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Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies? 130

An anonymous reader writes Could someone recommend a service to convert old VHS home movies to a lossless archival format such as FFV1? The file format needs to be lossless so I can edit and convert the files with less generation loss, it needs 4:1:1 or better chroma subsampling in order to get the full color resolution from the source tapes, and preferably it should have more than 8 bits per channel of color in order to avoid banding while correcting things like color, brightness, and contrast.

So far, the best VHS archival services I've found use either the DV codec or QuickTime Pro-Res, both of which are lossy.
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Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies?

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  • Ask them (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @11:44AM (#47846239)

    If one of the service offers QuickTime Pro-Res, they can probably also offer QuickTime Animation [wikipedia.org] instead. Just ask them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or uncompressed, or pr4:4:4:4 which is barely compressed and 12 bit per channel.
      Also ProRes 4:2:2 HQ (it can also do 10bit per channel) which would certainly be more than fine for editing. It's used in the media industry all the time. I'm sure his needs for quality and generational loss provision aren't higher than most pro shops. Unless he really needs all the data foursome other kind of analysis. Which I doubt since he specified 4:1:1 chroma subsample res.

      If pr444 isn't good enough then I'm at a loss as t

    • Or, just use the ProRes or DNxHD.

      VHS is 4:1:1 and incredibly soft. ProRes and DNxHD are both so lightly compressed and 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 that you'll never notice the difference.

      It doesn't need to be Uncompressed. You might want it to be 10bit but even that would be pushing it.

      The only time you really need uncompressed footage is when you're dealing with noisy footage which is difficult to compress. VHS footage is so soft that there is very little entropy to compress so the 4:1 or 6:1 compression of DNxHD

  • Do it yourself? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @11:50AM (#47846275) Journal
    If the overall quality is a high priority to you then why not get a decent video capture device and do it yourself? By the way, if it's all on analog video tape like VHS, isn't it going to have degraded somewhat all by itself over time anyway? I've still got some VHS tapes I recorded myself that are at least 10 years old, and a high-end Sony VCR I kept (used to have two) and even though they were brand-new 'broadcast quality' tapes recorded at 2-hour speed, they really don't look all that great now. Honestly if it were I, and it was that important, I'd get a good video capture device, capture it all to the most uncompressed format I could, and do the editing myself.
    • Re:Do it yourself? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:14PM (#47846429)
      There have also been problems with the viability of format-conversion businesses, and many have closed their doors after having been paid by their customers and received their customers' tapes, and often because of property lease agreements and failure to maintain the lease, the business owner gets locked out and can't even get access to return customers' tapes even if he wants to.

      In your shoes I'd do it myself, and as others have said I'd probably not be quite so picky about quality as you're being. If anything, you should spend your money looking for a commercial-grade VCR or a high-end consumer one with good audio, like a fancier S-VHS deck, to make the playback aspect of the copy as good as it can be. Depending on the inputs on the tuner card you can experiment with coaxial, composite, and S-video inputs to see which combination turns out the best quality (ie, if the comb filter on an S-VHS deck isn't as good as it should be, maybe composite makes the most sense, or maybe a very high quality RG-6 or RG-11 cable and RF transmission will be best) so it's worth some experimentation.

      Bear in mind, that VHS resolution is about 330x480 when thought of in modern digital formats, and nothing is going to overcome that. Even S-VHS is only about 570x480, so you're still looking at poor quality even with some of the higher end S-VHS and S-VHS-C camcorders compared to anything modern. Don't expect miracles, you will be let-down.
      • Re:Do it yourself? (Score:5, Informative)

        by NJRoadfan ( 1254248 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:48PM (#47846657)

        There have also been problems with the viability of format-conversion businesses, and many have closed their doors after having been paid by their customers and received their customers' tapes, and often because of property lease agreements and failure to maintain the lease, the business owner gets locked out and can't even get access to return customers' tapes even if he wants to.

        Like anything else, people thought they could make a quick buck doing what seems to be an easy process. Most of these places just hooked up a cheapo VCR to a run of the mill DVD recorder and hit record. The results were awful, over compressed, and filled with video dropouts. To do it right requires time and money, something that isn't going to happen at $10 a tape. Doing it yourself properly requires significant investment in hardware and time to get the capture setup "just right". Even the DIYers (like myself) will tell you that its cheaper to send them out to a qualified transfer service. In my case, I didn't have much of a choice since a few of my tapes were in Betamax format, something many transfer places don't handle.

