VHS to DVD on G5 - What do I need?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by T-Bone, Dec 5, 2003.

  1. T-Bone macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I'm getting a dual 2ghz G5 and I would like transfer some of my old VHS tapes to DVD that will most likely never see the light on a studio released DVD.

    Obviously I will need some kind of video input hardware. I don't need anything super fancy - it simply has to retain whatever quality the VHS tape is. Something with composite video and/or S-video inputs. Apparently something that connects through USB is fast enough, but I've never tried it myself.

    As for software, a friend of mine recommended DVD Studio Pro. It would nice to be able to make decent looking menus, but again, nothing super fancy. I know that Studio Pro goes for about $500, but I'm not too worried about the price.

    There are some software/hardware combos that I've seen that look good, such as ADS's Instant DVD (about $220). Clearly DVD Studio Pro would be better than whatever software ADS offers, but what hardware could I get to go with Studio Pro? I assume Studio Pro would work with the ADS hardware, in that I could capture the video and then edit it with Studio Pro?

    A specific question concerning the video format: do I want do record the tape as MPEG-2 or DV? I read that DV takes up more space, but I will have about 240gbs of hard drive space at my disposal. I'd go with whichever looks better and is easier to edit.
     
  2. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

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    #2
    I remember seeing something that let you plug in AV/s-video cables, and it would convert it to a digital video signal, and you could hook it up via FireWire, and capture it from iMovie, or Final Cut Pro/Express just as you would from a DV camera.
     
  3. T-Bone thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I believe what you're talking about is the Pyro A/V Link from ADS. It matches your description exactly. It captures the video as DV (and only DV), but then you can convert it to other formats if need be.

    Can you burn DV video to DVD, or does it have to be MPEG-2?
     
  4. Kingsnapped macrumors 6502a

    Kingsnapped

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    #4
    Using iDvd, you need to transfer your DV to quicktime or MPEG-2 to be recognised. I'm not sure about other programs though.
     
  5. T-Bone thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Okay, that's what I thought.

    Is converting DV to MPEG-2 very time intensive? I know it depends on how fast your processor is, but are we probably talking minutes or hours? The reason I ask is because it looks like I'll have to decide between something that can capture video straight to MPEG-2 or something that goes to DV and will need to be converted. I'd rather not spend tons of time converting everything, but if it were like 15-20 minutes, I could handle that.
     
  6. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

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    #6
    ADS Tech thing

    Hi T-Bone,

    I just got my ADS Technologies Instant DVD for Mac from www.usb-ware.com for about $200. I haven't had the chance to open it up and test it, but according to their site and the packaging, that product works with DVD Studio Pro.

    Drop me an email if you don't hear back from me by next week.... by then I'll have tested how well it works.
     
  7. thebt macrumors member

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    #7
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #8
    If you buy something that captures straight to MPEG-2 you might run into some problems. First, if you want to do any editing I don't know if iMovie will accept MPEG-2 or not. And iDVD will only work with MPEG-2 files that it creates. So if you drag an MPEG-2 movie in iDVD iDVD will recmpress it (not good for quality). And if you go w/an external, hardware MPEG-2 encoder you are locked into that hardware's quality where as iDVD encoding quality (which, IMO, is suprisingly good for a consumer product) could be made better in future updates. And for what you DVD SP would be complete overkill. iDVD is a great consumer level program that is very customizable, and an absolute breeze to use.

    Personally, I like to keep the quality as high as I can for as long as I can and DV is much, much higher quality than DVD quality MPEG-2.

    Also, stay away from anything that runs video over USB 1.1 (quality is horrible).


    Lethal
     
  9. T-Bone thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Someone mentioned to me that iDVD only lets you put 90 minutes of video on a DVD. Is this true? I have no idea. But I definitely want to be able to fill up a DVD as much as possible. At least 2 hours. I know that you can't go much over that, but you could probably get 135 minutes.
     
  10. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

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    #10
    dvd bandwidth

    Yup, iMovie won't accept MPEG-2 . . . as for iDVD, I'd guess it takes any Quicktime format, and you're right, it's best to stay in as uncompressed a format as you can from start to finish (right up until it comes time to encode MPEG-2).

