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Transferred VHS to MP4 - what are the best settings when starting a new project

Explorer ,
Jul 24, 2020

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I've just started transferring all of my VHS tapes with Elgato video capture and now want to edit it using Premiere - I'm a bit concerned about the aspect ratio/size of the finished project - what are the settings that I need to do - if anything different.  Thanks!

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Transferred VHS to MP4 - what are the best settings when starting a new project

Explorer ,
Jul 24, 2020

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I've just started transferring all of my VHS tapes with Elgato video capture and now want to edit it using Premiere - I'm a bit concerned about the aspect ratio/size of the finished project - what are the settings that I need to do - if anything different.  Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 24, 2020

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You are using NTSC

Your sequence setting should be:
NTSC DV  720 x480  0,9 or 1,2 widescreen

frame rate 29.97

 

Thats all

 

 

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Advocate ,
Jul 24, 2020

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might be good to use mediainfo tree view to see what your captured files are.

Then match the file specs to your new timeline specs...

If it's 4:3, ntsc, it maybe be interleaved or progressive ( depending on how it was captured from tape).

It might be widescreen... which is just 4:3 stretched out to 16:9 ( letterboxed probably ).

Depends on how stuff was shot, captured and now you want to match that exactly.

Then when you export you can make it progressive and the same size ( no fields ).

It's a little tricky cause it's basically old TV standard stuff and you want to make it modern export. Same fps, same dimensions, same pixel ( par ) size, but you can now make it progressive instead of interleaved.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 25, 2020

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You should not be using MP4 for starters - that is a lossy form, and editing a lossy form & then recompressing will further reduce quality. See second post (first reply) for the correct settings

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 25, 2020

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Guessed correct.

These are the video settings of the capture software, and the are terrible.

Technical Specifications

Elgato Video Capture automatically detects NTSC, SECAM, PAL and PAL/60 video formats for worldwide compatibility.

  • Video resolution: 640×480 (4:3) or 640×360 (16:9)

  • Video format Mac Software: H.264 at 1.4 MBit/sec or MPEG-4 at 2.4 MBit/se

  • Video format PC Software: H.264 at 1.4 MBit/se

  • Audio: AAC, 48kHZ, 128 kBit/sec

 

Best is to look for a second hand Grass Valley A/D converter (or a mini dv camera with analog in). It will capture your footage in the best quality possible. This Elgato thing is destroying your footage.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 25, 2020

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Actually, most VHS footage is already extremely low quality to begin with. You see, the effective horizontal resolution of most VHS footage is only about 270 pixels per picture height. With an aspect ratio of 4:3 NTSC, that would translate to an effective total horizontal resolution of only about 350 to 360 pixels. The vertical resolution is fixed at 480 pixels. Thus, image quality loss when converting from analog VHS to digital is unavoidable due to the resampling of pixel content no matter what. What's worse, the Elgato cannot really keep interlacing. All analog video is interlaced - but cheaper capture devices like the Elgato shoot themselves in the foot by always deinterlacing interlaced footage before they even send it to the PC.

 

Properly converting VHS to digital will require specialized equipment that's way beyond the scope of PC do-it-yourselfers. This specialized equipment will be much more expensive than even the most expensive of Macs and servers. If the discussion starter MUST do this conversion him/herself using the aforementioned Elgato device, then I would recommend keeping the 640 x 480 resolution, Pixel ratio set to "Square Pixel (1.0)," Field Order set to "None (Progressive scan)," and then exporting the edited result to 320 x 240 resolution (using a 1.0 pixel ratio) or 352 x 240 (using the "NTSC DV (0.9091)" pixel ratio).

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 25, 2020

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I tend to agree wtih Ann Bens. Capturing DV-25 works great. The Intensity Shuttle can offer better capturing options but it requires a TBC. The ADVC devices from Canopus do not. If you want to check the quality you can checkout the video link below

https://youtu.be/dVLUxRkPMdA .

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LEGEND ,
Jul 25, 2020

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I did exaggerate the cost of the specialized hardware. Good analog-to-digital capture cards or devices cost a lot more than $100 (which is the current street price of that Elgato device). In fact, more like close to $500 - about what a higher-end discrete graphics card would cost. (A very good analogy is if that Elgato device were like a GeForce GT 1030, then the good, proper capture devices would be more like an RTX 2070 SUPER. Just like the RTX 2070 SUPER is that much more powerful than the GT 1030, the proper Grass Valley card would be better than the Elgato by a very similar margin.)

 

And when a memory/gaming peripheral company owns Elgato (in this case, Corsair), bringing out analog capture devices that are better than the model it currently sells is a very low priority for that brand.

