Transferring VHS to Mac - For the 56th time

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by HudsonsHalfHour, May 19, 2009.

  1. HudsonsHalfHour macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    Transferring VHS to Mac has been discussed ad nauseam, but I wanted some opinions on the following devices before finally making a choice. I would also like to know whether you guys think the VCR, the Analog to Digital Converter or the actual editing software is the most important part of the process to achieving high quality archival captures.

    Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus
    ‘Turn your Macintosh into a television and DVR, comes with EyeTV software’

    Seems like it isn’t dedicated to the task of VHS capture, its main function is TV tuner for OTA HD broadcasting.

    Hauppauge HD-PVR

    ‘High-Definition video recorder for making real-time H.264 compressed recordings, using a component video connection’

    I have one, it feels cheap and nasty and didn’t sync audio well when capturing component from tivo. I’ve yet to try it on VHS material though.

    Canopus ADVC300

    ‘Professional-quality Bidirectional Analog/Digital Video Conversion’

    Seems awfully expensive for something that only handles S-Video at best, although general opinion of this device has always been positive round these parts

    Black magic Video Recorder

    ‘Capture video direct to H.264 video files for your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, YouTube and even full resolution video backups!’

    The site looks the business, but I’ve not seen any reviews for the tiny device. It does take component and S-Video but it is only USB and seems to come with its own editing software.

    DV Camcorders with digital pass-through
    Price: varies.

    Seems like a good option, as long as it has S-Video input. I’m not sure if it would be as good as a dedicated Analog to digital converter.

    I plan to use the device with Final Cut, or if that’s too fiddly, iMovie 6. The Elgato and Hauppauge will not work directly with these as they don’t have firewire but the eyetv software that they use can produce DV footage for use with them. The VCR i have is a SVHS JVC.
  2. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    If you already have the Hauppauge, you might as well use that since it'll cost you nothing.

    If you want to work in DV, then the Canopus and a miniDV camcorder are the only ones that import directly to iMovie as DV. The other options will require an extra conversion step.

    The BlackMagic device looked good, but it's less than useful for me since it only does standard definition. Since you're using it for VHS, then it's probably OK. I also looks like it has the most polished software (excluding the use of iMovie above).

    I'm interested to know more about your issues with the Hauppauge. Does the audio sync issue happen all the time, or only with certain resolutions or recordings. I'm looking for a way to offload my DVR at the highest resolution possible.


    EDIT - forgot to mention that very few miniDV camcorders have s-video inputs. You'll have to look for one that's around 5 to 6 years old. I think most of the new ones don't even do A-D pass through. I can tell you for sure that the Canon Elura 100 has A-D pass though, but only with composite connections.
  3. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Lower cost: doing it via an older camcorder with firewire, using the camcorder as converter into digital.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    This is what I use. The Analog to digital converter in my Sony camera is very good and the VHS tape itself is the "quality bottleneck" is it should be. I do use an S-Video connection.

    The other advantage of using a DV camera is you have a nice, built-in backup copy of the VHS tape. Record them to DV tape. DV is the best format for editing SD video because there is no intra-frame compression (no key frames)

    But I think the #1 most important thing is the quality of the VHS player. Get a good one and clean the heads
  5. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    The audio sync issue happens everytime I use it with Tivo Series 3, so we're talking about 720p footage through component cables, I haven;t tried any other devices or resolutions. the quality of the picture is amazing, just sad that the audio is slightly out...maybe its a mac issue, although i'm using the new macbook.

    I thought the Black Magic handled component cables, therefore 720p (hd)
  6. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    The Black Magic does handle component, but limited to 480p. Not very useful for what I want to do ... although the first time I saw it (and the price), I nearly tripped in the puddle of drool. ;)

    A shame about the Hauppauge. I've been sort of keeping up on it's development on the Mac side and I haven't heard/read anything about an audio sync issue. What software are you running?

  7. dlegend macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2009
    Northern VA (outside DC)
  8. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    i wonder what the extra you pay on the Canopus ADVC300 gets you over your model. thanks, i might try that and compare the footage with dv camcorder pass-thru.
  9. dlegend macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2009
    Northern VA (outside DC)
  10. MrLatte23 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2007
    Editing you say...

    If editing in FCP or even iMovie is a step in your process you want to make sure you transcode the footage as few times as possible. So capturing to h.264 wouldn't be the best idea, ruling out two maybe three of the devices. The Canopus is decent because it's only task is to convert the footage for editing and you'd probably have more flexibility with codecs and such. The biggest problem with that device is, if you're only doing a set amount of tapes and when they're gone, they're gone. You own a device that you may no longer need. At least with the camcorder you can shoot other things AND make a MiniDV copy while you're at it.

    VHS won't gain anything from any A>D conversion, that's not already on the original tape, so the best playback device and output (s-video) that you can start with the better off you'll be. The Canopus will probably give you better quality and it has the "s" you need.
  11. -DH macrumors 65816

    Nov 28, 2006
    Nashville Tennessee
    Every item in the signal path is equally important if quality is of any concern.

    FWIW, when playing analog footage of ANY format, timing errors can be problematic and can reduce quality. Of all the devices you listed, only the Canopus ADVC300 has a built-in TBC (Time Base Corrector) which will help stabilize the analog signal before converting it to digital ... and that will greatly help maintain image quality.

    If maintaining quality isn't a concern, then get a cheap DV camcorder that can pass through analog signals to it's DV output.

  12. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    is TBC the same as the 4MB Frame Memory feature that is present in the JVC VCR i'm using? Would it be worth getting the ADVC300 if I already have a variant of TBC at source level.....
  13. GilesM macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2008
    As an alternative to all of these, if you have a DVD recorder, copy to DVD from the VHS (I have never had any loss of quality when doing this) then rip the resulting DVD with handbrake to make a file you can edit with iMovie etc, or just keep the resulting file as it is.
  14. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    i just bought the elgato video capture. tried it out and it works fine.

    however it refuses to record in H.264 on my 2.4GHz MBP although the manual says above a 2.0 GHz Mac you can record in H.264. setting the prefs to H.264 doesn't help. I guess a software bug.

    Aside of that it works super easy. For only 99 bucks its a simple and portable solution. I'll travel to my parents and digitize family videos. So it's a perfect solution.
  15. miketaylor627 macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2009
    This is the exact process I use but after I rip the DVD using Handbrake iMovie will not recognize it. I had started another post posing this question before I found this one.
  16. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    That's absolutely the worst way you could do it. Dubbing the VHS to DVD means you're applying 25:1 compression, and then the conversion from MPEG-2 to DV for use in iMovie means you're adding 5:1 compression on top of that.

    To maximise quality (and save time), you want to go straight from VHS to DV. I've always used my DV camcorder as an AD converter, and the quality is great - essentially identical to the VHS original.
  17. iCan2 macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2009
    ADS Pyro AV link box - firewire solution to video editing!

    I say it again and again - if you want VHS or special film digitization as a file then use FIREWIRE. ADS pyro link AV is the way to go! It hooks up to the Mac and it is easy to record your video through iMovie '09!! Comes with component input and ouput/ sVideo and firewire ---- computer iLink!!

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