Is there a better way to capture a crappy video tape than this?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Doc, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. Doc

    Doc Guest

    I tried to capture a really bad, several-generations removed from the
    original video tape by going directly into the capture card from the VCR.
    The problem I run into is that the signal is so shaky, I keep getting large
    clusters of dropped frames, that are clearly visible on playback. Clearly
    this wasn't going to work.

    So, I ran the video portion of the signal to a tv and very carefully
    positioned a video camera in front of it zoomed in just enough so that the
    edges of the screen aren't visible, manually focused the cam and adjusted
    the various contrast, brightness, color adjustments within the software so
    that the picture looked decent, with the idea that instead of the glitchy
    signal from the tape, I'm getting the steadier signal directly from the
    camera. Sure enough, made all the difference. Instead of 3000 dropped frames
    in an hour, I got 2 dropped frames in 2 hours. The resulting image actually
    isn't bad. I had a sheet of black plastic draped over the camera and taped
    to the outside of the tv to keep outside light from intruding and wrapped a
    black cloth around the tripod after initial experiments showed some
    reflection of the tripod in the image. I find that the video noise cleanup
    function on the software still works on the resulting image, about the same
    as if the signal were going directly to the capture card from the VCR.

    Is there a better way than this to accomplish capture of a shaky video
    Doc, Apr 17, 2005
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  2. Doc

    PTRAVEL Guest

    Well, yes -- there are lots better ways.

    The best way is to use a TBC (time base corrector) and a proc amp. The
    combination will fix timing errors, regenerate sync signals and fix other
    problems with the signal. Failing that, get yourself one of those cheap
    (relatively) Video Color Enhancers (Radio Shack has them, I think -- the one
    that I use is made by Emerson). It won't fix timing errors, but it will
    re-form the sync signal and allow proc amp-like signal corrections. I've
    spent the last few weeks capturing tapes dating back to 1983 for a
    project -- some were on 3/4", some 1/2", and some Hi8. In roughly 100 hours
    of video, I've had less than a dozen dropped frames.
    PTRAVEL, Apr 17, 2005
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  3. Doc

    Doc Guest

    A proc amp is...?
    Can you or someone provide a link to one of these on ebay or elsewhere to
    give an idea of what one is?

    Thanks for the input.
    Doc, Apr 17, 2005
  4. Doc

    Mark Burns Guest

    Look at a direct MPEG2 capture device. I use a Pinnacle Movie Box USB
    2.0 for the past 18 months, but if looking today I think that I would
    go with the Hauppauge USB2. This will capture at least as well as the
    VHS tape that you are using. You can get these for about $150US. It
    captures a dvd compliant mpeg-2 at the same rate that it takes to play

    The second item would be a copy of Video Redo $50US.

    After capture, use this to edit footage and ensure that your video is
    DVD ready. VR will correct any dropped frames that were a result of a
    faulty tape. Takes less than 10min on my 1.7gHz PC. I LOVE this
    editor, and wish that I had found it when I first started this hobby.
    Saves tons of time when there are dropped frame issues.

    After that burn to DVD. I like TmpgEnc Dvd Author $70 for simplicity.

    (About 20 min to author, 15 min to burn), unless I decide to get

    Total cost for above: about $270 plus shipping on the Hauppauge.

    It really doesn't get much easier than the above, unless using a set
    top recorder. Drawback of the settop recorder is that it doesn't allow
    as much control over capture and authoring, and will not record any of
    your tapes that are encoded with Macrovision, by FCC regulation in the
    States, but pretty much world wide as well. There are devices to
    defeat Macrovision, but budget another $150 to the settop recorder for

    The PC needs a USB 2.0 interface, 1.6 gHz or faster

    I have used this method on dozens of video tapes that I own, mostly to
    free up shelf space and to extend the lifespan of the tapes. My DVD's
    play back much better than the VHS tapes play back, I assume because of
    the progressive scan playback capabilites of the DVD player over the
    VHS playback.

    I generally capture at 720X480, using a bit rate of 6000 to 8000. Then
    after authoring with TDA will use DVD Shrink (free) to fit to a DVD-5
    size if necessary. I try not to shrink more that 20%, 10-15 being my

    I try not to put more than 2hrs on a DVD, although many report that
    they are very happy with being more aggresive with size and bit rate.

    Good luck!
    Mark Burns, Apr 17, 2005
  5. Doc

    C.J.Patten Guest excellent subject for a Google search. ;)
    C.J.Patten, Apr 17, 2005
  6. Doc

    PTRAVEL Guest

    Here we go again.

    First of all, NONE of the problems recited by the OP have any relationship
    whatsoever to the capture format employed. Capturing to mpeg will make NOT
    ONE WHIT OF DIFFERENCE whatsoever.

    Second, the OP never said what he's doing with his captured video. If he
    plans to do ANY editing beyond simple cuts, he should NOT capture to mpeg.
    On the other hand, if all he is doing is compiling DVDs from his old
    analogue video, then it may be appropriate to capture to mpeg. There's no
    way to tell from the original post.

    However, one thing is clear: the capture format is not responsible for the
    problems the OP is experiencing.
    PTRAVEL, Apr 17, 2005
  7. Capture format has nothing to do with the question.

    From "Doc"s description he is in serious need of time-
    base correction (and likely proc-amp adjustment also).

    THEN he can decide what format to capture/store/edit/
    Richard Crowley, Apr 17, 2005
  8. "Doc" wrote ...
    A video processing amplifier which allows you to adjust
    brightness, contrast, tint and hue of the video signal while
    capturing. (Note that if you use professional equipment,
    those parameters may be labeled "Pedestal", "Gain",
    "Phase", and "Saturation" or similar terms.)

