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Old October 8th, 2003, 02:51 PM   #1
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What's more important in a VHS deck?

Hi guys. I'm going nuts trying to find a SVHS deck from here in New Zealand that will work over here ok, and do a good job. No shops here sell them at all, they would have to be ordered in and the prices are totally ludicrous. So now I'm thinking of changing tack.

If I wanted a deck to dub my finished projects to VHS (Yes VHS, I only wanted an SVHS deck to get the SVIDEO in) - which is more improtant to look for?

1 - # of heads?
2 - SVideo in (Even though it will end up on VHS in the end)
3 - Brand and model? Are there brands or models of VHS recorders that are known to be superior to others when recording?
4 - Any other hardware I could get to help (TBC? Whatever the hell that is)

Once I know what factor or factors will enhance the output the most, I'll concentrate on getting a VTR with that.

Also, anything else I have missed to watch out for?

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Old October 9th, 2003, 07:44 PM   #2
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Aaron,

I think SVHS has nothing to do with S-Video. S-Video is a cable that separates the luminance and chroma signals, resulting in better colors.
SVHS was a high quality VHS format that has probably been phased out because of DV, if I'm not mistaken.
But a good VHS deck can still prove useful for outputting consumer quality tapes that almost everyone can play. I have a higer level Sony which hooks up with a S-Video cable to the computer and I output on Professional VHS tape for best quality.
I'm sure a professional VHS deck will give even higher quality but it depends on how much you want to spend and who you want to output for.

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Old October 9th, 2003, 08:47 PM   #3
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What's a good VHS machine that would do good dubbing? I'm looking for s-video in+out and good tape motion management -
good with screen freezes, frame advance/forward, slow motion playback in several speeds . Do any models have progressive
scan output? I'd even be willing to pay more if the device does
IEEE to progressive scan output.

I've noticed that my Sony WEGA 40 tries to do progressive mode display of interlaced inputs, but it's not as good as a progressive source. This is my conclusion when toggling the progressive scan output button on my Sony DVD player.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 12:32 AM   #4
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S-Video is necessary to separate the two signals as pointed out. Good quality Composite video can be as good as S-Video. TV studios are not plumbed with S-Video. They use composite video (where they are still analog) except in the stream between the cameras and the switcher.

A VCR only uses 2 heads for recording. The extra heads are for special effects.

The JVC S-Video VCRs are quite popular here in the US and can be had starting at under $200. They work fairly well although one could not call them industrial quality.

A good prosumer S-VHS deck lists for around $1000 and up. Add really rugged and fast transports and the price goes up to $3,000 and more.

Sony no longer makes industrial VCRs of any stripe. Their duplicating VCR is around $3500.

If you want much of what you describe, you may want to look for a good used Sony SLV-R2100. Tough transport, good quality recordings. Originally around $1300. The SLV-R2000 was the upgraded SLVR-1000 (of which I have two). Real workhorses but not very fast reaction transports.

SLV-R1000s are out there in higher quantities and probably can be bought for around $500 for one in good shape.

Truth is there is no one machine that will meet your requirements.

If the transport is rugged and fast reacting, it is usually married with a pro set of electronics and they didn't mess around with special effects very much.

I finally gave up and added 6 $70 VHS decks from a discount store to my 2 Sony industrial VHS decks and the 2 SLV-R1000's. The $70 Panasonics do just about as well as the Industrial VCRs.

I feed them all from a DA that takes S-Video in and distributes Composite video. Seems to work OK for me. I do have a proc amp between the output of the computer and the input of the DA. That helps the VHS quality quite a bit.

A TBC (Time BAse Corrector) is only necessary in a few instances:

1. When playing back from an analog tape deck that isn't really high quality, the TBC will regenerate synch and retime everything. TBCs are usually paired with a Processing Amplifier so you can also tweak the video.

2. If you have to synch everything in the studio to a master clock so the video switcher will work, then the output of any device that does not itself have external synch in can be run through the TBC which can be synched to the master clock (normally called Black Burst) and then it will retime the output of the unsynchronized device to synch with the rest of the studio equipment.

The Studio 1 (and now Sign Video) proc amps will regen the synch signals and clip illegal levels. I use one to tweak the video signal before it reaches the DA.

Note that DV sources have digitally regenerated synch so, normally, firewire outputs from cameras and computers have really good synch and a TBC is not required.

That isn't to say that the analog video coming out of them meets the NTSC spec. It usually does not.

Black Burst is a complete NTSC signal with luminance levels down at 7.5 IRE units (TV Black) and the signal also has the color burst so everything can be timed correctly. Both with relation to the synch signals and to the color phase.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 01:15 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the info guys! I think I'll just give up on the SVIDEO in video recorder and get a good quality composite only one.

Mike, is a proc amp really worth getting? Also, what DA do you use? I just use my XM2 at the moment, and I have no idea how good that is relative to a "real" one like the Canopus or something.

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Old October 10th, 2003, 01:21 AM   #6
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Aaron,

What about Mike's excellent info made you give up on S-video
input? There are many new decks listing under $250 with s-video
input.

Has anyone ever heard of a VHS with progressive output? Do people just deal with interlacing artifacts on their big screen TVs?
I don't want to blow $500 on a new VHS with a buffer that still
flickers when frames are frozen.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 01:35 AM   #7
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Glints, it's more out of convenience and insane prices.

