Import VHS to PC/Mac but video is in B&W? Why?

BigBlockOfCheese

Novice Member
Hi,

As above. My set up is:

1. Panasonic NV-SD410 VHS player outputting via SCART, to
---> 2. SCART dongle with In/Out switch set to Out, connected to
-------> 3. RCAs - Yellow video, plus Red and White audio, connected to
-----------> 4. UVC USB Video Capture device (brand new), connected to
---------------> 5. Computer (I've tried Windows 10 PC and MacOS Big Sur)

When I play through any VHS tapes, the video that is received on the computer is in black and white. Same thing on PC and Mac, no matter if I select PAL/NTSC in software where such options exist.

Strangely, if I use the Ceefax style menu system on the VCR, that gets transmitted through to the computer in perfect colour, but that video may be encoded somehow differently to the raw video on the tape.

For reference, I am *not* using S-Video for this process, I am using RCA yellow (with no S-Video cable connected).
However, both the SCART dongle and the USB capture device support S-Video, and I've tried that too, but the video being received into the computer is still black and white.

Has anybody got any good ideas about where the problem is, and what I can do to get colour through to the computer?
For reference, I tried another Panasonic VCR, which is older and played less well, but that too transmitted in black and white, not colour.

I'm guessing there is a weak link in my chain somewhere here, but am unsure where the problem lies.
 
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BigBlockOfCheese

Novice Member
Update: Items 1, 2 and 3 in the chain do produce colour when plugged directly into a TV... suggesting the USB capture device is the problem...

Anyone with experience/bright ideas, I still value your input!
 

BigBlockOfCheese

Novice Member
Does the capture programme have an options panel that defaults to s-video?
No. On the Mac I'm using the standard Quicktime application and there are really no options beyond selecting the source - and on Windows I'm using the supplied software "Honestech VHS to DVD" which doesn't have options either.

I'm fairly certain now that the USB capture device is the weak link, so am returning it and going to try another one, but in the meantime have revamped my hardware chain so it is now as follows:

1. Panasonic NV-SD410 VHS player outputting via SCART, to
---> 2. SCART dongle with In/Out switch set to Out, connected to
-------> 3. RCAs - Yellow video, plus Red and White audio, all combined into a male 3.5mm pin connected to
-----------> 4. Sony PC120E DV Camera, connected via FireWire 400 to
---------------> 5. iMac G4, importing via iMovie HD, then transferring via USB2 hard disc to
-------------------> 6. Modern computer

It's a pain in the butt! But I'm happy that I have a temporary solution, while I wait for something that will go directly from step 3 to a modern computer platform...
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
There's a fair chance your bodged system will be better than the capture card!

I think the issue is that the capture card is unable to resolve the colour information from the player. Were the tapes originally recorded on it or are they definitely the same standard and colour frequency? There's some oddities out there and although the TV can resolve the information, the capture card is struggling. If it's a commercial tape, it may have copy code - which the capture card will sense and either block or not record properly.

Ideally you want a Time Base Corrector in the circuit, along with a Proc Amp. This allows you to re-time the video, remove any copycode and stabilise and correct the video prior to it getting to the PC or Mac.
 

BigBlockOfCheese

Novice Member
There's a fair chance your bodged system will be better than the capture card!
Yes, I realised that although it's 20 years old, the Sony PC120E was a £1000 piece of hardware from a reputable manufacturer, compared to the £20 piece of plastic made by a no-name company!

I think the issue is that the capture card is unable to resolve the colour information from the player. Were the tapes originally recorded on it or are they definitely the same standard and colour frequency? There's some oddities out there and although the TV can resolve the information, the capture card is struggling. If it's a commercial tape, it may have copy code - which the capture card will sense and either block or not record properly.
The tapes are all non-commercial home movie type things, and all recorded in PAL (as I'm in Europe). The VCRs are all PAL, from Europe. So I don't think copy protection or colour formats are to blame. Although, I recognise you are a professional with more knowledge than me on this. I'm basically a prosumer, I've got some good tech background, but really no expert status at all when it comes to video formats on VHS!

Ideally you want a Time Base Corrector in the circuit, along with a Proc Amp. This allows you to re-time the video, remove any copycode and stabilise and correct the video prior to it getting to the PC or Mac.
Yes, I refer you to my previous point... this is where my knowledge ends! I have a replacement capture card coming tomorrow - but it's another £20 USB dongle from a no-name brand, so I don't hold out much hope. It would be helpful if it worked though, as saving it to the G4 iMac, then exporting it from iMovie HD to DV format, then transferring it via a USB2 hard disc is... well... laborious...

I will look into the hardware you suggested, and possibly learn a thing or two!

Thank you, by the way, for your input. It is really appreciated.
 

BigBlockOfCheese

Novice Member
Update, just in case someone else ever has this problem and could benefit from what I'm learning:

The second USB video capture device arrived. This one is receiving colour footage from the source, but the tracking is wonky, with the video wavering all over the place.

So instead, I'm using my 20-year-old Sony DV camcorder with analog-to-digital passthrough, and it is working like a charm.

Moral of the story: Well made hardware by a manufacturer with experience wins every time, even if it is two decades old! The cheap tat is going back to Amazon for a refund. I suspect that the sellers know that at such a cheap price (around $20) some people won't bother to return it, but I'm getting my money back.

Next issue is the footage is probably interlaced, which is why Topaz Video Enchance AI didn't do well with it. So I need to learn how to take a DV file and get it uninterlaced...
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
If de-interlacing looks poor, it's normally because the field order has been swapped. This leads to horrible, jerky footage with a strobing or ripple effect.

Most editing software will either allow you to swap this or will correct it internally. I use Adobe Premiere Pro and never find an issue with footage captured from my 10 year old Pinnacle capture card in this respect.
 

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