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Old 11-16-2013, 06:07 AM   #1
2ball
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Default Newbie needs direction

So I have home recordings on vhs tapes from 30 years ago. The tapes are in bad shape, but most will play. If I could keep the quality that I see when I play them, I would be happy. If I could edit them after and make them a little better I would be ecstatic.

A few years ago I used a VCR/DVD combo and put some of the tapes on DVDs. The issues I had with that method is the dvd ended up in a format that was hard to work with and the dvds were wide screen, so the people looked shorter and fatter. I also noticed that the VHS tapes were degrading before my eyes. I feel like I only have 1 more shot to get these videos on my computer.

1. I see that I can get the ADVC110 and the TwinPact 100 for about the same price used. Which would be better for what I want to do and why?

2. I don't have a vcr, so I will buy one. I see some vcr's with S-video outputs, is that the preferred method of hooking up to the converter, or does it matter with VHS tapes ?

3. To make matters worse when most of the taps were recorded the slowest speed was used. Will there be an equipment issue because of this?

4 I need to figure out how big of a hard drive I need. Is there a formula for how many hours of converted video will fit on a 1 Terabyte harddrive?

5. Most editing software should allow me to cut the videos and make shorter chapters rather then having a 6 hour video file for each tape?

6. The converter edits in real time, so if I have 100 hours of videos, it will take me 100 hours to play the videos so they can be converted?

I plan on getting a blueray burner to archive the files

Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-17-2013, 01:31 AM   #2
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Also will I be able to hook up a cassette player and output a dv file of just the music on the tape, then convert the dv music file into a WAV or MP3 file?

Is that possible?
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Old 11-17-2013, 01:13 PM   #3
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There are several threads here that discuss the issues with VHS tape capture/conversion. Browsing them wil be worth while.

Because the tapes are analog, it will take two hours to capture a 2 hour tape, plus setup and tape change time.

In general capturing copy protected tapes (e.g., MacroVision) often found on commercial tapes such as movies can present a problem. Work-arounds are outside the scope of this forum.

The ADVC output format is DV (as capture from a MiniDV camcorder). Roughly 13 to 14 GB per hour, so for 100 hours of tape you will need a 2TB drive, (People report that drives often tend slow down as they get more than 75% full). You will need additional storage for editing if you want to capture all before editing.

S-VIDEO is technically better than composite video, and is usually found on S-VHS VCRs. They tend to end to be better than garden variety VHS VCRs, but that is not guaranteed. (Cheap is still cheap.) While a S-VIDEO connection should give a better capture than from composite video connection a lot depends on the original tape and the gear used.

Note that S-VIDEO is a type of connection that uses a separate cable for luma (B&W portion of the image) and chrome (color information) signals. S-VHS is a recording format derived form VHS that provides higher luma bandwidth/resolution.

Look for a VCR that include a full frame time base corrector (TBC), that can help ensure a stable picture feed to the ADVC. Alternatively consider an external TBC. Several threads on this topics as well.

Tapes recorded at a SP (nominally 2 hour tapes) will capture best, and SLP (6-hour) much worse. (There was an LP (4 hour variant) but not many VCRs recorded in that mode.) The problems with SLP tapes include increased noise, lower effective bandwidth, and less stable playback. Look for a VCR with 19 micron heads for better SLP playback results. These are often listed as 4 or 6 head VCRs, but you have to read the fine print in the manuals/spec sheets. Th WEB is a good resource to find the details on old VHS machines.

When editing you will find noise reduction software invaluable - Neat Video is moderate priced and very effective, if it supports your editing software. This coupled with color correction can actually result in a more pleasing image on screen.

Blu-ray works for archiving captured files, but using DVD for the edited material can reach a wider audience (not everyone has moved to Blu-ray) and may cost less. Keep in mind that capture via an ADVC is SD (720x480 pixel frame), not HD. (All HD will add is a need for more storage and sharper noise in the image.)

Most playback and viewing gear should have a manual aspect ratio setting capability that should solve the short-wide issue. It is not uncommon for the AUTO setting to get it wrong.

The ADVC 110 is a current product. The TwinPack had some additional capabilities you may or may not find useful. The capture quality from analog VHS material should be the same. (If looking a used equipment, the ADVC300 is a nice option that offers some benefits for image correction while capturing.)
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Old 11-19-2013, 07:20 AM   #4
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Thank you for the info.

All of my VHS tapes are footage from a video camera. Some of the tapes are so old that there is a tunnel vision effect. Its darker around the edges and lighter on the inside. Some also have quick streaks of very small white lines and some have colors that are a little off. Will a tbc clear that up or is that something not fixable?
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Old 11-19-2013, 05:06 PM   #5
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A TBC will usually help off colors.

The "tunnel vision effect" you describe sounds like vignetting and is likely inherent in the footage itself and how it was shot (or transferred), rather than a degradation of the recording. At least I've never seen that type of degradation on VHS, and I used to work with some 10+ year old tapes that saw a lot of use.

White streaks/lines are usually wrinkles or creases in the tape or dirty heads. TBC won't necessarily help that, but some sophisticated noise reduction software like Neat Video might.
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:10 PM   #6
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The tunnel vision may be vignetting, because of a limitation of the camera lens, and maybe it is more pronounced because I am viewing the footage on a led screen and not a tube tv.

I'm trying to get my game plan together, coming up with a budget and finding equipment. I figure if I end up spending $500 on used equipment, I could resell when I am done and probably get 50% of my money back.

I went to several thrift stores and there are many $6 VCR's and $20 VCR DVD combos. A few with 19micron heads. If they are under $10 I guess it would be worth a shot to see the playback quality. All of the VCR/DVD combos have S-Video ports, but I assume that is for the DVD only, does anyone know if this is true?

The TBC are expensive, even used, I guess That will be that last piece in the puzzle, after I see the quality of the video from a used pro VCR or a SVHS.

anymore tips or advise?
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:12 PM   #7
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If you have capable editing program you may be able to do some image processing/filtering to reduce the appaent vignetting. it can also do some color correction depending on the nature of the color errors. All that takes time.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:33 PM   #8
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Yes, S-Video output on DVD/VCR combos are almost always only for the DVD player, unless you happen to find a combo that has S-VHS rather than plain-old VHS... Only S-VHS decks have S-Video, as S-Video came hand-in-hand with S-VHS.

I would be very wary of thrift store VHS decks - most of them are likely to have bad heads and poor head alignment.

Definitely find a tape that you can sacrifice - both to check tape path (it might get "eaten") and head quality (a dirty or damaged head can damage the tape surface and make things worse).

Still, if you can find a good S-VHS one, might worth it, though I'd check around the video/photo stores to see if they have one they're willing to part with. At least that equipment might have been cared for a little better.
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Old 11-20-2013, 02:29 PM   #9
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Some S-VHS tape players had TBC, check the specs.

Toward the end of the VHS era some low cost S-VHS VCRs were on the market, and in my opinion many were not very good, at least for use a s a transfer source deck.

You can occasionally find prosumer/industrial class machines for sale. There are a number offered on sites like Ebay (which does carry its own risks but with some Ebay backing). Garage sale and thrift shop goods are unpredictable. I have found tapes still in the VCRS (some were quite "interesting"). Of the garage sale/thrift shop VCRS I've tried, about 50% had serious problems and were not to be trusted.

Your safest bet might be to find one from a videographer who has switched from VHS tape to digital/DVD, but many of those folks dumped most of their VHS gear several years ago.
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Old 11-27-2013, 03:11 AM   #10
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Will the Canopus TwinPact100 Twin Pact perform exactly the same as the advc110 when converting vhs tapes to digital?
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