How to enhance and preserve old video on VHS?

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    • #44517

      I have hundreds of VHS with videos of very valuable lectures. I want to capture it, enhance it, as it has degredated over last 25-30 yrs. The videos have lost colors, have disturbance in audio, I want to correct alldeficienciesand preserve it for generations to come.

      What is the best hardware as well as software to do this? What is the best format to preserve this?

    • #186411

      It seems like this would be easy to do, but it wasn’t for me. My basic idea was to load the VHS content into PPRO, fix it up as best I could and save it on DVDs.

      Problem 1: Somewhere along the line of upgrading my editing equipment I lost the ability to input analog video. I ended up digging up an old editor with an RT.X2 card and used it to capture the analog in an HD format. An alternate solution was to use a camcorder as an analog to digital converter.

      I found it was easier to work in After Effects because I could run the Red Giant Denoiser and their up rezing software against the file. Beware, denoising takes a long time so might not want to do it.

      After that, I used the levels, color correction and sharpening effects to raise contrast, saturation and sharpness. When it was a good as I could get it, I sent the file to Encore and burned it to a DVD.

      While the DVD was better than the original, it was a lot of work and took almost 10 times the length of the tape. Since I had about 27 hours of tape to convert, I took an easier route.

      I connected the output of the VHS player to the input of a DVD recorder and copied the tapes directly to DVDs. The results were not quite as good as the editing route, but were a lot faster.


    • #186412

      If the content has commercial value and you want to repurpose it for sales the ONLY available route is some aspect of the FIRST of Jaimie’s approaches.

      If the ONLY intent is to preserve for yourself and perhaps SHARE here or there, then the second approach makes much more sense … acquire a VHS-to-DVD recordable deck and make direct copies with no editing or enhancement.

      The middle of the road, if there is one, would be to acquire some kind of processor unit that would allow you to pass through the VHS en route to the editor or recorder and boost the color or signal strength somewhat. With these “proc-amp” units however, usually, LESS is more and a light touch will give better results than overdoing it. There’s a definite law of diminishing returns with heavy-handed processing.

    • #186413

      I did this using a cheap $8.00 garage sale sony camcorder.

      The sony digital 8 trv with vcr passthrough function and firewire… I played the tapes in a regular vcr, sent the video into the camcorder with the camcorders rca/svideo jacks… then passed through to my mac by firewire, used imovie to clean up the video quality then sent to idvd… a very time consuming process… with hundreds of videos… you can expect 2-4 hours of playback, and dvd burning for each hour of footage.

    • #186414

      Thank you very much Jaimie, Eric and Don. I just purchased Adobe Premier Production.. It’s in the mail.. waiting for it.

      Jaimie, I did not know what RT.x2 was, I looked it up, and found a great capture device, the devices that I have tried are from Bestbuy with RCA-to-USB connections. This would improve the capture quality a lot. I will buy one(<strong style=”color: #666666; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; text-align: left;”>Matrox MXO2 Mini, or similar)and try it.

      Once it arrives, I will try to edit each VHS one by one and save it as mp4 or mpeg2 in HD format.

      Thanks again!

    • #186415

      Trushar, I’m personally not so sure that converting VHS sources to HD is a good choice/decision. I think you’re taking on a LOT more aggravation and trouble by doing so. I personally convert my VHS resources to DVD after first making .mov files of them after importing. Many people for whom I’ve converted VHS resources have home entertainment systems with VHS and/or DVD players that uprez them with a decent result on their big screen TVs. I personally think that attempting to go from a basic VHS resolution or quality then digitally manipulating the files by ANY means or method in order to render it a HD file is often going to result in a lesser quality rather than greater quality video.

    • #186416

      As Earl said, lots of pain going from SD to HD, especially from VHS source.

      There is a package called Instant HD ( from Red Giant that can help but bottom line is you cannot create data accurately where none existed before.

      As far as what you’re doing, you might want to just buy a combo VCR/DVD recorder (I got one by Sony at Costco for $100) which copies VHS tapes to DVDs by just a button click and finalize. Not perfect but saved me a huge amount of time.

