SVHS; VHS; 8mm Help with my project..details within

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Richard_s, Nov 24, 2002.

  1. Richard_s

    Richard_s Second Unit

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    I have an old 8mm camcorder and about 20 Hrs of family movies on the 8mm. The camcorder still works but once it dies 8mm players are expensive. I want to make a permanent copy of all these tapes and eventually edit them to a CVD or SVCD maybe even DVD when DVD recorders become available (in the sub $150 range). After reading as much as I can find I am still confused about how 8mm compares to SVHS and VHS (my 8mm are standard not super or Hi).
    I just can't get the lines vs resolution thing figured out. Bottom line is should I get a SVHS or save the money and get a good VHS. I just want a very good copy of my 8mm as my primary objective. For PVR I am not sure what I will do yet.
    This is what I found so far (very confusing):
    NTSC standard: This is listed as 525 lines 29.97 FPS so this is what My TV can display. Correct? What is the resolution?
    SVHS seems to be 400 lines can not find anything about resolution.
    VHS don't know how many lines but someone stated the resolution is 320x240.
    Totally confused I guess on Lines and resolution. I think the problem is that Lines are an analog thing and resolution is a digital thing.
    Helping me understand this would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    All NTSC equipment uses 525 scan lines and about 480 of them hold the picture. Resolution people talk about refers to the smallest dots that can be made on any one of the scan lines where five in a row (light, dark, light, dark, light) will still all be distinguishable.
    If the camcorder has 400 lines of (horizontal) resolution, if truthful, that means that the width of the smallest dot is 1/400'th the screen HEIGHT, or 1/400'th the diameter of the largest circle that fits in the screen assuming 4:3 aspect ratio.
    Regular 8mm video, as far as I know, is about 240 lines horizontal resolution at best. Since the act of copying causes further degradation, the best results are had if you use an S-video connection (if available) as opposed to a composite video connection from the camcorder, and use an S-VHS VCR.
    It is a good idea to make copies of anything you consider important. If you copy to DVD or to a PC later, if possible use the original 8mm tapes rather than any VHS copies.
    Regular VHS is also spec'ed at 240 lines per picture height, which can reproduce 320 pixels all the way across. Doing still frame only the odd lines or only the even lines are seen, doubled to fill the gaps. This gives the 240 pixels top to bottom vertical resolution. Not in still frame but for stationary subject matter, regular VHS could reproduce a grid 320 elongated pixels wide by 480 high. For moving subjects, all NTSC interlaced video has an apparently lesser vertical resolution, sometimes as low as 240 lines, where one person's opinion differs from another's.
    Color follows a different rule. For all analog consumer video tape including S-VHS, the effective color horizontal resolution is at best 32 lines per picture height (about 40 transitions at most from one color to another across the entire screen)
    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/vidres.htm
     
  3. Richard_s

    Richard_s Second Unit

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    Allan:
    Really appreciate the time you spent to answer. Basically tells me what I want to do from an economical standpoint.
    I own a VHS not a S-VHS recorder. I am going to make a copy of one of the 8mm to VHS for a back-up and see what the quality is maybe this will be good enough. My Camera output is only composite no S-video so it seems that I will gain little with a S-VHS anyway Is this correct?
    Once my 8mm are backed up then for as long as my camera lasts I can use the 8mm tapes as my "master".
    What I am planing right now it to capture and encode in CVD (DVD compatible) or SVCD (not DVD compatible). If I capture directly from the 8mm that should give me the best quality.
    Rather than get an S-VHS recorder I can use the money and replace my current DVD player which can only play VCD (these are horible). I did a test capture of the 8mm and encoded to VCD and it is just horrible. I did a test CVD but that looks horrible on the PC because the PC can not handle the interlacing. It seems like even CVD 352x480 (interlaced) should be able to give me 8mm quality. The new DVD player will allow me to test the 8mm to CVD/SVCD CD's and allow for me to "play" with this video capture/encoding stuff and see how good I can learn to get it. I just started trying with the help of individuals at www.vcdhelp.com. With a VHS back-up of my tapes this seems a reasonable way to go.
    I can also "back-up" DVD movies once I learn enough to get high quality captures and encodings [​IMG]
     
  4. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    I once tried taking an 8mm "master" tape, dubbing it to a VHS "edit" tape, copying the VHS "edit" tape back to 8mm, and finally copying the 8mm "edit" tape to VHS. (I had a camcorder with analog inputs, and one VHS deck to use for all VHS copying/editing.)

    There was definite quality loss ... the VHS copies looked terrible compared to the original tape.
     
  5. Richard_s

    Richard_s Second Unit

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    Thanks But I am not planning to do any edits on the VHS. I agree too many copies will degrade the outcome to un-watchable.

