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Best Video Capture option for $200


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#1 of 15 Dan M~

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Posted February 09 2006 - 10:54 PM

UPDATE**** See post number 6*****

Looking for the best video capture device options (card or stand alone USB/Firewire) for moving VHS to the PC, what do you recomend?

What is the best file format to capture to, MPeg, AVI, etc.?

Thanks for the guidance.

-Dan M~
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#2 of 15 Mike LS

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Posted February 10 2006 - 01:08 AM

Here's what I use. It's been a great device for the couple of years I've had it.

http://www.adstech.c....sp?pid=API-555

Price on the manufacturer's site is $199, but you can probably find it up to $50 cheaper elsewhere. tigerdirect.com comes to mind first. I think it's $160 there and it comes with good software (Premiere Elements I think)

#3 of 15 Will_B

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Posted February 10 2006 - 04:28 AM

Canopus is nice, too. This is one of their less expensive models:

http://www.canopus.c...VC110/index.php
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#4 of 15 Jeff_CusBlues

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Posted February 11 2006 - 02:51 AM

If you are using a DV camera, all you need is a firewire port since you are capturing digital. That is cheap compared to the above options. If you need an analog solution (i.e. no digital camera), then the above solutions are needed. Of course, you need the software too.

#5 of 15 Jeff Jacobson

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Posted February 12 2006 - 02:26 AM

I've had good results with the Canopus ADVC-100. I've never had any dropped frames (which was not the case when capturing from my ATI All-in-Wonder 7500 video capture card). The 110 from Will_B's post seems to be an updated version of this. What this device does is convert an analogue signal to DV. Some MiniDV cameras also provide this feature.

What is the best file format to capture to, MPeg, AVI, etc.?

AVI.

Of course, you need the software too.
WinDV works great for capturing from a DV device (such as the Canopus ADVC-100 or a MiniDV camera).

#6 of 15 Dan M~

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Posted April 06 2006 - 06:06 AM

OK,

After much frustration, and the poor quality of the videos, I am at the end of my rope. I think I'm going to go with a Canopus. I am willing to pay more for a product that works. They have two models ADVC110 and ADVC300. The ADVC300 adds some "cleanup" capability. Has anyone tried the ADVC300? Is it worth A little under $500? Is it worth $250 more then the ADVC100?

I want to save these tapes that I have, but I do not want to waste any more time "experimenting".

Thanks for your help,

-Dan M~
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#7 of 15 Mike LS

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Posted April 06 2006 - 09:25 AM

What have you tried?

#8 of 15 Ken Chan

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Posted April 06 2006 - 10:14 AM

Perhaps the most obvious effect of a Time Base Corrector on VHS is that it "fixes" vertical lines so that stay straight instead of wavy. This means that the rest of the picture is stabilized as well. That in turn improves digital video compression.

Some high-end VCRs offer this feature; or at least they used to. It's certainly worth having one somewhere. Whether it's worth $250?

#9 of 15 Steve Berger

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Posted April 07 2006 - 01:14 AM

There are three approaches to VHS capture (or any tape/TV input): Capture as AVI (raw data) and convert to mpeg2 with software. This is extremely time consuming and IMHO difficult. People use this one because there are free softwares to do it.

Second method is with a hardware capture device that encodes as mpeg2 in real time. This is quick and most editing, PTS cleanup, authoring, and burning can be done in much less than real time. (my preference but there are few free options since mpeg2 encoders/decoders must be licensed =$) The Hauppauge devices + VideoReDo will clean up most anamolies but Canopus and others may require a TBC between the VCR and the capture device.

Third method is a standalone DVD recorder with a built-in Time Base Corrector (TBC). (high volume choice) (use only disks specified by the Owner's manual)

Reason for difficulties: Tape playback is full of garbage (many types) that drive encoders crazy, causing A/V sync problems that don't show up until the final burn.

The primary question that must be answered is "How many tapes?" and next "How much time do I want to spend?" These answers will define your options.

edit: All discussion assumes these are tapes that you recorded. If these are Commercial tapes then 1:You will need external hardware, and 2:Most forums disallow discussions about violating copyrights.

#10 of 15 Dan M~

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Posted April 07 2006 - 03:17 AM

Thanks to those who answered.

The tapes are all home videos shot on VHS-C and High 8. They are 5 to 12 years old and have degraded from the original conditions. Capture takes time (real time) and I have wasted over 20 hours and feel I do not have two minutes of good capture. My time is limited between work and child duties, so I am looking for a good reliable, low maintanence system.

Mike LS: I have tried an ATI Radeon AIW card and a borrowed Dazzle box. Both had drop frames and sync issues. After capture the pictures (mpeg-2 and AVI) is very pixulated (compresion Artifacts?). I have used differnt software packages also and still the results are twice as bad as the original tapes, some captures have been unwatchable.

Ken Chan: My tapes have become "fuzzy" and the contrast has suffered over time as well as color fading. There are Horizonal lines and streaks at the top 10% of the picture on some tapes/scenes. I would like to fix what can be fixed and at a minimum not do any more damage?loss during the captures and conversions.