        In your shoes I'd do it myself, and as others have said I'd probably not be quite so picky about quality as you're being. If anything, you should spend your money looking for a commercial-grade VCR or a high-end consumer one with good audio, like a fancier S-VHS deck, to make the playback aspect of the copy as good as it can be.

        This question came up on Ask Slashdot a few months ago. I'll repeat the list here

        Recommended VCRs for transfer: http://www.digitalfaq.com/foru... [digitalfaq.com] Budget: $200-300
        Note: They are a a transfer service, they have first hand experience with these decks. You'll see that everyone else recommends the same decks too.
        Recommended capture cards: http://www.digitalfaq.com/foru... [digitalfaq.com] Budget: $25-50
        AGP ATI All-in-Wonder cards can be had for about $30-40 with the required dongles and breakout boxes on ebay. Look for a decent Prescott P4 with an AGP slot at the thrift store or scrapper for your capture box. The cards require Windows XP as there is no official support in Vista/7. If you want to capture on your Windows 7 rig, try and find the ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB. It has working drivers, and captures clean video with no AGC issues.
        External TBC: http://www.digitalfaq.com/foru... [digitalfaq.com] $150-200
        Used to keep capture cards happy. Many capture devices are sensitive to unstable video signals found on VHS tapes and either completely drop frames, or falsely flag the video as having Macrovision.

        You can optionally pick up things like a proc-amp ($150-200 for a decent one) for correcting video levels. For software, capture with VirtualDub. For compressing video to MPEG-2, one of the better commercial codecs is MainConcept, although most go with TMPGEnc or open source codecs (HC-Enc, etc.). For DVD mastering, the old ULead DVD Workshop 2.0 does a great job.

        • If you are trying to copy a commercial tape or anything you recorded off-the-air, most places won't touch it without a copyright clearance.

          Some may bend a bit if it's something that clearly has no commercial value, like a 20-year-old news clip showing your kid winning a high school football game. But don't count on it.

          For /. readers who have the complete Tom Baker Dr. Who episodes complete with PBS pledge breaks showing a much-younger you manning the phone bank, good luck finding a company that will copy t

          • by doccus ( 2020662 )

            For /. readers who have the complete Tom Baker Dr. Who episodes complete with PBS pledge breaks showing a much-younger you manning the phone bank, good luck finding a company that will copy those for you. They *might* copy the pledge breaks but not the Dr. Who.

            Well, it looks like a lot of Tom Baker Dr Who fans have gone the cheapo route.. I have heard ;-) that the copies on torrents aren't rips from DVD but all the PBS ones with bad edits , including about 240p quality. Just like it was when first aired! This time I'd recommend better to save up yer pennies and get the DVDs.. For the episodes that were shot on film (and quite a few were) it really does look a whole lot better..

    • I've been using a DVD Player/Recorder machine to digitize old home movies from VHS-C (using a converter tape in a VHS player) to DVD. Then I rip the DVD into a VIDEO_TS folder using RipIt for Mac and also have it create a .m4v file. I save both formats for posterity, as well as the physical DVD I burned and (for now) the original tape.

    • Re:Do it yourself? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:34PM (#47846547)

      ...even though they were brand-new 'broadcast quality' tapes recorded at 2-hour speed, they really don't look all that great now....

      VHS was never even close to "broadcast quality" (even at the "2 hour" speed). I had S-VHS, which was markedly better than VHS, and even that was still a significant step below "broadcast quality". And I used the "2-hour" speed for S-VHS. VHS just sucked, plain and simple.

      .
      Methinks the quality of your tapes has not deteriorated anywhere near as much as you think, but your frame of reference has moved as you've bceome accustomed to newer technology.

      • Still, when compared to analog broadcast, (or very compressed digital) SD, a good VCR and a good tape produce quite a good image, it's not full broadcast quality, but good enough for me. Especially since digital (and especially HD capable) VCRs are so expensive (tapes for them too) and not very common. So, no way to record HD and the best I can do is to record to a good VHS tape, since SVHS tapes are expensive too. DVDs don't last and don't allow overwrites, so a DVD recorder would not be useful to me.

