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Best settings for archiving video tapes to DVD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by daydreamer, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. daydreamer

    daydreamer
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    If I manage to buy either the DMR-85 or RD-XS32 one of the uses will be to backup/copy my girlfriends large collection of VHS tapes onto DVD (takes up less space).

    I was wondering how best to achieve this? What should the general approach to the settings be?

    Should you aim for the highest bit rate possible (and full resolution?), or is it a bit pointless unless the VHS is good quality (diminishing returns etc). On the one hand I can see a theory to use the highest quality possible to best preserve the remaining information (however poor that is). On the other hand, surely you won't diminish a grotty Long Play VHS that much by using a lower bitrate. And is full resolution required - I thought VHS didn't have as many lines as DVD (and TV?).

    So any general advice on the best approach to this?
     
  2. mokas

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    Is it Pal or NTSC VHS ?
     
  3. daydreamer

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    I believe these will all be PAL VHS tapes, recorded off TV over a number of years.
     
  4. Rasczak

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    VHS is a low resolution, noisy, unstable analogue source. Accordingly you should use full resolution and the highest possible bitrate (taking into account how much you need to record to each disk) to ensure you capture your VHS recordings retaining as much detail as possible. I suggest capturing using an appropriate Flexible Record setting and then high speed dubbing to DVD-R.
     
  5. Neville Street

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    Ras - help me understand this whole bitrate thing! I can sort of follow the logic of your last post, but on the other hand I imagine that a lower rate might be just as good as the quality is bad. I am probably being a bit dense, but I clearly have nto fully understood this issue. Is it different if recording from a digital source, e.g. Sky (or Sky+), where the broadcast quality can, in theory, be matched? I have posted similar questions but not had any response that has helped me get a handle on this issue. Thanks, NS
     
  6. apreading

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    The basic issue is this:

    Using the best quality (highest bitrate) will keep the recording as close to the original as possible.

    Beyond that, it is not a question of matching the quality setting on the recording to the quality of the input.

    Selecting a lower quality recording will always degrade the recording in relation to the input, as data is being lost.

    Now comes the bit you need to get your head around:

    A good quality input can actually cope with more compression as the effective recorded output is a little below the quality input.

    But a low quality input will also be degraded by the recording loss, resulting in a 'below low' quality recording.

    Also, the low qual settings achieve a degree of their space savings by compression. It is easier to compress large areas of uniform colour as a simple example because you can just specify the location of the area and what colour it is. A similar principle applies to movement - wherby the more static the picture the less needs to be recorded in data to reproduce it. The more different detail in the source, the harder it is to compress and still retain that detail. This is one reason I find cartoons perfectly acceptable at LP for the kids, but movies not so. The worst thing to compress is swirling fog or fast movement.

    Now back to low qual videos, there is alot of 'noise' and smearing in the input and the recording will see this as massive amounts of detail - which will be harder to record, so you will get more severe degradation.

    In practice, I find SP is acceptable for video dubs by the way - plus it needs to be if you want to get a film on a single DVD!
     
  7. daydreamer

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    Many thanks Rasczak. I guess I knew that was really the answer, I just was hoping to be able to save some space somewhere.
     
  8. daydreamer

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    Thanks, that's good to know, although I guess I will have to play myself when I get my recorder as they are of varying quality.

    That is my main worry, some of my girlfriends LP tapes could have 6 hours of stuff. I guess they will have to be split down to 2 or 3 DVDs depending on what's on them - hopefully no really long films.
     
  9. Kevo

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    Many would argue that using full res & full bitrate on VHS material is wasted.

    352 x 576 res and vbr 5-6000 max, bitrate is sufficient for VHS.

    I have many VHS transfers done with these settings and they still look identical to the original tapes.

    Also the quality of the built in codecs you use will also have an affect on the quality.

    I've no idea on how the quality of the built in CODECS compares with standalone recorders, but my Panasonic ones seem to be good enough.

    In fact I have recently discovered that some of my off air DTV recordings to DVD-R that run for 90 minutes or so are in 352 x 576 res (Pan DMR-E100) and they still look excellent quality!
     
  10. Rasczak

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    The reason for using a high bitrate and full resolution is because VHS is a noisy, unstable analogue source. Think of the type of 'artifacts' you get on VHS (or any poor analogue source for that matter): colour seeping, blurring, softness, picture noise. These do not transfer to the digital domain well - and if they don't transfer well they cause MPEG artifacts (blockiness, smearing, blurring etc) - and the way to minimise that is to use a high bitrate.

    People also say as VHS is a low resolution source you should be able to use a low resolution setting: well yes that would apply if the two signals were sychronised - but they are not. Effectively by using full resolution your capturing what the recorder is being fed at the best possible quality. In my own experience, and from my own preferences, I try to avoid putting more than 1h 45mins of VHS footage on a DVD-R (unless programme length forces me to do longer) as detail loss then becomes apparent.

    You can get away with lower bitrates for Freeview/Sky as the signal tends to be much cleaner: RGB source, more stable and, although passing through the analogue domain, comes from a digital source thus encodes without too much difficulty.
     
  11. Neville Street

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    Thanks for the input apreading, Kevo and Rasczac, I feel I understand the issue much better now. :thumbsup:

    Rasczac's rule of thumb for VHS (1hr 45m per DVD) will be useful when I start converting some of our old kids VHS (although I will be tempted to double that for the fact it may be watched on a tiny screen in the portable machine in the car!!).

    What about a rule of thumb for Sky/Freeview? I have done some topped and tailed Sky Movies onto one disk with DD2 sound and they seemed great (I know many of you will say "if they seem great to you then why ask the question", but I like to think of others I may share with in future who may have better equipment or eyesight/hearing!!). What settings have people used for movies or for stuff from VH1 (which seems to be a pretty poor quality picture generally) or for stuff from BBC/ITV, etc.

    Cheers, NS
     
  12. Rasczak

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    As a rule of thumb when recording from Sky I aim to put an absolute maximum of 2 hours per disk - and if I expect high action (or fire/smoke/extensive water scenes etc) I will aim for a maximum of 90 mins. Naturally though it depends on the programme length - anything above the resolution drop is reasonably acceptable if long recording times can't be avoided (normally in such cases I would use a 7MBits/S - 90mins - bitrate and divide a programme authoring on a PC using dual layer DVDR media).

    In my experience the Freeview BBC PQ is somewhat superior to Sky and so deserves a higher bitrate to capture the quality - thus I aim for 90 minutes per disk. As always though it depends on the length of the programme.
     
  13. liteswap

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    Rascak is dead right -- always capture as much info as you can (by using max bitrate) and then experiment with it. I recorded the same tape at max bitrate, then compressed it down using a number of different settings. Down to just above SP (4.6Mbit/sec) I found it made little difference (viewing on a Panasonic 28" WS TV) but then the quality starts to drop off noticeably.

    So I now do all recording from VHS at 5.0Mbit/sec., which means I don't visually lose quality. It's above the SP threshold so I've got margin for error and you can still get 1hr 47m on a DVD-R, which takes in most films. Much above that, just accept that you have to go to two discs -- let's face it they're only 40p a pop including p&p.

    Either that or wait until the film comes round again!
     

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