In New Zealand there are neither SVHS decks or VHS decks with SVHS inputs. There are only VHS decks with composite. Sorry I found one place selling one for $1300, which is about US$800. And I didn't think it was worth that.

So, I have to try and find one from overseas and it hasn't been easy getting one that doesn't cost the earth, if I can find one at all. Of course in the US the power and TV systems are different (110V/60Hz vs 220V/50Hz, and NTSC vs PAL). There are multisystems ones around I'm sure but I just can't find them and the price is still pretty high.

So all in all I think, for what I do (serious hobby, but I don't earn $$ from it) composite will have to suffice.

If I find a good PAL SVHS deck one day that's cheap I'll be happy.

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Old October 10th, 2003, 02:18 PM   #8
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I use the Sign Video DA. It takes in either composite or S-Video and Stereo line level audio. It outputs 16 independent composite video and stereo line level audio channels. Since I run 10 decks, I find it to be of immense value compared to attempting to daisy-chain the decks. Daisy-chaining is OK for a couple of decks though. If you are feeding just one deck, you really don't need a DA.

Proc Amp. More difficult decision. Everything I can do in the Proc Amp I can do in my editing system (Canopus DVRexRT/Edius) but it takes more time.

I have a Sign Video dual-channel proc amp. One channel accepts the output from my Sony SLV-R1000 S-VHS deck and the proc amp output is fed directly into the Canopus analog input. The other channel takes the S-Video analog output from the Canopus system and feeds the DA.

With this tool, I can clean up the analog video into my editing system without having to worry about it on the timeline. When I pass the video from the analog output along to the DA, I can tweak it in the proc amp (I also have a waveform monitor and vectorscope reading the video from one of the DA channels). This helps when the subject matter consists of saturated colors or over-spec video.

As you know, normal DV is usually not quite legal in terms of broadcast specs. A bit too hot, sometimes illegal colors, etc. The proc amp allows me to cut it back to spec. From a practical standpoint, VHS looks better when the signal is in spec.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 05:05 PM   #9
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Thanks Mike. Yeah I don't need a multi deck system yet. My stuff is pretty hobby level and not vast quantity when I do do stuff for people. I see how a proc amp could be useful, and checked on the Sign Video site. Will wait a bit and stick with post adjustment for now as the money would probably be better spent elsewhere.

Out of interest, where could I find info on making DV output "keep within broadcast spec"?

Thanks again for the advice.

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Old October 10th, 2003, 06:53 PM   #10
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Visit the Tektronix web site. I think they have a few docs on video waveform measurements.

The problem with DV is that it is normally at 0 IRE units for black when it should be at 7.5 units (in the U.S.A.) and for broadcast, it should not exceed 100 IRE units and DV from a camera can easily reach 120 IRE units. Not even a Cable Television station will accept that.

Further than that . . . getting into signal width measurements and adjustments is well beyond the controls we have available at almost any price.

If you ever have to prepare footage for broadcast, you can always take it to someone and have them conform it to spec.

Many NLE systems now offer software waveform monitors and vectorscopes and the means to adjust the signal. After you read the info on the Tek site, you could play around with some of your video and see what happens.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 07:48 PM   #11
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Mike,

Here's the part I don't understand about broadcast limit problems.
Why doesn't the broadcast station just clip (saturate, hard or soft knee) the limits before its transmitted?
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Old October 10th, 2003, 08:46 PM   #12
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I'm sure they could (I've never operated in the broadcast environment) but that would increase the equipment in series with the signal. In the end, it is more practical to have the suppliers of the program material make certain it is correct.

There is also the small problem that a lot of the pro equipment is very intolerant of out-of-spec signals and it may be that some of the units would refuse to process the signals.

It would also cost $ and there are no tighter people in the world than the broadcast networks. The in joke, when I used to sell for Tektronix, was that KQED had more and better equipment than any of the national broadcast channels.

KQED is the San Francisco Public Broadcasting Station for those of you that are not from these parts.
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Old October 10th, 2003, 09:10 PM   #13
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Some (most?) of they do clip the signal before it goes out to broadcast. If they don't do it their cables can get fried if there are illegal colors. It makes a lot of sense to produce broadcast safe material in the first place. If not the colors will be all wrong or some equipment will be damaged.
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Old October 11th, 2003, 12:18 AM   #14
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Stations are required by the FCC to broadcast within certain specs. All stations adhere to the FCC rules or risk losing their broadcast license. Losing the license is extreme, but could happen if the violations are persistent. Stations use devices that put a hard clip on the signal so that what is broadcast meets the requirements of the FCC. Hard clips are not very flattering to the material and it is in the producers best interest (and the clients best interests) to give the station the best FCC legal video they can provide.

Generally speaking, modern equipment is not damaged by the broadcast of illegal signals (out of range). However, the broadcast may cause interference on other channels and cause audio and video problems on the viewers TV.
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Old October 13th, 2003, 04:26 PM   #15
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Mike, as far as consumer VHS decks go, what do you use - you state they're panasonic, but what model? With my LG one the dubs are not that good (as I've mentioned) when going from my XM2 to it. I'm not sure it's an XM2 problem or my VTR problem.

Would you think that that something like a Canopus AD would do a better job than my XM2?

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