        • Still, when compared to analog broadcast, (or very compressed digital) SD, a good VCR and a good tape produce quite a good image, it's not full broadcast quality, but good enough for me....

          In the second hlaf of the 80's, I went with a S-VHS VCR that had Hi-Fi capability (20-20,000 Hz, with an excellent s/n ratio). You're correct, the picture can be "good enough". But regular VHS or even S-VHS is no where near the ability of analog broadcast. Not Even Close.

          For starters, luminance resolution for analog broadcasts (when a comb filter is used) can extend to 5MHz or even higher. Luminance resolution with a VHS recorder tops out with a resolution around 1.5MHz, on a good day. Then add in

          • Well, I get analog broadcasts from my cable company. Whether it's the multiple splitters or the long cables (after the amp), but the video quality is not that great. Sure, it's better than VHS, but I cannot really see a difference between it and SVHS.

            I also get IPTV from another company. The SD channels are higher quality than the analog channels that i get.

            And yet, with digital VCRs (and tapes for them) being so expensive, i have to continue to use VHS...

            • Well, I get analog broadcasts from my cable company....

              Well, there's your problem. Most of the analog on cable nowadays originated as digital, and it was converted to analog at the cable company's head end. Then it travels through the cable system, being degraded at each active device along the way. By the time it reaches your house, the signal has been processed so much, anything resembling high frequency video information has been smeared out of existence.

              When I spoke of analog broadcasts, I meant exactly that, i.e., a broadcast received over the air fr

              • I have used cable for so long, I do not remember the terrestrial broadcasts. Well, other than the very noisy picture I got when using a portable TV outside or using a piece of wire as an antenna during cable outages.

      • You're reading WAY too much into two words here ('broadcast quality'). They were 'broadcast quality' because they were 1-hour tapes, not the typical garden-variety 2-hour tapes, the tape itself was thicker and overall higher quality than consumer-grade VHS tapes, and they weren't cheap when I bought them; the 'broadcast quality', if you're not getting it still, referred to the material quality of the tapes (better quality tape itself, better quality shell, better quality tape-path components within the shel
      • by storkus ( 179708 )

        LOL, I worked at 2 TV stations back in the 90's and one of them used JVC S-VHS decks for non-prime-time programming (daytime and late night syndicated crap). To the trained eye, the difference with even 3/4-inch tape was obvious, but it apparently was still FCC-legal "broadcast quality".

        Still, IMHO, it looked a hell of a lot better than MPEG-2 with all its compression artifacts: noisier, but none of the "blockiness".

        Anyway, just to add my opinion to the original poster, ordinary 1/2-inch VHS is so noisy an

    • Along these lines, but a bit OT, I have found it surprisingly hard to find a decent DV capture software. The one's I've tried have had problems with audio sync or even finding the device. I have wasted hours getting my DV tapes to digital, and have been putting off trying again.
      • For Windows, try WinDV [mourek.cz]. It dumps the DV stream direct to an AVI file. Most DV capture problems in Windows can be tied to Firewire drivers, particularly in Windows 7. Some machines require the "legacy" IEEE-1394 drivers installed.
    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      I used a video capture card with Svideo input. I found after many trials that VLC worked well in capture mode with a tape that had issues. I had to manually clean the video and audio heads in the thrift store VCR and used another tape to verify the VCR worked wel mechanically. It still took two attempts. I then transfered it from the Windows 7 box to a Linux box and had FFmpeg transcode it after bleeding the docs for a couple hours and fumbling with several attempts.

    • I bought a Magnavox ZV427MG9 DVD Recorder/VCR, available at Amazon for about $280, or on a Sears website for $180. I converted a large tub of precious family VHS tapes directly to DVD in this machine. I played around with different resolutions, but the highest resolution was visibly better, so I went with that. Then I copied the VOB files from the DVD's to my computer, and imported them into Cyberlink's PowerDirector, which has no trouble with the VOB files. The VOB files have a frame width and height of 72
  • by tgeller ( 10260 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @11:52AM (#47846287) Homepage
    I converted a few tapes with a a $40 gadget (Diamond One Touch Video Capture VC500MAC) and was happy with the results.

    By comparison, the one service I checked out charges $12 each tape, plus shipping etc. -- and takes three weeks!

