Converting VHS tapes to digital use H264 or mp4?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by nrweaver, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. nrweaver macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2010
    Hi I am converting all of my parents old homemade vhs tapes to a digital format. I am using a product from elgato it gives me options to save in mp4 or h264. Those are the options (I got the simplest one i could find so my parents can do the 70 some of them by themselves.) I am thinking I should use h264. but i want some other opinions. I also think h264 will be able to be played to an xbox360.

    1. apple imac 27"
    2. Elgato Video Capture
    3. normal sony vhs player with RCA cables

    the key is simplicity for them to use it. Thanks for the help
  2. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    H.264 is better. It is more processor intensive to create, but less processor intensive on playback than regular mpeg-4. It also allows higher picture quality at the same bitrate.

    I'll just toss this out there though: h.264 copies of your old home movies are a great way to share files that don't take up too much space. However, if these are treasured keepsakes, then you'll want to keep the captured stream as DV. You don't have to use these files for playback, but you should archive and store them, either on redundant hard drives or quality optical media. H.264 is a lossy compression algorithm, and you should think about keeping your home movies in a format that you can edit and re-compress into future and better codecs as they become available.
  3. nrweaver thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2010
    So far I did one movie no problem in the processor and encoding it. the imac doesnt seem to even notice it going on.

    is there an easy way for me to bring them in as DV? i am guessing i can use the same elgato video capture to capture if imovie will capture directly from it? that is the only way i can think to get it as DV but that is just a guess from me. I think i am going to have them get a drobo with 4TB of storage to back them up on. and then also use it to backup all there digital pictures and the old ones they will be scanning in.

    how much quality am i losing compared to h264 and DV. most of these tapes are from 1983 - 2005?
  4. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    I took a brief look at the link you provided and it seems that this particular Elgato device only lets you choose between mpeg-4 or h.264, with no option for DV.

    It terms of viewable picture quality loss from DV to h.264, you're probably not going to notice any. Although in the past, Elgato's implementation of h.264 tended to produce images that were too soft (I'm thinking of the Turbo 264 USB device). Perhaps they've fixed it.

    The main reason to keep the DV files is so that you have a master file from which to edit (if you choose to) and/or transcode to a newer and better codec in the future. H.264 is a delivery codec, meaning that to get it to another format you will need to go through another lossy decompression-compression cycle.

    If you want to go the DV route, you will need either a new capture device or a camcorder with analog passthrough. You can also use a camcorder without passthrough by capturing to miniDV tape first and then importing into iMovie or another video editor. Any of these methods will let you save the DV file, but adds some levels of complication and time, and perhaps money for equipment.

    It is up to you to decide how valuable these videos are and if you want to be bothered saving them in DV.
  5. mikezeng macrumors newbie

    Apr 16, 2010
    Palm Bay, FL
    Elgato and iMovie09

    I have been trying to copy some old '80s VHS videos to iMovie09 and have had mixed experiences. According to Elgato in automatic mode the speed of your computer determines which format the file will be saved in. Fast computer H.264, slow MPEG-4. Mine seems to save in H.264 even if I change the preferences. The issue is the a H.264 does not allow you to mark you video selections as Favorites, Reject, etc. Take the same file and convert it to MPEG-4 and the selection tools work. These old tapes sometimes sync and sometimes not, so I may replay some of it several times to be copied. If I can mark rejects I can also delete bad video from wasting storage space with the iMovie clean up tool. Anyone with suggestions, particularly a fix for iMovie that fully understands H.264.
  6. RonPriest macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2010

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