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Old 20th January 2012, 12:15   #1  |  Link
legrant
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Advice regarding my hardware setup

Hi there,

I'm new to analogue capture and I've been given a stack of family VHS tapes to convert.

I've been reading the site now for a few months trying to learn as much as I can about VHS capture. I've read (lots) of advice but this is my first post. I wondered if someone could give me a couple of pointers on capture:

PC is a standard Intel Core 2 Duo (2.8Ghz), 2GB RAM, 500GB HD running Windows XP.

I bought a Panasonic NV-FS200B S-VHS VCR. It has switchable TCB and S-video out.

The capture card (which I has in the machine) is a WinFast DTV2000H. I can find little information about the unit but the two main chips on the board are:

Connexant DVD-T 2K/8K
CX22702-25
65000907
0618 PH

Conexant broadcast decoder
Cx23883-39
62005585
0603 Korea

I know this may not be the best card in the word but it has an S-Video input.

I also have a Sony DCR-PC9E PAL DV which has passthrough and S-Video input so I can pass the signal into that and capture through Firewire. Obviously I'm not too happy about this as I think I'll lose a bit of quality in the DV process.

I'm struggling with software. I've been playing with Premiere (6 and Elements 10) and VirtualDub but I've not managed to export anything from my PC yet that I've been happy with.

I know VHS is never going to look like DVD but it should look at least as coming out of a machine as it did going in on the capture.

I've looked at many of the guides but some of them seem to be quite old and refer to features in software which no longer exist.

I could go on but any advice on my hardware setup would really be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Lee
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Old 21st January 2012, 03:00   #2  |  Link
CWR03
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Are you capturing to one format, editing and re-saving to another? Remember if you capture in DVD compliant MPEG-2, when you edit to a single frame or do fades/wipes the video gets re-encoded which loses quality. You might try capturing lossless before you edit and save to your final format. If you plan to save to DVD, throw lots of bitrate at it for the final file.
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Old 21st January 2012, 06:34   #3  |  Link
hello_hello
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legrant View Post
I'm struggling with software. I've been playing with Premiere (6 and Elements 10) and VirtualDub but I've not managed to export anything from my PC yet that I've been happy with.

I know VHS is never going to look like DVD but it should look at least as coming out of a machine as it did going in on the capture.
You might want to explain the process you're using in a little more detail. I don't know anything about your card, but for instance are you using the card's own software to capture and save the video to a file, then opening it with another program for conversion, or are you capturing directly with another program such as Premier or VirtualDub etc. What format are you using for saving the captured video and are you then editing it or are you just "recording". That sort of thing.
Where in the process is quality lost (compared to the preview of the captured video)?
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Old 21st January 2012, 10:07   #4  |  Link
legrant
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Thanks for the replies folk. I really appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR03 View Post
Are you capturing to one format, editing and re-saving to another? Remember if you capture in DVD compliant MPEG-2, when you edit to a single frame or do fades/wipes the video gets re-encoded which loses quality. You might try capturing lossless before you edit and save to your final format. If you plan to save to DVD, throw lots of bitrate at it for the final file.
I'm capturing to .AVI - and I want to 'manipulate' the .AVI to improve the quality (trimming the scan lines, de-interlace, aspect ratio, etc. The project is to archive the footage in a digital format rather than for immediate conversion to DVD. However, thanks for the pointer about bitrate - I keep that in mind as now doubt some of them will be transferred to DVD at some point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello_hello View Post
You might want to explain the process you're using in a little more detail. I don't know anything about your card, but for instance are you using the card's own software to capture and save the video to a file, then opening it with another program for conversion, or are you capturing directly with another program such as Premier or VirtualDub etc. What format are you using for saving the captured video and are you then editing it or are you just "recording". That sort of thing.
Where in the process is quality lost (compared to the preview of the captured video)?
Some of the footage I will need to do some basic editing, the majority of the work is archive with some cleanup and a bit of trimming.

I'm using the card's own software which is no great shakes (it does keep crashing). It will allow me to capture an .avi file but it's impossible to tell which codec it is using. The quality isn't good though. I've also got Premiere 6 but this refuses to link to the analogue capture card (a message about it already being in use - I've tried to cure that but to no avail). I attempted a capture with VirtualDub, the picture quality seemed OK the audio sync was out by the end of the capture (only a 28min film).

