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Old 18th December 2020, 00:42   #1  |  Link
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 26
Second opinion on digitising VHS home videos

Hey there,

I have the responsibility of digitising some old VHS home videos my dad filmed a few decades ago, and need to purchase a VCR to do so (I've decided on a ~20 USB capture card from Amazon, which is already expensive enough for me but the cheapest one with decent reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Capture-Con...r_1_4?dchild=1). I'm an out-of-work web dev and know my way around the command line, so am fairly technically adept, but being born in the late 90s, I don't know a massive amount about VHS and VCRs.

I'm also broke af, so cost is a significant issue for me.

I'm mostly here asking for a second opinion, as I previously posted over on the digitalFAQ forum, where it seems there are a lot of knowledgeable people about this stuff.

I got the following responses, from the same member:

30 [for the capture card, actually changed my mind to a 20 one since then] is insanely cheap. Quality capture cards were routinely in the $300+ range in the 2000s, and fell into the $100-150 range in more recent years. Those sub-$50 cards are almost always Chinese junk cards with all sorts of issues, ranging from exposure to AGC on quality, and often with driver issues and poor quality software (use VirtualDub, not whatever junk it came with).

If you want any sort of quality from your conversions, without issues, then yes, you want a S-VHS deck with line TBC. A beater deck is in the under-$200 range, while better maintained decks are often in the $300-400 range, while refurb'd-like-new decks are in the $500+ range. In UK, decks are wee bit less costly, but not by much. Beaters are still under 150-200, while a quality deck imported is about 400€ after VAT (VCRshop.nl, but he does also sell some models on eBay sometimes).


Don't use ffmpeg for deinterlace. Use QTGMC via Avisynth (or GUI Hybrid encoder).

The most budget route you can go is certain Dazzle cards (<$50), the ES10/15 recorder for TBC(ish) passthrough (<$150), and a decent VCR, preferably a non-TBC JVC model (<$150). Adjust $USD to GBP. Anything less will significantly lose quality, and make the project honestly pointless to DIY, as it will both have lower quality and be a PITA/pain to do (lots of problems).

You can attempt to use an POS VHS VCR with the ES10/15, but results will be worse.
But the ES10/15 is not optional.
And a good capture card is not optional
So is it true that if I just get a cheap VHS VCR from eBay (not S-VHS) and use the 20 capture card, that the resulting conversions will be terrible quality?

Does it make any difference if the capture card allows me to capture directly to DV, after which I'll be using FFmpeg and/or Avisynth to improve the captures?

Thanks in advance, kinda torn atm so would appreciate any enlightenment.

Last edited by Kaos-Industries; 18th December 2020 at 00:45.
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