    I plan to do all editing digitally using the MPEG2 files and encode and generate cd's with my edited content. Just do not know yet how good I can get the capture/encoding to be. Also do not know how good I can get the CVD or Svcd too look. Both appear to have the resolution but the bitrates may not be high enough. In a year or so DVD recorders may be an option so I can then use higher bitrates and resolutuion.
     
  6. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    I would strongly encourage you not to encode and edit in MPEG 2. Tools to edit and encode in DV format are actually more common, cheaper and provide much better quality.
    You can get a great real time DV encoder from Formac. www.formac.com There are other brands available as well but I know the Formac device works very well.
    All of the inexpensive (read consumer) PC based editing programs are designed to work in DV format as this is the source of most of the newer camcorders. Editing in MPEG 2 is very problematic because of way MPEG compression/encoding works. the best you can hope for is rough cuts as opposed to the frame accurate editing you get with DV.
    In fact, if you were thinking about upgrading your camcorder you could get a DV camcorder with analog inputs and dub your 8mm tapes to it and you would be set. No need for another encoder if you do this but obviously it is much more expensive.
    This is what I did with my 8mm tapes and they look great. Now I edit the footage in iMovie and Final Cut Pro on my Mac and the resulting DV tapes and DVD's look better than my original tapes as I have been able to correct the color, contrast and brightness of the originals in my editing applications.
    The digital files are backed up to DVD-ROM and the resulting edited video is dumped back to DV tape for archiving and DVD for viewing.
    Forget VCD and CVD as formats if you want to have a range of cheap tools available to work with your footage and stuff that everyone can play back in the future.
    I'm willing to bet your 8mm tapes will easily last until DVD recorders are $150..or until you can't wait any longer. [​IMG]
    Tom
     
  7. Glenn

    Glenn Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Richard,

    >>In fact, if you were thinking about upgrading your camcorder you could get a DV camcorder with analog inputs and dub your 8mm tapes to it and you would be set. No need for another encoder if you do this but obviously it is much more expensive.


    I somewhat agree with this suggestion expect in your case I might recommend getting a Digital 8 camcorder. Sony is the only brand that I am aware of that makes these, so price and availability isn't as great as regular DV camcorders.

    I think Digital 8 will allow you to play back your older 8mm and input them directly into a computer for editing through firewire inputs. Plus the digital 8 is good quality to use now for a camcorder.

    I do not recommend dubbing to vhs from 8mm. I have done this in the past and the quality will vary from poor to just okay. Then someday you will still have to play the vhs copies back and record to something else anyways.

    Good luck,
    Glenn
     
  8. PatrickJames

    PatrickJames Auditioning

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    beg, borrow or steal *smile* an Apple computer with firewire, iMovie, iDVD, a "SuperDrive" (Pioneer) DVD burner, and a Digital 8 camcorder. that would be the full-meal-deal. for simple archiving you just need the Apple computer, a Digital 8 camcorder and iMovie.
    play back your old 8mm tapes in the camcorder by "capturing" using iMovie, etc.
    then you can either save these after cleaning them up (use some of the included iMovie filter/effects or add titles, etc. if you want) and "export" them to either iDVD, or back to a fresh, brand new Digital 8 tape and use the newly mastered Digital 8 as your new master. as it remains in the digital domain, make as many copies as you want from the computer/iMovie or from the digital 8 copies.
    the point I am trying to make is: the more you stay in the analog domain, the worse it gets. and if these tapes and their content matter to you, the best way to gain some redundancy is to upgrade (borrow, beg, etc.) to digital *now*, not later when it's too late because all of your uh.... "lousy quality" analog dubs have bit the dust.
    even at that, I am only suggesting the Sony Digital 8 format because I believe it will remain in the pipeline for quite a while yet. it's "backwards" compatible to your original master 8mm tapes, and all Digital 8 cameras are firewire/iLink equipped.
    go to www.apple.com/imovie to get a sense of what you can accomplish, even for simple archiving purposes or cleaning up your original 8mm tapes once captured into the computer.
    good luck.[​IMG]
     
  9. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    I had not thought of the Digital 8 route. I'm sure it will be around for a while (Did anyone else notice that Betamax was just discontinued this year) but make sure you can go direct out of the Firewire (uh, sorry "iLink") port when playing analog source material.
    I would think it is worthwhile to do a test if you do decide to go this route (don't you love it how we all provide fun new ways to spend lots of your money[​IMG] )
    I've read a number of reviews that suggest that the Digital 8 format is inferior to DV so you may get better results dubbing to a DV camera than playing back your 8mm tapes in a Digital 8 camera. This might seem like an extra analog step but with either method your first dub is really a "digitization" process.
    Depending on how much you have invested already I concur with the "get an iMac" approach. In addition to working, albeit on a G4, with this setup I also put together PC based systems to do the same thing as part of my job.
    For the committed tinkerer the few dollars you might save may be worth the many hours you spend messing around with your PC trying to get it all to work but for the average person the iMac, iMovie, iDVD combo is an unbeatable value.
    iTom
     
  10. PatrickJames

    PatrickJames Auditioning

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    you would have to look very closely to find much of a difference between Digital 8 and DV - both produce the required DV Stream format for editing purposes on a computer, and the differences would be more about the chips in the camera, the optics, etc. and to do what we are talking about... getting his analog tapes into digital/DV stream, a Digital 8 camera works very well. and does the analog/digital conversion right in the camera before it's sent down the FireWire pipeline to the computer. One less step, imho.