 

And the cheapo capture devices not only always deinterlace video, they do so by just simply blending the two fields. This preserves motion but seriously degrades image quality (even in still shots).

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Guide ,
Jul 25, 2020

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Specialized equipment only need to be able to capture 4:2:2 or even 4:4:4 in intraframe mode. motionjpeg works great for this and doesn't take up too much bandwidth. Its the 4:2:0 interframe codecs with low bitrate that cause the most damage.

 

Use a 4 head S-VHS with component output and Time base correction to reduce fringing and poor color. If you can find one used in TV stations, they are professional quality. Clean with alcohal on the heads, run dummy tape cleaner. You'll want to stay away from composite. It is an old, noisy way to combine all singals. s-video is a little better. Use component intead, as it is the best. If you want the best deinterlace possible, I recomend QTGMC or equivalent. Adobe's deinterlacer is not bad, but it can be better.

 

Some newer models: all component, not composite:
Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4k ProRes and DNxHD, or as fully uncompressed 10-bit video,
Black magic decklink can capture uncompressed, for instance. but it needs special usb renises driver
Diamond Multimedia USB 2.0 High Definition can capture component.
StarTech.com Standalone Video Capture component.
Matrox MXO2 Mini High Definition HDMI and Analog I/O Device component
Hauppauge Colossus PCI Express Internal HD-PVR With Component

 

I disagree with lowering the resolution to 240 upon export. That would only be true if you are throwing away fields so there is only half the data upon deinterlace. A good deinterlacer will combine the fields using motion estimation, thus preserving the higher resolution.

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Guide ,
Jul 25, 2020

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LEGEND ,
Jul 25, 2020

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Fair enough. The problem is with the Elgato capture device itself. It, like other inexpensive analog-to-digital capture devices, can only encode to H.264 MP4. The supplied software for Windows does not permit any other codec.

 

Worse, these cheap devices cannot maintain interlaced output. Instead, they all must deinterlace and then export in progressive scan, which will degrade image quality.

 

The only proper way to capture VHS would be a specialized capture device, which may be a lot more expensive to purchase than the discussion starter could afford.

 

And I have stated that 240p export is recommended in the case of the Elgato capture In this case, both cheap hardware and software upconverting are terrible. Had more expensive specialized capture hardware been used instead, then I would have exported as 4:3 480i. You simply cannot improve or even maintain the image quality of an already degraded capture to begin with.

 

In other words, if this were a business, and it had to only rely on such cheapo capture devices for commercial-grade VHS-to-digital conversions, then I would have either closed up shop and suspend operations, or at least temporarily discontinue this particular conversion service, until I could afford to purchase this expensive specialized equipment.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 26, 2020

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Whilst VHS is not great, it is still analogue and still therefore lossless and as with Digital Video the trick is to use the best quality ADC you can get hold of. Don't throw away data until you have to, so don't capture at anything less than the native resolution of the tape - in NTSC DV this is 720x480 in non-square (anamorphic) and in PAL DV this is 720x576 anamorphic. If your device cannot capture to native AVI or Quicktime DV as a bare minimum then it is not worth the money you paid for it - simple as that. Sorry to be blunt but the truth is still the truth.

There are a myriad of cheap, cheap, cheap second hand devices out there - you can pick up a Snell & Wilcox hardware unit that sold for tens of thousands of pounds for a couple of hundred these days from auction sites such as Techbid in the UK and there are certainly US versions. Avoid eBay as you have no idea if these devices are fully functional and with eBay it is sadly a case of Caveat Emptor at all times. I speak as someone who has been burned more than once on eBay before I finally got the message.

If you are doing this professionally then you owe it to your clients to do the best possible job. Personally I would even consider capturing in HD and reduce to the final delivery specifications at the last possible minute - this should always be the second to last job you do with the final one being the lossy compression for delivery (do not ever scale & data reduce at the same time) and bear in mind the higher the captured resolution the better the final result will be.

If you have the ability to use S-VHS, then there are simple 'bridging' devices available like my old Canopus ADVC-300 which works just fine with Premiere, but for preference you should get a decent capture card (Aja Kona as a minimum) and seriously consider a Snell box from a bankrupt Post Production house auction.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 26, 2020

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I mostly agree. You get what you pay for, in the case of analog video capture. Although a £10k device is way overkill for what the discussion starter intended to use the archived footage for. $100 (USD) devices such as that Elgato produce results that are barely sufficient for Web use. A device that costs around $500-ish (USD) will sufice for most people, including some pros.

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