I downloaded a demo of Premiere Elements 10 to see what that did and it will talk to the analogue capture card, it'll capture the .avi (I selected a lossless format) but the capture seems very dark. I tried a few of the Elements filters to perk it up but the footage ends up looking like a Real-Player movie circa 1992.

Much of the loss seems to come when I try and play with the aspect ration. The footage is 16:9 but obviously it comes in from the VCR as 4:3.

If I pass the footage through the DV camera into either Premiere 6 or Premier Elements 10 - the quality seems better (there are sill too many interlace lines for my liking) but the aspect ratio is still wrong. Maybe I'm getting too excited about aspect ratio
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Old 21st January 2012, 18:06   #5  |  Link
hello_hello
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I'm probably not the best person to offer advice on this as I've only captured VHS tapes a handful of times and I think I just recorded straight to DVD format and burned them to disc. I thought maybe someone else would come along, however.....

The card's own software? What is it? I own a DTV2300H and it uses the PVR2 software. I did a search for your card and the same software I'm using is listed for your card.
http://www.leadtek.com/eng/support/s...imageField.y=9
Is that what you're using?

Admittedly I haven't updated the version I have for quite a while but the version I'm using is pretty flexible. I assume the capture formats available wouldn't be dependent on the card but I could be wrong. Anyway.... once I switch to an analogue input and then go to the configuration menu the top tab lets me specify the input type (NTSC or PAL etc), the middle tab lets me adjust the colours, and the bottom tab is where capture format is set. There's preset configurations such as VCD, DVD, AVI etc, but clicking the Add button allows me to set up a capture profile (also using the installed system codecs if desired for video and audio) as well as select the resolution etc. There's a default profile called Uncompressed AVI (lossless I assume) which is maybe what you should be using if you wish to crop and edit and re-encode. In theory whatever you see coming in should be what gets recorded, although the AVI profile seems to default to 320x240 so you might want to change that.

I'm not sure about the aspect ratio problem..... big edit here...... I wrote something about 4:3 vs 16:9 aspect ratios but then thought "we're talking about VHS tapes, not DVDs". Isn't VHS either 4:3 or 4:3? Is there such a thing as 16:9 VHS?
Are you sure it's actually coming in as 4:3? Depending on the capture software or the resolution you've chosen it might be assuming the incoming pixels are square which would mess with the aspect ratio. What resolution are you capturing in? I'd assume you want 720x576 for PAL or 720x480 for NTSC.
Another thought.... the PVR2 software also lets you specify the aspect ratio via the right click menu. I'd assumed it only applied to the TV tuner but it still seems to be available when selecting a capture input. Whether it has an effect on what's captured I'm not sure...

I guess the capture format and the program(s) I'd use for editing and converting would probably be a little dependent on the output format I wanted to end up with. What final format are you aiming for? If it's DVD you might also want to capture in interlaced mode and keep it interlaced, if you want to end up with AVIs or MP4s etc then progressive might be better.

MediaInfo might be able to give you some helpful information regarding the files you've recorded so far.

Any of that any help?

As I said I'm no expert but I've got a couple of VHS tapes belonging to a friend who wants me to convert them and they've probably got a years worth of dust on them since she gave them to me, so maybe if you're using the same software as I am and having problems, it'd be a good excuse for me to drag out the VCR and refresh my memory regarding the PVR2 software and get them done at the same time.

Last edited by hello_hello; 21st January 2012 at 18:31.
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Old 21st January 2012, 21:52   #6  |  Link
Ghitulescu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legrant View Post
I'm new to analogue capture and I've been given a stack of family VHS tapes to convert.
PC is a standard Intel Core 2 Duo (2.8Ghz), 2GB RAM, 500GB HD running Windows XP.

I bought a Panasonic NV-FS200B S-VHS VCR. It has switchable TCB and S-video out.

The capture card (which I has in the machine) is a WinFast DTV2000H.

I also have a Sony DCR-PC9E PAL DV which has passthrough and S-Video input so I can pass the signal into that and capture through Firewire. Obviously I'm not too happy about this as I think I'll lose a bit of quality in the DV process.

I'm struggling with software. I've been playing with Premiere (6 and Elements 10) and VirtualDub but I've not managed to export anything from my PC yet that I've been happy with.

I know VHS is never going to look like DVD but it should look at least as coming out of a machine as it did going in on the capture.

I've looked at many of the guides but some of them seem to be quite old and refer to features in software which no longer exist.
For capturing you don't need the latest Cray, especially when you capture either HW or lossless.