    If you have more than a half dozen tapes to convert, you may do well buying a converter. You could let it run at night, then pay somebody $15/hour to do the finishing work (conversion to ProRes or whatever).

    (I realize that this doesn't directly answer your question... but is an option worth considering.)
    • If you do it yourself, make sure you use a VCR with S-Video output. The regular composite cables (red, white, yellow) combines the chroma (color) and luminance (brightness) into one signal. That means boundary with a high brightness contrast will bleed into the color (and vice versa) and you'll get marching ants [wikipedia.org]. S-Video encodes these two signals separately and eliminates that particular problem. The biggest quality improvement I saw while encoding VHS and Hi-8 tapes myself came from switching to S-Vide
      • If you do it yourself, make sure you use a VCR with S-Video output. The regular composite cables (red, white, yellow) combines the chroma (color) and luminance (brightness) into one signal. That means boundary with a high brightness contrast will bleed into the color (and vice versa) and you'll get marching ants [wikipedia.org]. S-Video encodes these two signals separately and eliminates that particular problem. The biggest quality improvement I saw while encoding VHS and Hi-8 tapes myself came from switching to S-Video cables.

        marching ants [wikipedia.org] I mean I guess I should be happy that you gave a source, but it would be even cooler if it had just remotely shttp://ask.slashdot.org/story/14/09/05/2222235/ask-slashdot-best-service-to-digitize-vhs-home-movies#omething to do with the subject of marching ants

      • Why are the link to Marching ants got screwed ?

        Here I post the link as it is - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

  • Devices that can do raw videos are quite expensive. If you want a simple/cheap solution, Apple ProRes is a quite good intermediary format. I would recommend just recording to ProRes, using a noise/grain filters/editing it, and finally converting to H.264.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Prores 422 hq is plenty. You don't need to capture the subtle details of all the VHS artifacts and it's limited color gamut. Generational losses aren't an issue either. Don't worry about greater than 8 bits per channel either--the information you are trying to preserve is non-existent.

    Seriously, just get it into a quality format that will stand the test of time. Prores is used widely professionally and will be around a long time.

  • Wrong forum (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This question is better suited for Doom9 [doom9.org].

  • Along with Lagarith and to a lesser extent, UT Video. All of them are open source (so you can implement them on the platform of your choice in the future), lossless, and support 4:2:2 chroma subsampling.

    If your source tapes do not require special handling (water damage, mold, etc), these guys can handle it and the prices are reasonable: http://www.digitalfaq.com/serv... [digitalfaq.com]

    They'll output to whatever format you specify, including the above codecs. Any decent place should. If the places you looked at are limit
  • by carlhaagen ( 1021273 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:06PM (#47846381)
    ...s-video/composite/audio input - almost all of them, even the "cheap-o" $20 models, have these inputs. Simply record to MPEG-2 and from there convert to f.e. h.264 in .mp4 using Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr) or similar.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      This is what i was thinking any commercial conversion place would do. I also recall those machines used to convert film to video, projecting the film and then recording onto video tape. I wonder if one of those could be used to playback a video on a good sony triniton TV and record onto a good 3ccd video recorder. The real problem with VHS is that it is pretty low quality analog, and one has to add information and fill in holes to make it work with digital. This may be the way to do it. When people com
  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:12PM (#47846415) Homepage

    Does the original magnetic tape have those properties?

    Unlikely unless it's S-VHS and even then, I don't think so if it was recorded on any normal household camera (quote from the Wiki: "In VHS, the chroma carrier is both severely bandlimited and rather noisy, a limitation that S-VHS does not address" - and they mention that S-VHS tapes were used to record 20-bit audio, but only if you were prepared to use several minutes of videotape for one minute of audio, so the chances that it recorded colour with even 8-bit accuracy is unlikely).

    You have to think mathematically - significant digits. If the original only have 3 significant digits, there's absolutely NO POINT in worrying about anything with 3 or more significant digits handling it. All you're preserving is error anyway.

    You know what? Digitise it yourself if you're that worried. Get a capture card (good luck finding one that captures RAW), plug it into a high-end VHS player, stick it all in 32-bit PNG channels if you want. The end result will be so insignificantly different to your original but will cost ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more.

