VHS to computer

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by dlegend, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. dlegend macrumors 6502

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    #1
    What's the best way to get old family VHS movies onto my macbook? I have a firewall port on my computer. Through some searches on the board I've narrowed it down to either the EyeTV Hybrid or a mini-DV camcorder. I like the idea of making my computer a DVR but a camcorder could also be useful. For roughly the same price as the EyeTV could I get a mini-DV camcorder that would allow me to copy the movies?
     
  2. DavieBoy macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

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    #2
    Thats a good idea. But let me warn you. A lot of cameras took out the analog to digital video converter from there cameras. In the past year I have brought 2 cameras that said they had this feature but did not. I guess I am saying to make sure it has this feature and even if it says it does make sure you can return the camera.

    I ended up buying a converter box made by the canopus company. It was recommended to me by a friend of mine, who is a professional video editor rather than a IT guy with a degree in video communications like myself.

    The canopus box give a better picture and a more steady transfer but costs about $250 for a unit that has one purpose. I used to do it with a canon minidv cam and it did come out real good. I would just import right into iMovie 06 and export to dvd. great quality either way.
     
  3. Platonist macrumors member

    Platonist

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    #3
    I use a Canopus ADVC 110 to convert analog tapes to digital files. I have used it many times with excellent results on all sorts of different projects. You can import into iMovie or Final Cut without issue and the resultant file is as good as the original source material (better, after tweaking in those programs).

    I haven't tried the other two methods you mention, but I have heard that the camcorder conversions often come out less than stellar.
     
  4. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    ouch, that's more money than I was looking to spend, but I'd rather have to only do it once than be unsatisfied and have to do it again.

    DavieBoy - I was thinking of finding a used camcorder to do this, but if it's not that great of quality than there's no point.

    What about something like this? I also have PC which I could use to get the files onto and then use my macbook to edit/burn dvd's.
     
  5. Alucardx03 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I second the Canopus recommendation. I have the ADVC-300 and it works perfectly. I tried many other capture devices before it, and none had the same level of quality. If you're going to do it, you may as well do it right.

    And stay as far away from Pinnacle products as you can. Been there, done that. They are garbage.
     
  6. -DH macrumors 65816

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    #6
    The quality of the camcorder's lens, image sensors or recording system has nothing to do with the quality of conversion from analog to digital. The camera section of the camcorder doesn't even function during that process.

    -DH
     
  7. cpjakes macrumors 6502

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    Buffalo, NY
    #7
    As others have said, the analog conversion feature has been taken out of many consumer cameras. So unless you step up the model, you may be out of luck finding one.

    The Canopus solution is good, but that's all it can do. Unless you have hours and hours of tapes and plan on using it a lot, it may not be worth it.

    If you're interested in the DVR function from EyeTV, most have an analog in that you can use to record to. The downside to this method for analog conversion is that editing in EyeTV is limited to cutting (no transitions) and that to edit the recordings in iMovie requires conversion of the files which takes up to 11GB/hour.

    cpjakes
     
  8. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I was referring to the quality of the digital files after being converted through a mini-DV camcorder.

    It sounds like the Canopus solution is the way to go. That being said, does anyone know the difference or have experience with the different models of their products? It looks like they have an ADCV-55 that would fit my needs and is roughly $200. Maybe I buy a Canopus solution and then sell it when I'm finished and purchase the eyeTV
     
  9. Alucardx03 macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    You can probably find a used advc-110 on eBay for the same price, if not cheaper. Also, Canopus products hold their value well, so you'll probably be able to sell it for what you paid.
     
  10. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

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    #10
    My standard response to this same questions differs from what many will suggest but considering the moderate video quality of VHS starting material, I've found that a fast, cheap, and easy way to digitize VHS is to buy a new or used VHS/DVD-R combo deck and copy the VHS to DVD-R using the highest quality DVD recording setting and then ripping the resultant DVDs using Handbrake or something.

    Yes, this suffers from the MPEG encoding to the DVD and again from the Handbrake rip but I believe that with aged home movie-type content and VHS source material, the limiting factor is not the transfer process but the source material and this way yields a very satisfactory result. Not to mention that it also produces archive DVDs along the way.
     
  11. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #11
    Use a cam

    If you can find a working Canon ZR30 camcorder, it will do the conversion for you. I don't think it would cost more than $100.
     
  12. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Thanks for all of the responses guys. I'll check out that camcorder, but I also found the Canopus ADVC-55 for $150ish so I might just go that route. The only difference between the 55 and 110 that I can tell is the 55 doesn't have analog output, but I won't be putting what I edit back on tape so I don't see why I would need that.

    For anyone who has used a Canopus device before what type of format should I record the tapes in? I'll be editing them in iMovie or Final Cut Express. Also, how big should I expect the files to be? For ever hour of tape how many GB? I'll be purchasing an external hard drive to save these on and another to back them up.
     
  13. Alucardx03 macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    All the Canopus capture devices output the footage in DV, so that's what iMovie or FCE will use. After the capture, you obviously have the option of outputting the footage in a myriad of files. When I converted my home movies, I wanted the best possible output for archiving reasons, so I output everything as DVCPRO50.

    HDD space is not so much an issue with standard definition DV. I have about 20 old tapes and they only ate up about 400 gigs on the hard drive. I would venture a guess of 20-25 gigs per hour of video, though it could be more or less.

