Point Me In the Right Direction

I’ve been converting VHS to DVD for about 2 years. I feed from an older VCR with RCA jacks through an (external) Dazzle DVC 150, with Pinnacle Studio 9.

Generally I’ve found them to be not much trouble.

But, I’ve run into a tape that I can’t recover. I’ve been using dry and wet cleaners, and have wound and rewound the tape many times.

The video comes through with a variety of problems. It drops color. It flickers. It looks like some frames actually jump - like there is a vertical or horizontal hold problem. It’s a mess.

When I play it on a TV it is much better.

What I’m wondering is if this is because the Dazzle box has an onboard MPEG converter. Would I be better off getting a new device/card that supports something like AVI, and pairing it with freeware like VirtualDub?

Cheap suggestions are appreciated: believe it or not I’ve gotten most of my tapes converted without much trouble, and I only have about 25 left.

Sounds like Macrovision copy protection to me; this causes the colour to fade in and out and other “interesting” effects when trying to copy from VHS. I may be wrong, but if it is the case then you can make/buy a simple electronic filter that will remove the protection from the video signal. Just Google Macrovision.



I agree with Post #2, used to connect the video cord from the VCR to a Video Stabilizer (video in) then (video out) to the recording device.

Interesting. I’ll give that a shot.

I have my doubts though. I have always suspected that this tape - purchased around 1995 - while it was an otherwise normal retail purchase, might actually be a bootleg rather than the real deal. Originally the video quality was fine, but the labeling always looked suspiciously cheap.

Would pirates use macrovision?

Would a pirated tape of an original with macrovision still retain the macrovision copy protection?


Would a pirated tape of an original with macrovision still retain the macrovision copy protection?[/QUOTE]

Good question. I wouldn’t think that it could, but I’d be interested in knowing this as well.

It took me a while to get around to buying a stabilizer.

It did nothing for the quality of the capture from the tape in question. Recall that the tape looks OK on a TV.

How do I know if the video stabilizer is even working? Is there a way to test it?

You can test the stabilizer using an original Disney videotape (they are full of Macrovision protections!) and connect another VCR in between the VCR and the TV.

Got a publication date in mind for that - I have quite a few Disney tapes that I’ve already done that are fine?

In answer to the ‘does Macrovision duplicate’ question: Yes, it is part of the analog video signal on the original and any recorder that can be set to manual video gain (most professional and duplicator decks can) will copy it. Does the tape show any signs of damage such as wrinkles, creases or spots on the actual tape? (Not much you can do if that’s the case). My guess would be the control track is messed up. If you are adventurous, you could get a used VCR from GoodWill and play the tape with the VCR cover off. You’ll see the tape wrapped across a spinning head and a couple of stationary heads. While the tape is playing, gently move the guides nearest those stationary heads or adjust the height of the head. That may help if it was recorded an a maladjusted deck. You might also check over in the ‘Restoration’ section of VideoHelp.com.

boobounder ;I’m not sure what stabilizer you purchased.I’m putting in a link to a topic I posted a device the strips the Macrovision protection.This is different than most stabilizers.I haven’t checked to see if it is even still available or still allowed to be shipped to the USA.

Reply to OLYTEDDY:

  1. The tape shows no signs of physical wear.

  2. I am adventurous, but will probably just burn all my other tapes over the next few months, and then take the cover off my existing deck - so no reply on this subtopic right away. I’m guessing that there is an adjustment screw or some such to move the head? I wonder about this though - if I hook up this VHS player straight to my TV, the video quality is much improved. That’s how we got pointed to macrovision as the issue.

  3. I have looked in the Restoration Forum and didn’t find much help. Pointers are always welcome.

Reply to CHOLLA:

It seems like you are recommending the Grex unit strongly over other brands (like the one I have). Is this correct?