    I'm with you on quality, I get that, and you want to get that stuff off tape sooner rather than later if it holds any kind of emotional significance to you (chances are, your holiday tapes from the 80's will never be played again once you're dead, and only a handful of times until then). But you're really trying to go too far because you've heard some things on audiophile/videophile websites and the like and think you have to do that.

    You know what? The extra time spent with your family, and the extra money to follow the kid's hobbies, will more than make up for any theoretical loss in the MPEG encoding of some home movies. And, at the end of the day, so long as you can see who the people in the movie are and what's happening, who cares about the fine detail? You can't Bladerunner it back to 4K, so what you do now will not degrade in the future. And, chances are, what you do now is higher quality than anything on the original tapes anyway (unless you intend to capture the missing parts of the TV interlace somehow?).

    Give it up. Buy a GBP20 adaptor from your local store. Buy a slide-and-film scanner while you're there. Have a night in with the family where you're all doing one job - scanning, sorting, cleaning, labelling, filing, archiving - and get everything you have in your archives digitised. Copy it to friends and family (who, honestly, really won't care but will be polite). Then forget about it until little Johnny is 18 and you want to embarrass him in front of his girlfriend.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I think the point is that he doesn't want the picture to degrade even more. Just because it's not the best now, if you use shitty equipment it will go from not good to total crap. There are some nice vhs edit decks on ebay for not bad prices. I bought a dual 8mm deck off there that cost nearly 2 grand new for only 150 bucks. The output was indistinguishable from the original.

    • You have to think mathematically - significant digits. If the original only have 3 significant digits, there's absolutely NO POINT in worrying about anything with 3 or more significant digits handling it. All you're preserving is error anyway.

      Incorrect and bad advice for analogue sources with a digital conversion.
      Analogue doesnt use digits, its not digital.
      The beauty of analogue is that it doesnt comply to 1's and 0's. Its a wild beast of waves. When you convert those analogue waves to digital, you will always loose quality in the conversion.
      So using the highest possible digital sample and bit depth ensures we have the best digital conversion possible. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn't a perfectionist.

      Example:
      If recording analogue audio at 4

      • - The video capture card is also key here, find one that has high end DAC's and high digital sample/bit rates to match.

        Mistype without morning coffee:
        The video capture card is also key here, find one that has high end ADC (analogue to digital converter) and high digital sample/bit rates to match.

        Sometimes i wish slashdot had a 3 minute edit window and delay before updating after posting, really do.

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        The analogue signal on a VHS tape corresponds to an exact (enough) representation of a PAL or NTSC signal, which you can capture in as much detail as you like but it will hardly vary.

        The storage mechanism may be able to cope with more, but the actual useful data that could ever come out down a cable is limited to a quite precise specification. As such, higher resolution samples aren't going to help.

        Also, VHS isn't entirely analogue. It has a magnetic representation on tape that is - again - highly specifi

  • by OFnow ( 1098151 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:13PM (#47846423)
    I had a bunch of old home movies converted to CD and unfortunately they are still boring.
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:29PM (#47846515)

    Just buy a capture card or converter and use FFMPEG to convert it directly. That's what I've done to all my old VHS collection using a Diamond VC500.

    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      No human being known to science can use ffmpeg directly. Use handbrake. All handbrake does is figure out the gory details of the options for you and run it through ffmpeg for you.

      • ffmpeg -i device -y -s 720x486 foo.mp4

        adjust your size accordingly. It isn't that hard.

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          I hear you. Now try to remove the black bars and fix the screwed-up aspect ratio. Everything is easy as long as you're not trying to use any of its non-trivial features.

          • All this has been baked and there's multiple documents covering it along with any customizations. I realize handbrake is out there and I use it but sometimes ffmpeg direct is always best for me. scaling example:

            -vf scale=640:480

            for removing black bars example:

            -vf "cropdetect=24:16:0" to a dummy file, then once you know the size of the bars (crop detect output)
            -vf "crop=640:256:0:36"

            Again, there's lots of recipes out there and it's all documented as well. [ffmpeg.org] Just search.

      • Handbrake runs it through handbrakeCLI. Handbrake is not FFMPEG. For example, Handbrake won't do video passthru. Audio passthru, sure. But not video. So you can't, for example, use handbrake to straight remux MKV into mp4.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Search eBay for a Panasonic AG-1980 or AG-5710 (they're the same machine, the 5710 has no TV tuner though.) Then grab an analog to digital converter, like the Canopus/Grass Valley/Belden ADVC110. Plug it all in and you can capture to whatever editing program you would like.

