Tape to hard drive/disc

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What is the best way of transferring video from a tape to a hard drive or disc?

Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
On 21/06/2014 7:55 AM, Roger wrote:
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video capture card

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Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
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Best to make sure the capture device allows you to get raw
video to your PC (some of the USB ones convert it to MPEG
first). Most internal PCI ones will do (no need to get anything
flash, capture cards that can handle VHS quality have been around
for almost two decades now).

For the PC software I recommend VirtualDub for video capture (click
on the top left drop down menu when it opens and select the video
capture option, can't remember the exact wording as the machine I'm
using now doesn't have it).

For capture, use HuffYUV encoding (unless you _really_ can't handle
keeping ~20GB/hr of data somewhere while you complete the process),
this ensures that you don't loose frames during capture as a result
of more powerful video encoder software not keeping up with the live
video. You can select it from the video>compression menu in VirtualDub.

After you've got your massive file of losslessly compressed video
(lossless because HuffYUV compresses video vithout loosing video
quality, which does happen when you convert it to a more practical
format like MPEG), you'll wan't to convert it to a more suitable
format (or if you're making a DVD you might be able to load the
HuffYUV video into a DVD creation program, but I won't bother with
that). These days, the format you're after will probably be some
form of MPEG4 (h.264 etc. is a type of MPEG4).

You can do the conversion with a video conversion program like ffmpeg
(or its graphical interfaces like AVANTI), or by installing an MPEG4
codec on your computer and using VirtualDub. You can set the quality
the complicated way be adjusting bitrate etc. (in fact on another
computer I have a file on prefered bitrates for VHS encoding, but
I can't get to that now), or use the "quality" setting that many
codecs have. You really have to know what you're dealing with to set
by bitrate (which is actually a target average bitrate, by the way).

The audio format can be whatever you want. I usually just choose good
old mp3. For mono, I use 96kb/s bitrate, but I think 128kb/s is usually
recommended.

There is no need to capture video in a higher resolution than (from
memory) 356x288. Unless in the very unlikely case that your videos
are recorded on SVHS tapes (which you'd probably know about because
you would have had to shell out for the recorder). PAL VHS resolution
is equivalent to 356x288, so capturing at a higher resolution is a
pure waste of HDD space and encoding time.

The VCR you use is important too. Ideally you should use an SVHS recorder
(and a good one, at least semi-professional at that (hey you did ask
for the _best_ way)). Unless you really want to blow a few hundred bucks,
any normal VCR with four or more heads should be the practical best (from
memory again, the fith and sixth heads only offer advantage with pausing
and fast-forward, four heads has playback covered).  

So the truely _best_ set up follows:
*PCI video capture card, can be as old as the hills but needs S-Video
 input.
*Old JVC Professional SVHS recorder in good condition.
*A basic PC, can be an old one with a 1GHz CPU and 512MB RAM if you're
 willing to wait around for the video conversion to MPEG.
*A HDD (preferably internal or eSATA, but a USB one might be quick enough)
 with at least a bit more than <hours to record>x20GB space left, only
 required untill the MPEG conversion is done.
*VirtualDub, set up by someone with a decent idea of what they're doing
 (or patient enough to learn properly) for video capture.
*The latest ffmpeg version or some other well respected video conversion
 software and a good idea of how to use it properly (that means bitrates
 etc.).

But a basic (sane) set-up for good results is this:
*PCI video capture card, can be as old as the hills but best with composite
 video input instead of just RF antenna in (though that can be used too).
*VCR with Four heads, preferably run a wet cleaning tape through it before
 hand.
*A basic PC, can be an old one with a 1GHz CPU and 512MB RAM if you're
 willing to wait around for the video conversion to MPEG.
*A HDD (preferably internal or eSATA, but a USB one might be quick enough)
 with at least a bit more than <hours to record>x20GB space left, only
 required untill the MPEG conversion is done.
*VirtualDub, and a willingness to read the help file if needs be.
*Some ffmpeg GUI like AVANTI or a video codec to use with VirtualDub
 (in the screen that comes up when you first launch the program).

Lots of info and sources for downloading software can be found at:
http://www.videohelp.com/

Now to save this somewhere for when I forget all this stuff...

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Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
On Saturday, June 21, 2014 8:33:16 AM UTC+8, Computer Nerd Kev wrote:
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I agree with JVC SVHS, they are pretty good.  Or a late-model Panasonic.
I tried 8 different VCRs for reading old tapes, and they were the best.
I also have a Sony video corrector XVC900 that was useful in improving
crappy pictures. For the really bad stuff, I tried 3 different video
cards as some sync better than others.

Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
On 21/06/2014 2:33 AM, Computer Nerd Kev wrote:
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Excellent post!

The biggest problem is finding the time to do all the transfer/editing,
since you have to first look at your old videos to decide what is worth
saving, and then save it, all in real time.

I still have a JVC HR-DVS1EU VCR which is a dual Mini DV/S-VHS deck with random assemble editing.  
(It cost about $2000 when I bought it in 2000.)
It's nearly 15 years old now, but still works fine. It has a Firewire 400 port which allows direct  
digital transfers to a Firewire PCI card. They were still selling these VCRs many years later, so  
they were very advanced at the time. Probably hard to find one these days, though.









Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
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Search "VCR DVD recorder".  
Units cost about a couple of hundred of your hard earned.  

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Re: Tape to hard drive/disc
On 21/06/2014 5:55 AM, Roger wrote:
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Apart from the suggested ways in this thread, there is of course the way  
of using a PVR that has an external AV input.
My Strong SRT 5495A has such an input, as well as an SD card slot. I  
plug my VCR in the external AV port and record from tape, then copy it  
to the SD card. From the SD card it's easily copied to my hard drive.
Drawbacks:
Max file size is 2GB, so blocks have to be combined.
File type is exotic and has to be converted first.
(See http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1428347 for details.)
The SRT 5495A has a rather lousy user interface and a flaky firmware.

I don't know the A/D conversion resolution. However, the resulting  
picture quality is as good as the original analogue one from my old  
Panasonic NV-HD650 VCR.

Tony



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