Steve Berger: I have about 20-30 hours of VHS-C and High 8 tapes I have filmed over the years. These are tapes of the kids that can not be replaced! I want to capture them to stop the degradation that has happened over the years. The plan is to burn DVD's to keep and view with a backup on a USB hard drive.

My main issue is that I have limited time to experiment and limited money to spend... but these are family Heirlooms that could never be replaced! The tapes have degraded and I want to save them. The simple plug-n-play devices have let me down and I have become desparate to save these tapes before any additional damage is done. I am not worrying about editing at this time, just getting the best capture that I can without having to reinvent the wheel. Any help is appreciated!



Thanks to everyone,

-Dan M~
-Dan M~

 

 


#11 of 15 Jeff Jacobson

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Posted April 07 2006 - 12:23 PM

Degraded tapes can sometimes be mistaken for Macrovision by your VCR or capture card. I once experienced this problem while capturing on an ATI All-in-Wonder 7500 card. (This tape was a home movie, so it definitely did not have Macrovision on it.)
I was able to get around this problem using a hidden feature of the Canopus ADVC-100 that fixes corrupted video signals. I'm not sure if the ADVC-300 has this feature or not. (I've read some reports that the feature was removed in the 300 model, and others that claim that the 300 has this feature.)

#12 of 15 Steve Berger

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Posted April 07 2006 - 12:45 PM

First of all, you should do your initial experimenting on tapes recorded just for testing purposes in case the problems are related to a machine that might be damaging the tapes, causing some of your symptoms. Lines and streaking sound more like alignment problems than transfer problems. If your players have problems then you will never be able to make decent copies.

VHS-C presents special problems. The tape adapters combined with newer VCRs will have a lot of tracking and tape path errors. If at all possible, these need to be played back in the same machine (camcorder) that recorded them. This is not needed for 8mm since machine compatibility is not very critical.

I have been transferring some old Beta tapes and the results are at least as good as the originals. Some are improved since the Hauppauge PVR250 allows me to modify color, brightness and audio slightly when capturing. Tape transferring is a multistage process and quite tricky to get right. I would make sure that your players are operating at peak performance before starting the transfer process.

#13 of 15 Dan M~

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Posted April 08 2006 - 04:45 AM

Jeff and Steve,

Thanks for the comments.

I will try using the camera to output the signal to the PC, I was using a standard VHS player (with the tape adapter) assuming it had better "output" circutry compared to the camera. Thanks for the idea.

The video seems to come through the ATI card OK as I can view it on the monitor and it looks OK (old but OK). When I play back the captured video, thats when the big problems develop. I have a feeling I am loosing quality in the mpeg2 creation. I'm concerned that all the "speckels" and "lines" from the dregraded video are confusing the mpeg encoding routine. I would like to try a cleaner signal and see if that helps.

I'm doing my taxes now, if I get enough money back I will buy the Canopus 300 and see what it can do for me. It sure would be nice to find someone locally that has perfected this process and would let me use their equipment or help setup mine! I have a feeling I will become an expert about the time I finish the last tape I need to save! Posted Image

-Dan M~
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#14 of 15 Will_B

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Posted April 08 2006 - 07:06 AM

Quote:
My tapes have become "fuzzy" and the contrast has suffered over time as well as color fading.

Boosting the colors or correcting the colors is one of the best things to do. Adjusting contrast, and maybe applying a tiny bit of noise reduction is sometimes useful but is easily overdone if you aren't careful. All of these sort of tweaks can be done after you capture the AVIs, by using a free tool such as:

VirtualDub
http://www.virtualdub.org

It is free, and many people have written useful plugins for it that allow a very fine level of control over every tweak. Beyond many options on improving the color, one plugin that comes in handy when dubbing from VHS tapes is a plugin that masks off the bottom few rows of pixels so you can hide that annoying flashing static that tends to exist on the lower right edge of VHS images. Indespensible. Well worth the many hours it will take to run your AVI through it.

There is a bit of a learning curve though, particularly when dealing with noise reduction. Apply too much video noise reduction and everyone looks like a cartoon. Takes a lot of practice to know that less is more. But the improvements that come from color correction will be immediately apparent.

The technology to improve bad quality footage gets better every year.

But it is important to keep the original tapes around, because probably in a few years it will be even better.
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#15 of 15 Will_B

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Posted April 08 2006 - 07:11 AM

Quote:
I will try using the camera to output the signal to the PC, I was using a standard VHS player (with the tape adapter) assuming it had better "output" circutry compared to the camera.


Actually when playing back tapes from VHS people try to find VHS decks that do not have any circuitry that claims to "improve" the quality. VCRs that have "sharpness" options and the like are avoided like the plague. On some VCRs you can at least shut off that option.

Fake sharpness screws with the MPG encoder's own efforts to distinguish the edges of things. It ends up causing bright halos around edges.

So much to learn. I agree with you that by the time you have it sussed, you'll want to do it all over again.
"Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." -Krysta Now





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