Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

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kennyholl

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Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostSun Jun 28, 2020 6:06 pm

I have had massive problems using this h.264 Pro Recorder to transfer VHS tapes to mp4 files. Sometimes it works fine and sometimes it doesn't. I have tried using three different VCR's and two different Mac computers, as well as swapping multiple different cables. And I have had a variety of problems. Using my MacBook Air, I have often had a Cross-Pulse image (picture cut in half vertically and horizontally with a black bar in the middle), and I frequently have audio out of sync with the video. I have tried powering down the h264 recorder and back up, as well as closing and restarting Media Express. And this has been a problem with multiple tapes on multiple VCR's. This has occurred with the latest Desktop Video program (11.5.1), as well as another recent program (11.5). On my iMac, I have not had any of the Cross-Pulses, but I have continued to have problems with the audio being way out of sync with the video. Also, on the iMac, I sometimes cannot seem to "see" the h.264 recorder connected - Media Express only gives me the option for playback, not capture. Sometimes, I have been capturing a video, seen that the audio is out of sync, close Media Express, and when I re-open it, Capture is not an option because it does not see anything coming in. (All while the VHS tape continued to play and nothing got disconnected.) Usually, the only way I could get Media Express to see the h264 recorder would be to reboot my whole computer. And that didn't always work either. I have also uninstalled and reinstalled Desktop Video about three times on that computer. Oh, and for all the tapes that I have not been able to transfer, I have successfully transferred them using my old pain-in-the-ass two step process of transferring the VHS to a DVD-recorder, then using MPEG Streamclip to make an MP4 file from the DVD. It's a laborious process, but at least it works better and more consistently than this maddening h264/media express madness I've been dealing with. Please help!
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Uli Plank

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Re: Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostTue Jun 30, 2020 10:07 am

You'll need a TBC (Time Base Corrector) to make this work reliably.
The best would be a full-frame TBC unit.
But some (at their time pricey) VHS machines had line TBCs, which may help.
Resolve Studio 16.2.2 and Fusion Studio under MacOS Mojave 10.14.6
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kennyholl

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Re: Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostTue Jun 30, 2020 6:08 pm

So why does it work for some tapes and not others? And why do the different Mac computers present different problems? (Same version of Desktop Video on each)
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Uli Plank

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Re: Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostWed Jul 01, 2020 8:34 am

You can have all kinds of fluctuations regarding problems with analog tape, especially old ones. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Sometimes feels like voodoo. I once saw a friend banging a certain corner of his machine and the picture came back. When I tried, it didn't work. He grinned and said "you are not doing it with the right vibes" ;-)
There are good reasons video went digital…

But you can try one of the cheap amateur devices instead of the one from BM, some are more tolerant to video timing issues, as you already observed with your DVD-recorder.
Resolve Studio 16.2.2 and Fusion Studio under MacOS Mojave 10.14.6
iMac 2017 Radeon Pro 580 8 GB VRAM and 32 GB RAM
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DeNoise Studios

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Re: Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostWed Jul 08, 2020 4:25 pm

I am 100% with you Kennyhall. I am using this device for 10 years now, it was never stable. I have multiple units, I used them with many different kind of Macs and PCs,. When it works it is great and it is one of the rare devices that will record directly at up to 20Mbps. The issues are always the same, sometimes MediaExpress won't detect it, it is greyed out or not showing at all. Sometimes it doesn't detect the video input, sometimes it won't detect one of the audio inputs, sometimes it will show horizontal bars, etc. When it works and you don't touch anything except loading a new tape, it could work work weeks without any issue. But it you disconnect 1 cable, power, usb, video, audio, or restarting or updating your computer, it could take hours to make it work again. I transfer a lot of tapes, every morning I will have some issues if I dared turned off the computer at night. I can insure you that it doesn't have anything to do with your VCR, cables, computer. It is purely and solely a bad or incomplete design of the H.264 hardware and MediaExpress software. BM knows it. but they don't care if you spend hours debugging as long as it works at the end, because it ultimately does. it is just frustrating. If I count all the lost time I spent on it, it would have been better to spend $10K on different devices. There are not many options on the market for devices able to record directly a good H.264 file at 20Mbps. If any of you can offer some advice I will jump ship without any regrets.

I can add the the old tiny and cheap BM "Video Recorder" USB hardware works perfectly, all the time, zero issues, but not higher than 3.5Mbps, and no pro inputs.

Regarding the stupid horizontal bar problem, you just have to turn off and on or disconnect the VCR until it works correctly again. It is not a VCR or signal issue, it is a BM bug only.
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DeNoise Studios

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Re: Problems using h264 recorder to transfer VHS to mp4

PostWed Jul 08, 2020 5:40 pm

I must add something
I would be curious to know, if it was possible, how many hours were spent by BM support and users on phone calls, emails, device replacements, google searches just because of this instable device. Just speculating, 10000 devices x 5 hours average of lost time (I am personally at 50 in the last 10 years) = 50K hours x $40 (average base wage) = $2M. I am sure that's way over the budget to fix the issue, but who cares if it is mostly the user's time.

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