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New video capture recommendations?

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Depends what you want to do. There's various solutions, from the ground up:

 

- USB based analog video capture (usually S-Video and/or Composite, usually no TV tuner aka RF)

- USB based digital tuner (usually tuner only, no analog capability)

- PCI based analog and/or digital (usually tuner and S-Video + Composite)

- PCIe based analog and/or digital

 

If you're just wanting to copy tapes and don't care for viewing or recording TV shows then a USB type should do fine. Advantage is it's easily portable among computers.

 

In the old days, some had onboard MPEG-2 compression performed by hardware. These days it doesn't really matter, even entry-level CPUs are quick enough to encode direct to even medium demand codecs like Divx.

For digital tuners, the transmission is already MPEG-2 encapsulated within the overall transport stream, so all the software needs to do is strip what's needed and discard the rest.

 

You're looking at 20 bucks or so for a USB analog device, 5-10 bucks more for a USB digital tuner (note of course they probably won't handle analog video). 25 bucks upward for an analog tuner/capture PCI card, probably 30+ for digital, throw a few bucks more for hybrid (analog + digital).

 

Prices may well have gone up - demand for these sorts of things is somewhat less than a few years ago since most cameras and devices these days record digitally, so no hardware conversion devices are needed for them.

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For best capture quality without going massively overboard.

http://www.grassvalley.com/products/advc55

Going to set you back about $300.00 though and won't do tapes protected by Macrovision copy protection.

Does do a good job on other tapes considering the source and it has it's own inbuilt hardware based encoder . Oh and you need a PC with a Firewire port.

 

For my Macrovision protected tapes that are no longer available in any format I used a Leadtek PXDVR3200 H

http://www.leadtek.com/eng/product/6/377/i...#pitem=overview

 

Again this has a hardware encoder so you suffer less audio sync issues which is often a problem with tv tuners used to record VHS tapes.

 

But so long as you don't use the PC for anything much else whilst recording the AVerMedia AVerTV TwinStar PCI-E should be ok.

You really have to avoid any usage that might spike CPU, RAM or Disk I/O whilst recording.

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Unless you're going to do it professionally, I'd go for the under $60 range.

 

As was said, VHS is pretty poor quality to begin with, so long as a capture device supports DVD resolution (which most should) as a minimum then it should be OK.

 

Back in the day, I played with all manner of analog capture programs - the high feature hyped ones were no better than freebies like VirtualDub, which in fact will do most of what you want straight out of the box.

 

But these days, MP4 is often the favoured type for videos since most devices including phones support it. I've found Freemake Video Converter to be a pretty good allround program for reencoding.

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Thanks for the replies.

 

What's the best file format to use?

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video is a LOT to learn. what you refer to as a file format, is in fact a container for video and audio seperately.

Best depends on your goals.

 

Since VHS is usually grainy, I'd use WMV, because it has a habit of 'smoothing' rough edges, so does MOV.

XVID and X.264 are both better quality but are very sharp (which is great at high bitrates).

 

Audio is of course up to you. I'd go 160kbps MP3 for a VHS recording.

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Final file format for me is a case of what device you're wanting to play stuff on.

 

WMV is about the last one I'd consider, there's practically nothing "black box" out there that plays it.

 

Go Divx/XVid AVI if you're wanting to play on DVD players that only handles those types.

Go MP4 if you have a TV Tuner with USB port and it handles those. Any half-decent BluRay player will support a large number of container/codecs, if that's the target then it's worth seeing what it can handle.

 

Generally the capture itself will either be MPEG2 or give you the option of codec. These days it's easily possible to encode direct to Divx, in the old days of sub 1.5 GHz machines you'd generally have used a codec that uses MJPEG or Huffman encoding. The usual case with encoding is that lower bitrates with better compression will take more CPU time than a higher bitrate/less compression. On the other hand, high bitrates mean more disk I/O but you should be fine there if only doing DVD type resolution.

 

It's often the case you'll capture the video then edit using one codec then do the final reencode in another. MPEG2 despite it's relative poor size vs quality is still excellent to capture/edit with because there's so many utilities that support it.

