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Author Topic: Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?  (Read 2614 times)

Offline Ice Man

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Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?
« on: February 20, 2013, 02:59:53 AM »
Before I drive myself crazy creating an account on some random video editing website that I'll probably only make 2 posts on, I thought I might have a shot at getting the info here, since there's folks here who have really old videos that they've since uploaded.

I want to archive my old TWC footage, but am at a loss for what kind of player to use. Some of the tapes are rather screwy with the tracking. In some cases, what would be needed for optimal tracking is in a constant state of flux (no idea why) resulting in a video that looks fine, then goes haywire, and then returns to normal, in near regular intervals.

In other cases, though the tracking is stable, it's impossible to get a perfect image (with tracking adjustments, I I have to pick between static on the screen, a bouncy V-hold, or broken sound).

What I'm wondering is, with all the advances in computer technology, has there been a machine built that can compensate for all of this chaos and provide a clear image, so that I may then capture it to digital? Based on what I remember of how how VHS tapes worked, this should technically be possible, but I've no clue if anyone has ever done such a thing.

Offline TWCToday

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Re: Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 04:46:05 AM »
There are plenty of vhs to dvd converters out there. I would imagine they would have some kind of automatic tracking to compensate. That would be the easiest option as you would simply hit a button and the conversion is automatic. If you wanted to directly put them on your computer (remember you can always ripp the DVDs) you would need a video card hooked up to a VCR. It would be much more time consuming. Otherwise there is not many cost effective solutions. People aren't exactly looking to solve issues like this so the only products that might be out there are professional equipment for the media industry and that could range into the thousands of dollars.

Offline TWCC_Travis E.

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Re: Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 06:46:28 AM »
Yes, a lot of this stuff isn't always an exact science; truly effective equipment and methods to clean up the video can easily fall way outside of most people's budgets. Best compromise, in my experience, is to round up as many working VCRs as you can of various brands and ages (recent models especially tend to be designed and built outrageously poorly and can be a total crapshoot even when brand new) because usually each unit will handle particular tapes better than others (this is especially true of EP/SLP-recorded tapes using HiFi audio). Do some experimenting to find out which one handles each tape (or portion of a tape) best and use it for that dub. It can quickly become time consuming, but if you can manage to get an acceptable dub once, you hopefully won't have to go through it again. However, it's generally a good idea to continue to hold onto the original tapes as long as possible just in case something goes wrong with your new copies or you come across an even better solution someday.

Another thing to keep in mind is that depending on the condition of the tape, some problems simply are not feasible to fix, at least not without a prohibitive amount of time and money. Chances are that you will have to live with at least some glitches.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 06:57:33 AM by TWCC_Travis E. »

Offline Nick

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Re: Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 12:44:09 PM »
I've been using a AverMedia video capture card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815100049 to transfer many VHS tapes to PC over the last few years. Used Virtualdub to record the video stream, Adobe Premiere to edit and encode the video files to MPEG2, Photoshop to create dvd menus and Adobe Encore to create the dvds.

Things that can effect the video playback is quality of the tape and storage conditions, but usually it comes down to variations between VCR manufactures. I've been using a RCA model made in 1994 without many issues reading old tapes. Getting the tracking set properly on the LP speed can be an issue, depending on how the original vcr recorded the video. My advice would be to try the troublesome tapes in more than one vcr and see if they play better.

My experience has been the settop dvd recorders don't have long lives. The first one I had lasted about 3 years and the next about the same. Of course, they were used heavily transferring tape and recording tv shows.
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Offline Ice Man

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Re: Suggestions for archiving/restoring analog video to digital?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2016, 10:22:28 PM »
Well, it's been quite a while and took me a lot longer than I thought to finally start this project. Archiving has finally begun. I've got a nice Panasonic AG-1980 SVHS recorder, an external line-TBC, and a pretty solid capture device. Most of the tapes are playing fine at least.

But now I'm stumped as to how to determine the year of a recording. Official post is in the link, but I thought I'd best mention it here too.

http://twctodayforums.com/forums/everything-else-classic-twc/ways-to-identify-what-year-a-recording-is-from/msg194845/#new