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Old March 16th, 2005, 09:34 AM   #1
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Near lossless analog S-Video capture?

Hi,

I have about a dozen 45min SVHS-C videocassettes that I would like to digitize. I don't want to do a direct SVideo->MPEG2 capture. Instead I would like to capture it uncompressed or in some lightly compressed format (DV even).

THEN I would like to apply noise reduction, sharpening maybe, sound filtering etc. etc. to my hearts content trying to achieve optimum image and sound quality. I could do the optimizations myself or let some application wizard do it with various parameters. Later on I would like to use that material as source material in video editing.

Things I would like to know:

- What capture hardware would you recommend? I could connect my not-so-good analog camcorder to an USB2/FireWire/PCI/PCI-X100/PCI-X133 capture device or use an internal tape drive (if such exist). Suggestions, please.

- What software would do the work (or let me do it)?

- Is the SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS video editor a suitable capture device? Or does it only support capture to MPEG? I'd love the USB hub + headphones + volume knob +...

- Or should I just let a pro grade video transfer company do the job?
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Old March 16th, 2005, 10:05 AM   #2
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Hook your VHS-C camera up to a convertor of some sort (can be a MiniDV Camera, a Deck, or a convertor such as the Canopus ADVC-100) via S-Video and then connect to the computer via firewire. You can then capture a DV stream on the computer with the convertor doing the conversion from analog to digital for you.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 12:54 PM   #3
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I guess that no resolution is lost in this SVideo->DV conversion as I believe that DV has more vertical resolution than SVideo (I'm not quite sure)... but what about color/intensity information? If I want to do some color correction later? So, should I choose DV as the destination format?

Also, should I let the DV camcorder do the sharpening and tone adjustments or is it better to leave that for the computer (doing in two stages SVideo->DV->DV)?

Some tapes had been recorded with a high quality shoulder mounted, manual focus/manual zoom camera. I'm not sure it would be wise to play those tapes on the present, crappy consumer level SVHS camcorder when digitizing. Maybe there is a really good SVHS-C deck available somewhere?
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Old March 16th, 2005, 01:29 PM   #4
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'Vertical resolution' is fixed with all SD video formats, so you gain or lose nothing there -- it is horizontal resolution that is variable. The horizontal resolution of DV is quite a bit better than S-VHS -- arguably better than BetaSP even -- so you won't lose anything there ... your biggest issue is going to be getting the best possible playback of your S-VHS source.

Rent or borrow the best S-VHS deck you can lay your hands on. Dub to DV via an S-video cable. Import the DV dub via Firewire and modify to your hearts content. That's the best procedure you can hope for.

As your source is the weak link here there is no problem going to DV as an intermediate step ... but use the best possible playback deck you can find (this is true for any analog playback) -- the digital record deck matters almost not at all, as long as it offers analog inputs.

Cheers,
GB
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Old March 16th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #5
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There's no reason to go to an intermediary DV tape. Just record straight into the computer (capturing DV) and you don't have to worry about tape at all.

Of course there's no harm with going to DV tape either - just be aware that it will take twice as long to capture (once to record onto DV tape and then once to capture the DV tape)
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Old March 16th, 2005, 04:37 PM   #6
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Try taking a look at the Canopus ADVC-300.

Not only does it do all the normal firewire/breakout box things, but also has special hardware that can cleans up analog signals such as yours.

Search for some reviews about it. It would be perfect for what your doing.
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Old March 16th, 2005, 10:04 PM   #7
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Once you get your capture process sorted, investigate the free "VirtualDub" and the many filters for it which will help you tweak your footage to get the best quality.

And read this useful article:

http://arstechnica.com/guides/tweaks/cleaning.ars
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Old March 16th, 2005, 11:48 PM   #8
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Thanks. I'll take a look at the software and the Canopus converters. They are very promising. I especially like to 300's image processing circuits.

Now, next I have to find a high quality SVHS-C deck. Oh, that's not going to be easy. If you happen to know where to get one online... else I have to find one locally.

