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  1. Hello

    I'm building a gear from scratch for my work. The idea is to record a lot of footage for a "making-of" of the project we're currently working on with an old VHS camera and eventually upload it online later for nostalgia purposes

    I have ten VHS cameras that I bought in 2014 because it was cheap (it still is for some models) and because I was a big fan of the low resolution quality and glitch capabilities of the media.

    For this project I picked one of my favorites: S-VHS Panasonic AG-450.

    I decided to mount the camera on top of a DSLR shoulder stabilizer and bypass the VHS transport recording system by directly feeding the camera's output signal to an external recorder/digitizer. Fortunately the 450 does have an S-Video output. The external recorder would also feature a microphone input to record audio from an external microphone and a small LCD screen to provide video feedback, (The AG450 viewfinder broke and would not be reachable anyway since the camera is on top of the stabilizer)

    To record the camera signal I opted for a "ClearClick" product. The company sells more or less cheap products (both in price and build quality) but apparently it does the job (according to online reviews) So I ordered the "Video2Digital 2.0" version and immediately faced problems with audio because the device requires line level inputs and not mic levels. Also the device lacked of the mount screw that I needed to properly fix it on the DSLR shoulder mount. So I sent that away and was left with two options:

    I could buy a little more expensive product from ClearClick that featured everything I needed (but it could complicate the task) or look for something way more expensive in the "pro" field.

    When looking closer, the "ClearClick 4k ultimate" happens to feature everything I need for a little extra cash but this device does not accept S-Video or Composite... only HDMI and that's where trouble starts.

    Since I might use a 4K recording device I can eventually upscale the AG450 signal to 4k (for fun and experimental purposes)
    For this, I plan on using a DVDO Iscan Micro which, imo, is the most compact and most efficient device for this purpose at this price level. Besides, the smaller the devices, the better because all of this gear has to be mounted on a stabilizer at some point.

    So far so good (I think) now comes the big problem: What cable/adapter should I use to get the most transparent 480i signal from an S-video source up to HDMI.
    The goal would be to feed the Iscan Micro with the cleanest 480i signal possible before upscale.

    I have looked around and it seems that a simple cable just cannot do the trick and i'm left with myriad of crappy amazon converters that, for the most part, completely wash out the video quality, luminance, black levels, color saturation etc....

    So let me sum it up in a simple screenshot:

    Image
    [Attachment 61534 - Click to enlarge]


    Also i'm not sure if the DVDO ISCAN is HDCP compliant. The documentation on both the DVDO website and various infos online do not provide this information.. Maybe i'm missing something. If the DVDO is indeed HDCP compliant, it will heavily complicate the task because the ClearClick 4k isn't and will most likely display a black screen...

    Please share any thoughts, any details you might know!
    Also if my setup sucks please tell me why! I'm here to learn too!
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  2. Capturing via AV to HDMI upscaler seems like a terrible idea. I think other forum members can help you with the capture card choice, as I am not very professional in that field
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  3. Тhere is so much stuff going on already, replacing all of that with a laptop will probably make it less messy
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  4. Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    Тhere is so much stuff going on already, replacing all of that with a laptop will probably make it less messy
    Haha

    Yes indeed it's not the easiest setup, but for now I did not find any better solution to record real time upscaled VHS camera feedback in 4k.
    A Laptop would not be convinent for this matter imo, but is eventually an option.

    I want to avoid the VHS transport recording system as much as possible because of the limitations of the media itself.
    This way I can benefit of the "aesthetics" while avoiding as much noise as possible.
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  5. I did not find any better solution to record real time upscaled VHS camera feedback in 4k
    imo you would get better results by plugging cameras S-VIDEO output to a capture card and recording it with a laptop. Post processing allows for better de-interlacing and colour work.
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  6. Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    I did not find any better solution to record real time upscaled VHS camera feedback in 4k
    imo you would get better results by plugging cameras S-VIDEO output to a capture card and recording it with a laptop. Post processing allows for better de-interlacing and colour work.
    Well that would be suitable if the laptop could be carried on a vest along with the capture card but that's another layer of complexity and gear assembling that I have no idea how to tackle. Also I really doubt it would feel comfortable wearing all of it and seems very impractical for long recording sessions where recording is cut on and off all the time.

    HOWEVER if you have any recommendations for a lightweight setup I'd be glad to know them!

