VHS to digital format

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by diamond3, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. diamond3 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    #1
    So I'm going to be converting several VHS and 8mm camcorder tapes into a format that is compatible with iTunes and iPods. I'm trying to figure out what would be the best way to go about this to maintain the quality without going overboard with size. Encoding time won't be an issue since i've got a 8-core MP and will be able to encode while uploading at the same time.

    Should I go vhs/old camcorder -->minidv camcorder-->Mac Pro-->iMovie-->Share DV file-->Handbrake?

    Converting using handbrake: what settings would be best? De-interlace?

    Also, are there any programs that will pull in the video and encode it in one step to by pass iMovie?
     
  2. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Location:
    ЧИКАГО!
    #2
    Hello.

    Well, you could co it that way if your DV camcorder allows analog input.

    You may want to consider a capture device of some sort, especially if there's a lot of tapes or if they're deteriorated.

    The best Capture device I've seen is the Canopus ADVC 300. It can clean up the signal quite a bit from older tapes and absolutely prevents the audio from getting Out Of Sync (OOS) with the video on longer captures. The ADVC 110 is a cheaper version that provides great captures with locked audio, minus the signal processing abilities. Both models connect to the computer via Firewire and the computer "sees" a DV camcorder. Both models can also be used as an Analog output device so as to play back into an analog tape.

    De-interlace is one of many picture settings in Handbrake.
    My recommendation is to first try the default settings on a short sample capture, perform "Save As" to something like "Sample1a" turn on De-interlace, save as "Sample1b" and so on... change a setting, make a different sample. Then, compare and see what settings work best for you.

    If you'd like to capture and encode to disk in one operation, Toast Titanium can do that. I've never tried this but Toast offers the option if a camcorder (or an ADVC) is connected.

    Have Fun,
    Keri

    PS. "OOS" Audio happens because the analog video is captured separately from the audio. The video is composed of roughly 30 still pictures (frames) per second. in 100 seconds, there's 2997 frames. If one or more frames don't capture for some reason, you might have 2996, 2995, 2970 or even fewer frames for the full 100 seconds of Audio. If 2967 frames survived and 30 dropped out, the video will be 1 second ahead of the audio at the end.

    Canopus ADVC transcoders prevent this by keeping the video rigidly in sync with the audio during the capture. No one else has this feature that I'm aware of..
     
  3. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #3
    I'll have to keep that in mind about the audio becoming out of sync. I know the old iMovie had serious problems with it, but in the past few years I've yet to notice it. A lot of the VHS are only 25 minutes long so I should be alright. I do plan on just using the camcorder to pass through the video just because its the cheaper route.

    This is the second major project I've undergone. The first resulted in almost 200 DVDs. This time around I'm going to be keeping it all digital. What I'd like to do is be able to put them into iTunes, then tag them them as christmas, bdays, vacations etc. Then I'll try to compile smart playlists for everything in 1998 or all christmas videos for example. I think this will give them the best control in finding everything. It will just take a little extra time to setup, but will make it easier to find a specific event in the long run.

    So as far as the encoding goes, is there anyone with recommendations on the best settings for 1)VHS and 2)8mm camcorder tapes? I'm going to end up creating samples like you said, but if anyone has found certain settings that work for them, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for your help Keri.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #4
    The very best way to go is

    vhs/old camcorder -->minidv camcorder-->Mac Pro--> video file on disk in DV format.

    This is easy if you DV camera has a "pass through" feature. If not then you will have to record the VHS to mini DV tape and then transfer the tapes to the Mac.

    Your archive format would be DV. If you are going to edit DV is the best editing format because it is not key frame based and uses no inter-frame compression. Later if you decide to distribute the vido convert it is some more compressed format. But your archive/edit format should be DV. DV is by far the bet quality format for keeping old VHS or 8mm video.
     
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2003
    #5
    I second the idea of keeping the DV files in case you want to edit them at a later date, or to transcode them to a better codec when h.264 is surpassed by something else.

    But if your camera doesn't have passthru, then I would just buy a Canopus box. If you are looking to digitize a lot of VHS, then copying to miniDV tape first will a) only allow you to do an hour at a time, and b) will now take you twice real-time (plus setup). For just a few tapes, you can save yourself money by using your camcorder. After that, it becomes a major PITA to do it that way.
     
