DVD Recorder vs. Digital Camcorder Pass Through for Converting VHS and Camcorder Tapes

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by powrwrap, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    Converting analog camcorder tapes to DVD.
    Converting VHS tapes to DVD.
    Publishing digitized conversions to web

    Getting analog signals converted to digital signals then getting those
    signals into my computer for editing.

    Possible solutions:
    Analog to digital conversion input devices via USB port. (ex. Dazzle
    Analog to digital conversion input PCI card. (ex. Pinnacle Studio PCI
    External Analog to digital conversion box (ex. Canopus ADV100)
    Pass through a Digital camcorder into firewire card and onto hard
    Standalone DVD recorder--record onto DVD, then grab from DVD onto hard

    I've been reading this group for the past week, surfing web sites and
    reading product reviews. From what I've gathered the computer input
    capture devices, USB and PCI card, are fraught with problems and
    produce a low quality image. For every person that said the products
    worked as advertised there seemed to be two that said they couldn't get
    the thing to work or there were so many problems they quit trying to
    get it to work. A very common comment was "I wish I had never bought
    the thing."

    The Canopus box is intriguing but the cost is prohibitive for such a
    specialized product, IMO.

    That leaves the digital camcorder pass-through or the DVD recorder.

    While I like the simplicity of the camcorder solution, especially if I
    could pop my analog 8mm tapes in there, hit the play button and have
    digitized output. Seems fairly simple. The cost appears to be around
    $160 to $200 to get one on e-bay, plus I would need a $15 firewire

    So, I'm leaning toward the DVD recorder. For one thing, I can get one
    with a TV tuner built into it, effectively replacing my old VHS
    recorder. Second, I can easily tape my prerecorded VHS tapes to DVD
    without having to go through my computer. Should greatly simplify that
    process. Third, I can hook up my analog camcorder to it and record to
    DVD unattended. All for around $175.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but then I can pop the DVD into my computer DVD
    drive and grab the parts I want to my hard drive, in effect pre-editing
    content. I presume this process would be easier to perform compared to
    the digital camcorder pass-through solution which I imagine would be
    continually pressing play and stop on the analog player and capture and
    stop with the video capture software.

    Am I right in assuming I can easily dump video content from the DVD
    drive to the hard drive?

    I'm looking at something like this:

    What are the pros and cons of the DVD recorder solution vs. the
    camcorder pass through?
    powrwrap, Jun 13, 2006
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  2. powrwrap

    Rôgêr Guest

    DVD recorder pros = dead easy to make DVDs. The cons are that you are
    recording in MPEG2 format which presents many problems when editing. If
    editing isn't an issue, go with the DVD recorder.

    Camera pass-through pros = dead easy to capture to computer. Normally
    it's in .avi format and much easier to edit and keep the quality up to
    snuff. After editing, you can use authoring software to make a DVD, if
    that's your goal. Cons = considerably more work/time involved, but more
    professional looking end product.

    Footnote: I have an ATI analog capture card and it is so fussy to get it
    working right that I use the camera pass-through every time for getting
    analog on to the hard drive.
    Rôgêr, Jun 13, 2006
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  3. powrwrap

    xmradio Guest

    I got the avi capture working okay on my 9600aiw and 1900xt aiw.

    I don't recommend these cards for the average user. Use a happauge card.

    xmradio, Jun 14, 2006
  4. Michael Booth, Jun 14, 2006
  5. powrwrap

    PTravel Guest

    Well, sorry, but you're wrong. DVDs use a specific form of mpeg encoding
    that results in VOB files. For maximum compatibility, VOB files are
    usually 1 gig in size, with the last VOB file whatever size is necessary to
    complete the video. Frequently, you can simply copy over a VOB file, rename
    the extention to mpg and treat it as an mpeg (though this will not work with
    commercialy DVDs that are encrypted).
    Yes, it's easy to dump the content of DVDs to a hard drive. It is not,
    however, very easy to do anything with it once it's there. There are some
    programs around that can edit mpeg, but if you want to do more than simple
    cuts-only editing, you're better off working in a non-temporally compressed
    video format.
    PTravel, Jun 14, 2006
  6. powrwrap

    Scubajam Guest

    The DVD you make will have a VOB file, as mentioned before. I have
    successfully renamed the xxxxx.vob file to xxxxx.mpg and put it into
    my timeline for editing. However, there are programs that rip the vob
    file better.