I have one especially troublesome tape where the camcorder recorded some letterboxed widescreen after spending a night outdoors in snow in -20C. The image doesn't play back properly: it's rolling down, it's distrorted at the upper end (if I remember it correctly) and has all kinds of flaws. I fear that it's lost footage, but I kept it anyway. It's interesting to see how much, if any, the Canopus can help. Maybe I should get a deck with adjustable tape speed :) Well, that's just one tape, so not much lost, but unique indeed.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 12:23 PM   #9
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Ralf,

I am not sure you will find a S-VHSC deck. You might be better off using a regular S-VHS deck with a tape adapter. With the adapter, you can play your vhs-c tapes in the full size deck. That is if I understand you correctly.

Bob
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Old March 24th, 2005, 10:10 AM   #10
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Why couldn't you just use your compact vhs camcorder to play out it's s-video connection to the dv cam to firewire to the computer? This way you don't even need a deck. Unless the camcorder used was a very high end device, the source taped contents aren't likely to benefit much from an expensive deck environment. Were talking 250 VHS lines versus capture at 525 ...
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Old March 24th, 2005, 11:00 AM   #11
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Capturing

A couple of additions.
In order to get a signal off of a VHS or S-VHS that is clean enough to process you should put the signal through a full frame TBC (Time Base Corrector), idealy with a processing amp in it. This should clean up most problems and allow you to adjust the chroma, luma, setup and SC phase. If there are color bars on the tape then all the better.
The Canopus AVDC-300 only has a Line TBC and will help some but not as much as a full frame TBC.
As far as S-Video cables go, if you are only connecting with 6 foot cables then good composite cables will provide as good a signal as S-Video cables.
The pro-video industry uses straight composite for most things, if a high quality signal is required then Component or SDI is used. S-Video is rarely used as few formats benefit from it. Some will disagree with me but the benefits are limited, the connectors are not robust enough and the cabling is too expensive, a 1 or 3 runs of Belden Blue give results.
End result;
S-VHS machine -> Full Frame TBC ->AVDC-100 -> computer.
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Old March 24th, 2005, 12:01 PM   #12
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S-video is always cleaner for VHS and S-VHS, as it maintains the separation of the luma and chroma signals and so avoids the coloured moire that is typical evidence of a composite signal. The 'resolution' will be the same, but the separated signal will always be cleaner.

The 'pro' industry didn't use colour under formats much, hence the lack of support for s-video -- but VHS & S-VHS are both colour-under formats and benefit from s-video cabling.

GB
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Old March 30th, 2005, 11:56 AM   #13
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I did a web search on fullframe timebase correction. Some devices were available, but I could not find any good reviews or comparisons. Thus I am not quite sure which devices are good and which are not so good...

Does anyone know about some full frame TBC device that would offer better correction than the ADVC300?

I need it for personal, non-professional use, so cost is a factor.

If I can't find anything better then I'll try the camcorder/deck + ADVC300 combination (I'm sure it's quite nice a solution for most of my SVHS tapes) and if I can't correct something then I'll take the troublesome tapes to a video transfer company thas has better equipment.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 02:31 PM   #14
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Composite connections do have a limit as to their maximum resolution/bandwidth possible, so s-video cabling offers an advantage resolution-wise.

The difference is dependent on your gear however... the manufacturer may cheap out for either connection, so the difference between composite and S-video will vary.

In any case, there really shouldn't be a reason why you aren't using S-video, as every SVHS deck will have that connection.

Quote:
- Or should I just let a pro grade video transfer company do the job?
Some companies don't do a very good job with dubs.

Quote:
I need it for personal, non-professional use, so cost is a factor.
For personal use, a SVHS deck + ADVC300 will likely be your best bet as it will give very good quality. A DV camera with analog-digital passthrough can also work, although quality will be slightly lower.

The quality of the SVHS deck may matter a bit, as higher-end decks have better tracking (and a few other tricks). Better tracking will help deal with damaged/degraded tapes.
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Old March 30th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #15
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The maximum bandwidth of analog composite is no different than s-video -- the advantage is entirely in maintaining a seperation of the luma and chroma signals, and so avoiding any cross talk. This is in itself a good thing, but there is no advantage in resolution to look forward to as well.

The best possible playback deck is always the most important factor in analog tape play -- wide heads, well maintained, feeding a full frame timebase corrector (through an s-video connection) is your best bet, if you can afford/find it.

GB
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