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Old November 23rd, 2004, 04:29 PM   #1
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Converting Analog-Digital via XL-2 Converter

Hello all,

Sorry to be a pest but someone please tell me:

I want to archive old VHS tapes to DVD and noticed on Page 99 in the XL-2 OM " By connecting the camcorder to a VCR camcorder, you can convert analog video/audio signals to digital signals and output the digital signals via the DV terminal. The DV terminal serves as output terminal only."

Is it possible that the VCR signal can be converted without using the tape in the XL-2 (useless wear and tear) and send the signal to the Computer?

If so, is it not wise to use the XL-2 for this?

Should I go ahead and get the Canopus ADVC-100 converter for $299.00?

thanks TEB
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Old November 23rd, 2004, 10:37 PM   #2
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Hi Thomas,

Pests, by definition, are unwelcome. That does NOT describe you! ;-) So how do you like your new "Monster Cam" XL2?

The short answer to your question is yes it will do that. I used the same functionality on my GL2, and although I did make the mistake of copying to miniDV tape first, rather than capturing my Hi8 tapes direct to hard disk, the footage from my 25-30 old tapes is now also stored in digits!

If you have a "reasonable" amount of analog stuff to convert -- like maybe less than a few dozen hour's worth -- I'd say just use the camera to digitize direct to disk. I don't think that amount of use would be significant for the electronic parts of the camera. I can think of at least two reasons to go direct to disk:

- to avoid head wear on the camera if you copy to tape like I did, and

- I've found through trial and error that it is MUCH less painful to digitize a whole analog tape to disk, edit out the truly useless bits in the NLE timeline, and export to miniDV tape than it is to dub to miniDV and then capture.

On the other hand, if you have huge amounts of analog stuff to convert, I'd recommend springing for the Canopus as a practical matter. It'll digitize your footage using the Canopus codec, though, which is a little of a double-edged sword. It is widely said to be among the best DV codecs, but you either have to maintain the codec on whatever computer(s) you'll use to work with the files, or use a free Canopus utility to convert them to the MS codec. No big deal either way; just something to be aware of. BTW, the codec conversion utility will batch process files and is said to not do any rendering, so there is no loss of quality; it basically just replaces the Canopus header info with MS info.

If you do decide to go with the Canopus stuff, I just checked their website and they have an ADVC-110 now for a few more dollars than the ADVC-100. I didn't take the time to read up on it, though.

Happy converting!
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Old November 24th, 2004, 06:20 AM   #3
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Pete, do you know for a fact that it does? I've asked this question
a couple of times for people to test, but haven't gotten a solid
answer back.

The reason I bring this up is that the XL1 range DID NOT support
this (ie, without tape)! So although it sounds logical that it does
support that (like the GL2, which would be a GREAT feature!) I'm
not convinced yet that it does!
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Old November 24th, 2004, 08:49 PM   #4
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I am most pleased to report unequivocally, "Yes!"

The XL2 manual describes this on pp 99-100, even specifying to remove the tape from the XL2.

I just finished doing a quick test to make sure. Here's what I did:
1. Hooked up my old Sony Hi8 camera using S-video and audio RCA cables to the inputs on the XL2.
2. Hooked up the XL2 to the computer via 1394 as normal.
3. Made sure a Hi8 tape was in the Sony and NO tape was in the XL2
4. Turned on the XL2's passthrough using the AV-DV button on the remote control (alternatively, you can turn it on via the camera menu)
5. Powered up the Sony Hi8
6. Opened a PPro 1.5 project
7. Opened the Capture window
8. Started the Hi8 tape and clicked the little red Record button in the capture window.

Caveat: Since you're passing through a signal that didn't have a DV timecode, none shows in the capture window. So you can't pick "in" and "out" points -- there isn't any timecode to pick a point from. Basically, you just hit real-time record and let it run as long as you want to record.

Outcome: Other than two or three lines worth of what seems to be the usual 2-3 pixel wide black sliver along the left edge and right edges, and about the same amount of inter-frame garble along the bottom of the captured AVI footage, the captured clip looked very nice.

From what this amateur can tell, those black slivers must be an inherent issue for analog to DV conversion? No matter, they were effortlessly removed with the crop feature, which didn't noticeably degrade the image.

It works as advertised!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 03:42 AM   #5
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I would guess that those lines are coming from the other camera,
not the XL2!

