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-   -   Capture VHS using XL1s as D/A converter (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xl1s-xl1-watchdog/20972-capture-vhs-using-xl1s-d-converter.html)

David Sadler February 6th, 2004 04:16 PM

Capture VHS using XL1s as D/A converter
Capture VHS using XL1s as D/A converter

How can I use the XL1s as the pass through a/d converter to move vhs directly into the computer?

I've seen the XL1s used as an A/D converter to convert analog vhs directly into a Mac powerbook G4 running the FCP log & capture facility.

At the time, I was totally unfamiliar with fcp and capturing video, so the technique did not register. The editor I watched do this is now unavailable.

This question has been posted to various forums, but the solution has not been offered to the many people who have asked it.

Some have suggested to dup the vhs to digital tape then capture from digital tape. This is costly in terms of time and wasted tape, and totally unnecessary.

Others have mentioned to select...
Log & Capture > capture settings > device control > non-controllable device

Here's the set up...
vhs camcorder in vcr mode -> XL1s -> powerbook g4 running FCP v4 / log & capture

Here are the connections...
- firewire: Mac G4 to the XL1s,
- analog cables: VHS camcorder to XL1s

VHS camcorder settings...
Tape loaded and displayed in camera viewfinder

XL1s settings...
- Loaded with a blank tape,
- VCR mode is on,
- Pause control on or off makes no difference,
- Audio 1 mic > input select > audio 1,
- VRC setup menu
> AUDIO 1 IN > - - - (when computer is on)
> AUDIO 1 IN > LINE (when computer is off)

Final Cut Pro v4 settings...
- Log and Capture window open,
- Log & Capture > capture settings
> device control = non-controllable device
> capture/input = DV NTSC 48 kHz

When computer is OFF:
- the XL1s recognizes the VHS deck as the input,
- the VHS tape can be monitored in the XL1s viewfinder,
- VRC setup menu > AUDIO 1 IN > LINE (is selectable)

When computer is ON:
- the XL1s DOES NOT recognize the VHS deck,
- the VHS tape CAN NOT be monitored in the XL1s viewfinder,
- 'DV IN' appears in the XL1s viewfinder (lower right hand corner),
- VRC setup menu > AUDIO 1 IN > LINE (is NOT selectable. 3 dashes '- - -' appear.)

When the computer is turned on, the XL1s recognizes the computer, not the VHS camera, as the incoming source. 'DV IN' appears in the XL1s viewfinder.

In this situation, LINE CAN NOT be selected for AUDIO1 IN from the XL1s VCR Setup menu. Three dashes appear instead.

I will be most happy to post the solution on about a dozen forums for the many people who are asking the same question.


- - - - - -
- - - - -
XL1s NTSC manual (page 88)
Recording from a vcr, tv or analog camera (analog line-in)
step 5. select LINE from the AUDIO1 IN from VCR SET UP of the VCR menu.
This does not work if the computer is turned on.
The XL1s recognized the computer as a digital source.
. step 5 AUDIO1 IN appears pink,
. no LINE appears, only 3 dashes
. 'DV IN' appears in the XL1s viewfinder
- - - - -

Rob Lohman February 6th, 2004 08:54 PM

To the best of my knowledge you can't. You must have
interpreted the operator incorrectly. Why? Because I've tested
it a zillion times myself and as soon as you insert a firewire
cable the camera will just not take the analog input feed anymore.

So what I do is this: I record the analog source to tape [camera
must be in VCR mode and you set it to record with the controls
in the top handle, NOT the NORMAL record buttons!!] and then
capture that to the computer. It isn't pretty, but that does work.

This only works on the "newer" S model, not the old one.

David Sadler February 7th, 2004 09:00 PM

Hi, Don Berube,

I wish to report some progress, and thank you for your help.

I am now able to capture the audio, but still no video.

This progress was made by implementing your suggestion that the XL1s should be in:
camera mode, not vcr mode!

I have tried it with a tape in and a tape out with no difference.

I also tried various camera mode presets (idiot, auto, tv, av, m) with no joy.

Everything else is as I described in the initial posting, and after checking all your suggestions against my setup.

I'll be glad to call you for an over the phone troubleshoot and chat if you would have the time.

In the meantime, any more suggestions?

David Sadler

Don Berube February 7th, 2004 10:21 PM


I thought you were just trying to capture just the audio from your VHS tape. On the XL1S, you will have to record your old footage to miniDV tape first, then play that new digital tape back into your computer through the FireWire output. That's just the way it is... Tape is so cheap these days anyways.

- don

Rob Lohman February 8th, 2004 01:18 PM

I think some mixing up is happening with names here, but anyway,
the camera should be in VCR mode.

David Sadler February 9th, 2004 10:53 AM


Two items:

1) Cheap, high quality DV tape? I'm currently paying $4.00 + shipping per tape. Is there a cheaper source?
[panasonic AY-DVM63PQ]

2) I handed the editor I mentioned my XL1s, my VHS camcorder and a VHS tape. He took those items, connected them as I described and ran the VHS tape into FCPv3.

Obviously, one or more of his settings were different, but the physical connections and physical components were as I described.

He fiddled with it for less than 5 minutes before figuring it out. I heard him mumbling, "Maybe it needs a tape... and Ah, there it is." Unfortunately, I was not paying attention.

I'll continue to look into this and share any solution if it comes.

For my purposes, it would be cheaper to simply buy an A/D converter instead of transfering to dv tape then import. It would save both time and money from my perspective considering my purpose.

David Sadler

Rob Lohman February 10th, 2004 02:35 AM

That's another option, indeed. Perhaps it can transfer the footage
if the tape is already recording and you plug in the firewire cable
at that point or something. I'll see if I can run some tests tonight.

