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Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 17, 2014 01:46PM
I need to find one of those hardware converter boxes that can accept standard RCA video/audio inputs, and output to an uncompressed video format on the computer. I'd be happy with a Firewire or Thunderbolt interface. USB 3 would be fine as well, if that works.

I'm seeing some nice devices which I'm sure would do the trick, like the Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle w/Thunderbolt:
[www.blackmagicdesign.com]
Looks like the thunderbolt version retails for about $225 (no TB cable included). There is a usb3 version of the same device, but it is advertised as Windows-only (whereas the TB version advertises both Win/Mac compatibility...must be a driver thing). I'd like to capture in a relatively uncompressed codec, then I can convert to H264 for iPad watching, but then I'll have a decent copy of the original tape at good quality for further purposes down the road.

Back in the day, I know there were similar devices that had firewire interfaces, but those have long been phased out, I'm guessing. I looked a the OWC listing of AV devices, and the Blackmagic ones jumped out at me as being the most professional (I've used their stuff in a professional video setting before, and was very pleased with their software, hardware and support).

OWC listing: [eshop.macsales.com]

Basically, I'm looking to purchase one of these devices...don't really care new vs. used, TB vs Firewire, but I'll probably use it and then resell it when finished.

Any specific recommendations?
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: MEG
Date: June 17, 2014 02:35PM
Have access to a DV camcorder? Many support analog pass-thru. I've long used my old Canon and JVC camcorders to import old VHS or any analog video source into my Mac. Works like a champ.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: decay
Date: June 17, 2014 02:52PM
Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Mini 9
Date: June 17, 2014 03:24PM
Magnavox VHS-DVD burner combo. I picked one up at big lots for $66 years ago. Not GREAT, but gets it to DVD with MINIMAL effort.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: silvarios
Date: June 17, 2014 03:50PM
What about VHS copy protection? Anyone have a hint for circumvention?
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 17, 2014 03:56PM
Quote
MEG
Have access to a DV camcorder? Many support analog pass-thru. I've long used my old Canon and JVC camcorders to import old VHS or any analog video source into my Mac. Works like a champ.

Good idea, but don't have a camcorder anymore.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 17, 2014 03:57PM
Quote
Mini 9
Magnavox VHS-DVD burner combo. I picked one up at big lots for $66 years ago. Not GREAT, but gets it to DVD with MINIMAL effort.

I've wrestled with that possibility, but being a former pro video guy, I just can't get past the lossy DVD compression.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 17, 2014 03:58PM
Quote
decay
[forums.macresource.com]

[forums.macresource.com]

[forums.macresource.com]

[www.bhphotovideo.com]

[www.ebay.com]

Excellent links, thanks decay! Those Canopus/Grass Valley units looks like they'll do the trick at a fraction of the price of the Blackmagic devices.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: silvarios
Date: June 17, 2014 04:14PM
Quote
clay
Quote
Mini 9
Magnavox VHS-DVD burner combo. I picked one up at big lots for $66 years ago. Not GREAT, but gets it to DVD with MINIMAL effort.

I've wrestled with that possibility, but being a former pro video guy, I just can't get past the lossy DVD compression.

Don't know much about 8mm, but how bad can MPEG2 be in comparison to source VHS video?
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 17, 2014 04:35PM
I've had a Canopus Firewire box for a very long time now. Very happy with it for SD.

If you can find a BD/VHS combo box (Panasonics cost a fortune, but you might score a Magnavox version) and an HDMI > Component converter that strips HDCP (they're easy and cheap to find on eBay), that's the way to go for VHS, you can even upscale if you see fit (I've had very good results with fake 720p). Feed that output into the capture box of your choice.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: JoeH
Date: June 17, 2014 05:27PM
Quote
silvarios
What about VHS copy protection? Anyone have a hint for circumvention?

For tapes with copy protection you need to add a video staabilizer between the source VHS player and whatever you use for conversion. I personally have not used any of these, but the first has been used by a fellow staff member here at the library to get video off of some VHS tapes:

[www.amazon.com]

[www.amazon.com]

[www.amazon.com]
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 17, 2014 07:20PM
Quote
silvarios
Quote
clay
Quote
Mini 9
Magnavox VHS-DVD burner combo. I picked one up at big lots for $66 years ago. Not GREAT, but gets it to DVD with MINIMAL effort.