You won't loose any quality by passing into DV (funny enough, I've seen yesterday an older documentary in HD which was shot in DV because I've recognized the artifacts), actually DV is the best consumer SD format ever, so good that 3 other pro formats are based thereupon. And DV provides editing capacities (eg one can cut losslessly at any frame, one can change the colours without reencoding etc etc, of course, if the software permits these). Much better than the DVD (MPEG-2). If you choose the pass-through you can use WinDV and fear no A/V-asynch

For older SW one can always use the compatibility modus, sometimes this helps a lot. I don't remember what I used for VHS, probably VDub, but since I'm doing almost everything in HW with no edits I copy directly in DVD format. The DVD format is a distribution format and can be used with the current players (DVD and BD) but probably not with the next generation.
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Old 22nd January 2012, 17:52   #7  |  Link
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I have the same grabber card as the thread starter.
Using the old bundled software PVR1 (not PVR2, it's buggy)
and encoding to UTVideo is a painless approach.
My normal workflow:
Output Panasonic VCR with TBC ->Winfast card ->PVR1 ->UTVideo -> lossless file ->
Avisynth filtering -> Virtualdub (cutting,trimming) ->UTVideo -> lossless file ->
encoding lossy -> HCenc (for Mpeg2) or MeGui (for x264, xvid /mp4, mkv, etc).
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Old 22nd January 2012, 18:21   #8  |  Link
hello_hello
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I've had problems with different versions of PVR2 in the past, although never when capturing video, however I've not done much of that.
You actually reminded me why I don't upgrade it regularly. I stuck with version 2.0.3.8 for quite a while as it never gave me problems while some of the later versions did. After the last reformat I must have got brave because it appears I'm currently using 2.0.3.36 and so far it's been fine. I've sometimes wondered whether it's more the drivers for the card than the PVR2 software being buggy. Maybe it's a matter of finding the right combination of each?
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Old 22nd January 2012, 18:38   #9  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hello_hello View Post
I've had problems with different versions of PVR2 in the past, although never when capturing video, however I've not done much of that.
You actually reminded me why I don't upgrade it regularly. I stuck with version 2.0.3.8 for quite a while as it never gave me problems while some of the later versions did. After the last reformat I must have got brave because it appears I'm currently using 2.0.3.36 and so far it's been fine. I've sometimes wondered whether it's more the drivers for the card than the PVR2 software being buggy. Maybe it's a matter of finding the right combination of each?
Yeah, you're right.
I've stopped updating this crap years ago.
I dont even remember the bugs involved
On very rare occasions I'm firing up the old stuff and it works.
Except the audio part. You have to control the settings(bitrate, blah, blah)even after using custom profiles.
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Old 24th January 2012, 15:19   #10  |  Link
legrant
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Thanks for the pointers folks,

I've been away for a few days so my apologies for the delayed response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello_hello View Post

The card's own software? What is it? I own a DTV2300H and it uses the PVR2 software. I did a search for your card and the same software I'm using is listed for your card.
http://www.leadtek.com/eng/support/s...imageField.y=9
Is that what you're using?
I've used the PVR2 software and had problems with crashes. However I 'discovered' PVR1 (on Taurus' recommendation) and have tried that. Seems OK so far. I do like the controls over Hue/Sharpness/Saturation etc. I'll continue to experiment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by taurus View Post
My normal workflow:
Output Panasonic VCR with TBC ->Winfast card ->PVR1 ->UTVideo -> lossless file ->
Avisynth filtering -> Virtualdub (cutting,trimming) ->UTVideo -> lossless file ->
encoding lossy -> HCenc (for Mpeg2) or MeGui (for x264, xvid /mp4, mkv, etc).
Thanks for the workflow pointer. I'm going through the VirtualDub manual in an attempt to finally master it. Hopefully I'll have better results.
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Old 27th January 2012, 13:48   #11  |  Link
legrant
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Just to update.

Had no success with PVR1 - for some reason the audio into the Winfast card is now not being captured (??).

The audio is coming from the VCR but nothing will capture it from the Winfast card - PVR1, PVR2 or VirtualDub.