    • #186417

      Earl, All,

      I agree, VHS to HD is a not a great idea. These videos are philosophical lectures and could benifit largely within our vast family.

      I want to enhance them, and it does not have to be in HD, just want to get some color correction, cut down audio noise to be able to hear clearly. These videos are from early 80’s.

      This is the reason I want to process the videos, then make DVDs. If the video quality was not degraded, all the suggestions as to going from VHS to DVD using computer or VCR/DVD combo make sense.

      Thanks for all comments…keep it going. I am learning from the pros like you!

    • #186418

      Some really excellent advice, and as you can see from the advice there is really no way to make better what is not there. In the 1990’s the son of a studio owner/producer from Texas lived in this area, he made 4 short features that he sent back to his dad to get professional edited and produced. That son now owns his own company. But to continue. He made several copies of the shorts, over time through fire, flood, mold and misuse it was believe ALL of the were lost or destroyed. Even the master tapes were destroyed. I sat out on an epic adventure to find all four copies, and low and behold I did, under beds and on unlabeled VHS tapes. I spent MONTHS capturing them to my computer and doing all I could to enhance them. One tape was so badly damaged it had to be disassembled and “unfolded” to capture another was covered with mold, I soaked it in Dawn dish-washing liquid, unwound it by hand in the liquid and rinsed it in cold water then left it in a dehumidifier for 4 weeks. I captured it.

      In the end I spent about 6 months on the project. Was it worth it? See for yourself…below

      But yes, these were the ONLY existing copies of a work that would have been forever lost. The producer/director released the works to me for nonprofit use. But all ended up with DVD’s from them. I use a Analog capture card with every feature I can to enhance them, I have a DVD/VCR connected it to. I then bring the digital file into my video editing software to scrub them, but if the information is not there is just is not there, in several cases the audio was destroyed and I had to “add back” what might have been there. In the end the project came out as good as one can hope. But for old VHS tapes their is NO way to do it unless you use EarlC method VHS to DVD that is cost effective. Every other way is time consuming and cost counter productive to make money off of.

      Here are the 4 finished VHS to Digital Captures with about 6 months of enhancements.

      The last one is still uploading, I never had it up.

    • #186419

      WOW! You’re a genius at restoration! Those have to be better quality than the original VHS ever was. That is really excellent work.

      trushar30: The RT.X2, in my opinion, made HD editing really possible for the first time on a PC. It was a fairly complicated thing to use, but Matrox offered incredibly good customer service and timely upgrades. Unfortunately, the card apparently is not suitable for 64 bit Win7 systems. Matrox did offer a 64 bit software load, but it did not include the large number of very fine effects and presets that the original load included.

      According to their CS forum, the new PPRO offered the ability to do the same thing without their effects. They missed the boat on that. True, it is possible to duplicate the effects, but not nearly as convenient as the Matrox software. That’s important for me because everything is about ease and speed. If I can click one button and get an effect, that’s what I want.

      Oh well, it’s no use crying over old software.


    • #186420

      trushar30, Sony makes something called DVDirect. There are various models and you can find some of the older ones available, ebay etc. Each model is different as far as the input connections (check the specs) but I think that you will find most can connect directly to a VHS player and record directly to a DVD. This will save your footage off your vhs tapes in a digital format. At this point you can decide if you want to ‘clean’ them up on your computer. The one that I found that fits my needs is the VRD-MC5. I can digitize my old VHS tapes (home videos) and also off load from my Handicam for storage of raw files. It will burn HD files to a regular DVD in SD or to a regular DVD in HD format (must be played on Bluray or Ps3). It is pretty much hook VHS to DVDirect, insert DVD and press some buttons and forget it. You can get a lot of tapes digitized while doing something else and doesn’t tie up your computer. Unfortunately it operates in real time (2 hour tape takes two hours), it will stop and prompt you if you need to go to a 2nd or more DVD. Just a suggestion. You could use this to digitize some while cleaning up others.

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