    When it comes to de-interlacing I think the DVDO will handle that just fine as it is built for SD interlaced to 4k upscaling. I have captured tons of VHS footage that I upscaled with their product line and it has some of the best results I came across (VP50/30)

    What do you suggest when it comes to uspcaling and deinterlacing solutions? I know avisynth is widely used and can bring outstanding results on SD sources if used properly (Which I don't... that's why I rely on hardware for that matter )
    Last edited by JoshuaLeDauphin; 31st Oct 2021 at 15:57.
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  7. Again, all of this gear is meant to be carried by 1 person.. so the smaller and lighter the components are, the better

    4k is just an experiment at this point and I could bypass that feature.. but S-video to HDMI is inevitable
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    Regarding your graph, you do not need to worry about HDCP at all if your video source is the analog output from a camera. The DVDO doesn't add HDCP. It only passes along HDCP if it is present in the incoming HDMI signal.
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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  9. "Camera -> ADC -> realtime digital deinterlacer and upscaler -> 4k capture device"
    is pretty complicated. It will probably reduce quality by a significant amount
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  10. Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Regarding your graph, you do not need to worry about HDCP at all if your video source is the analog output from a camera. The DVDO doesn't add HDCP. It only passes along HDCP if it is present in the incoming HDMI signal.
    That's a relief thanks!! Are you familiar with the Iscan Micro? How does it perform when it comes to upscaling SD sources?
    I really love the simplicity of the design on that one but on the other hand 3 buttons (off - low - high) is ... "too simple" as a setting
    It does use the VRS tech that other high end units use so the VHS source can only be improved... I think?

    Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    "Camera -> ADC -> realtime digital deinterlacer and upscaler -> 4k capture device"
    is pretty complicated. It will probably reduce quality by a significant amount
    You are right, that's why each element of the chain should be considered carefully. I can divide this process in 3 "simple" steps:
    • ADC: The ADC's ability to be as transparent as possible when driving a 480i signal from S-video to HDMI is crucial. Most ADC's will probably heavily alter the signal (amazon i'm looking at you)

    • Upscaling: The upscaler's ability to de-interlace and upscale interlaced SD sources must be good. I do believe the DVDO will achieve this very well. However I cannot back this up with any technical knowledge. I just trust this company since I've used a lot of their product with VHS sources. Any feedback on the Iscan Micro is very very welcomed at this point.

    • Capturing: The end point of the chain must record the incoming signal at a correct bitrate/format. The clearclick 4k will record in:
      -H.264 and HEVC format
      -4k @30fps 30Mbps
      -1080p @60fps 18Mbps
      -1080p @30fps 10Mbps
      -44.1Khz Stereo audio
      -The bitrate is resolution/framerate dependent whatever the codec used.

      Note: The 4k bitrate looks correct considering it's recording @30fps. I'm less interested in the other resolutions but from what I can see the bitrates seems correct.
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  11. If you really wanna go with that settings, than you should go with 1080p60
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  12. Still, a high quality (presumably lossless) analogue capture card and a few filters in avisynth+ will get you way better video quality.
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  13. Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    Still, a high quality (presumably lossless) analogue capture card and a few filters in avisynth+ will get you way better video quality.
    Noted! Thank you

    Why 4k would be such a problem with VHS? In what way a 1080p upscale would be better?
    Again I could really bypass that step if needed that's just for experimental purposes
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    I've been away from this forum for a very long time but it seems everyone is under the impression that you can start with a low resolution source, upscale it and expect the quality to improve. It won't, if anything, it will get worse, or at least appear to get worse. Your VHS source is 720x480 interlaced so only 240 horizontal lines at double the frame rate giving you 720x480. If you then upscale those 480 lines to 1080 or greater, what do you think is going to fill in the gaps? All you will do is end up with every 3 horizontal lines being the same. If this needs to be portable why not consider a micro pc? I've no idea what is available these days in the way of capture devices (I only ever use camcorders as passthrough devices to give a DV output) but a capture device to a micro pc saving the footage in VHS resolution, then play around with it afterwards.
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  15. Why 4k would be such a problem with VHS? In what way a 1080p upscale would be better?
    VHS is 480@30i (~480@60p). 4k30 removes half the frames. 1080p60 keeps them
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  16. Originally Posted by Richard_G View Post
    I've been away from this forum for a very long time but it seems everyone is under the impression that you can start with a low resolution source, upscale it and expect the quality to improve. It won't, if anything, it will get worse, or at least appear to get worse. Your VHS source is 720x480 interlaced so only 240 horizontal lines at double the frame rate giving you 720x480. If you then upscale those 480 lines to 1080 or greater, what do you think is going to fill in the gaps? All you will do is end up with every 3 horizontal lines being the same. If this needs to be portable why not consider a micro pc? I've no idea what is available these days in the way of capture devices (I only ever use camcorders as passthrough devices to give a DV output) but a capture device to a micro pc saving the footage in VHS resolution, then play around with it afterwards.
    Hi thanks for your input.