    As for HDDs, I recently purchased this off of Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digit...2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1232517900&sr=8-2

    It's only a USB 2.0 HDD, but that's more than fast enough for simple DV capture and output. And, you can set it up in a RAID configuration so you only have one external hard drive cluttering up your desk.

    And if you can, definitely spring for the Canopus. The hardware encoder built into the box will give better results than any camcorder can. Especially if you're trying to capture old home movies or something similar, you want to be able to preserve the memories in as good of quality as possible. It's a time-consuming undertaking, and you don't want to have to repeat the process because you're unsatisfied by the results. That happened to me when I bought a Pinnacle Dazzle Platinum. Okay device, terrible, terrible software.
     
  14. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    Thanks for the advice. Will I be able to set this up using my desktop PC (with a firewall port) and then just hook up my external hard drive to my mac and edit/make the DVDs?

    I'm not sure what hard drive I'll get, probably the one you mentioned, after I've copied a couple movies and I know how big the files are. My mom has 52 movies that I'll be converting. :(

    I don't suppose you can just hit record and come back when the tape is done can you?
     
  15. Alucardx03 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    That really all depends. The best case scenario would be to do everything on the Mac, but if that's not possible, you have to be very careful with the program you're using to capture the footage. Some programs, Pinnacle for example, encode the video with strange (maybe even proprietary...) codecs that iMovie and FCE will not recognize. That was one of the problems I had. You want to find a program that will encode the video correctly into a format that iMovie will recognize.

    As for pressing record and letting it go, it really depends on the program. iMovie ('06), for example will stop the capture anytime there is a break in the footage. So, if the tapes are older and suffer from a little deterioration or if there are temporary breaks in the footage (which is very, very common for tape-based camcorders), you'll have to manually press record after each break. That's why I use FCP for capturing my footage.

    If you're going to be capturing on a PC, the program you decide to use will determine whether or not you'll have to hover over your computer. You also have to be careful, however. If you find a program that just records until you tell it to stop, you run the risk of capturing static/black screens. If you have 50 tapes, you're going to be pressed for HDD space, so you may have to monitor the capture anyway.

    Again, it is completely dependent on the program.
     
  16. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Well it looks like I'll be monitoring them all since I know our tapes have tons of breaks in them....Can't wait to spend 100+ hours watching these to then edit them...

    Thanks for all the advice!
     
  17. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Just ordered the ADVC55, should be here in a couple days. Any tips in the mean time?
     
  18. Alucardx03 macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Make sure you install the accompanying software. For whatever reason, sometimes the ADVC products don't work until the software is installed. At least, that's the case on Macs (FCP refused to recognize it until I loaded the software). Also, think now about a workflow to conserve time. Get into a regimented process and the tapes will be converted in no time.

    Good luck.
     
  19. Changepoint macrumors member

    Changepoint

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #19
    You seem to know your onions, can you tell me if you know of any affordable options for component-in convertors. I'd like to be able to use the higher quality input for transferring stuff from tivo to mac.....s video/composite quality isn't very good but upgrading to the next level of input seems expensive.
     
  20. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Do all VCR's only have one sound RCA output? I've checked 3 and they all only have 2 RCA's out (yellow and white). If they do, is it better for me to get a Y-cable or use the co-axle cable?

    What brand/model tivo do you have? You might want to try something from here if there's no firewall output. OR you could go for an Elgato EyeTV for $150-200 depending on the model.
     
  21. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    nevermind about the VCR question, looks like I need to find a new one on craigslist.

    Will importing/editing in iMovie be okay or should I step up to Final Cut Express?
     
  22. Changepoint macrumors member

    Changepoint

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    #22
    iMovie 6 is perfect for importing stuff from DV convertors, u shouldn't need to step up to Final Cut Express. I would get hold of a VCR that has S-Video out, although I'm not entirely sure if it would make a difference if the video tapes you're using aren't SVHS (opinions differ on this). Let us know how it goes with the ADVC55.
     
  23. hazmatzak macrumors regular

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    Apr 29, 2008
    #23
    If you're looking for a "new" VCR, I'd recommend one with a built-in Time Base Corrector. It makes the image more stable (e.g. vertical lines stay steady and don't wave) which not only looks better but will yield better results during video compression. It used to be a high-end VCR feature, but for example I just checked B&H and they have refurbs for $149 (which I guess is now kinda pricey for a VCR).

    I vaguely recall using an ADVC-100 right out of the box with no problems on a Mac, back in the stone age when consumer DVD burners cost $500.
     
  24. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24

    Thanks for the link, I picked up one today for $15 on craigslist, it's a Sony DVD/VHS player so we'll see how it works out. If things don't look too good I might sell the 2 VCR's I have and get the above example.

    Unfortunately we have visitors in town this weekend so I don't know if I'm going to get to mess around with everything until Monday. :(
     
  25. dlegend thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Well first attempt just plugged it right it and it's working pretty well. Only 2 issues.

    1, you don't hear sound when importing video into iMovie. I don't know if this is something that can be fixed or if that's how it always is.

    2nd issue is I can't write video to my external hard drive. I suspect this is an issue on my end as its formated FAT32. I might purchase an external hard drive soon just for this so I'll make sure it's formatted correctly. Microcenter has some 1 and 1.5TB externals for sale, I can't decide if I should get a firewall HD or just USB. Also, they only have Seagate 1.5's on sale but I keep hearing bad things about them.
     

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