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Old 07-09-2018, 09:29 AM
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Default Converting VHS to Digital format

I have several older VHS tape videos - family stuff - that I want to convert to digital format for better preservation. What do you all suggest as the best way to do this? I'm not sure what software/hardware will do the best job for this. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

I had too many to go through, as well as a lot of 8mm that my parents had. I gave up trying to do it myself and sent all my media to a local company (Feathers). They captured everything in 1080 and delivered it all on a hard drive as individual QuickTime files. Not a huge investment but well worth the money for the time I saved and the stress relief.
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Old 07-09-2018, 04:11 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

What equipment do you have? Or have access to?
The following has been my preferred method for many years. I have always had the equipment but the decks and cables should be fairly easy to rent.
Connect a VHS or (SVHS) deck to a DV or DVCAM deck (Sonys are my DV decks by choice) and make DV copies of the originals. DV copies are the best analog to digital conversions from VHS that I have found over the years. For the most part they provide the recorded signal with a new stable sync track and record a (new) timecode track. (a great help if you plan to edit them at any time)
I then capture the DV tapes into a computer ideally from a DV deck with an Serial Digital (SDI) output at Standard Definition. To stay digital I use a cheap connector will change the SDI connection to HDMI connector. Then inexpensive video cards like Blackmagic's Intensity Pro 4K used to capture via the cards HDMI input. (Most video IO's that you may already have connected to Pro Tools machines for monitoring video would achieve this.)

I capture to the computer at standard def. Why? Almost all home TVs have better display upscaling from SD to HD than can be achieved with affordable SD to HD codecs. Normal TV's can be set to display the correct original VHS's 4:3 display aspect ratios. (4 by 3 or 16 by 9)

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Old 07-09-2018, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

On the PC I think the easiest way is to use something like this:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...to.html?sts=pi
Drivers can be a pain to get it to work though.

On the Mac I used to use a DV converter box like this: https://www.amazon.com/Datavideo-DAC.../dp/B00009XV2L

And imovie or Quicktime Pro to capture.
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:53 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

Thank you all for the suggestions. Much appreciated.


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Old 07-10-2018, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

Just don't use a Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle as the capture device. For reasons that Blackmagic considers valid, it won't lock to sync from VHS.

I use an old Canopus 110 that we used for video output from Pro tools way back when. Now it takes video in instead of spitting it out! It's connected to the Mac with a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter.
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Old 07-11-2018, 03:55 AM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

I get great results with a Thunderbolt Intensity Shuttle playing back off a JVC HR-9800U into my 6,1 Mac Pro. I will need a tbc for some problem tapes though. The deck has its own tbc but it won’t help those tapes. From all comments I’ve seen ymmv depending on the condition of your tapes and the built in processing enabled on the deck. Best setup would be a pro deck with external tbc.
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Old 07-11-2018, 12:48 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougdi View Post
Idepending on the condition of your tapes and the built in processing enabled on the deck. Best setup would be a pro deck with external tbc.
For me recording to DV has always solved the issues caused by poor quality VHS sources. (DV creates its own sync pulses rather than relying on the source sync)

Andrew
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:40 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

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Originally Posted by AndrewAction View Post
For me recording to DV has always solved the issues caused by poor quality VHS sources. (DV creates its own sync pulses rather than relying on the source sync)

Andrew
I don't know how the choice of video format can affect capture. Anything downstream of the VHS machine needs to know where the frame boundaries are. If the interface won't lock to the incoming sync you'll wind up with a perfectly pulsed recording of vertical roll!
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Old 07-11-2018, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: Converting VHS to Digital format

Quote:
Originally Posted by V5V View Post
Anything downstream of the VHS machine needs to know where the frame boundaries are. If the interface won't lock to the incoming sync you'll wind up with a perfectly pulsed recording of vertical roll!
Recording VHS playback to DV camera or deck facilitates a stable analog to digital conversion. If you just pass the signal through the DV device you may well end up with
the VHS's issues. Record it and you get a stable digital stream.

Bringing the DV signal into the computer via SDI or Firewire records a stable digital stream. My experience is that the DV devices produce the best results from analog VHS. (I have also tested with Beta SX, Digi Beta and HDCAM decks with and without TBC's between the VHS and digital devices)
In suggesting the method here I assumed DV devices would be more readily available through friends or rental than TBC's. Plus they are also easier to connect than wiring through TBC's.
FWIW I have used that method for years. It is my preferred method for inputting archived VHS footage to MC for broadcast documentaries.

Andrew
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