Thank you very much for testing and confirming whether it works
or not: it does! Yay! That's great news.

Thanks!!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 08:37 AM   #6
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No, I sure don't think that either camcorder is "causing" the edges artifacts.

They're basically the ubiquitous tell-tale signs that footage was originally analog...I'm assuming that the "deep down techie" explanation could be found someplace such as Adam Wilt's site (which at the moment I can't seem to access).

The details are beyond me, but I'm sure if you saw what I am talking about, you'd go "oh, yeah, I've seen that a million times." Although I'll be distracted because it is "Turkey Day" in the New World, I'll try to post a couple of grabs on my web site later today.

In any case, it is totally simple to crop the footage in NLE of choice while one is doing other tweaking anyway.

Thomas, I'll be curious to know what solution you choose for your A>D conversion. Seems the XL2 will do the job nicely without head wear since no tape is used. But I certainly wouldn't argue against a Canopus solution, either!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 03:37 PM   #7
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Ok, I posted a before-and-after of a frame:

http://www.geosynchrony.com/scratchpad.htm

All in all, the old Hi8 video ends up looking, well, not too bad. But of course it ain't HDTV! Technology obviously has made at least some forward progress in the last 9 years since that clip was shot!
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Old November 25th, 2004, 07:35 PM   #8
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Pete,

Sorry I hav'nt replied till now. Boy, what a great camera the XL-2. I have a lot to learn, but it will be fun.

It is good to know the XL-2 can be used as a pass through converter. This will allow me to spend the $300 on other accessories.


Thanks for your help.

If I had to photo that spider I'm afraid he would be in a more liquid state.

TEB
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Old November 26th, 2004, 06:52 AM   #9
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Pete: it looks like analog tape, not interference from being an
analog signal. Did you use S-Video or composite connections?

The problem is that you really don't know what the source of this
problem is since how do you know it isn't on the hi-8 camera?
You can't see it since a TV crops that area, so it might or might
not be due to the Digital -> Analog -> Digital conversion....
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Old November 26th, 2004, 11:25 AM   #10
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Short S-video cable.

I've converted VHS tapes and Hi8 tapes using the GL2, plus this Hi8-XL2 test, and have always gotten the exact same slender black bars on the sides and the slim line of distortion on the bottom.

I don't have an understanding of the black bars at all except to simply guess they result from analog signal strength or frequency; the bottom has an appearance like analog tracking error, though it seems an unlikely coincidence that multiple devices (sVHS deck, Hi8 camcorder) would output the exact same "defect"...as opposed to it being something inherent in the A-D process. I've also seen it often enough in other people's digital video files that started out as analog to assume "that's just the way it is." But true enough, overscan could have hidden some edge oddities that were there all along on the analog originals.

I personally can't say what the exact cause is. If someone knows, though, we'd all be interested to hear the details.

I'm at work now -- working hard, obviously! Otherwise, on my computer at home I have a bunch of techie bookmarks that I'll browse through this weekend if I have time.

For Thomas and me, though, it looks like the overall quality of the capture is pretty good and it is a simple matter of taking a few moments to crop out the edge junk in the timeline. So I see it as a curiosity, but not a difficulty.
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Old December 8th, 2004, 02:49 PM   #11
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I actually run a business converting VHS to DVD.

We use the Canopus ADVC-100 and I must say:

ITS EXCELLENT.

We haven't gotten any audio lag or anything. The only downside of the ADVC-100 is there is no Time Base Correction. But as long as your source video is good, there is no degrading.
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Old December 8th, 2004, 09:13 PM   #12
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Hi Guys

This is a typical VHS or Hi8 transfer, I've seen it many times.
DV is or almost in Pal 525 lines, VHS is around 400 lines and Hi8 is somewhere in between, this probably accounts for the overscan of the vhs or hi8 tape at the bottom of the screen. Im' not to sure of the exact figures, someone else may know.

(I just found that DV is 500 scan lines, VHS and Hi8 is 400 scan lines.)
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Old December 9th, 2004, 05:26 PM   #13
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i believe that the lines along the bottom are known as head switching noise, whatever that means :-)

since it's well outside of the safe title area, i would not crop and resize the frame, because there is a loss in picture quality every time you have to re-encode.
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Old December 9th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #14
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I also just remembered that when passing video through other VTR machines (in this case the XL2) the vision gets moved up 1 or 2 scan lines. This is probably why you can now see as Dan said the head switching noise.
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