Edited by Rybags

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My TV does android, my phone is a blackberry, my PC is a corss of windows and linux, and my file server is windows, and the work PC is a mac.

 

All of them have VLC player. As such WMV works well for me. I just cant find another codec that handles grain and low bitrate nearly as well. It almost 'fixes' grain.

SOMEWHERE there is an atomic article comapring codecs.... try find it?

 

http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/article.asp?SCID=&CIID=82898

 

seems to be broken now :( VERY sad indeed.

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Another thing with "smart" devices though is they tend to have post-processing which "smooths out the bumps" - although my Sony BluRay does have some options in that regard, a decent PC-based media player can actually make chicken soup from chicken shit.

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I'm yet to find a single post processing that works well. And i've tried pretty extensively.

 

Following the Atomic article for upscaling DVD's to 720p gets a great result.

 

But setting post processing to basically the same options, and letting the PC upscale itself (as the GPU has to do by default when you full screen it) looks like arse.

 

I'm not saying you're wrong, just that ive had terrible luck.

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Seach eBay "usb video capture" - plenty available from about $6.50 and free postage.

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At the price of the eBay ones, I'm tempted to grab one. It's something I use pretty rarely now so it's become preferable to not have a PCI card sitting there wasting power for months on end between uses.

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Does anyone know if the one aliali suggested does the proper resolution without any lines on the side or the weird one down the bottom? I have tried many products over the years and I think they all have this problem, at least the weird line down the bottom.

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Are you really going to blow $300 on this? The quality difference between that and a $40 PCI card from the local computer shop will probably be unnoticable.

 

Unwanted glitches are nothing unusual - generally you want to employ a bit of cropping, most video capture devices will give you the overscan area that wasn't visible on the old 4:3 CRT TVs.

Add to that that any videotape that's not absolutely perfect will likely have static that begins at the bottom of pic and creeps up as the quality degrades.

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Does anyone know if the one aliali suggested does the proper resolution without any lines on the side or the weird one down the bottom? I have tried many products over the years and I think they all have this problem, at least the weird line down the bottom.

That's more a software issue rather than hardware IMO. It's also something you generally tweak out during the editing process.

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Depending on the calibration of the VCR's tape path, the SMPTE timecodes are sometimes visible at the top or bottom of the overscan area as a narrow horizontal black+white bar. (It's the TCR time encoded in binary)

 

As mentioned they are normally cropped out by the physical screen, and can easily be cropped out either in capture or in post-processing.

Edited by SquallStrife

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Squall, you seem to be quite knowledgeable on VHS :)

Is there any brand\feature\trick you'd suggest when converting said tapes to recordings?

I have quite a few where the 'digital tracking' causes visual\audio errors at different points of the tape each time.

Clearly that section is damaged, but not badly, because each point IS humanly clear, the tracking just disagrees at a random point each time.

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Squall, you seem to be quite knowledgeable on VHS :)

Is there any brand\feature\trick you'd suggest when converting said tapes to recordings?

I have quite a few where the 'digital tracking' causes visual\audio errors at different points of the tape each time.

Clearly that section is damaged, but not badly, because each point IS humanly clear, the tracking just disagrees at a random point each time.

In my experience the only way to get around that is to use a VCR with manual (or at least adjustable) tracking.

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Are there any new decks made anymore? I'd love a new VHS for conversion, assuming its cheap.

From what I can tell, even JVC have left the VHS VCR game. Your best bet is to pick up some surplus studio gear (look for S-VHS VTR units) off eBay, gumtree, grays, etc, just because it would have been looked after and serviced over its lifetime. An S-VHS VTR can play back VHS recordings, but not vice-versa.

 

I think some Chinese brands still make combo VHS/DVD-R decks, but they'd be rubbish.

 

The only VCRs made these days are for various DV and Betacam/HDCAM variations.

Edited by SquallStrife

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Last I heard, Samsung were the only remaining major that still made them but that was some years ago. Chances are there's a few factories that make the mechs and the brands that still bother with VCRs outsource them.

 

Looks like DSE has an LG VCR/DVD Rec combo for $350. Last time I bothered looking at combo with DVD play only, they were around $130.

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