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Old 20th May 2009, 07:46   #1  |  Link
Russell
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Converting VHS to digital files

I want to convert stuff I have on VHS to DVD not remake Gone with the Wind, and I am working through the guide on this subject, which will hopefully answer most questions on that subject.
One thing that is puzzling me is it appears that the files I have on VHS are compressed and need to be initially saved as quite large avi files. Are VHS file compressed?
Someone on another forum sent me a link to http://www.video-2-pc.co.uk/ which uses (mostly) freeware but demands payment for the hardware, and a usurious 15 postage to Australia, before supplying a link to the freeware conversion app. If anyone recognises the app in the screenshot (it is deliberately smudged) that would be pleasing. One of them is VLC, but the other?
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Old 20th May 2009, 10:38   #2  |  Link
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Hi Russell you can buy all that stuff locally in Perth or send off to Sydney or Melbourne if you wish. Capture cards are widely available as either internal cards or USB sticks - even Aldi sell them from time to time as does DS and eBay of course (all new) via Hong Kong that generally only takes 2 or 3 days to Oz and in my experience I've never had to pay duty or GST as they don't bother with items under $250 I think is the latest figure. And VHS tapes are not compressed per se on the tape. The capture card merely converts the analog video and audio to, in most cases user selectable, MPEG2, MPEG1 or AVI. You then use whatever editing software you have. If you only want to top and tail and remove bits from the file then there are many freeware programs like MPEGStreamclip or even ProjectX if your feeling adventurous but the learning curve for this program will pay off because of it's error correction in the demux mode..

BTW the smudged freeware program is Handbrake which will convert most files to whatever other format you want but there are many freeware programs like this..
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Last edited by netmask; 20th May 2009 at 10:45. Reason: extra information
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Old 20th May 2009, 11:11   #3  |  Link
Russell
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Converting VHS to digital files

Hi netmask, Thanks for the reply.
I did indeed buy a capture card in good old Perth, a Leadtek DTV 2000 which came with some Ulead software. (A friend installed it for me so I learned something new there which demystified the box - now I am confident to install a PCI card if the need arises). I was interested to know what the free app is that the guy in the UK won't give out the link to. Not really cricket withholding info about freeware. So thanks for the info about Handbrake.
I ultimately want to burn the converted files to DVD and watch them on the TV just as I did the VHS cassettes. Someone has recommended convertxtodvd to do this. I am wary of too much transcoding (I am fairly experienced in analog to digital in the audio realm) so is mpeg 1 or 2 or avi the best format to save in?
And yes I do mainly just want to top and tail the stuff I have but I am not averse to learning some more and getting more from the digital format. I will use the stuff I have to cut my teeth, when I know more I will look around, including Project X.
Right now I need to crawl, before I walk, before I run.
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Old 20th May 2009, 13:04   #4  |  Link
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I always capture my old VHS tapes in MPEG2 format as it is less lossy than compressed AVI or MPEG1. Also it is far easier to edit MPEG2. I use Womble for editing and VSO ConvertXtoDVD to author the resulting DVD files ready to burn to disc - If you capture in MPEG2 and use a program like Womble it rarely re-encodes but does a stream copy. If you captured in DivX or Xvid (compressed avi) then any DVD authoring program will just re-encode the whole thing back up to MPEG and the whole process will be a lot slower and further loss of quality that isn't all that good on VHS. The other approach is not to bother making a DVD but instead make a reasonable size DivX or Xvid file and play it over your network etc. Check out the Beyonwiz PVR as both a HDTV recorder and network player. The P1 can be obtained for around au$645 street prioce these days and is IMO more reliable than the newer P2 or for g*ds sake don't go near the so called Freeview model (crippleview you can't copy or do ad skipping).
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Old 20th May 2009, 13:20   #5  |  Link
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Converting VHS to digital files

Hi netmask,
Thanks for the additional tips. Really beginning to feel that I am learning something.
I have heard of ConvertXtoDVD, but I am yet to get that far!
Womble is a new one, will check it out.
Many thanks
Cheers
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Old 21st May 2009, 13:52   #6  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by netmask View Post
I always capture my old VHS tapes in MPEG2 format as it is less lossy than compressed AVI or MPEG1.
That's not true, MPEG2 requires a higher bitrate than Xvid/Divx (compressed AVI as you put it, but I guess it depends on the codec you used) using DVD as a example, it uses MPEG2 compression at anywhere between 4 and 10mbps Xvid/Divx can achieve near identical quality with some where around 2 - 2.5mbps, if you encode the same clip to MPEG2 at 2mbps then again to MPEG4 (Xvid/Divx) at 2mbps, the better looking one will be the AVI!

MPEG2 is far less efficient than MPEG4 (Xvid/Divx) the one big advantage is as you said it's easy to work with, but you can also do stream copy with MPEG4 that's not a trait restricted to MPEG2, it all depends on which software you use and whether you've chosen the correct options.

More food for thought, if you want the best quality in the smallest size then you should be using h264 as your video format.
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Old 21st May 2009, 14:30   #7  |  Link
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Converting VHS to digital files

Hi dat720.
As you say, more food for thought. Hope it is not too high in kilojoules! I will keep this in mind.
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Old 27th May 2009, 06:02   #8  |  Link
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Converting VHS to digital files

Hi all,
I have been following the Doom 9 guide using Virtual VCR and seem to have hit a roadblock.
First of all Virtual VCR won't save my settings, even though it says it has. I want to capture in 720 x 576 (I live in PAL land) and select this setting, every time I check settings it has changed back to 320 x 240. I have managed to select and (more or less understand) the other settings, and Virtual VCR seems the right choice for XP.
The other problem is it does not seem to be saving whichever setting is used. (I am not seeing a preview and when I play back the saved video it is just blue screen, suggesting nothing getting to the file I am trying to save to) I am sure there is something right under my nose I am not seeing, so would some good soul state the obvious. Should I use the Smart T filter? From the guide it appears all other filters are best left to post processing.
And seeing I am presently not saving anything I thought of another question about format.
As I indicated in an earlier post I am wary of doing too much transcoding and I want to watch the finished product on my TV (so I will be using ConvertXtoDVD). I don't feel any pressing need to save space, I have several VHS cassettes and I expect to end up with several DVDs. So is avi the better format to save in prior to using ConvertXtoDVD?

Last edited by Russell; 27th May 2009 at 06:05. Reason: clarity
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