Question VHS to DVD conversion and file transfer

Discussion in 'Digital TV & Video Players & Recorders' started by Zerozx, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. Zerozx

    Zerozx
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    Hello all,

    First time posting here, go easy on me. I've got two questions.

    I recently bought a VHS/DVD combo set (this one, if it matters) for my mom so we can start transferring some VHS tapes to DVDs for safekeeping. I'm using DVD-R format discs since that seems to be what this player calls for. It's a fairly straightforward process, so I don't have any questions right now about that, but I have noticed a problem: as I'm recording to DVD, sometimes it seems to "skip" or the picture bounces up and down a bit, gray lines go across the screen; I'm sure there's a term for that, but I don't know what it is. When that happens, the audio is also missing or somewhat muffled. It also seems to mostly happen at the beginning or toward the beginning of tapes, almost as if once the jumpiness/gray lines stop, then it's "settled down" and plays normally for the remainder. I tried to play one of the tapes in another VHS player and it didn't seem to happen, it's almost as if this only happens after I've started the recording process but it doesn't happen when you're simply viewing the VHS tape. I'm not one-hundred percent sure, though.

    Question 1: What's going on here? Is it the individual player? The tape? Settings on the player? I've recorded about 6 or so tapes by now, and it hasn't happened on all of them, so I'm not sure what to think.

    Question 2 is about ripping or copying the file from the DVD after it's been transferred and finalized. Is it possible to do this? I tried to play a couple of the DVDs on my computer and they play just fine, but I can't access the DVD to copy a specific file and I've tried to use a program to rip the file from it, but it either didn't work at all or it only copied a few seconds and then never continued for some reason. So for #2, how can I successfully copy/rip the file from these finalized DVDs? I'd like to do that just as another backup and for another way to view the footage.

    Thanks for any and all help, and if you need more information I'll try to provide it.
     
  2. Gavtech

    Gavtech
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Regarding question 1 - The problems you describe are due to temporary loss of synchronising pulses.
    These regular pulses reside on a very small linear track on the bottom of the tape ribbon and are read (and recorded when the original recording is made) by a separate static head in the recording machine.

    A great many variables affect how well these pulses are recorded and played back.
    • The tape back-tension
    • How evenly the cassette is wound
    • Whether the edge of the tape has any edge damage
    • How clean the head was at the time of recording,
    • How clean the head is at the time of playback,
    • How quickly the back tension regulation systems will settle down.
    • The problem is always likely to be worse when a tape was recorded on a different machine to the one it is being played back on.
    • Lastly, the most common cause being that the beginning of tapes is always where most general tape damage occurs due to the lacing-up process and the uneven tensions that occur until the system has settled down.

    In practical terms there is not a lot that can be done about these problems other than ensuring that the control track ( as it is called) tape head is kept clean.
    Realigning a machine is not economic, and will not address problems caused by previously recorded tapes which had a different alignment and will not improve tapes that have tape ribbon damage or surface damage.

    It may help to fast wind tapes to their very end then rewind them fully to get an even wind on the spool before trying a transfer.

    Regarding question 2 - Depending on the nature of the material you are recording ( it is probably copyrighted if attempts to copy cease after a second or two) - This forum's rules prevent discussion of methods of defeating this.

    Have a look at these two links which deal with the legality of matters, dependent on your locality, and software types to deal with the general process of DVD ripping.

    Ripping
    Comparison of DVD Ripping Software
     
  3. Zerozx

    Zerozx
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    Thank you! This was a very helpful explanation, even if it's not exactly what I wanted to read as it doesn't sound like much can be done. I still wonder though, and maybe you can explain: why does it seem to mostly or only happen while I'm transferring the footage to a DVD? During regular playback when I'm not transferring, it seems to play normally although it still happened a few times, just to a lesser extent. Seems to worsen during the transfer to DVD.

    That was my only guess as to why it wasn't allowing me to rip or copy a file, but none of the footage is copyrighted: it's all home footage recorded in the early 90s. Thank you for the links.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  4. JonMace

    JonMace
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    There are camera shops that offer a professional service to do this, it might be worth looking at to evade the hassle
     
  5. grahamlthompson

    grahamlthompson
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    It's because recording the content to a DVD requires the analogue content to be digitised using a ADC (Analogue Digital Converter) and compressed in real time (normally using mpeg2 for a DVD). Without accurate sync control signals the ADC cannot function. Macrovision control screws up these control signals (just as alignment/damaged tape problems with your player does) making it difficult to record the content though it still plays back on a TV.

    Using a superior VHS player with a time base corrector (TBC) and a PC with a USB capture device might help. Not cheap though so using a pro service is likely to be a cheaper option.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/PALM-SIZED-TIME-BASE-CORRECTOR/dp/B0015M48RS
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016

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