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Old September 5th, 2015, 12:10 AM   #1
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DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my options?

I'm attempting to capture around 40-50 x 8mm and VHS tapes for my own archiving. I tried capturing these using a firewire camera with analog to digital pass-through, but unfortunately the efficiency of the DV codec and the limited 25 megabits/s data rate provides unsatisfactory results. There's noticeable macro-blocking in the video - particularly on tapes with more noise and static. What's my best option for capturing visually lossless (very close) analog SD NTSC video?

I would prefer:
Under $1,000 US
Under 300 megabits/s data rate to achieve visually losses 8-bit SD NTSC video
Mac OS X compatible (I can run Windows on an OS X machine of course, but internal desktop video cards are out of the question)

Any suggestions or insights are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

PS: I looked into the Black Magic BINTSSHU but it seems like it may be more pain than it's worth.
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Old September 5th, 2015, 12:46 PM   #2
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Re: DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my option

Salil,
Your problem could be with the encoder in the camera, not with the DV format itself.
There are several DV codecs out there that "conform" to the DV spec. The Microsoft one is the worst. The ones in Sony Vegas and Canopus (Grass Valley) seem to be the best. Many users have had excellent results with the Grass Valley ADVC110 analog to DV converter. The analog source player is very important...most older cameras just won't cut it. You might try renting an old Panasonic or JVC deck with built in TBC and feeding the ADVC110 that signal.
DV from an analog source can give really great results if all elements in the chain are up to the task.
Hope this helps.
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Old September 7th, 2015, 07:57 AM   #3
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Re: DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my option

The folks who are somewhat obsessive about analog tape conversion at modest cost lurk at
Digital Video Forum – The Digital FAQ – Video, Photo, Web Hosting
There you will find much information on how to do it, what affordable tools work well, and so on
They do have pretty strong opinions.
They favor Win XP systems for capture because the favored capture tools are not supported in later OS system (i.e., lack of drivers).
Key is to sort out in your mind how good is good enough.

Some thoughts:
Most VHS players and 8m camcorders are not good sources for capture. And variations in tape and the original recorder can cause individual tapes to play better on some machines than others.
In general, the high-end S-VHS and Hi8 models are better players for capture purposes
Reconditioned Panasonic AG-1980s, AG-1970s, and the top JVC consumer S-VHS are favored for VHS capture.
(Be aware the AG-1980 has chronic bad capacitor problems so reconditioning is important.)
Some of the Digital8 gear can playback 8mm/Hi8 and may offer TBC and noise reduction; e.g., Sony GV-D200.
Composite video is not a very good connection to use - S-VIDEO is much better.

The main problem with DV format is 4:2:0 color, which is not favored if you plan to do restoration due to decoding/encoding cycle losses. But the intraframe-only compression made it good for editing, and it required less processing power.
Noise in the image (common to many older recordings) hurts compression results because it eats bandwidth. You will want to send as clean and stable a signal to the capture device as you can.

In addition to a quality player with internal (line) TBC and selectable noise reduction, you will likely need an external (full frame) TBC, a proc amp (often built into a TBC), a good monitor to evaluate the signal, and good capture gear including software, and will benefit from a waveform monitor/vector scope (often built into an NLE). I've often used an old Videonics MX Pro mixer as TBC. You may find some tapes benefit from DNR and/or TBC, others may not. (Remember that NTSC = Never The Same Color)

For simple "archive to a DVD projects" I've fed the S-VIDEO output from the VCR via a TBC and proc amp to a Toshiba DVD recorder using record pause to do simple cuts editing.

BlackMagic Design offers the Intensity series of capture devices that can capture loss less and have a USB connection flavor.
The Canopus ADVC series can provide DV format via firewire.
But research their compatibility with your MAC system.
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Old September 7th, 2015, 12:50 PM   #4
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Re: DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my option

Great post Don. Spot on.
I should have mentioned the S-VHS output. I used a Pana 1980 and now a JVC 622U, both with ok TBCs, straight into my Sony DSR30 DVCAM deck (newer models pass the signal through to the computer over Firewire, mine does not).
I'm on XPSP3 using Sony Vegas.

Thanks again.
Ken
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Old September 13th, 2015, 05:02 PM   #5
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Re: DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my option

I have found that using apple pro res LT is pretty efficient when digitising my old betamax and VHS tapes via a blackmagic extreme HD card.
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Old September 14th, 2015, 09:39 AM   #6
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Re: DV Codec @25mbps insufficient for capturing old analog video - what are my option

Hi Salil,

The Intensity Shuttle USB 3.0 (BINTSSHU) is very fussy about which USB 3.0 chipsets it will work with, however if you have a desktop PC you can use the BlackMagic Intensity Pro 4k for under $200 and stick it in a PCI-e slot and have the same capabilities.

This will record 4:2:2 video at a high data rate from analog sources. As others mentioned, if you can use a source deck with TBC and S-video output, that will benefit the process.

Thanks
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