    Note that a proc-amp by itself will NOT fix the primary
    symptom (the time-base error). But proc-amp functionality
    is often included with time-base correctors (TBC).
    Google and are your friends.
    Richard Crowley, Apr 17, 2005
  9. You could do like the rest of us: go to
    and enter TBC or proc-amp in the search box.

    The internet is really a marvelous source of information.
    You aren't dependent on us for your research. OHOH,
    if you have questions about specific models or units,
    we would be happy to share our experience and opinions.

    I wouldn't bother with a proc-amp before you address
    the timebase correction issue. Note that if you have a
    multi-generation tape, some of the timebase error may
    be recorded into the tape. Always best to seek the
    original or the lowest-generation copy possible.
    Richard Crowley, Apr 17, 2005
  10. Doc

    Mark Burns Guest

    It's not the format, it's the device.

    Doc has asked is there a better way to capture some marginal VCR tapes.
    I assume VHS, but maybe assume too much. I also assume that he wants
    to go to DVD. Why else take old several generation VCR tapes?

    What we do know is that the tapes are playing fine on the television,
    which is why he can tape them from the TV with the camera and feed into
    his capture device. I assume using the same cables from the camera to
    the capture card as he was using from the VCR. Guessing here again.

    My hardware mpeg-2 encoder, in my experience, captures as well as if it
    was being played on the television. There can be issues with audio
    drift from dropped frames from marginal tapes, but that is corrected
    with the Video Redo editor, which does an after-the-fact time base
    correction on the captured audio/video frames. With good tapes I
    generally get no loss or error, only on old badly manufactured ones.

    I just did this recdently for six of these from old out of print
    classic films that I picked up at a yard sale. They were marginal
    also, being badly encoded in the first place at EP.

    The transfers to DVD was just fine, using the encoder and software
    mentioned above. There were some dropped frames on the capture, but
    not enough to bother the final product.

    I think that I did give a viable alternative to someone who is
    struggling with old VHS tapes and resorting to capturing them from a
    camera in front of a television. It is also very quickly done with a
    minimum of post processing. Once again, my DVD plays back better than
    the original VHS tape. 720X480 mpeg-2 is superior to the VHS quality
    that is being fed to it.

    This works very well for me given the above parameters.

    Of course there is the chance that it is simply a deffective RCA jack
    on the VHS player that is causing his capture difficulties.
    Mark Burns, Apr 17, 2005
  11. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Actually, to describe more accurately, the tape is in really rough shape.
    Many outright dropouts, it doesn't necessarily "play great". I wanted to
    clean it up as much as possible with the noise reduction tools within
    Pinnacle Studio, but directly capturing from the VCR to the capture card
    obviously isn't cutting it, way too many dropped frames.
    Doc, Apr 17, 2005
  12. Doc

    marks542004 Guest

    The way he is doing it by sending the signal to the TV and then
    recording it by camera is obviously providing a good quality video
    signal for capture with time code intact.

    Leaving the tv and camera capture out is just going to put a crap
    signal to the capture card.

    I seem to remember a copy protection scheme for VHS tapes where the
    timing was removed. Play in a normal vcr and you had no problems, try
    to record it and you got garbage.

    I would suggest that if you only have one or a few tapes you send them
    off to a professional service to get it copied.

    If you have a lot of tapes there used to be some VHS editing decks
    (remember them) which would do a much better job than a consumer
    product. (better tracking, some signal boost, filters and timing
    marks542004, Apr 18, 2005
  13. Doc

    The DV Show Guest

    PTRAVEL, you hit the nail on the head!

    Great information - right to the point.

    Brian Alves

    Listen to the new podcast
    for DV creators- The DV Show!
    The DV Show, Apr 18, 2005
  14. Doc

    Mark Burns Guest

    That is why I recommended looking at a dedicated hardware encoder. I
    am assuming here that the capture is to AVI/DV. Nothing wrong with
    that, but the time base enhancer/corrector may be the answer. I also
    capture directly from the camera, depending what I want to do with the
    captured video.

    On the other hand, an mpeg encoder does some of the same things. Mine
    is the Pinnacle also, capturing to Pinnacle. The USB 2.0 movie box
    also has controls for color/brightness correction and audio volume
    enhancement. I don't use them much, but have on occasion with an
    over-hued VHS tape scene or a low or unbalanced audio.

    All that I am saying, is that the above works very well for me with
    marginal VHS tapes, where the value of the content outweighs the lack
    of quality of the recording.

    I don't think that Pinnacle sells the movie box without the software
    that you already have. Too bad if that is true.
    Mark Burns, Apr 18, 2005
  15. Of course it's a good signal. It's a brand new signal, since
    he's aiming the camera at the picture tube and recording it. The good
    signal will also have the interlace flicker and all the other problems
    you'll usually get when you just aim a camera at a picture tube.

    Seriously, this sounds like a definite job for a time base
    corrector. Shooting a TV image can't lead to acceptable video, can
    Neil Nadelman, Apr 22, 2005
  16. Doc

    Doc Guest

    Actually, no flicker. There are several settings on the cam, some of which
    eliminate it. The image isn't quite as good compared to capturing through
    the card, with some color balance and luminance issues but this isn't a
    critical video. Certainly not worth spending bucks on one of time corrector
    gizmos people have mentioned, however it's good to know such a thing exists
    if I ever have a pressing need.
    Doc, Apr 22, 2005
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