    I really don't expect much of an improvement on the upscaling side of this project. Maybe at least retain the best quality possible over new resolution standards, that's it. With that said I think you're right, 4k might be too much if every 3 line have to be "filled" with "something"
    I don't know how the Iscan Micro operates on this matter but it does not produce miracles imo. The VRS tech might bring interesting results though. I'll do as many tests as possible and see if the results turned out better or worse than a simple 480p recording.

    The micro PC solution is more complicated than it looks: First it needs power, probably 12v. I'd rather stick with something more power efficient to allow longer recording times with a 30000Mah power bank capacity (5v USB preferably).

    Second comes price/performance of the computer itself. If i'm in it with the micro PC solution, it will come out expensive to have something decent performance-wise under 300$. Plus you have to consider that I need to easily stop/pause/record all the time. I dont really see how I can do that efficiently with a PC attached to the rig? Maybe a remote... I'm not sure.

    Lastly, the capture card would need to be decent enough to accept a 480i signal with no additional processing.
    It would need to be compact and lightweight. Most likely the right USB dongle could do the trick.
    But the capture format on these devices is heavy. Most of the time it's lossless, which is great, but not really suitable for long recording sessions. Some of these USB capture products can encode in mp4 H264 on the fly but the user has little to no ability to tweak the format settings (at least the bitrate) and if I remember correctly, they just handle the encoding really bad by altering black levels and adding color saturation etc... In fact, just like those cheap S-Video to HDMI converters from amazon...

    I had a bad experience with H264 encoding and cheap SD USB capture devices to be honest

    How would you setup all of this, let's say if we were to remove the 4k upscaler from the chain and add a Micro PC for capturing?

    Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    Why 4k would be such a problem with VHS? In what way a 1080p upscale would be better?
    VHS is 480@30i (~480@60p). 4k30 removes half the frames. 1080p60 keeps them
    Interesting... i'll look into that
    Last edited by JoshuaLeDauphin; 1st Nov 2021 at 07:13.
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    How would I do it, in a completely different manner to how you propose to do it to start with. Despite having an S-VHS camcorder (along with various others), I wouldn't use it. I'd use my Sony DCR-VX2100E or, preferably, my HVR-Z7E in HDV or DVCam mode (HDV1080i) and tapes. If I needed longer recording time than the tapes allow, I'd see if I could pick up a secondhand HVR-DR60 hard drive recorder (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/461819-REG/Sony_HVRDR60_HVRDR60_Hard_Disk_Recording.html) which would give me 4.5 hours of continuous recording. That's with the 60Gb hard drive but it shouldn't be too difficult to change that for something like a 250Gb SSD and increase the storage capacity even further.

    I suspect, if you were to buy something along those lines secondhand, it wouldn't cost much more than what you are trying to do with a hotch potch of other bits that may or may not be compatible with each other and is going to make the whole system that much heavier and bulkier. I also wouldn't stop/start the recording, leave it running all the time and cut out the stuff you don't need afterwards.
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  18. Upscaling technically reduces quality
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  19. Originally Posted by Richard_G View Post
    How would I do it, in a completely different manner to how you propose to do it to start with. Despite having an S-VHS camcorder (along with various others), I wouldn't use it. I'd use my Sony DCR-VX2100E or, preferably, my HVR-Z7E in HDV or DVCam mode (HDV1080i) and tapes. If I needed longer recording time than the tapes allow, I'd see if I could pick up a secondhand HVR-DR60 hard drive recorder (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/461819-REG/Sony_HVRDR60_HVRDR60_Hard_Disk_Recording.html) which would give me 4.5 hours of continuous recording. That's with the 60Gb hard drive but it shouldn't be too difficult to change that for something like a 250Gb SSD and increase the storage capacity even further.

    I suspect, if you were to buy something along those lines secondhand, it wouldn't cost much more than what you are trying to do with a hotch potch of other bits that may or may not be compatible with each other and is going to make the whole system that much heavier and bulkier. I also wouldn't stop/start the recording, leave it running all the time and cut out the stuff you don't need afterwards.
    Very interesting approach. The VX2100 would be suitable, but I don't have any of these (I really love the AG-450 texture)
    The HVR-Z7E is out of the question.. it's way too clean haha!

    I did not choose an old VHS camera because I had nothing else... I chose it for a purpose: the nostalgia and "aesthetics" of the media.
    If I had to do this cleanly, I would never had chosen such a twisted approach. The goal here is to record with a VHS camera and have an old school vibe to the whole project while trying to experiment with modern upscaling and recording standards and see what I can pull off
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  20. Originally Posted by s-mp View Post
    Upscaling technically reduces quality
    I guess that depends on the hardware you are using to achieve this.

