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Old May 4, 2012, 09:00 PM   #1
wikus
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Video Capture from Composite (VHS, 8mm)

I recently bought the Elgato Video Capture card. After a few days of testing it, I've notived a massive problem; QUALITY!

In the preview screen while the video is recording, the images look fine. But after the video has been recorded and saved to an mp4 file using the h.264 codec the difference is night and day.

Here are some sample stills I was able to pull from the preview against the final output;









As you can see the details in the grass and on the wood texture on church pew are very blurrerd in the final captured file, but the results are great in the preview.

I've tried screen capturing the preview with ScreenFlow but the output is very jittery (it almost feels like a a 30FPS film was converted to 24FPS and skips every 24 frames).

So, a few questions;

1) Is there any possible way to use other software with the Elgato Capture Card to do custom LOSSLESS exports of the final video?

2) Is there any solution similar to the Elgato device that will allow me to do setup my final exported file with the highest settings? It can be for Windows as well. I've seen AverMedia DVD EzMaker but am curious if it will allow near-lossless compression.

3) I know there are camcorders that allow input of S-Video and output of Firewire. Considering I have a MacBook Pro with firewire, this is possible. But could someone point out some cameras that actually do this?

4) Any other viable solutions to this?

The issue is that I want to throw away a whole bunch of VHS tapes once I get everything recorded to a digital format, but I can only do that once and if I have everything in pretty much identical quality to the originals (using Handbrake with MKV and X264 at 2500kbps bitrate would pretty much be perfect). File size isn't a concern, its the end result/quality that I put importance on.

Thank you!

Last edited by wikus; May 4, 2012 at 09:09 PM.
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Old May 4, 2012, 09:24 PM   #2
LethalWolfe
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Pretty much every DV camcorder sold in the US will have a pass-through feature. In Europe, IIRC, it's harder to find that feature because it makes the camcorder fall into a different classification.

Getting away from composite will go a long way to improving the quality.


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Old May 5, 2012, 03:06 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wikus View Post
1) Is there any possible way to use other software with the Elgato Capture Card to do custom LOSSLESS exports of the final video?
Often, devices like this do the encoding in the hardware before it ever gets to your computer. I do not know if that is true for the Elgato, but I would not be surprised. If that is the case, then no program would be able to get a non-h264 video out of the Elgato.

Are you able to increase the bitrate? That's the only thing I can think of for improving your current setup.

I would recommend dumping the Elgato for something like the Canopus (or Grassvalley) ADVC55. It uses firewire. The ADVC converts the video to DV format, which is more than enough for for your VHS and 8mm. You can use it with Mac OR Windows with any program that can capture DV.
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Old May 7, 2012, 01:19 AM   #4
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Are you able to increase the bitrate? That's the only thing I can think of for improving your current setup.
Nope, the preferences window in Elgato Video Capture look like this;



Thats really as advanced it gets. If there was a way to set it to 4000kbps Constant I'd be totally psyched.
Quote:
I would recommend dumping the Elgato for something like the Canopus (or Grassvalley) ADVC55. It uses firewire. The ADVC converts the video to DV format, which is more than enough for for your VHS and 8mm. You can use it with Mac OR Windows with any program that can capture DV.
I've looked into it more, the Canopus and its pretty expensive, it goes for about $200 used. However, I found out that many Digital8 camcorders can playback 8mm Video8 tapes which, I would assume would transfer the video feed via firewire right off the bat? Thus eliminating the need for the canopus. I'd just need to find someone WITH a camera like that, even better would be if it had composite-in so it can pass through the VHS and output it as Firewire.
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Old May 7, 2012, 02:30 AM   #5
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Problem is that old VHS is interlaced. Interlaced video contains (old home movies anyway) contain 60 frames of information. That is why you are getting that jittery look. You lost half the temporal information by deinterlacing to h.264. There are some options. You want to import as DV through FireWire as it will retain all the interlaced line. Now you can do what I do and make a virtual DVD ISO that can play back on my computer or my media box that supports DVD image files. DVD is nice as it was designed for SD just like this. Second choise is to take the DV file and run it thogh JESdeintetlacer which will output a huge 60 fps movie. Takes a long to to do, so not very effiant. But from there you can run the output through handbrake and get a 60p h.264 video.
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Old May 7, 2012, 08:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ppc_michael View Post
Often, devices like this do the encoding in the hardware before it ever gets to your computer. I do not know if that is true for the Elgato, but I would not be surprised. If that is the case, then no program would be able to get a non-h264 video out of the Elgato.

Are you able to increase the bitrate? That's the only thing I can think of for improving your current setup.

I would recommend dumping the Elgato for something like the Canopus (or Grassvalley) ADVC55. It uses firewire. The ADVC converts the video to DV format, which is more than enough for for your VHS and 8mm. You can use it with Mac OR Windows with any program that can capture DV.
PPC is right. The elgato is garbage. Return it if you can or re-sell it online.