    This isn't really the case. Most every commercially available DVD movie has much higher picture quality than DV. Those commercial DVDs are all encoded in DVD quality MPEG-2. The difference is those movies start out as film, are transferred to uncompressed video, and from uncompressed they are converted to MPEG-2 with some amazing encoding hardware and software.

    I've found my iDVD projects (at the 60 minute level) to be identical in quality to their DV sources.

    I used to think so too, until I did two things:
    1. I saw ADS's Instant USB demonstrated at a trade show, where I was surprised at how great the encoded MPEGs looked. I will definitely check this out for myself now that I have the product (which I haven't yet opened and played with). Once I do, I will definitely report the results on this thread. I'm very picky about compression artifacts and video quality.
    2. I did the math on the bandwidth overhead of MPEG-2. USB 1.1's capacity is 12 mb/s. Compressor's bit rate for high quality / 60 minutes is 7 or 7.5 mb/s. The 120 minute preset is 3.5 mb/s. USB 1.1 is plenty sufficient.

    Yes, it's true that iDVD only allows you 90 minutes. With DVD Studio Pro there's a lot more flexibility. If you use Compressor's 120 minute setting, you can fit about 150 minutes of video on a disc. The way to do that is to convert all your audio to 2-channel (L,R) .AC3 (Dolby digital) using A.Pack, setting the bitrate at 224 kb/s. Leaving all the audio as PCM .aiff's is a waste of disc space. The 120 minute setting (two-pass variable bitrate @ 3.5 mb/s) gives good resulting video.

    Lethal's right about editing - you'll be pretty limited as far as that goes if you're inputting MPEG-2. So, IF the VHS source isn't going to be modified very much, THEN a real-time MPEG-2 capture device plus DVD Studio Pro will give you the quickest results.

    The alternative is a much longer process.
     
  11. T-Bone thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Well, I decided to purchase the Pyro A/V Link by ADS. I prefer firewire over USB, although I'm sure USB would probably work just as well.

    The Pyro (odd name) only lets you import as DV, but it seems that this format would allow me more flexibility in terms of editing. I'm not necessarily looking to do a lot of editing right away, but it's nice to know that the option is there if need be. I never know what kind of project I might be working on down the road, once I'm more familiar with the process.

    Another friend of mine told me that you can't import video using DVD Studio Pro; that I'd have to import in Premiere, Final Cut, or I guess iMovie or something. Then once I have the file saved, I can edit it with Studio Pro. Doesn't seem too terribly complicated.

    As for converting the file into MPEG-2 when I'm done, hopefully my dual 2ghz G5 with 1.5gb of RAM will do the job nice and quick. It's pretty much the reason why I forked over the big dough for the fastest machine.

    Lastly, the Pyro costs $155, while Instant DVD is $215. Saving $60 was pretty much the clinching decision.

    If anyone knows of any good books on video editing for the Mac, using Studio Pro or whatever, maybe I'll spend the money I saved on something like that.
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #12
    Rod,

    DVD at it's best quality has less than 1/3 the data rate of DV. Now, will a single CCD consumer camcorder give your the best quality DV images? Of course not. Assuming you have a good, 3 chip camera you can get broadcast quailty DV. You are correct that commercial DVDs look as good as they do because they started from film, and came thru a very hi-end proccess to get onto DVD, but if they compressed the movie to DV format, and compared that to the DVD quality MPEG-2, the DV version would look much better.

    I guess we have differing opinions about what is suffcient quality. ;) To me, DVD is quality in terms of delivering a final product, but I would never choose to import video at DVD quality unless I had no other choice. Now, if I wasn't doing any editing/modifing of the video and just needed to put it to DVD then I probably wouldn't care. But if all I could afford was one capture device I would choose DV over DVD so that I would have the quality if I needed it (better to have it but not need it, than to need it but not have it, IMO).