Anyway, I've re-formatted the XP system (that'll show it ;-) )and I'm awaiting a Matrox RTX100 Xtreme Pro that I've sourced. Hopefully this should help things along.
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Old 27th January 2012, 18:06   #12  |  Link
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Yeah, the leadtek/winfast drivers are somewhat buggy.
If my memory serves me well, it took me an whole afternoon
to sort it out between different versions of this crap.
I've never touched it again after i've got it running.
Good luck with your shiny new card .
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Old 29th January 2012, 22:12   #13  |  Link
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I'd suggest avoiding DV - just for the 4:1:1 chroma subsampling issue. It's definitely not a huge deal (especially from VHS sourced analog video which has very very low chroma resolution to begin with), but I'd definitely suggest capturing to a fast lossless codec like HuffYUV - in YUY2 (8 bit 4:2:2) mode. 480i60 should easily be low enough bitrate to capture in real-time even to a laptop drive. UTVideo was also mentioned, which I hear good things about but haven't personally used.

You can easily edit HuffYUV in Premiere, do your edits / effects, and output a HuffYUV master. This could be your final archival format, or you could bring it into AviSynth, and do some fancy-pants deinterlacing and cleanup (QTGMC etc) to get sexy 60p video for progressive display, again with HuffYUV as the storage codec. You could also get clever and go to lossless or near lossless H.264 via x264 at this point.


If it was up to me, I would do the following:

1) Capture lossless 480i 4:2:2, probably with VirtualDub or similar.
2) Edit as necessary in whatever NLE, output again as lossless 480i 4:2:2, with an uncompressed WAV file for audio.
3) Write an AviSynth script to bob-deinterlace / clean with QTGMC, and convert to YV12 (4:2:0)
4) Feed this directly to x264 to encode a near-lossless H.264 stream. Sample command line:
Code:
x264.exe input.avs --preset slower --tune film --crf 14 --vbv-maxrate 14000 --vbv-bufsize 14000 --level 31 --output 480p60_H.264.mp4
4) Encode WAV audio into AAC using eac3to. Sample command line
Code:
eac3to input.wav output.m4a
5) Use YAMB to mux the video-only MP4 with the audio-only M4A file.

You'll end up with an MP4 file that will play in basically any software player, and probably quite a few hardware players too... It should be totally transparent to your source, and not be nearly as big as the HuffYUV master.

DVD is probably your best bet for totally universal compatibility, but if you go this route, use your 480i source, as DVD doesn't support 480p60.

Good luck!!

Derek
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Old 7th February 2012, 11:09   #14  |  Link
legrant
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue_MiSfit View Post
I'd suggest avoiding DV - just for the 4:1:1 chroma subsampling issue. It's definitely not a huge deal (especially from VHS sourced analog video which has very very low chroma resolution to begin with), but I'd definitely suggest capturing to a fast lossless codec like HuffYUV - in YUY2 (8 bit 4:2:2) mode. 480i60 should easily be low enough bitrate to capture in real-time even to a laptop drive. UTVideo was also mentioned, which I hear good things about but haven't personally used.

You can easily edit HuffYUV in Premiere, do your edits / effects, and output a HuffYUV master. This could be your final archival format, or you could bring it into AviSynth, and do some fancy-pants deinterlacing and cleanup (QTGMC etc) to get sexy 60p video for progressive display, again with HuffYUV as the storage codec. You could also get clever and go to lossless or near lossless H.264 via x264 at this point.


If it was up to me, I would do the following:

1) Capture lossless 480i 4:2:2, probably with VirtualDub or similar.
2) Edit as necessary in whatever NLE, output again as lossless 480i 4:2:2, with an uncompressed WAV file for audio.
3) Write an AviSynth script to bob-deinterlace / clean with QTGMC, and convert to YV12 (4:2:0)
4) Feed this directly to x264 to encode a near-lossless H.264 stream. Sample command line:
Code:
x264.exe input.avs --preset slower --tune film --crf 14 --vbv-maxrate 14000 --vbv-bufsize 14000 --level 31 --output 480p60_H.264.mp4
4) Encode WAV audio into AAC using eac3to. Sample command line
Code:
eac3to input.wav output.m4a
5) Use YAMB to mux the video-only MP4 with the audio-only M4A file.

You'll end up with an MP4 file that will play in basically any software player, and probably quite a few hardware players too... It should be totally transparent to your source, and not be nearly as big as the HuffYUV master.

DVD is probably your best bet for totally universal compatibility, but if you go this route, use your 480i source, as DVD doesn't support 480p60.

Good luck!!

Derek
Thanks Derek,

Great specific advice. Not sure what most of it means but that's part of the fun isn't it.

I'm playing with the Matrox RT.X100 at the moment for capture and once I get a half decent capture I'll try your recipe.

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