    I didn't want to scare off the original poster. I work at a fully digital bitstream/HDTV-ready tv station. I get to play around with...er... "work with" *smile* a whole gammet of cameras, formats, etc. and I edit video (Avid, Final Cut Pro) and audio (ProTools, Peak).

    For personal/hobbyist use - I use a Digital 8, as do a lot of my friends to shoot our vacation videos, etc. why? because we prefer the "heft" of the cameras, and at the cost of Digital 8, if the camera gets damaged, we are still way ahead. Generally, we are also pleased with the picture and audio quality of the Digital 8 cameras as well, which is the most important consideration. When we choose DV cameras, professional and consumer-based, I/we use for more important shooting - a friend's wedding for example.

    er... and "enough about me" - I just really want the original poster to consider moving his master 8mm tapes as cheaply and conveniently to a digital format as soon as possible, and *then*, start from there.

    I'm sure the poor guy's head is spinning at the moment. a lot of options to consider. just go from your original analog to one of the digital formats, and start from there. it's the best option. honestly, it is.
     
  11. Richard_s

    Richard_s Second Unit

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    PatrickJames
    Don't worry I will not get scared away I like learning new things just have to bring my knowledge up level and help from experts is extremely helpful
    I have been spending alot of time over at www.vcdhelp.com trying to learn about PC capture and encoding stuff. let me state where I am at maybe I have something wrong. Obvously the better I can get the copies the happier I will be. The limiting factor I think is that I have standard 8mm and only composite output. It seems to me that once I have the *.avi whether it is captured using a DV camcorder via firewire or my AvertTV Stereo PCI card (maybe this is not so good)using Virtualdub (or virtualVCR) software for the capture I expected that both would give me an acceptable *.AVI file to deal with. Once I have a Digital back-up in MPEG2 format that is compatible with DVD-R (future) I can edit to my hearts content. The MPEG2 files are a reasonable size to archeive where the *.AVI are not so I will have the *.AVI to MPEG2 convertion whether I go from a DV capture or a composite video capture using my AverTV PCI card.
    I am using TMPGEnc for MPEG1 and MPEG2 encoding as I am trying to learn about VCD, CVD (DVD compatible) and SVCD (better resolution than CVD but not DVD compatible. I think I got this right.
    My goal is to get CD's that yield at least VHS quality playback, any better would just be exceptional. Then I can feel safe that I have a durable back-up but the MPEG-2 Video edit tools are great so cut/paste/merge is easy and much better than trying to edit by dubbing from tape to tape.
    I am still early in my learning curve as I started reading and doing this stuff only 3 weeks ago so any help and criticism is appreciated. Even if the comments are you can not get there from here
    Where I am at with capture: I can capture my 8mm tapes using virtualdub (huffy compression) 704x480 29.97FPS 41.1Khz audio with less than 0.05% dropped frames. The voice synchronization at the end of the 2hr test capture (aprox 50gig *.AVI) was perfect.
    Hope this is OK to post here if not sorry and moderator please advise: I post at www.vcdhelp.com as hardwork12 so you experts can help me out there also and well appreciated.
    Thanks again ALL
     
  12. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    No problems from me!

    Best of luck

    Gregg
     
  13. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    Some Digital8 camcorders (typically, the lowest-end models) do not have the ability to play 8mm and Hi8 tapes. Buyer beware!

    Consumer Reports recently did a report on camcorders, and the results showed that while digital camcorders had better image quality (with good light), Hi8 camcorders (especially the top-rated ones) were better with low light.
     
  14. Bill Law

    Bill Law Stunt Coordinator

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    What is the best way to simply transfer Hi8 tapes to DVD's?
    Can PC's (or Macs) handle an hours worth of uninterrupted video?
    Wouldn't that be too large of a file (gigabytes?)?
    Editing is not necessary.
    Thanks
     
  15. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    As far as I know, if yor camcorder has only composite video output, an S-VHS VCR will offer no improvement over a regular VCR.

    A device called a time base corrector may reduce the degradation encountered when copying the 8mm videotape. At this time I don't know where to get a good one at a reasonable price.

    One idiosyncrasy of DVD may result in noticeable degradation even when going directly from 8mm to (burning your own) DVD. On DVD, every two scan lines share the same coloration (chrominance). So when feeding in the already inferior analog video, there can be further noticeable softening of the picture. FOr analog video, excluding SECAM, each scan line carries its own coloration.
     

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