    If you want even better quality, you can get a capture card like the ones from Blackmagic or AJA. I don't think the increase in quality of your capture card and codec will be noticeable though. It's likely the VHS tape will be your qualit

  • by Art3x ( 973401 ) on Sunday September 07, 2014 @12:37PM (#47846575)

    I don't know of any services. The only way I know would be to get my own gear:

    1. S-VHS VCR. Even if your tapes weren't recorded in this higher-resolution format, S-VHS VCRs make VHS tapes look better.

    2. Analog-to-digital capture card, like from Blackmagic Design or Grass Valley. Make sure it has an S-video input jack.

    3. S-video cables. This cable keeps the brightness and color portions of the picture separate as it goes from the VCR to your computer. This is the best you can do from VHS. The only thing better would be RGB cables or some kind of digital output from the VCR, but no VCR has such outputs. The best is S-video, and only S-VHS VCRs have that. However, it is noticeably better than the standard composite cable, the single RCA jack, typically yellow, on most VCRs.

    4. Time-base corrector [bhphotovideo.com] (optional). The capture card might do this well enough. If not, this device would stabilize and correct the video signal. So you would connect your VCR to the time-base corrector, and the time-base corrector to your VCR --- all with S-video cables.

    For your capture format, I guess you could go completely uncompressed, but ProRes is 10-bit 4:2:2 and already overkill for VHS.

  • Your old VHS tapes are not in any shape to make decent digitizations. THen again, a new VHS tape ain't all that. VHS was the bottom of the barrel quality wise. Bandwidth on just the red channel was less than 1 MHz,. ALmost certainly not time coded, and let's not forget print-through, where the magnetic information stars to print through from the bits of tape on either side..

    So in the end, at best, you can hope for rather fuzzy looking digitizations.

    Video has come so far that these VHS tapes will look

  • Disclaimer I used to work with Colin a decade or two ago but he is apparently well set up to do this kind of work these days and I suspect he will wring out the best that can be done in a transfer.
    http://www.video99.co.uk/l [video99.co.uk]

  • Plug the output of a VHS player into the input of a DV camcorder, press record.

  • Get the Atomos Ninja, record it in ProRes. Seriously, this codec is indistinguishable from RAW on an eyeball level. For VHS, it is waaaaay overkill, might as well just use MPEG2 for VHS (just being facetious). And its not like you are going to play the ProRes and re-record it to another ProRes device. That would be dumb. Just copy the file, there will be no loss of bits and bytes and what-not.
  • Any video8 suggestions???
    I have tons of tapes, but camcorder no longer works.
    I have tried to rent a video8 VCR, unsuccessfully
    Any help is welcome.
    Thanks.

    • find a used Digital8 camcorder with a Firewire (IEEE 1394) output.
      Put tape in, plug into computer, import footage.
      Digital8 camcorders will play back video8, HI-8 and Digital8 while converting the video8 to DV on the fly.

  • For free sometime. (Score:4, Informative)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday September 07, 2014 @01:52PM (#47847039)

    Where I live we have a public audio-video archive that does conversions for free, but they ask for a copy if something of value for the community is on the footage, like festivals, concerts, parades or views of public places in the past and stuff like that.
    Check that first, you can't beat 'free'.

  • VHS at source is 576x320 (PAL I specification). Analogue broadcast limit is 768x576 (again, PAL I). MiniDV is 720x480 which is plenty for a VHS rip, in fact you'd be introducing noise as the system interpolates pixels. My experienced advice: use the napkin max for VHS, which is as mentioned 576x320 at 25fps or 480x320/30 (NTSC) through component, or 352x288 (either system) through composite. As you're digital from that point on, the only thing that's going to degrade image quality is transitioning and compl

  • I'm a professional video editor, and I can tell you flat out that lossy codecs are not necessarily bad. DV is a very solid option, it's supported by all software. ProRes is fantastic, but it's OS X only, unless you want to shell out several hundred dollars for a Windows codec plugin. In most software, if you edit with the DV or ProRes codecs, frames will only be recompressed if you actually change the image data. If all you're doing is straight cuts editing, then your exported, edited frames will be bit-fo
  • Make sure the service you find does cable straightening or uses "MASSIVE" brand cables.
    This ensures all the 1's and 0's get through. Cables with kinks can cause some of the 1's to get stuck.
    I use 1 inch diameter cables to import all my VHS video footage.
    Why would you trust your VHS footage to anything less?

