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Old July 5th, 2014, 07:54 PM   #1
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Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

I have about 100 tapes (mostly recorded from TV Dotto's Data Cafe and Dotto on Data (Steve would like them but no budget). As well as a few other things, Expo86, etc.

Anyways I know I can use my Sony GVV-D200 with a VCR to import them, but the question is what format to store them in. .DV at 13GB/hr is huge for well over 300hrs of tape). Is there a "lossless" option like Apple Lossless for CD's that will produce smaller file sizes without loosing quality? I have FCS3.

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Old July 6th, 2014, 12:29 AM   #2
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

There is no such thing as lossless digitizing. :) The CD thing is lossless because you're just copying the already-digital data straight off the CD -- no digitizing, re-encoding, etc. Boy, I wish VHS was that way!

DV is also quite lossy by itself. Think of it like a stream of JPEGs (that's not exactly what it is, but pretty close).

The first thing you'll need is a really good VCR. I'm guessing the VCR you have is not the one the tapes were recorded on, and is probably a newer, cost-reduced model with RF and composite outputs only. (?) For best results, you'll want something with component and/or S-video output that you can connect to a nice digitizer (e.g., Grass Valley ADVC55 or similar) using high-quality cables. Yes, for this kind of stuff, the cables matter too! Bear in mind that nice used gear can be purchased, used, and resold on eBay for a relatively small loss if you're willing to devote the time. For this kind of project, that's what I'd recommend.

Out of curiosity, what are you planning on doing with the video once you've captured it?

In any case, I'm inclined to suggest capturing to DV, cutting/editing, then running out to DVD-ready MPEG2 once you've cleaned it up. If you really want to keep the final file sizes small, I'd also suggest looking into tools like Neat Video to remove noise before encoding to MPEG2. Especially if you want to make DVDs of this stuff, you'll want to make it as clean as possible, since the 9Mbit/s maximum bitrate of DVD can just barely keep up with grainy SD, and with that bitrate you'll only fit an hour of video on a DVD5 disc -- in case that matters!

Sorry for rambling. Anyway, the more you tell us, the better the suggestions will be. :)
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Old July 6th, 2014, 10:26 PM   #3
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

My original $500 VCR died in 2003. I now have a VCR/DVD player Toshiba that was the only one sold in 2010. I will not dump to DVD as that's low quality. I just don't want to store the .dv file as I would need a good 5TB. Also the budget for this is $0 other then a good S-Video cable (VCR to Sony DV200) and L/R composite audio cable. Would H.264 be good?

Here's the sample import I did for him a few years ago.

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Old July 6th, 2014, 11:49 PM   #4
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

I started in on this project a few months back, finding to my delight that my VHS tapes that dated back to 1981 still play perfectly (dumb luck, really). Since I still owned two functional DVCAM decks, I thought that would be a good archival format and could digitize at my leisure since that tape should be good for a couple of decades, I think. What I discovered (and this would have been true of capturing direct from the VHS to the computer) was that time base errors in the tapes because of the decks they were original recorded on were messing up the digital capture process. Ultimately I ended up ordering a Datavideo TBC-1000 off eBay which smooths over the glitches and helps avoid digital freezes in the footage. It wasn't as cheap as I would have hoped ($185 or so), but I can always sell it when I'm done with the capture process.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 03:39 AM   #5
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

It is possible that you may already have a time base corrector. If you use a hard drive recorder with your TV.

I was given about 50 VHS tapes to digitise for a client. Many dating back more than 25 years.

They would not digitise very well. Lots of missed frames. I suppose the tapes get stretched time over time and if the capturing software does not see a frame exactly in place it ignores it.

I did some research and discovered that the higher end TV disk recorders have TBCs built into them. I bought a second hand Sony, routed the signal through that into a Black Magic Intensity Shuttle and then into the PC.

With excellent results.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 08:11 AM   #6
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Ultimately I ended up ordering a Datavideo TBC-1000 off eBay which smooths over the glitches and helps avoid digital freezes in the footage. It wasn't as cheap as I would have hoped ($185 or so), but I can always sell it when I'm done with the capture process.
You can sell it to me. I've got a box or two of VHS, irreplaceable original stuff from the late '80's and early '90's, that I've been meaning to get into the computer.
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Old July 8th, 2014, 12:30 PM   #7
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

Drive it up to us Chris!

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Old July 10th, 2014, 04:27 PM   #8
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

The way that I do this is I use a Motu V4HD hardware capture interface --> Final Cut Pro 6.06 on my mac. For a deck I use the JVC BR-S522DXU, the FINEST SVH/VHS deck series made bar none! It has a tbc, and I feed the component out of this deck into the V4HD , and capture in the DVCPRO 50 codec... looks about as good as it will get... the downside obviously is disk space... :(
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Old August 17th, 2014, 07:09 AM   #9
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

The Digital FAQ – Video Restoration & Web Development is oriented to people who are obsessive about conversion of VHS and other analog formats to digital, and those who would like to be. They have very specific recommendations as to equipment, file formats, etc.. Worth a visit if you are serious about the conversion project and post capture clean-up of the video.
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Old July 29th, 2015, 03:22 AM   #10
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Re: Digitizing VHS tapes, what format other then DV for lossless digital file format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor Harrison View Post
My original $500 VCR died in 2003. I now have a VCR/DVD player Toshiba that was the only one sold in 2010. I will not dump to DVD as that's low quality. I just don't want to store the .dv file as I would need a good 5TB. Also the budget for this is $0 other then a good S-Video cable (VCR to Sony DV200) and L/R composite audio cable. Would H.264 be good?

Here's the sample import I did for him a few years ago.

Dotto Techrospective Dotto's Data Cafe 10-1 (2001) - YouTube
Holy crap, I realize this post was a year ago but I remember this guy! His set now belongs at BCIT where they're using it for student newscasts. I remember the whole Dave Chalk vs him thing as well.
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