  6. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #6
    The camera is capable of pass through so I'm definitely going that route. I'll consider the DV format for a backup, but I'll still have to convert it down to be compatible with iTunes and the ipods.
     
  7. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #7
    Okay, so I have started the process. I wan't to go as fast as possible since the tapes are around 25-30 minutes in length. So what I want to do is import using iMovie, trim the first few seconds and ending as needed and then convert using a different program. This will allow me to import the next video in imovie while encoding at the same time. (this can't be done at the same time with just imovie)

    Few questions, the audio is a stereo signal, but only a mono source. Essentially the playback is in the left speaker only. What is the best to export it and convert it.
    I was going to use handbrake to convert, but it can't convert it to a mono signal. So this means I have to export it in iMovie. I'm not to familiar with iMovio 09 though.

    Is there a way to export it in mono, without trying to convert the video source and taking a lot of time?
    or
    Is there another program that will convert the video to mono so I don't have to convert anything in iMovie?

    One last question, when I go to the imovie events folder where it saves the imported dv file, is there any way to update the dv file to reflect the trims made at the beginning/end of movie? Or is this a case where I will have to export it no matter what?
     
  8. JYork23 macrumors member

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    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #8
    From reading the thread and seeing you mentions of iMovie without mention of Final Cut Pro (or Express), I'm going to assume that you only have the software that came with your Mac and the free Handbrake download.

    It's going to be worth it in time in the long run to head to your local Radio Shack and get an RCA y-adapter so that you can take the output from the VHS left channel and feed both channels of your camcorder (the link was just an example of the adapter - get the cheapest one they have).

    Barring that, it might be worth it to suck it up and pay out the $30 for Quicktime Pro if they still offer version 7 for Mac. With it, you can trim clips, pull and change audio tracks, and export exactly what your iPod wants. It bypasses the whole iMovie recompression thing which ends up getting compressed again in Handbrake.

    But if you REALLY want to do it right, I would suggest rereading KeriJane's post again. She's exactly right on the money!

    In thinking about intermediary files and codecs keep this in mind: once data is kissed by a lesser codec, that information is gone forever. You can't get it back. It's like taking broadcast video on a high-end tape format (like Betacam), dubbing it to VHS, and then putting it back on Betacam. Your final Betacam can't look any better than that crappy VHS intermediary. I say all of this to make sure that you realize that dubbing in DV is fine for your intermediary, but heed the advice of setting aside copies of those files. Anything else you do to the file is a recompression and makes things worse. You're coming from analog VHS...it's already bad.
     
  9. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    #9
    Well, I figured out a solution for now. I'm taking the VHS tapes --> camcorder -firewire-->mac pro --> iMovie 09 to create the DV file.
    Then, after the first tape has imported I start importing the next tape.
    I then open up mpeg streamclip, open the iMovie events folder, select the project folder, and then open the dv file that was created. With mpeg streamclip, i'm able to export it as h264, and change the audio output to mono. This takes about 15 minutes or so to encode, so I am done before my next vhs ends.

    Since this the source is from a vhs, i'm going with a 50% reduction in video quality and 96kbs audio. The quality seems to be okay compared to the original source. It is an animated cartoon series on VHS which is why i'm able to get away with the low audio and video quality. The end file for a ~25min video is around 300mb.
     
  10. JYork23 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Connecticut
    #10
    Excellent decision on the workflow! MPEG Streamclip is the tool of choice for those of us who need to rip (unprotected/uncopyrighted) material from DVD for editing.

    One more thought on the codec. I have Final Cut Studio installed. When I create graphics only content, I use the "Animation" codec. I don't know if it's available to you in non-Final Cut installed systems, but that might be a better choice for codec than DV for this material.

    Soon, we will have a world without VHS. This is good.
     
  11. diamond3 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #11
    Yeah, I've been surprised with MPEG streamclip. I can set the in and out points to my DV file so I don't have to worry about starting and stopping the import at exactly the right spot as well as de-interlace.
     

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