    T-bone, you can fit upto 6hrs of video on a DVD, but the quality will look like crap (about that of VHS). 2hrs is the defacto standard unless you have some really nice encoding hardware/software and know what you are doing, or if you just don't care about quality that much. ;)


    Lethal
     
  13. Rod Rod macrumors 68020

    Rod Rod

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    #13
    DVD quality MPEG-2 on commercial DVDs is better than DV, because between film and MPEG-2 the movies are uncompressed SD video.

    Here's my proof: in Final Cut Pro, create identical sequences, one set as DV and the other as uncompressed SD. Fill them with nothing but generated video (pixel noise, scrolling text, 3D text, and transitions). Export both as FCP reference movies.

    At this point, uncompressed looks better than DV, especially with the smoothness of the text (none of the jagged edges or stairstepping DV adds).

    Then, take both movies and drag them into Compressor, at identical settings. The file which started as uncompressed will still look better than the DV.

    DV is roughly 5x compressed, and MPEG-2 adds another compression cycle. The less compression cycles, the better. That's why SD to MPEG-2 is better than DV to MPEG-2.

    Come on Lethal . . . I mentioned how I'm very picky about video quality and compression artifacts. I'm sure we'd agree about what's good and bad regarding quality. :)

    I completely agree that a quality final product is the most important thing. And I get your point about the capture device.

    In my post I took two things for granted:
    1) The existence of an analog to digital pass-through/capture device. I use a JVC GRD70 (miniDV camcorder) for inputting miniDV tapes I shoot on my XL1-s, and a pass-through for VHS captures.
    2) It seemed to me the VHS source material T-Bone wanted to input didn't need much editing. Of course MPEG is a very poor editing format (which we know first-hand from using Avid Media Composer years ago).

    The way the ADS Instant DVD is supposed to work is this: any analog video source goes in, and an MPEG1 or MPEG2 (your choice) variable bit rate (one pass, of course) stream goes into your computer. ADS supplies an editing app that's probably only good for trimming off pre and post roll. ADS supplies a plug-in that makes the MPEG files work with DVD Studio Pro (presumably demuxing, becase DVDSP needs the .m2v and .ac3/.aiff files to be separate).

    Well I guess I'm not sleeping so I'll open the ADS box and start using it. I'll report back here later, maybe Sunday night or Monday morning. I'm picky about video quality and compression artifacts, so if I see any ugliness I'll tell you.
     
  14. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #14

    I think I see where we are crossing our wires. I'm drawing a distinction between what looks better and what is better (they are not always the same thing). Let me see if I can clarify my meaning. Will someone's home movies shot on a consumer DV camera look better than the LotR DVD? Of course not. But the difference in quality has to do w/35mm film vs. consumer DV and professional compressionist vs. consumer compression program, not DVD/MPEG-2 vs DV. Crap in, crap out as they say. If Peter Jackson mastered a version of LotR to be released on DV I would eat my hat if it didn't look better than the DVD version.

    All other things being equal, I agree that SD->MPEG-2 will but better than DV->MPEG-2. But SD->DV will look better than SD->MPEG-2. And footage shot on DV will look better than footage shot on DVD quality MPEG-2.

    The reason I brought this up is because many people believe that DVD is a higher quality format then DV because their DVD of LotR looks so kick ass and their home movies shot on a $400 MiniDV camera pale in comparison. So if they get into light video editing and have an option of using "DVD Quality" or "DV quality" they will probably choose "DVD Quality" because they are thinking "hey, this is what Hollywood uses" and they don't realize that DV is a higher quality format. On more than one occasion I've politely informed people that backing up their DV tapes to DVD/MPEG-2 would not be the best way to archive them and perserve quality. ;)

    Now that I've said all that. If *all* you are doing than making straight dubs of your VHS stuff onto DVD then going straight from VHS to DVD/MPEG-2 is going to be the fastest and probably best way to go. But if you want to edit the footage then going from VHS->DV->MPEG-2 is the way to go because the DV will hold up to editing better than MPEG-2 will. But VHS is so low res anyway that I don't think going DV->MPEG-2 is going to add much, if any, of a compression "generation" compared to going straight from VHS->MPEG-2.

    Well, I think I've ranted long enough. How is the new toy working out Rob Rob? :)


    Lethal
     

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