VCR with S-Video Output & Video Compression Questions

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by LimeiBook86, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. LimeiBook86 macrumors 604


    May 4, 2002
    Go Vegan
    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
  2. aloofman macrumors 68020


    Dec 17, 2002
    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.
  3. LimeiBook86 thread starter macrumors 604


    May 4, 2002
    Go Vegan
    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. :)
  4. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    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.
  5. bimmzy macrumors regular


    Dec 29, 2006
    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


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