I've spent the past year slowly plugging away at capturing some NTSC VHS tapes. I had to create notes to keep things straight, so I thought I'd share them in case they help others. I'm a newbie. Not an expert. These are not comprehensive. Take them for what they are.

Here is what I used in my setup: JVC SVHS HR-S2913U > DMR-ES15 > Pinnacle 710 USB > Windows 10 > Virtual Dub 1.9.11 .

Some useful Timebase Corrector (TBC) background/newbie reading:
TBC FAQ: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-restore/2251-tbc-time-base.html
More TBC info: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/400964-The-Question-of-TBC-s#post2612774

My budget was limited, so a Panasonic DMR-ES10 or ES15 was recommended. Cost was around $100 CAD.

Here are my notes regarding the Panasonic DMR-ES10 / ES15 / ES16 :

These provide TBC(ish) functionality when used as a passthrough system. This is only for line timebase correction (TBC). It does not do frame TBC.

lordsmurf: "The line TBC is for cleaning the image quality. The external full frame TBC / frame sync is for correcting signal problems."
From http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-workflows/3895-video-conversion-line.html#post19198

lordsmurf: Adding one to your pipeline can have "side effects, sometimes nasty.". Read more here: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/11643-camcorder-line-tbc.html#post76251

Snapshots with/without the ES15: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/403648-Snapshots-with-and-without-DMR-ES15-in-setup

hodgey: "IMO the biggest upgrade would be investing in a dvd-recorder for passing the video through for stabilization. Most commonly used one is the Panasonic DMR-ES10 and ES15 (I think the Canadian variant of it is ES16). The difference should be quite notable. There are some other alternatives though if those are hard to come by. That will give a much larger quality bump than swapping out the capture card."

**** Setup ****

Most basic setup: VCR > via s-video > ES10 > via s-video > capture card > windows

Passthrough settings:
- s-video in to LINE 1 (on the back).
- rear output goes to the next item in the pipeline so display is shown in virtualdub.
- turn ES10 on
- Press "Input Select" button on remote and set input source to "IN1". (These match the inputs on the back)
- Without a playable DVD inserted, using the remote adjust the settings as follows:
-- DNR off: "Display" button on remote > Video menu > Line-in NR > Off

- Black Level Control: "Functions" button on remote > Other Functions > Setup > Video > Black Level Control.
- NTSC Recommendation: Input Level: Lighter / Output Level (Composite / S-Video): Darker

Reference posts:

*** TBC(ish) ***

lordsmurf: "The ES10/15 is refer to as a TBC(ish) -- not really a TBC, but sometimes can act as one. The ES10/15 alone is very minimalist, because again no frame sync TBC. You add a DVK to add that.

The ES10 and ES15 contain strong+crippled line TBC, and non-TBC frame sync. The line TBC is strong because it corrects tearing, one of the harshest line timing issues that exists. But crippled because it's touchy to anti-copy (whether present or not, ie false positives). Frame sync TBCs correct frame issues, whereas non-TBC frame sync merely pass errors in a psuedo/semi-corrected manner.

Sometimes ES10/15 is fine, but sometimes not. It's not a TBC. It's a DVD recorder. The model is unique because it has passthrough, meaning the TBC/filters work on the signal by merely being passed through the unit.

The ES15 has side effects, sometimes nasty.
- The luma/exposure is messed with, because Panasonic apparently sucked at maintaining input levels (a flaw on every Panasonic recorder, ES10/15 or not).
- The NR is aggressive and always on, and the on/off is more like low/high.
- Posterization, a colorspace compression. VHS is somewhat like 6-bit dithered, and the ES10/15 is somewhat like 6-bit without a dither.
From http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/11643-camcorder-line-tbc.html#ixzz7BLqLo4Hb

lordsmurf: "Some downsides of the ES10/15 (posterization, agressive NR even when "off", luma changes, just an overall degraded+digital look, though not DV'ish or MPEG'ish or outright crappy hardware in use)."
From https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/400964-The-Question-of-TBC-s#post2612774

See some snapshot examples of the impact of an ES15 here: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/403648-Snapshots-with-and-without-DMR-ES15-in-setup

Sharc: "The ES15 clearly removed the flagging (aka wobbling, tearing) and the rainbows (what you referred to as color issue) thanks to reducing luma/chroma crosstalk by its internal 3D comb filter." (from above link)

jagabo: "If you think the colors without the ES15 are more accurate you can easily adjust ES15 caps by increasing the saturation by about 15 percent with the capture device's video proc amp before capturing." (from above link)

*** Black Level Control Details ***

Great detail on black level control from Brad: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/403635-Panasonic-DVD-recorder-passthrough-settings...-ES15-DMR-ES25)

jagabo: "So for those using the recorder only for passthrough (not recording to DVD) it's best to use lighter/darker."

CED: "[i]I did a similar test with the Pansonic ES15 a few months back. Lighter/Darker vs Darker/Lighter delivers a different output picture. They're very similar but if you look at highlights or shadows you can see some in one case brights will get blown out (Lighter/Darker) and in the other some blacks will get crushed (Darker/Lighter). "

jagabo: "The lighter/darker settings refer to 7.5 IRE setup for North American NTSC vs. 0 setup for Japan and elsewhere. Technically the correct setting for NA are Darker (input), Lighter (output). If you are recording to DVD you should use those settings. But because of the way it works internally you get less posterization in passthrough with Lighter/Darker. Then you adjust the capture devices proc amp accordingly." https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/403619-Sharing-snapshots-from-4-different-capture-...ds#post2636146

*** Remote ***

Universal remotes rarely have the mapping to all buttons. You really need OEMs remotes for JVC S-VHS VCRs, ES10/15, and similar hardware that had remotes.

More details on remotes here: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/397972-Panasonic-DMR-ES15-DVD-Recorder-Remote-Cont...ol-Programming

*** Canadian version DMR-ES16 ***

jjeff: "the Canadian ES-16 is basically the US and the rest of the world's ES-15."


More reading: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-capture/12183-panasonic-dmr-es15.html