VHS to ProRes MOV

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Mike Boas

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VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 5:50 pm

I'm looking for a method of grabbing from VHS and 8mm tapes that doesn't involve a PC or Mac. Trying to make it as easy as possible for my associates so they can hit play and record without mucking about with software.

It occurred to me that using a Blackmagic Video Assist might be a good idea. It's SDI in, of course, so I'd have to convert the signal first.

So would it work to use an Analog to SDI Blackmagic Mini Converter ($195), then go into the Blackmagic Video Assist?

I researched this a bit, and found old posts where people say you can't do it without a TBC (Time Base Corrector). Is that still the case if I'm using a BM Mini Converter?

Also, presuming my method does work, would it allow for an upres from standard def to HD?
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Jack Fairley

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 6:07 pm

The Analog to SDI box doesn't scale, so your SDI output format will match the input.
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Mike Boas

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 6:35 pm

Thanks. Any idea if it will work without the additional purchase of a TBC?
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Jack Fairley

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 6:47 pm

No, you definitely need a TBC, which BMD doesn't sell. If you search on this forum there are a lot of posts by Colin Barrett and others about capturing analog media.
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Colin Barrett

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 10:26 pm

Did somebody mention my name....? :-)

OK, one thing to bear in mind is that a TBC does only one thing - well, at its simplest it does anyhow. It is designed to accept a composite or YC component input from an off-tape source, which is inherently "unstable" due to a reliance on belts, spindles, pinch rollers, servos, etc., and re-clock the sync pulses coming off the tape such that each frame is now accurately timed. As has been pointed out, there is (surprisingly) not a single Blackmagic hardware product that will facilitate this relatively simple process. I know - I've fought the problem of digitising incoming footage from a multitude of VTR playback sources for several years!

Over many weeks recently I've been converting a TV company's PAL SD 4:3 news videotape archive to 10-bit Uncompressed YUV Quicktime files for loading to the company's MAM (Media Asset Management) server where clips will be accessible to production and editorial staff. Some 3/4" U-Matic and BVU tapes are a bit jittery due to age, and my broadcast-spec TBCs will grab hold of the tape output off the VTR and force each frame sync back into shape to the point where the image sequence is rock-solid - and other stuff like colour-framing, black level, chroma, luminance, etc are all corrected thanks to the use of vector and waveform scopes.

Once the TBC has done its job of re-clocking the material, it will be acceptable to almost any Blackmagic conversion device and you're away. However, it has no role to play in anything else. If you wish to perform an up-scale from 4:3 SD to - say - 1920x1080 in a "pillarbox" mode, you'll need something like a Teranex to do the job (although the Ultrastudio devices - such as my Ultrastudio Express - can also do this, I learned recently). Once a Blackmagic device has done a conversion, you'll then be able to write the file in anything that the host computer can offer. As a Mac user with FCPX and Compressor installed on all 4 of my hard-working Macs I can capture as any flavour of ProRes422, 8-bit and 10-bit Uncompressed YUV or RGB Quicktime, DPX or whatever.

But you can't achieve any kind of conversion until you've given your Blackmagic hardware an incoming analogue video signal that has been restored to a stable sync, and that's what the TBC is used for.

And what's the best TBC to use for this? That's a whole different ball-game!
Blackmagic Teranex 2D, Ultrastudio Express, Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt), Two H.264 Pro Recorders (Mac OSX) & lots of old VTRs used for digital archiving of legacy video formats for major libraries, broadcasters, universities and public archives.
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Mike Boas

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 4:12 pm

Thanks for the reply, Colin. Upscaling to 1080 is not my priority, just seeing what the options are.

My priority is ease of use for an affordable price. In the past I've captured into PC with Blackmagic Intensity Pro cards, as well as into a Mac using an off-board Blackmagic product (not sure the name). Never used a TBC (unless that's built into the computers' hardware somehow). Maybe those grabs were inferior, but they seemed to work.

What I'm trying to determine is will my theoretical method work at all without a TBC, even if the final product is inferior? Or will it automatically get a janky result and I should absolutely invest the extra cash in a TBC?
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Denny Smith

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 4:34 am

Mike, I tried thus using a Hyperdeck Shuttle, same idea, and you really need a TBC to get satisfactory results, as Colin stated, even when revording direct to a video recorder like the Video Assist, which only accepts a SDI or HDMI input. I use a Wolcox TBC that has a video processor to convert the analog reclickrd signal to an SDI output, saving another adapter in the video signal path. I have tried going from a BM analog to SDI Converter to the Shuttle, which worked with FigiBetavand zfVCam, but not verybwell with SVS or regular Beta tapes, which suffer f I'm droped frames and inconsistent frame sync signals, as Colin pointed out. I also wound up with rather large ProRes HD files for the SD content, which was letter boxed to 4:3 aspect ratio.
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Denny Smith
SHA Productions
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Craig Marshall

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 4:43 am

I used to own a couple of JVC Professional Super VHS/Regular VHS RS-422 Edit machines in my Betacam SP suite and they all had TBCs and Digital noise reduction chips installed. Picture output was startlingly good (given the medium) so output easily integrated into broadcast SD Television if required. There should be plenty still around on the second hand market.