I've wrestled with that possibility, but being a former pro video guy, I just can't get past the lossy DVD compression.

Don't know much about 8mm, but how bad can MPEG2 be in comparison to source VHS video?

MPEG-2 can be pretty decent when working with decent source material. But when starting with a sh!tty source (most VHS and 8mm video), it really doesn't do the video any favors. Maybe this is one of those things that doesn't mean much to most people, but having lived through the start of the digital video revolution showed me just how much I dislike sending relatively low-res video through multiple passes of compression before the final result.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: colonel panic
Date: June 17, 2014 09:07PM
I also have Canopus box and used it for VHS transfers. Works well for SD and they can be found in abundance on eBay.

Quote
Will Collier
I've had a Canopus Firewire box for a very long time now. Very happy with it for SD.

If you can find a BD/VHS combo box (Panasonics cost a fortune, but you might score a Magnavox version) and an HDMI > Component converter that strips HDCP (they're easy and cheap to find on eBay), that's the way to go for VHS, you can even upscale if you see fit (I've had very good results with fake 720p). Feed that output into the capture box of your choice.



"They don't call me Colonel because I'm some dumb a$$ army guy" Colonel Homer J. Simpson
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 18, 2014 01:51PM
A lot of the Canopus boxes/cards have the undocumented capability to defeat VHS Macrovision. On mine it was enabled by removing a jumper... Google the specific models to check that.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Mini 9
Date: June 18, 2014 07:37PM
no need for macrovision defeat. If it's personal video no prob. If it's movies... the quality sucks too much to go thru trouble.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Racer X
Date: June 18, 2014 08:01PM
although it isn't directly comparable, VHS is 250 lines of resolution, S-VHS is 420, miniDV is between 500-525 depending on the camera, although the data written to the tape is 504.

So putting a lot of effort into transferring analog VHS to digital will result in mediocre results at best. I have done a lot of S-VHS to .dv format, and if the tape is first generation and from the pro cameras at work, they came out OK.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: clay
Date: June 18, 2014 08:47PM
Quote
Racer X
although it isn't directly comparable, VHS is 250 lines of resolution, S-VHS is 420, miniDV is between 500-525 depending on the camera, although the data written to the tape is 504.

So putting a lot of effort into transferring analog VHS to digital will result in mediocre results at best. I have done a lot of S-VHS to .dv format, and if the tape is first generation and from the pro cameras at work, they came out OK.

Yeah, I'm aware of the technical limitations of VHS and 8mm. Just looking to preserve what still remains at the best (reasonable) quality possible. One of these devices will do the trick.
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 19, 2014 06:44AM
Quote
clay
Quote
Racer X
although it isn't directly comparable, VHS is 250 lines of resolution, S-VHS is 420, miniDV is between 500-525 depending on the camera, although the data written to the tape is 504.

So putting a lot of effort into transferring analog VHS to digital will result in mediocre results at best. I have done a lot of S-VHS to .dv format, and if the tape is first generation and from the pro cameras at work, they came out OK.

Yeah, I'm aware of the technical limitations of VHS and 8mm. Just looking to preserve what still remains at the best (reasonable) quality possible. One of these devices will do the trick.

As noted above, my best results--by far--have been with the Panasonic combo deck kludged (HDMI > HPCP-stripping-Component converter) into a Hauppauge HD-PVR. That even takes into account he Haupp box encoding with H.264 as opposed to DV. End result far outclasses an S-Video output capture through the Canopus card.

You can't polish a turd, but faking 720p through the Panasonic's scaler does a very nice job of patching over the limitations of VHS...
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Re: Looking for hardware converter to digitize old VHS and 8mm tapes
Posted by: Mini 9
Date: June 20, 2014 06:51AM
I'd love to see a screenshot or more of what you would hold up as your good example of a conversion gone well.
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