    The problems are:
    1) mpg is a lossy codec. Meaning there is always loss because it
    compresses, then decompresses for viewing. Your VHS or analog files
    aren't high quality anyway, do you want to lose more?
    2) mpg separately compresses the video and audio. You'll find several
    threads about synch problems. There are some programs that handle mpg
    better and do good editing. I don't know which ones because I most
    always use avi files. One solution is just to cut the timeline every
    30 seconds. Just make a cut, don't delete anything. This creates a
    timeline of several 30 second clips so the audio synch can't go bad.
    Some say you can do this every 2 minutes, but I've had problems
    stretching it that far.
    3) the camcorder passthrough method creates an avi file, which you can
    edit and not have synch or loss problems. There will be minimal loss
    when it's finally rendered into an mpg file for DVD recording.
    Different programs use different methods (codec) and some are much
    better than others. At least you should capture with a DV avi file.
    Make sure your capture setting are set that way.

    Too bad you can't just borrow a camcorder. Or quickly call some pawn
    shops in the area and see if they have one for $100 or so. Check the
    manual for that model online to see if it supports passthrough. Don't
    forget to remove the tape! Just passthrough on some models won't work
    right if there's a tape in the camcorder. Then remember to return the
    camcorder to normal setting.

    Bottom line, DVD recorder will work, but will have somewhat lower
    quality and may frustrate you with audio synch problems. Used
    camcorder solution is better quality, no synch problems, but might be a
    bit more expensive. I think you can find a pass-through camcorder for
    less if you look hard.

    Jim McG
    Washington State
    Scubajam, Jun 14, 2006
  7. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    Answers breed questions.
    OK, which programs have the better codecs?

    I sure wish I could borrow a camcorder, but I simply have too much
    material to convert that I'd need it for months. The pawn shop idea is
    a good one.

    Thanks to everybody for their input. Thanks Mr. Booth for the DVD
    authoring link, most helpful. I'll be lurking.
    powrwrap, Jun 14, 2006
  8. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    powrwrap, Jun 14, 2006
  9. powrwrap

    J. Clarke Guest

    J. Clarke, Jun 15, 2006
  10. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    powrwrap, Jun 15, 2006
  11. powrwrap

    Scubajam Guest

    I use the Ulead family of programs. Media Studio Pro 8 is their
    several hundred $$ pro version, which is what I mostly use. Video
    Studio 10 is about $100 I think, and it's very adequate for what you
    do. There are just DVD burning programs which give you better menu
    choices for setting up DVD burning. There are many other, more popular
    programs. Most others have less intuitive interfaces, i.e. steep
    learning curve. Pinnacle and Premiere come to mind. Each company has
    it's pro and its consumer versions. Most of the latest versions will
    have good avi to mpg for DVD burning codecs, but be careful of older
    versions. Often cheaper, but lower quality. There are several reviews
    of the different programs for quality, but I haven't read any in months
    - Google DVD burn or something. You can't get better than the
    original, well sometimes you actually can get a little better quality
    because of interpolation, but still, the original is the limiting fact.
    Older analog original just is not high quality.

    One thing, you can edit then render to an avi file to sent to the DVD
    authoring program, or you can render to mpg format, which is what is
    burned to the DVD (changed to vob format). If you use the editing
    software to create the mpg file, then when changing to the DVD
    authoring program make sure to check the box for "smart render" or do
    not convert compliant files, etc. That means you don't want the DVD
    program to take a mpg file, and render it again to another mpg file to
    burn on disc. Such double rendering is where a lot of programs lose
    quality. For a beginner, use edit software to render to an avi file,
    then let the DVD software create the mpg file. I usually render to
    mpg in the editing program because I have more control over parameters,
    like bitrate, audio encoding, etc. Gotta be careful though, some try
    to use higher bit rates thinking it will result in better quality,
    which is often not the case and results in files too large for many DVD
    players to handle. This could go on for hours. The more you know, the
    more questions you'll have. First decide how to convert your analog
    and get started.

