VHS tapes recorded onto DVD. How will they look on HDTV??

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by James McC, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    I tried watching some of my old VHS tapes on my new HDTV. The picture quality was horrible, no matter what video settings I changed on the TV. I was wondering if I recorded a VHS tape to DVD would the video quality be any better when watching it on the HDTV, or would it look the same.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    James.
     
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    It will look the same.
     
  3. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    James:

    First of all, welcome to the forum. I think you'll find this a great source of information and a fun place to hang out.

    Regarding your specific question: It will probably look about the same. Transferring a signal from one medium to another cannot add any picture information to it. If you have an LCD, DLP or plasma HDTV it is already scaling your VHS tapes to its native resolution and de-interlacing them. It will do the same for the DVDs and for all other video inputs. But a 240 line interlaced signal deinterlaced to 480 lines and scaled up to 1080p will still only have 240 lines of actual picture information in it. Regardless of any interpolation, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

    Now here's the good news. You mention that this is a new HDTV. Most HDTVs ship straight from the factory with the user-accessible picture controls pushed way too high in order to keep them from being lost in the sea of screens at your average big box store. These settings are generally lousy for home viewing and are certainly not adjusted to your equipment and your viewing conditions. The factory settings almost always make even HD content look worse than it should, but they do the most violence to lower-res standard definition content - like SD cable channels and VHS tape. (Commercial DVDs usually fare better, because they are a full 480i to begin with.) What you need to do, if you haven't already, is calibrate your set with a disc like Digital Video Essentials or Avia Guide to Home Theater, or a similar title. A lot of rental outlets including Netflix carry one or several of these discs. (They can also help you adjust your sound system if it doesn't have a built-in auto-equalization program.) And you don't need a hi-def disc to adjust your hi-def TV. If you don't have a Blu-Ray player you'll still reap great benefits by using a standard def version of one of these. A more simplified calibration is also offered on many movie DVDs in the form of the THX Optimizer program. Check any of your DVDs that have the THX label on the cover.

    For a quick and dirty way to improve your picture if you don't have immediate access to a calibration program, simply go into the video control menu and turn off every "enhancement" feature like "flesh tone", "cinema mode", "gamma correction", etc. Then turn all the user controls (Color, Tint or Hue, Brightness, etc.) down to no more than half-way on the scale - except for the "sharpness" control. That should be turned down to no more than 10%, and on many sets should be set to zero. Far from actually making the image clearer, the so-called "sharpness" or "detail" control generally adds video noise to the picture in order to make the edges of objects stand out more than they should. The sharpness control alone is probably responsbile for 60% to 70% of the problems with SD source material image quality.

    So while your VHS tapes stuff won't look any better when transferred to DVD, the good news is that it might look better than it does now on either medium once you have the set properly dialed in. Here is a pretty good article on the basics of calibration that goes into more detail about the calibration process and why it is a good idea. Hope this helps.

    Regards,


    Joe
     
  4. Selden Ball

    Selden Ball Second Unit

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    There's no permanent solution, but I suggest you get your tapes copied to DVD or to magnetic disk as soon as you can, if only because good VCRs are becoming harder and harder to find.

    One possible way to improve the video that you're getting from your VHS tapes is to upgrade to a higher quality VCR. Inexpensive VCRs usually don't produce the best quality output signals.

    Every time you play a tape, its quality degrades slightly due to wear on the oxide layer. The VCR's heads gradually scrape it away. Also, print-through from one layer of tape on a reel to the adjacent layer causes background noise to increase while the tape is stored.

    Writable DVDs don't have those particular kinds of problems. However, the marks recorded on the DVD's surface do gradually fade, limiting the lifetime of the disc. They'll generally last for several years, maybe a decade, but cheaper discs tend to fade faster. (Commercial pressed DVDs don't fade unless the protective coating gets removed so the aluminum coating is exposed.)
     
  5. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    Thank you both, Joseph and Selden. This is really great info.


    James.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I just think it's neat that the first answer to James McC's question came from Jim Mcc.
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Originally Posted by Mike Frezon

    Joe
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    We'll never get lonely, as long as we have ourselves to talk to...
     
  9. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    I didn't respond to own question, Joe. Look at the dates the two Jim McC's joined Home Theater Forum. We are not the same person. You and Seldon were very helpful. Thanks a million.