If your camcorder can go directly firewire (the pass through feature Lethal mentioned), then definitely the Canopus is the proper option.

The Elgato compresses your footage as the transfer occurs which is a huge problem. The Canopus or pass through will be uncompressed quality. The passthrough is better as it's direct where going through the Canopus suffers a generational loss so to speak, but to some, it's unnoticeable.

iMovie can ingest the footage for you then you edit and output as you need.

Good luck!
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Old May 7, 2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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I use the ADVC110. No complaints whatsoever. Output looks the same as the input.

iMovie sucks btw. DV files derived from analog look much noisier and grainier than with Final Cut X.
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Old May 7, 2012, 10:45 AM   #8
Dave Braine
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Nope, the preferences window in Elgato Video Capture look like this;
The Preferences window shows options for Automatic, h264 and mpeg4. Have you tried mpeg4?

Plus, in modern-day digital terminology, VHS is roughly equivalent to 333x480 pixels, so quality is never going to be that great.
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Old May 7, 2012, 12:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Braine View Post
The Preferences window shows options for Automatic, h264 and mpeg4. Have you tried mpeg4?

Plus, in modern-day digital terminology, VHS is roughly equivalent to 333x480 pixels, so quality is never going to be that great.
I think MP4 gave larger file sizes but the quality was more or less the same, I didn't notice any significant difference. Details were tossed out in favour of that 'blocking' effecting.
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Old May 7, 2012, 05:18 PM   #10
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Been through similar. In short, if you can: Use firewire and capture in DV format.

Very reliable capturing and an easy to use and well supported codec to save in. Something like the ADVC110 is great for multiple sources, but I found my footage was on 8mm tape and a camcorder firewire connection was the best.
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Old May 7, 2012, 07:16 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Keebler View Post
PPC is right. The elgato is garbage. Return it if you can or re-sell it online.

If your camcorder can go directly firewire (the pass through feature Lethal mentioned), then definitely the Canopus is the proper option.

The Elgato compresses your footage as the transfer occurs which is a huge problem. The Canopus or pass through will be uncompressed quality. The passthrough is better as it's direct where going through the Canopus suffers a generational loss so to speak, but to some, it's unnoticeable.

iMovie can ingest the footage for you then you edit and output as you need.

Good luck!
Keebler
Thanks!

I did a LOT of looking around last night for the best possibly solution and it looks like getting my hands on a Sony TRV730 or TRV740 would be ideal. Those cameras sell for about $250-300 but also have composite video-in which as you say would allow pass through. The other benefit is that it plays back all my 8mm Video8 tapes therefor I would only need that piece of equipment to send everything through Firewire.

Now I just need to find someone that HAS that camera, or something similar.... or just buy a used one.
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Old May 9, 2012, 10:51 PM   #12
joedemax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wikus View Post
I recently bought the Elgato Video Capture card. After a few days of testing it, I've notived a massive problem; QUALITY!

In the preview screen while the video is recording, the images look fine. But after the video has been recorded and saved to an mp4 file using the h.264 codec the difference is night and day.

Here are some sample stills I was able to pull from the preview against the final output;

Image

Image

Image

Image

As you can see the details in the grass and on the wood texture on church pew are very blurrerd in the final captured file, but the results are great in the preview.

I've tried screen capturing the preview with ScreenFlow but the output is very jittery (it almost feels like a a 30FPS film was converted to 24FPS and skips every 24 frames).

So, a few questions;

1) Is there any possible way to use other software with the Elgato Capture Card to do custom LOSSLESS exports of the final video?

2) Is there any solution similar to the Elgato device that will allow me to do setup my final exported file with the highest settings? It can be for Windows as well. I've seen AverMedia DVD EzMaker but am curious if it will allow near-lossless compression.

3) I know there are camcorders that allow input of S-Video and output of Firewire. Considering I have a MacBook Pro with firewire, this is possible. But could someone point out some cameras that actually do this?

4) Any other viable solutions to this?

The issue is that I want to throw away a whole bunch of VHS tapes once I get everything recorded to a digital format, but I can only do that once and if I have everything in pretty much identical quality to the originals (using Handbrake with MKV and X264 at 2500kbps bitrate would pretty much be perfect). File size isn't a concern, its the end result/quality that I put importance on.