    Most all the major programs have trial versions. Some are crippled. I
    know Ulead trials are not crippled, but you don't get any updates or
    support (naturally). You could try several and go on for months for

    Jim McG
    Scubajam, Jun 15, 2006
  12. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    I shall heed your advice for beginners and use DVD authoring software
    to burn. I have Sonic MyDVD, it came pre-installed on my Dell. At first
    I will probably use MS Movie Maker as my video capture program, just
    for my learning experience. Then I might try some of the free trial
    versions you mentioned and go from there.

    BTW, I've pretty much decided to go with a used Sony TRV240 (or
    similar) to convert analog to digital and rejected the standalone DVD
    recorder option.

    I appreciate all your help, Scubajam.
    powrwrap, Jun 15, 2006
  13. powrwrap

    J. Clarke Guest

    J. Clarke, Jun 15, 2006
  14. powrwrap

    powrwrap Guest

    It means that the 1024 X 768 resolution on my monitor can't resolve
    the numbers in those outlines at the top of the page at the default
    setting on the .pdf viewer. It means that you are correct and I am in
    error. (I see that the TRV240 has the capability, though)
    powrwrap, Jun 15, 2006
  15. powrwrap

    sid Guest

    I have a SONY TRV33 which has digital passthrough. I used it to record
    a program from VCR to mpeg2 on PC and then burned it. Towards the end
    of one hour program there was visible lipsynch problems. Also it was
    just a hassle to connect several equipments and use software. I am now
    leaning towards a standalone DVD recorder , esp the panasonic model
    mentioned in this thread. (I can't believe how much they overcharge for
    a model with VCR built-in - almost $100 more!) Oh well. I will just
    stack my old vcr on top of this.
    sid, Jun 20, 2006
  16. powrwrap

    PTravel Guest

    Clearly, you did something wrong. If you used digital passthrough, you
    would have connected the TRV33 to your computer using a 1394/Firewire port,
    and your capture software would have saved the resulting transfer as a
    DV-codec-encoded AVI file. If you got mpeg, you were using some software
    that was doing on-the-fly transcoding, which would result in a poor quality
    transfer and, probably, your sync problems.
    A hassle? VCR out to camcorder in. Camcorder digital out to 1394 on the
    computer. That's a hassle?
    PTravel, Jun 20, 2006
  17. powrwrap

    Scubajam Guest

    See my message above in this thread. ALWAYS capture with DV codec to
    an avi file via Firewire. ALWAYS!! If you don't, and don't know what
    you're doing, you'll get audio synch problems!!! It can be done if you
    know what to do, like chop the file into 30 sec segments. But it's
    dumb. Remember mpg is a lossy codec. That means you always lose
    quality. NEVER edit in mpg. There are exceptions to that rule, again,
    if you know what you're doing. So, capture to an avi file. Edit and
    make any changes, titles, audio tracks, etc and render to an avi file.
    Let your DVD burning program take the avi file and burn the DVD. In
    the process it will render to an mpg file, but it knows how to do it
    and keep the audio synched. If you don't make any changes, just go
    directly to your DVD burning software, load the avi file, and let it do
    its magic!

    Scubajam, Jun 20, 2006
  18. powrwrap

    David Chien Guest

    vob2mpg program will pull video off the DVDs easily. Record into XP/1hr
    mode and you'll have nice enough video to use online.

    DVD recorder deck is the easiest way.


    Otherwise, DV/Digital8 camcorder that has IEEE 1394 output + analog
    passthrough so you can convert old tapes to DV video for the PC.

    Both work fine, I've done both. Simply depends on what you've got at
    hand, and how much equipment you'll want to buy.

    IE, do you want a digital camcorder more, or a DVD recorder for the TV more?
    David Chien, Jun 22, 2006
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