    • I was always told the 0s got stuck at kinks as they were wider. The 1s can slip through when they are oriented correctly. Also, ensure your cable cross profile is oval to better accommodate the 0s. Which reminds me of another audiophile tip - purchase a parity alignment module and set it to the correct orientation, that way both 1s and 0s are oriented longitudinal to your cable.
      • I was always told the 0s got stuck at kinks as they were wider.

        That is an old wive's tale that has been proven wrong.
        www.TheTruthAboutCables.com [thetruthaboutcables.com] did an in depth study a few years ago.
        I forgot about the parity alignment module though, thanks for the reminder.

      • I'm sure it's a long-time habit with you, but novices need to remember that VHS tapes are magnetic, so it helps to align the source player with the Earth's longitudinal field lines.

  • Look for a Telecine service house they do all the professional film transfer work. The rates I'm seeing is about $150 to $200 an hour plus drives. 10 bit uncompressed SD is around 2 gig a minute. I have to think it is 4:2:2 since that is what most listed for HD. If it something you are going to edit you might want a ProRes copy as well which is about a 4 to 1 compression to make your workflow and drives easier to handle. You can also do color correction and other post work if that is needed.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      you're talking telecine which captures at ~600dpi for 8mm, ~3K-5K for 35mm and 70mm *film*, this is transfer from *tape* which unlike film has hard specified limits.

      • I'm telling the him places that will provide the service that meets his requirements. They transfer between many types of mediums, film to video, video to film, analog to digital, one video format to another.

        • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

          my bad, it was stupid O'Clock when I was reading this. There's a link to a chain transfer service somewhere around, I had a look at that earlier, they charge something like $20 per tape-hour and upload to SD-DVD - citing the "What the hell is the point of transferring lower-than-broadcast-in-any-light to HD?" justification for doing so.

          To the AC who tried to poo-poo my earlier suggestion of capturing in SD because WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF CAPTURING IN HD?, THIS IS WHY NOT.

  • Don't use a mail-order service. The tapes could be exposed to magnetic fields from a variety of sources. The tech will most likely record in a lossy format and then export to your lossless format.
    Do record multiple passes, preferably from different playback devices.
    Save the multiple passes so in the future they can be sent through reconstruction software to correct for tape rot, etc. Enhancement software normally uses consecutive frames, but it might help having two interpretations of corrupted magnetic

    • Good call on the multiple recording. We are about 5 years out from having trivial video transform and stacking just like photos now.
  • I tried capturing boxes of old tapes, and gave up because it was so time consuming. So I sent a box to ScanCafe (who had done great work scanning tons of old pics), and they did a really good job. Yes I could have done it myself, but yes I am glad that I sent it to them,

    And no I am not a ScanCafe rep, or have any interest in promoting them. I just had a good experience.

  • Bought a used panasonic svhs deck with svideo out and a time base corrector. Got a used capture card that has svideo in. I used an xfi card I had laying around to capture the audio at 48khz 16 bit (for dvd/ac3). It is possible to get old pro-grade vhs equipment with component outputs and a requisite component in capture device, but this is more money, and I wasn't convinced it would make much difference over a short-run svideo link for low grade standard vhs.

    After installing lagarith lossless video codec,

  • Take them to CostCo. They digitized some movies I had taken in Russia in 1997 and they looked great.
    • In Soviet Russia, video tapes record y...

      Sorry. It's late. I've been working too hard. And I have a pain in the diodes all down the left side of my body.

  • Years ago, I became obsessive with producing high-quality DVDs from my extensive VHS/LaserDisc collection. Eventually, that led to the creation of y4mdenoise, part of the mjpegtools [sourceforge.net] package. If you're willing to spend the time to let your computer chew on your digitized video, this tool will squeeze virtually all of the noise out of your signal.

    Without it, you're wasting most of your bitrate just to encode noise. A video encoder can't tell the difference between noise and high-frequency detail.

    If you d

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