Thank you!
A lot of the problem is the mjpeg compression that the USB devices have to do in hardware. I'd suggest using a either a passthrough on a DV camcorder (most do this, but not in Europe) or buy a analog to firewire converter such as the ADVC from Canopus (expensive but VERY good) or the DV-Bridge from Dazzle (can be had cheaply on ebay).
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Old May 10, 2012, 12:37 AM   #13
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A lot of the problem is the mjpeg compression that the USB devices have to do in hardware. I'd suggest using a either a passthrough on a DV camcorder (most do this, but not in Europe) or buy a analog to firewire converter such as the ADVC from Canopus (expensive but VERY good) or the DV-Bridge from Dazzle (can be had cheaply on ebay).
I was able to find a local seller of the DV-Bridge for $25. Is it fair to assume the DV-Bridge will work with my Mac if the specs on his listing say Compatible with windows? From what I gather, it shouldnt matter as it will be a video/audio feed that I should be able to record in real time with Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, right?
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Old May 10, 2012, 09:27 AM   #14
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I was able to find a local seller of the DV-Bridge for $25. Is it fair to assume the DV-Bridge will work with my Mac if the specs on his listing say Compatible with windows? From what I gather, it shouldnt matter as it will be a video/audio feed that I should be able to record in real time with Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, right?
Yes, absolutely. The DV-Bridge provides a DV stream over Firewire, and appears just as a Firewire camcorder would. It's a really excellent device.
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Old May 11, 2012, 02:10 AM   #15
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Yes, absolutely. The DV-Bridge provides a DV stream over Firewire, and appears just as a Firewire camcorder would. It's a really excellent device.
I got it for $25 CAD today. A steal!

Quick question; can I use Quicktime Pro 7 to capture video using firewire from the DV Bridge? (I havent got my equipment yet, its at another locale).
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Old May 11, 2012, 11:10 AM   #16
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I got it for $25 CAD today. A steal!

Quick question; can I use Quicktime Pro 7 to capture video using firewire from the DV Bridge? (I havent got my equipment yet, its at another locale).
Glad you got a device that will work. I was going to suggest finding an older Canon ZR series miniDV unit. Since many folks are upgrading to the new AVCHD units, I would imagine that lots of miniDV cams are popping up on eBay and CL. The advantage of the older ZR series is that they can import/pass-thru via s-video. If you're VHS has s-video output, then you'll get the best quality.

I have a Canon Elura 100 that is dying a slow death. But the pass-thru still works, so I'm keeping it forever (or until Firewire dies too).

As for software, if you decide to use iMovie, use iMovie'06 (or earlier). It's the last version of iMovie that won't mess up your interlaced output. Starting with iMovie'08, the output file will drop every other frame, so the quality isn't as great. (note - I could have the terminology messed up, but the bottom line is that the quality isn't as good).
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Old May 12, 2012, 03:50 AM   #17
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Glad you got a device that will work. I was going to suggest finding an older Canon ZR series miniDV unit. Since many folks are upgrading to the new AVCHD units, I would imagine that lots of miniDV cams are popping up on eBay and CL. The advantage of the older ZR series is that they can import/pass-thru via s-video. If you're VHS has s-video output, then you'll get the best quality.

I have a Canon Elura 100 that is dying a slow death. But the pass-thru still works, so I'm keeping it forever (or until Firewire dies too).

As for software, if you decide to use iMovie, use iMovie'06 (or earlier). It's the last version of iMovie that won't mess up your interlaced output. Starting with iMovie'08, the output file will drop every other frame, so the quality isn't as great. (note - I could have the terminology messed up, but the bottom line is that the quality isn't as good).
I decided to download a small application called 'Vidi' ( http://www.mitzpettel.com/ )

Its only 2mb large and is purely for capturing video. I was able to use Quicktime 7 Pro for capture, but I always rewind my tapes a few seconds before the actual footage starts. However, when pressing record on a blank screen, Quicktime *always* fails on me; it shows a black screen for longer than a few seconds (cutting into the actual footage) and then automatically stops recording giving me a warning message that the maximum allowable recording time has been used (even though I'm saving to a secondary hard drive that has 300gb of space left).

Vidi solved this. On top of that it lets me schedule recordings as well as see content as its being rewound (Quicktime just displays a black screen). The only difference is that it outputs files into a .dv container as opposed to quicktimes .mov.

Great application, I love it when I find these small applications that do a fantastic job with some great customization. Kind of like The Unarchiver, Vox, SoundSource, Handbrake, etc.

I've decided to convert everything with Handbrake, using either MP4 or MKV with the x264 codec @ 4,000kbps. The quality after conversion is barely noticeable and you'd have to look *very hard* to see it. I can't decide between MP4 or MKV because my dad's got a WDTV that he uses to playback movies. MKV runs just fine but MP4s when encoded with handbrake or quicktime ALWAYS have audio sync problems. I like MP4 for the fact that I can embed artwork, thus eliminating the need to add jpg images with the same filename in order to have them showup on his WDTV.

I am planning on buying a Boxee Box and I'm pretty it will fix the audio sync problem (it only exists on the WDTV, whereas VLC and Quicktime playback the movies perfectly fine).

Thanks again for you help
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