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Thread: Quality of video and sound vital - Which one is for me?

  1. #1

    Default Quality of video and sound vital - Which one is for me?

    I have just purchased a new, high spec. PC and it has a DVD writer.

    Now I want to use it to capture my old VHS collection and then transfer them to DVD (some editing may also be involved).

    However, the neccesity is that video and sound quality remains almost if not exactly the same.

    Here are the options I have looked into:

    1) PCI Video Capture Card e.g. Haupaugge's Win TV PVR 250 and AVI AIW

    The advantages of this first are foremost, I think, is that it is a PCI card so it won't drain the computer's resources like a USB device would. Also, it would be that I can encode straight into mpeg 2 format preventing frame loss. However, would this prevent me editing?

    Is it still possible to capture in avi format using Virtual Dub and by pass the card's encoding if one wishes to?

    The major problem I am worried about is that the sound quality will not be up to scratch. I think this because I only have AC97 on board sound. I would have to attach the composite lead to the TV Tuner card and then a RCA to 3.5mm jack would be inserted into the line in of the sound card. Past experience suggests this is not a brilliant sollution which may lead to out of sync sound as well as poor quality.

    2) USB Video Capture Device e.g. Haupaugge's Win TV PVR 350 and Pinnacle's Dazzle DVC 150

    The advantage of this is that it has all the inputs - both S-Video/Composite + the RCA Audio.

    Will this maintain sound quality?

    Also, if I was to capture this with Virtual Dub, how would the sound be captured with the video??

    Will the fact that they are USB 2.0 devices mean they are faster and capture a better quality? (Becuase I read the old USB 1.0 devices used up a lot of the system's resources and their was a fair bit of frame loss as well as a poorer quality compared to a PCI option.)

    3) Use a Analogue to Digital Converter which connects to the PC through firewire, e.g. Canopus ADVC-100 Analog to DV Video Converter

    This seems a good option, but an expensive one at that. Also, what puts me off is that it is compressed to DV-avi by the hardware. I have read posts stating there can be colour problems and also DV-avi would not be my first compression option.


    Any help much appreciated on which option you think suits me.

    P.S. I tried a TV Tuner card from my old PC into the new one, the capture quality seemed poor and there was a lot frame dropping.

    This suprised me since my new PC has a dedicated hard drive for vid capping (160Gb) and I have plenty of RAM (1024Mb) and a 3.2GHz Processor)

    Did the fact that the card is five years old have anything to do with this?
    So would another cheap but new TV card be an option?

    Thanks again.

  2. #2
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    Ok, it's probably best if you took a step back here.

    Let's start with the actual convertion process. Video encoding is probably one of the most CPU intensive operations your PC will perfom- it's one of the PC world's justifications for selling ever faster PCs. The beauty of DV camcorders is that you can hook them up to a PC via firewire. Because firewire allows high rates of data transfer, you can "capture" an identical copy of your DV tapes to your harddrive. This is saved as DV AVI and is extremely easy to work with. If you're not using firewire, you simply won't be able to transfer the same amount of data.

    That being said, there are ways of getting good quality through a bit of comprimise, e.g reducing the framesize to around 352*288 and selecting a codec that isn't too CPU intensive. I used to be able to capture perfect quality VCD compliant MPEG1 on a PIII 600 with just a bog standard TV card.

    But hardware acceleration (to take the strain away) will enable better results - especially on a slower system. You mention Haupaugge's cards, but these aren't designed to be coverters - it's just an added bonus to get the video-in connections and MPEG hardware compression. So with this kind of setup, you'll improve the quality of MPEG encoding, but this format isn't perfect for video editing.

    What you really need is a dedicated converter. The Dazzle DVC 150 was designed for the job, but because it uses USB, again you're going to be limited to the data transfer rate. I've never used the device before, so I shouldn't really comment . Its not an issue of draining resources, more an an issue of data transfer rates.

    For a little bit extra you can get a ADVC50. This is a dedicated converter that does ALL the work and can capture DV AVI quality which as mentioned is perfect for editing (although eats hard drive space!)

    So the question is, do you want to edit your video a LOT? If the answer is yes, go for the ADVC50. If not, opt for the Dazzle!

    Concerning the audio, why not just hook your audio input staight to the soundcard, and select the AC97 as the input in your capture appp. I've never has a problem with audio.

  3. #3

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    After much research, I have discovered, as you suggested, that the best way to "capture" old VHSs is through and analogue to digital converter.

    I discovered that ADVC-100 is much praised and seems superb (except for some suggesting colour saturation issues, especially in animation).

    You speak of the ADVC-50 model...

    Is this connected through firewire too, what does it lack? Does it still keep audio/video in sync?

    As well as this, i also discovered this: http://www.smartdv.co.uk/product.php/30/12/

    Which allows my Digital 8 camcorder to act as a passthrough and convert analogue to digital..

    Do you have any experiences with this? Will it be at the same standard as the ADVC? Or do they offer something extra, e.g. o improve image quality..

    P.S. How much hard disk space would an DV-avi capture three hours in length take at full resolution?

  4. #4
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    If you consider that the data rate of DV is 3.5MB/sec, 3 hours would be (3*60*60*3.5)/1000 = 37.8GB of hard drive space Ouch, huh?

    Audio-visual synching shouldn't be a problem - I've very rarely heard people with this problem.

    To use your camcoder as a pass-through, it needs to be specifically designed to do this. Check your manual for more details. The link which you referenced is a DVin dongle. This enables camcorders with the DVin feature disabled for the European market (where camcorders with DVins were deemed to be VCRs and taxed at a higher rate) to accept an incoming signal. You can therefore either export data back to tape, or record footage from another source.

    As I mentioned before, the is a cost effective way of converting to digital: first you record to Hi8 or DV tapes, then you transfer to a PC from the tape to your PC via firewire. This is the favoured method for many people.

    I belive the ADVC-50 only differs in that it only offers inputs rather than outputs. So you can capture to your PC, but it doesn't allow you to export.

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