VCR with S-Video Output & Video Compression Questions

LimeiBook86

macrumors 604
Original poster
May 4, 2002
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Hello everyone,

I have Sony DVMC-DA2 analog to digital video converter (to convert analog video to FireWire) for importing old home videos into iMovie. Now I have been using this for some time using a pretty new VCR we have. However the VCR lacks S-Video outputs. I know S-Video can produce a sharper picture than the standard composite outputs but, I was wondering if there would be any difference on these home videos.

I mean the quality isn't too bad for a tape that's almost 24 years old, :p but I was wondering if I should purchase a VCR with S-Video outputs, and if it would make a difference playing back regular VHS tapes (not S-VHS tapes). Because I'd like to import the tapes as best I could and not have to re-import them again at a later date if I found a better way to do it.

The VHS tapes vary in age, the oldest is from 1983, and then they go up until 1999 or so. Also, I have a pretty big hard drive on my Intel iMac, however a friend was telling me since the video is from a VHS tape I could probably save the videos at a slightly compressed rate and not see a big loss in quality. I'm not sure how to go about this in iMovie. My brother does have Final Cut Express, but I am used to iMovie which makes it pretty easy to make DVD videos. :)

Now basically what I'm doing with the tapes is importing them, editing them with iMovie and burning them on DVDs for family and relatives. Now it's a daunting task but, I've already imported some tapes. So I just wanted to know if a VCR with S-Video would improve video quality and if I can shrink the file sizes down a bit without loosing too much quality.

I tried to Google around and search on eBay for some S-Video enabled VCRs but, I only found some very expensive models, over $300. :eek:

Any help would be great, thanks! :D
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
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Is it that hard to find a VCR with an S-video output? It's been so long since I shopped for a VCR that I don't even know.

S-video is a slightly better way of sending composite video, but it's not dramatically better. You might notice the difference, but I suspect that the quality of the tape recordings will be a much more important variable in this case. If there are really a lot of tapes to convert, then buying a separate S-video VCR might help, but I'm not sure you'll notice much of a return on that investment.

I disagree with your friend who thinks you should save some space through compression. When the source is VHS, I think you need to preserve as much of the image as you can. But this is me speaking as a video professional who sometimes has to make VHS footage look better than it really is. Run a couple of tests and see if the "slight compression" makes that big a difference.
 

LimeiBook86

macrumors 604
Original poster
May 4, 2002
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Is it that hard to find a VCR with an S-video output? It's been so long since I shopped for a VCR that I don't even know.
Yeah it's pretty hard to find a good one. Most of them are bundled in with DVD players now, so there is S-Video, but only for DVDs. :rolleyes: Thanks for the advice though. I don't even know how I'd compress the video files, but I think I'll probably keep them as they are since I don't want them to possibly degrade anymore. :)
 

Keebler

macrumors 68030
Jun 20, 2005
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i don't have any 'test' data, but in doing home video transfers as a business, the quality of an S video to composite is very negligible given the VHS media. Probably never to the naked eye.

I wouldn't worry about it. you'll be fine.
 

bimmzy

macrumors regular
Dec 29, 2006
140
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London
VHS is noisy, and digital video compression really hates noise. So don't bother with higher compression.

On the question of S-Video as opposed to composite.
I really wouldn’t worry. Composite video at baseband is as sharp as a scalpel, but only on systems like C-format and D3. good ol' VHS on the other hand is, well cr**, regardless of the coding or S- Video or whatever.

Your oldest recordings will almost certainly have been made with the NTSC sub-carrier coding all over them, so going S-Video makes absolutely no difference. Though some later recordings may have benefited from the introduction of YC, S-Video.

The key here is really Timebase correction. A good Timebase corrector will improve VHS play back significantly. I'm not sure whether the Sony DVMC-DA2 does this but I assume it does, and if so, the question is does it use 6bit or 8bit sampling to do the correction. 8 bit looks nicer, but 6bit looks better than no timebase correction at all! :p

:D
 

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