    Jim.
     
  10. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    I know; I was kidding. Hence the "winking" smile. (And actually, there aren't two Jim McC's - there's Jim McC, the other fellow, and there's you: James McC.)

    Anyway, glad we could help. I think you really will see a great improvement in everything you watch - including the HD stuff - once you've calibrated your display.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  11. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Originally Posted by James McC
     
  12. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    Yes, I hope to see an improvement. I have a ton of home recorded VHS tapes. I'd hate to think that they are all now going to be unwatchable.

    Thank you, Joe, Selden, and Mike!

    Jim.
     
  13. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    If you're talking about home movies, you'll probably find them tolerable. If you're talking about stuff recorded off the air or off cable...

    Well, I used to have a ton of movies and TV shows recorded (mostly in the lowest quality mode) off cable TV. Long before the advent of HDTV I gave up on them. Trying to watch them on a big screen TV (first a 42" RCA TV 4:3 TV, then a 56" widescreen Toshiba - both CRT-based, standard def analog sets) was just painful. I either reused them to record other stuff or gave them away years ago. Again, garbage in, garbage out. A large screen and higher quality imaging systems magnify the flaws in source material, as well as the strengths.

    (That's true even of conventional TV. When the producers of DS9 went back to the original camera negatives of the ST:TOS episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" to use in "Trials and Tribble-ations", they found visible brush marks in the paint of the Enterprise sets and coffee stains on Spock's uniform. None of this had been visible when the show aired in the 1960s, even though it had been there all along. Between the technology used to transfer film to tape, broadcast television back then and the size and quality of the typical set, the blemishes had been invisible. But not with modern standard-def equipment. Local stations had a similar problem when the time came to go from analog to HD digital. Suddenly dirt and dust were visible on news sets and the once-convincing "brick walls" of talk show sets - which were plastic or wallpaper - stood out like sore thumbs. As did the wrinkles on the anchor's faces and the still photos they used as "windows" views.)


    Regards,

    Joe
     
  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Originally Posted by Joseph DeMartino

    And that's why most of us old guys have been replaced on TV by young news babes. They tend to look much better in high-def!
     
  15. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    Yes, I am talking about stuff I recorded off the air. I rented Video Essentials from Netflix and did some calibrating over the weekend. I'm sure I didn't do the best job. However, I tried watching some of my tapes afterwards and was amazed at how much better they now look.
    I had no idea calibrating would make such a big difference.

    Thanks, again.

    Jim.
     
  16. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Screenwriter

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    What may help (it seems to have with mine) is to not use a standard VCR when you dub to DVD. I have a higher-end, but still consumer, VCR that reads and outputs S-VHS. Your pre-recorded movies and TV shows will benefit because they are higher quality than something you recorded off the air.

    NTSC is 525 lines, while VHS comes in at 250. I've been told that pre-recorded movies and such have a higher resolution than 250, but I can't find anything to back that up. In any event, they are recorded from originals, not something that's at best second- or third-generation.

    By comparison, S-VHS comes in at 420 lines, a big jump from regular VHS. DVD is 500 lines.

    In short, for what you recorded off the air, S-video output may help. It certainly won't hurt. All I can say for sure is that my stuff has come through it pretty well onto DVD. I can see a difference versus coming from a standard VCR.
     
  17. zstarsales04

    zstarsales04 Auditioning

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    Zstar Electronic Co.Ltd, Sell fire cards for DS/NDSL/NDSi, also have Wii, DSiLL, NDSi, NDSL, PSP2000, PSP3000, PS2, PS3, PSP go, PSP, Xbox360 accessories, all kinds of phones are available
    www.zstar.hk
     
  18. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    My VCR does have S-video. I've not yet tried recording the tapes to DVD. I'm going to do that sometime in the near future.

    Thanks, Rick.

    Jim
     
  19. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Screenwriter

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    The question is, however, if it also PLAYS S-Video. That's where you'll pick up the improvement. It will probably say somewhere on your unit (or in the manual) if it's an S-VHS playback machine.

    Many standard players also have an S-Video out. In any event, using the S-Video out will help at least a little because the signal is higher quality than composite (the yellow RCA plug).
     
  20. James McC

    James McC Auditioning

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    No, it does not play S-video. I'll just have to get by with recording from the S-video out port.


    Thanks, Rick.


    Jim
     

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