Also, the Grex unit says that it covers a lot of different sorts of protection. Am I correct in thinking that it covers more forms than the other brands?

boobounder; That’s not the easiest question to answer.So to start if the stabilizer you purchased recently does the job & you are satisfied with it great.Let us know what brand & model it is is & how well it works.Maybe there are two good ones.
The first one I bought many years ago was a Video Clarifer VC-1 when I was backing up VHS to VHS.It worked OK for most early VHS factory tapes.
It didn’t for later VHS tapes with more Macrovision protection.
I did some looking about 2 years ago & decided the Grex did the most.It has worked well for going VHS to disc as far as stripping any interference on a tape I’ve used it for.
Since it’s the only one I bought for the later VHS tapes I haven’t compared it to others personally.
It does have some pretty good input & output options.
I only do VHS to disc if a disc is not available to make a backup from.I personally don’t get as good of quality from VHS to disc.I’ve even tested this with home recorded non protected VHS in SP mode & recorded from a satellite box that was receiving digital signal.Of course it was rca analog to the VCR.The quality was the same as the VHS tape but not the same as if I recorded to DVD disc & then did a copy.I’ve done this just to make sure.
I hope that’s a good answer.

There is also the Sima Godvd units which are very good and come highly recommended…

Well … I’ve blown money on 2 units now, and no improvement out of my tape.

Any suggestions beyond Olyteddy’s to open up my VCR and manually adjust?

boobounder;What units did you purchase?
If you did purchase the Dimax Grex the the problem is not Macrovision or other copy protection.
Have you played this VHS tape from the VCR you now have connected to the
Dazzle DVC 150 directly to a TV set?Just to make sure it is not the VCR that is playing the tape.
If it plays well that way then the problem must be the tape itself.
Is it possible this tape got some exposure to a strong magnet or has some other unusual properties because it is a high end tape.I think it’s possible that the magnetic compound may be breaking down.
If it plays fine direct to TV then I don’t know what is causing the problem.
If your OS is Vista that might also be a problem but if other VHS tapes have done well then it’s probably not the OS.
If you did purchase the Grex I would run all the VHS tapes you do through it.
Because most should have Macrovision protections & it will remove those.

I’ve figured out a bit more of what is going on.

The Dazzle 150 I’m using captures straight to MPEG-2 - no other options.

The VCR I’m playing on can advance frame-by-frame. All frames appear intact on a TV.

I can pass the frames from my VCR through my Dazzle and monitor the frames from inside my Pinnacle Studio software. Again, all frames appear intact - with or without a DPX-7000 in line.

They look poor, but viewable. There is some interference - distortion, ghosting, chroma problems. Definitely noticeable, but still watchable.

When I try to capture this though, Pinnacle Studio says no frames are dropped. Yet, when I look at the MPEGs there are frames that come through as black, or more seriously distorted than the source, or that look like they have swapped places with adjacent frames.

This happens with quality set for DVD, SVCD, or VCD.

Does this seem like the low quality of the source tape is overloading the ability of the Dazzle unit to do MPEG compression on the fly?

If so, what sort of capture unit/card should I use instead?

You can find more information about your card here. http://www.videohelp.com/capturecards?orderby=Comments
There are also ratings for other capture devices.
One important thing is to find a capture device which allows use of multiple softwares. The best capture devices are either pci cards, firewire connected external devices, then come the usb2.0 (and only some of those seem to work well). Read a lot of user reviews and comments before deciding. I have been using an ADS Pyro AV/Link that I bought years ago, for $49.00 (after rebates). It has been an excellent tool, and it works with many different softwares. You should be able to find one now for $80.00 or so… The newer ones are around $150.00, but come with Adobe Premiere Elements software, which is a good all in one, capture, editing, authoring software.

Cool link. Thanx.

2 Questions:

  1. Any thoughts on whether or not it is OK to use an internal card? They used to say not to.

  2. Any thoughts on my idea that perhaps the onboard MPEG routine on my Dazzle can’t handle my roughed up original? If so, what save format should I be looking for?

[QUOTE=boobounder;2032124]Well … I’ve blown money on 2 units now, and no improvement out of my tape. [QUOTE]

So far you have only posted the DPX-7000 other than the Dazzle DVC 150.
What was the other unit?