David Sadler February 10th, 2004 09:44 AM


The editor bragged on the quality of the XL1s d/a conversion, saying it was better than his dedicated d/a converter.

Seeing that it didn't take him long, I felt there was nothing to it, so I was more focused on the content of the tape (SDI missile intercept test), than on the process he used to capture the vhs tape into fcpv3 using the XL1s as the pass through d/a converter.


Rob Lohman February 12th, 2004 03:26 AM

I did a heap of tests and just could not get this done on my XL1S.
So either he has modified his XL1S (if that is possible), was
capturing from a tape or has a different firmware perhaps that
would allow this (in this case it would be interesting if more people
can test this on their XL1S-es as well).

I used the composite out of my TV to feed it into my XL1S which
was running in VCR mode.

I did these tests (multiple times):

1) without firewire connected and the camera in plain VCR mode nothing is showing in the viewfinder (only a blue screen)

2) if I connect the firewire cable at this moment my computer shows a blue screen as well and no signal from the TV

3) I unplug the firewire cable and hit the record button on the top handle (under the little door!) with a tape in the machine. The XL1S goes into record pause mode and the TV signal can be seen in the viewfinder

4) I then plugged in my firewire cable. The viewfinder doesn't display the TV signal anymore and goes blue again. My capture utility is displaying a black screen now (so something does change, but still no TV signal)

5) I unplugged the firewire cable again and the TV footage re-appeared in the viewfinder. I now hit play so the signal is being recorded on tape.

6) I then re-inserted my firewire cable and the viewfinder KEEPS on displaying the TV signal (interesting!) but my capture utility still displays a black screen

7) As soon as I hit the capture button the XL1S starts playback from tape and feeds that signal to my computer instead of the TV signal

Basically I just could not reproduce it. Now I'm gonna have a look
over the wireless remote later to see if that might do anything,
but I doubt it.

Would it be possible to simply contact the editor and ask how he
got this setup running?

David Sadler February 12th, 2004 09:49 AM

Hi, Rob,

Your testing seems very throrough.

The XL1s was/is mine. It is stock and unmodified.
The VHS-C camcorder used was/is mine. Stock and unmodified.
The Mac powerbook g4 and FCPv3 were his.
Standard 6x4 firewire (mac to XL1s) was used.
Panasonic analog cables (XL1s to VHS-C cam) were used. Stock analog cables were/are supplied along with the Panasonic PV-L779 VHS-C camcorder.

The editor is unavailable.

This is driving me nuts, because I was very satisfied with the quality of the A/D conversion and was relieved I would not have to add an unnecessary component to my setup, ie, dedicated A/D converter. In addition, he commented on the conversion quality and stated that it was better than that provided by his dedicated A/D converter. I don't remember the brand of his converter, but it was not used, I didn't need it, so I didn't pay attention to it. I just remember his comments regarding the XL1s conversion, stating that it seemed to be doing an automatic color and exposure correction during the pass through. He was very impressed by the XL1s.

The missile test was enhanced by the conversion, in that detail was brought fourth that could not be seen on the original VHS-C due to what appeared to be over exposure on the VHS tape.

I'm ready to conduct further tests, but right now, I'm not sure what else I can try that you and I haven't tried already. Nevertheless, I'm willing to try it with fcpv3 to see if that is the diff. I own fcpv4, but I'm a novice at this point. So I can't offer anyone any advice on their questions.


Rob Lohman February 12th, 2004 11:29 AM

Can you remember how he connected it, in what sequence, how
he setup the camera etc.? Did he used the remote control or
anything else? Was the camera set to VCR or something else?

Well you can still use it as I have done so many times. You only
need to record it to tape first. Yes it's an extra hassle, but it
isn't that much of a problem in my eyes. Ofcourse straight
conversion would be the best to have, but as it looks now we
are not going to get it running.

Do you remember if he just connected and was ready to go (ie,
he had done this before) or did he had to fiddle for a while to
get it working?

David Sadler February 12th, 2004 12:50 PM

Hi, Rob,

He did fiddle with it for less than probably 5 minutes before getting it. He tried a couple of things before getting it to feed. He was mumbling to himself, and I overheard some of it, but it was just normal trial-and-error.

I didn't notice anything special or strange about his sequence of connections. He was not hot-plugging my camera though. I would have noticed that since it was a brand new camera and my first firewire device.

He did not use the remote control.

No VCR was involved. Just the VHS-C camcorder in VCR mode.

I guess I'll have to scout for either a dedicated A/D or get a camera with pass through. I need a backup to the XL1s.


Rob Lohman February 12th, 2004 02:19 PM

So the VHS-C was playing back through the XL1S, Like this?

VHS-C --analog--> XL1S --digital_firewire--> computer

right? Also regarding the analog / digital?

David Sadler February 12th, 2004 02:34 PM


VHS-C --analog--> XL1S --digital_firewire--> computer


What was the second question?


Rob Lohman February 12th, 2004 02:51 PM

There was no second question.... Basically I'm out of options.
Will try some last fiddling tonight, but I doubt it is going to work.

Krista McCutcheon March 8th, 2005 02:57 PM

Did anyone ever figure this out?

I can get the audio to work, as well, but no video.

Jacob Ehrichs March 9th, 2005 11:51 AM

<<<-- Originally posted by Krista McCutcheon : Did anyone ever figure this out?

I can get the audio to work, as well, but no video. -->>>

Sorry to get off topic but is this the Krista that was recently in Dayton Ohio?

Krista McCutcheon March 9th, 2005 01:44 PM


Rob Lohman March 12th, 2005 07:17 AM

I still haven't seen any proof that this is possible. I do not own
an XL1S anymore, so I'm off the radar for testing possabilities.

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