transferring VHS to digital video on computer?

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. I have a bunch of analog video tapes (mostly VHS) that I want to
    transfer to my computer in reasonably high quality - I will want to do
    a lot of editing later, so I'd like to capture video in "DV" format
    (5:1 compression, AVI files) rather than "straight to DVD" or more
    heavily compressed MPEG4, ASF files, etc.

    On the player side, I already have a decent JVC S-VHS VCR which has s-
    video out (and auto-calibration), so I am able to play regular VHS
    tapes with s-video output (a little better quality than composite

    On the digital side, I *had* a SONY DCR-TRV230 digital-8 camera which
    had s-video & stereo audio (RCA) analog inputs. I could record onto
    digital-8 tape and then firewire into the computer, capturing as AVI
    with decent quality (it came out to about 13 GB / hour). Then I would
    edit in Adobe Premiere and author a DVD.

    Unfortunately the camera died on me, so I am looking for a video
    capture device (or another digital camcorder with s-video & stereo
    audio analog inputs) to transfer the rest of my VHS tapes to, that
    would be at least as good quality as I got with the SONY camcorder (or
    hopefully better since technology has progressed in the past 7 or so
    years since that camera came out.)

    What would you folks recommend?

    Any advice would be much appreciated...
    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 5, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  2. Thanks for the recommendation - the Canopus sounds like the best way
    to go.

    It is pretty expensive (I am seeing prices bottom out at $375) but I
    believe you usually get what you pay for.

    I am curious (the more info the better) - what specifically makes the
    Canopus better than something like this?

    EzCapture USB Video Capture Device
    Capture video in uncompressed AVI format
    Up to 30 fps motion capture capability at full DVD resolution of
    Our Low Price: $34.49
    Final Cost, ONLY: $26.99

    Is it mainly the CCD sensor(s)?

    Any info appreciated - thanks again.
    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 5, 2008
    1. Advertisements

  3. Reliability, stability with marginal signals, accuracy of conversion and
    so on. It's a fairly long list.
    The cheap one will more than likely fail to lock onto the input, or at
    the very least will just lose many frames from the input stream if the
    incoming signal isn't perfect, and very few domestic VHS tapes are
    anywhere near perfect. If you look at the Canopus, the trade price for
    just the analogue to digital converters is probably higher than the
    retail price of the cheapy. The price means they can build in limited
    time base correction, better analogue signal processing to improve
    signal stability & so on.

    As you say, you tend to get more or less what you pay for.
    John Williamson, Sep 5, 2008
  4. The Canopus devices are just solid basic converters that are
    well designed and constructed. We have yet to hear a credible
    complaint in these forums that a Canopus converter was flaky.
    I'm certain that it captures video to MPEG. And maybe even well.
    However, I simply *do not believe* that it "captures video in
    uncompressed AVI format" I think that phrase was written by
    a technically clueless marketing gerb, or some poor schmuck
    who was told to make up a web page for the gadget.

    For one thing, USB2 is not fast enough for a sustained "uncompressed"
    video stream. USB2 is not even fast enough for 5:1 compressed DV,
    except in short bursts.
    CCD sensors are used for image pickup.
    This is not a camera, so don't understand the question
    about CCD sensors?
    Richard Crowley, Sep 5, 2008
  5. CCD sensors are used for image pickup.
    My mistake - what I mean is whatever component or chip takes the video
    signal and digitizes it. I would guess that like CCDs, some are better
    than others - ie give a sharper picture, better colors, etc.
    USB2 is 480 mbps, whereas Firewire is only 400 mbps. How is Firewire
    faster? Please explain...


    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 5, 2008
  6. "Mad Scientist Jr" wrote ...
    Firewire is...
    1) Full-duplex. It has an independent and concurrent data path
    in EACH direction. This means that continuous stream of video
    data can be flowing from the video gadget into the computer
    without having to be interrupted to send commands, handshaking
    protocol, etc back the other direction.

    OTOH, USB has only one data path and it must be interrupted
    and turned around to send data, commands, etc. the other way.

    2) IEEE1394 (aka "Firewire") was designed from the ground up
    to be *isosynchronous*. This means it is capable of an uninterrupted,
    sustained stream of data for an indefinite period of time.

    OTOH, USB is designed for burst-mode signaling which is
    quite appropriate for most kinds of data transfer. Except for
    high-speed, real-time data such as DV video.

    The actual throughput (in 2006) attained with real devices is
    about two thirds of the maximum theoretical bulk data transfer
    rate of 53.248 MB/s. Typical hi-speed USB devices operate
    at lower speeds, often about 3 MB/s overall, sometimes up
    to 10-20 MB/s

    Regular DV is more properly known as "DB25" The "25"
    refers to the fact that it uses 25 MB/s.
    Richard Crowley, Sep 5, 2008
  7. Richard Crowley, Sep 5, 2008
  8. "Mad Scientist Jr" wrote ...
    Probably not. Modern integrated circuit technology is
    sufficiently advanced at this point that you can make
    "jelly-bean" chips (commodity chips that cost only a
    few cents each) that will digitize video perfectly.

    Canopus likely uses mostly the same chips that cheaper
    products use, but the whole product is better designed
    and built

    The main difference between a toy $100 digital video camera
    and a $10,000 professional digital video camera is the lens and
    the image pickup parts. And some sophisticated digital signal
    processing (DSP) to make the raw video look better before it
    gets compressed and/or recorded).
    Richard Crowley, Sep 5, 2008
  9. Did not know that - thanks for taking the time to explain this.
    It's outside the scope of this group, but that info also comes in
    handy for selecting a good multi-channel audio interface.
    Thanks again.
    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 5, 2008
  10. No, it is truly dead, as in will no longer power on. I know what
    you're saying - when it was working and I was short of tapes, I
    sometimes would use it to record directly onto the computer. That
    would serve my purpose, but the camera is toast and long gone.
    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 6, 2008
  11. Of course, I used it for years to convert analog tapes, sometimes like
    I said without going to tape, just directly into the computer. Nuff
    said about this, what I want to know now is the best way to digitize
    super-8, but that should be a separate thread. Thanks everyone for all
    the info - the Canopus is the way I'll be going, and I appreciate the
    firewire vs USB2 lesson.
    Mad Scientist Jr, Sep 6, 2008
  12. Mad Scientist Jr


    Oct 14, 2008
    Likes Received:
    CCD question


    new here :0

    am confused - have a classic VHS analogue video camera which senses imagery via a 1/2" CCD - this beast is truly analogue, not digital

    but i have seen some VHS Hi8 cams which use the word 'digital' in the write-up, although they seem to use Hi8 analogue tapes - are these composite cameras please?

    what i'm looking for is a definition for a pre-pixel VHS tape camera which is only analogue


    i too want to transfer some VHS footage to digital (AVI/MPEG), but the way i'd do it is to plonk my VHS tape cassette into a VHS player, then run a/v leads into a PCI card which came with my edit software, and capture it that way ~ just noticed that this conversion method was not mentioned on this thread?



    Panasonic VHS NV-M10
    Pinnacle av/dv edit software
    kr236rk, Oct 14, 2008
  13. Mad Scientist Jr


    Oct 14, 2008
    Likes Received:
    set of what please?

    kr236rk, Oct 29, 2008
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.