Restoration of old Betamax tapes at

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 03:02 AM   #1
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Restoration of old Betamax tapes

Hello, everybody. I don't know if this is the best place for this thread, but as it doesn't fit directly in any particular subject, I suppose that the generic DV discussion board is the more suitable for it.

Well, here's my story: I have over 8 hours of footage that were recorded back in 1984 in what was the then equivalent in price to a modern HDV camera, that is, a Sony Betamax SL-F1 portable deck attached to a Sony HVC-4000 Trinicon tube camera. If anyone of you has worked with such equipment, you would know all the issues related to these early prosumer video systems: very poor sensitivity, lag trails on bright areas, etc.

The high historical value of this footage is on the other side of the scale and my superiors are now deciding whether the image quality is good enough to make a "watchable" DVD. But this will also depend on my work in trying to give a decent image from that tortured footage. For that, I have a FCS station with a Blackmagic Multibridge digitizing hardware.

So, there are a few questions I want to ask to you wise guys:

Image stabilization: you can imagine the timebase of these tapes is so unstable that when trying to digitize them, the Multibridge can't track the signal and it stops digitizing after just a few seconds. A workaround I have found is to use an old Panasonic WJ-AWE5 video mixer. This was a prosumer digital mixer from the late 80'ies. It had two composite/S-video inputs, and it could mix them even if they where unsynchronized. This means that it incorporates some kind of "TBC", though very basic. This works fine in obtaining a stable signal, but a real TBC would be a better option. But I have never handled one, and I don't know if it is worth the pain to find/buy/lean a TBC, or if the difference in quality with my old mixer is not going to be noticeable. What do you think?

Color correction: I'm doing some test with Color, and the results are promising. In fact, I think that colors rendered by these early cameras were better than later CCD cameras.

Tube lag: this is one of the most evident defects in the footage, as there's a lot of nigth scenes, and people wearing candles = lotsa trails in the image. Do you know of any kind of filter which can reduce this now weird but back then common defect?

Drop-outs: I can correct drop-outs in Photoshop, but the procedure to extract frames in FCP is soooooo slooooowwwww (when compared to Premiere, for example), that I'm trembling just of thinking about it. Do you know any easier way to clean drop-outs?

And that's all. However, if you have any ideas, suggestions, or experiences in what we can call video archaelogy, they are welcomed here!
Wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Radio operates exactly the same way, but there is no cat.
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 05:46 AM   #2
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For grain removal I used After Effects with excellent results. For dropouts there are some filters for a free piece of software called VirtualDub, to date I have found nothing better; I don't think it's available for the Mac though...

[Love the Einstein quote].
Ervin Farkas, CDVS
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Old October 23rd, 2008, 06:39 AM   #3
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Canopus transcoder has a good TBC in it, the ADVC 300 is the one you want to look at.

Grass Valley | ADVC-300 Bi-Directional Media Converter | 602050

But I can't say for sure if it will be better than your mixer.
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