES10
- Philips DVDR3575H, DVDR3576H (and other DVD recorders made by Funai that use the same TBC -- oln has mentioned that the video goes through a Panasonic chip but I've never seen what's inside the Funai units myself). An analog proc amp is required to tame the Funai Flicker, which adds additional cost, but I've found it essential with the Panasonics, too; just for a less-intrusive blooming problem.
- [Others that I haven't personally used...]