    I just discovered today this video from Christopher Hazard.
    He actually achieved outstanding upscaling results from 480i up to 4K

    You can watch his work here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qfQemL2Zt8

    As stated in his video descriptions he uses hardware and digital processing.

    I definitely don't expect to achieve these results by no means, but this kind of work does show that, if done correctly and with the right tools, 4k upscaling is possible and significantly improves 480i video quality.
    Last edited by JoshuaLeDauphin; 1st Nov 2021 at 09:05.
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  21. Member
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    One further thought. You were concerned about the battery you would need to carry to power a micro pc but what about the camcorder? You're talking about using a camcorder from the mid 1990's with batteries that are, presumably, of the same vintage so will be NiCd. They will have lost most of their capacity long ago so recording time and power for anything else isn't going to be a problem, but constantly feeding the camcorder with charged batteries will be.

    You can always start with a 'clean' video and then adjust it in post to give the old school look if that is what you want.
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  22. I took care of that already by replacing it by a new one. I am fortunate to have a specialized battery shop in town that does produce all kind of batteries for cars, camcorders, phones etc...
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  23. Originally Posted by Richard_G View Post
    You can always start with a 'clean' video and then adjust it in post to give the old school look if that is what you want.
    I thought about that option too: start with a modern camera, do the the whole film with it, author it to a DVD then send it to a VCR and record it to VHS.

    I would have to repair my NVFS200 for that but I can't find a proper place that offer that service... yet.
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    Originally Posted by JoshuaLeDauphin View Post
    Originally Posted by usually_quiet View Post
    Regarding your graph, you do not need to worry about HDCP at all if your video source is the analog output from a camera. The DVDO doesn't add HDCP. It only passes along HDCP if it is present in the incoming HDMI signal.
    That's a relief thanks!! Are you familiar with the Iscan Micro? How does it perform when it comes to upscaling SD sources?
    I really love the simplicity of the design on that one but on the other hand 3 buttons (off - low - high) is ... "too simple" as a setting
    It does use the VRS tech that other high end units use so the VHS source can only be improved... I think?
    I am familiar with what the technical term "HDCP compliant" means with respect to a device that processes HDMI input. I am not familiar with the DVDO Iscan Micro.
    Ignore list: hello_hello, tried, TechLord, Snoopy329
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  25. Maybe one option could be to use a DV camcorder that has S-Video input to record to, that should be portable and not overly costly, though maybe a bit clunky since you have to deal with tapes and what not. Would have thought there would be some older portable recording device that could record from analog to hdd or flash in dv or mpeg2 or something though, or composite to HDMI or SDI that was adjustable in some way. There is stuff like the atomos ninja that records from hdmi to prores though those do cost a bit too.

    EDIT: The clearclick HD thingies seem to have analog inputs, though only composite. May have the same issue with audio though. Also one thing here if dealing with NTSC, is that NTSC is 29.97... fps (59.94... fields per sec), NOT 30/60, if you want to avoid frame drops/inserts you have to record in the correct frame rate.
    Last edited by oln; 2nd Nov 2021 at 06:04.
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  26. Am I the only one who sees the humor in intentionally recording to VHS or S-VHS, and then spending lots of time and effort to improve the lousy video that results?

    I do video restoration for a living, and therefore deal with these old SD consumer video formats every week. Unlike movie film (which I also transfer and restore), I see very little "nostalgia" in the artifacts you see on 8mm, Beta, and VHS, or even their later, slightly improved versions (e.g., S-VHS).

    But chacun à son goût.

    Personally, if you really want to have some of the "look" of S-VHS, but still not have the result be painful to watch, I would start with modern HD or 4K video, shot to be cropped to 4:3, and then degrade certain aspects of it to "hint" at the older look.
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    My vote goes to using a MiniDV or Digital8 camcorder with S-Video input as a recording medium. Yes, it requires recording to a digital tape but it does not mess with the 480i video at all aside from DV compression and, yes, color subsampling. And it's cheap and lightweight.


    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Personally, if you really want to have some of the "look" of S-VHS, but still not have the result be painful to watch, I would start with modern HD or 4K video, shot to be cropped to 4:3, and then degrade certain aspects of it to "hint" at the older look.
    Fair enough, and often probably good enough, and practical. But it tends to look like the fake retro look some music videos these days try to replicate. I just cannot unsee the fact that all these defects are just a digital effect and rarely look authentic.


    In my humble opinion, with regards to the retro look, I probably would not even consider a camcorder this "good" (Panasonic AG-450) or pretty much any other with CCD technology. The retro look hits you right in the face if you use a camera/camcorder with a tube image sensor (Newvicon, Trinicon, Saticon, etc.). Have a look at this video: https://youtu.be/4hw5ICu9gqc
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  28. CCD camcorders look nice when in digital SD
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