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Old October 1st, 2014, 11:11 AM   #1
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Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cutting it

Like many folks, I have a mountain of old VHS and 8mm video tapes I'd like to capture and archive. I've been putting this off for years but now that I've started doing some testing I've encountered some problems. Most of these tapes have a lot of noise and grain and the inefficient DV codec at 25mbps simply isn't cutting it. There's a noticeable amount of macro blocking in the captured DV codec file. I intend to compress to h.264 for archive, so this will only get worse. I suppose I had always assumed I'd just archive tapes the old school way via FireWire using a DV camcorder that has analog to digital conversion but the quality isn't there unfortunately. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was looking at some of black magic'a boxes for capturing/encoding in h.264 on the fly but there seem to be many options like this from other companies and it's unclear how efficient these encoders are.
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Old October 4th, 2014, 12:45 AM   #2
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Re: Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cuttin

I have used the Canopus advc100 with it's hardware codec and get good results from analog tapes SVHS,VHS, HI8, etc.
What are you using for codec?
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Old October 8th, 2014, 10:53 AM   #3
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Re: Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cuttin

I output something to DV recently and was horrified at how soft it was when it was played back. Yet, when moving to DV from VHS and Video8 etc, I was so amazed at the improvement in quality. How times have changed.

For standard definition, I'm outputting to either 25 or 50Mbit mpeg2, or roughly 3Mbit h.264/mp4. That seems to do the trick.

What I would recommend is that you run the video through a de-noiser just to be rid of that noise that we used to not even notice. Capture to a way-more-than-needed-quality format, de-noise and output to something like the above.

Andrew
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Old October 8th, 2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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Re: Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cuttin

Is there any capture hardware you would particularly recommend for Mac (2013 Macbook Air - has thunderbolt)? The Canopus advc100 which Jack Smith mentioned appears to be a firewire DV device, meaning it would essentially act the same as a DV camera with analog to digital pass-through. My problem is that when going VHS > DV, (25mbps, codec: "dvvideo") the quality of the original VHS is noticeably superior to the resulting DV file. There's significant macro-blocking - likely due to the inefficient nature of the "dvvideo" codec.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 12:04 PM   #5
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Re: Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cuttin

I would have expected better with the Canopus solution.

I'm a big fan of the Matrox MXO2, and you can get in to it fairly cheaply with the MXO2 Mini. The good thing about the Matrox solution is that you can choose the data rate etc for capture to mpeg2, bypassing the macroblocking issue (not enough encoding bandwidth or possibly even a lack of hardware processor resources).

You can connect the MXO2 to your Macbook via the Thunderbolt adapter. It also comes in handy for live monitoring etc.

Andrew
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Old October 8th, 2014, 10:30 PM   #6
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Re: Ideal hardware, codec and workflow for capturing old tapes? DV codec isn't cuttin

The various DV codec implimentation offer a wide variety of quality.
The Canopus hardware codec seems to work very well.I use it with SVHS tapes and still get good results.
However I have viewed some other DV codec systems with poor results.
Andrews suggestion would no doubt be a much better solution it's just much more expensive
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