Video output was Analogue Component which is easily converted to HDMI or SDI via BMD or third party converters and offers the best possible picture quality from legacy VHS sources.
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Mike Boas

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 7:22 pm

Thanks all!

I've been using consumer grade VCRs, but getting one with TBC built in sounds like a good idea.
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Colin Barrett

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 10:50 am

Mike Boas wrote:Thanks all!

I've been using consumer grade VCRs, but getting one with TBC built in sounds like a good idea.


It's the "least worst" option where consumer technology is concerned. The "TBCs" aren't really TBCs though, more procamps really. The real test is when you get sequences on a consumer camcorder tape where the user has left lengthy sections of blank tape (ie: no black burst or sync present - merely tape noise). In these instances, a cheap TBC or built-in circuit is less likely to be able to re-clock the pulses, resulting in the capture hardware/software crashing out, whereas a proper broadcast-grade TBC will do this in its stride and deliver a completely stable picture sequence to the capture hardware.
Blackmagic Teranex 2D, Ultrastudio Express, Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt), Two H.264 Pro Recorders (Mac OSX) & lots of old VTRs used for digital archiving of legacy video formats for major libraries, broadcasters, universities and public archives.
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Craig Marshall

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostWed Aug 16, 2017 8:14 pm

This looks a lot like the units we had in our Betacam suite although ours were the Recorder models with optional TBC and Noise Reduction circuits. About $12K each if memory is correct.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-BR-S522US-V ... 0005.m1851
4K Post Studio, Freelance Filmmaker, Media Writer
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Gerard Renou

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostSat Aug 19, 2017 4:23 pm

Hi every body

I had the same issue of black frames in using Intensity shuttle directely connected to the VCR.
After looking for the solution :idea: I have bought a video and RGB scaler in second market EXTRON DVS 304.

Thanks to this device , Input S video connected to VCR and outputs RGB connected to Intensity shuttle ,I have got very stable results without any black frames and possibility to correct color , contrast and brightness.

Gerard
HP Z820 , BM Intensity Shuttle, Extron DVS 304, VCR JVC.
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Thom Drewke

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV, expanded

PostMon Sep 04, 2017 9:59 pm

Interesting remarks from all. I agree with Colin who quite rightly says that a Time Base Corrector will often be necessary, dubbing from any kind of analog tape into the digital world. My whole professional career involved pro analog and later digital tape, always with TBCs involved. But I continue to be amazed at my Panasonic DVD Recorder, DMR-EZ48V, which copies old VHS tapes to DVD, and does it amazingly well for a consumer box. These boxes manage to stabilize the video well enough to produce acceptable DVDs (in the standard consumer format, playable on nearly any DVD player) and when new, cost only a few hundred bucks. Amazing little boxes. Naturally Panasonic stopped making them and they now sell on the used/rebuilt market for over $400. I've been lucky and found a couple on Ebay as closeouts, new in box, for $200 or so, but those days seem to be passed.
Anyway, it seems that Panasonic came up with a kind of prosumer video stabilizer circuit or something similar, since I cannot think of any other way this box would work at all. 8-)
Once you have video in the DVD format, of course it's no big problem to intake into Vegas or other editing software. Yes, it's compressed and lossy, but for old 480i source material it's more than good enough.
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Colin Barrett

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Re: VHS to ProRes MOV

PostMon Sep 11, 2017 10:25 pm

Thom, you're absolutely right. I have a couple of Sony DVD/HDD recorders and I too am amazed at how well they correct incoming tape-based material. My only complaint with the Sonys (I can't speak for other due to lack of experience) is that if I compare a SD composite input with its equivalent output, the recorder will tend to push the white peaks above legal limits when viewed on a waveform monitor (with the source and the recorder's pass-through output being compared on each of two inputs respectively). My Sony recorders tend to push video level to about 110% on the waveform monitor. With the recorder working only in auto mode there's not much I can do about it unless I can find some way of pulling the level back before it's given to the recorder.

However, I do agree with you; DVD/HDD recorders are a very good "poor person's TBC" option.
Blackmagic Teranex 2D, Ultrastudio Express, Intensity Shuttle (Thunderbolt), Two H.264 Pro Recorders (Mac OSX) & lots of old VTRs used for digital archiving of legacy video formats for major libraries, broadcasters, universities and public archives.

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