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I know this may not be a popular answer, but I suggest taking the project to a video professional. That's why we're here, to get paid for doing things people can't or don't know how to do themselves.
From what I have seen, a combo does the best job of creating an autoplay DVD.
You can buy devices that will let you capture the VHS tape into Premiere Pro because it actually connects to the VHS with composite inputs and to the PC with Firewire. That will let you add menus.
Will the quality on a combo come out reaonable, like as good as the VHS quality?
>Will the quality on a combo come out reasonable, like as good as the VHS quality?
Probably. Try it. :)
Be sure to check the settings on the combo recorder and don't set it to anything more than 2 hours per DVD, preferably less.
I don't have the combo yet - the main idea of the question was whether to buy it (or not).
Also, anybody know anything about the Samsung DVD-VR357?
I just completed 2 phases of a project with 32 VHS tapes, some SP, some LP and a few EP. Phase 1 was to burn DVDs for archival purposes, then Capture the VHS tapes (pretty old and not stored very well in the AZ heat), and create DVDs from about 95% of the material. I did Phase 1 on a Panasonic combo and it did a fine job. I then copied each tape to the computer, via a Turtle Beach board/front-end, with their Capture software. Other than needing about 10TB of storage space, all went very well. I rough-cut a bit, as there were some blank spots on some of the tapes, etc., and then created DVDs in PP/Encore with full menus.
I had to do some sync work in PP, but it was easy. Color correction, especially as the videographer had forgotten to change the white balance on many tapes, was all done in PP, and the Audio was cleaned up in Audition.
As these were not my tapes, the biggest problem was doing a spreadsheet to identify each tape, and each scene in each tape. Not a biggie, but I spent a lot of time watching and transcribing notes, so that phase 2 would go more easily.
Now, phase 3 will be to distill these 32 VHS tapes into a compiled DVD for each of the client's daughters' lives for their impending weddings. THAT will be the tough one, but with all of the notes, I should be able to knock that part out too, once mom & dad have viewed all of the DVDs, and made THEIR notes.
Depending on what you have, in the way of VHS tapes, and what you want to end up with, I'd suggest that you layout a "template" for Encore, and use it for each DVD. In my case, the Menus were all done first, and included, to be changed, as was needed. I just Opened this "template," Imported the Assets, and then edited each Menu in PS, as was needed. You might want to take a look at the Encore forum, for some little glitches, etc., that I dealt with.
I'd get the best combo unit, that you can, and then an A>D unit/board. Canopus has a lot of variations. I did not find any limitation with the Turtle Beach board, but for a few $'s more, you can probably do better. Also, depending on how many tapes you have, you might well want to look into several large external HDDs. I copied to the internal HDDs, then transferred everything to the externals - FW-800. For editing, I copied all necessary files, per each tape back to the internal HDDs, and edited from those, outputting to DV-AVI with AC3 5.1 Surround Sound for Encore.
Use good media for all of the work. Take plenty of notes - you will have ample time for this, as the Captures will be in real time. Layout the project beforehand and take great notes, as you will use them, when the Premiere time comes. Other than the Turtle Beach software for the Capture, everything else was done with Adobe's Production Studio Premium, and everything worked beautifully. When it was all done, the DVD images were better, by far, than the VHS tapes. A little time with Color Correction, Levels and Highlight & Shadow can work wonders. For poorly exposed material, I used Neat Video plug-in for PP, and saved several hours of material, that looked like crap direct from tape.
The only extra expenses were: Panasonic combo, Turtle Beach A>D Capture card, extra storage and media.
[EDIT] Or, as Jim says, hire a video professional for the work. Also, I do not know the Samsung. Actually, I had the Panasonic unit already, but since it did such a good job, am not sure that I would have purchased a different unit, had it not been in place. Same for the Turtle Beach, but I would probably have gone with a Canopus board, had I not already had the TB unit installed.
When you transferred from VHS to DVD via the combo, you got good quality?
Here is the place to ask about standalone DVD recorders
"Bill, Thanks for taking the time and effort to explain your workflow. You have answered many of my questions and I think I'll lean towards the Panasonic combo and Canopus borad. I will report back here on my findings."
- is it just me ?
Yes on the quality, especially with the final product out of PP, because the color, exposure and Highlight & Shadows improved the overall images. Now, you have to remember that these Captures/Transfers were from old, poorly stored VHS tapes.
Because the Panasonic does not have Tracking adjustment, I got some Tracking problems, manifested in the lower 1/16th of the frame. I just used Effects>Transform>Crop @ 3% for all sides, and cleaned that up.
If one had perfect VHS tapes, shot with a good camera/recorder with clean heads, there might well have been some quality loss. As I do not have that sort of footage, to check, I cannot comment. All I can say is that with these sources, the end was far, far better, than the tapes played to a TV from a very good Marantz deck.
You might want to explore a combo deck, that has a Tracking control - see above. My unit is a lower-mid-end one, and I'm sure that there are a lot, that are better. I just happened to have this one already, and it did such a nice little job, that I could not see acquiring a newer, better unit. If you are buying, however, explore the models a bit, and go up a level, or two.
Thanks for the info, Bill.
One more question - do you have to use a converter, or once you have the footage on DVD you can import it directly off the DVD (with a program like DVD Decrypter) and into Premiere, and then edit it?
I do not have DVD Decrypter (I thought that it had been removed from the Web, but maybe I am confused), so I went the A>D route with no glitches (other than I had to re-set the Audio setting for each tape in the TB software - choose something else, then go back to the correct setting - odd and an extra step I had to remember, but not a deal-breaker). I have seen many posts from people, who burned a DVD, or that was all they had, and then RIP'ed it for PP. Most did not get good results. Also, remember that with a DVD, you have MPG-2, while with A>D you end up with an AVI (depending on your settings), and then Export, or Transcode to MPG-2, when you go to burn the final DVD. Basically one level of compression, and not two. If you are going to edit the material, the GOP structure of the RIP'ed MPG can cause problems with cutting where you want. For the US$200 investment in an A>D converter, I'd say that it was definitely worth it.
Firstly, I found a link to DVD Decrypter with a google search:
Also, I am not planning to edit the footage (or at least not too much), and also I am not doing this for a job, so my budget is not too high. I am hoping that if I just get the combo, that will be good enough for my purposes, and I won't have to pay too much.
Bill - also, I meant above on the question about quality if you got good quality just from the VHS to DVD, before you imported it into Premiere.
Also, while on the topic, anybody know if there's any way to connect a combo (or any DVD player, for that matter) to a computer monitor?
Problem with a lot of the combo's is that old nasty thing known as "macrovision" and more recently "Broadcast Flag". You might very well have interference going from the tape to the DVD.
I'd recommend looking into an intermediary. I use an OLD little card Winnov's A/V 100 (or 110) capture card. Basically if you can play it, you can capture/import it into premiere.
They run about 50$ on e-bay, sometimes you can find them cheaper, but they are rather handy when you get a client with a DVD that just WON'T import (Cyclic redundancy) but it will play, so you simply play it and capture it at 720x480, gives you a nice AVI to work with.
It's been a life saver for me, and I have three of them, (one I've had for almost 8 years now) and it's captured 1000's of hours of TV without an issue.
As the quality of the VHS material, that I had to work from was medium to poor, to start with, I did the initial work in two steps:
1.) Capture the raw, unedited VHS to DVD for archiving purposes. The built-in software (probably ROM) did a rudimentary menu, and all went well.
2.) Started the tape(s) over again, but this time, did a Capture to the HDDs, via the Turtle Beach software, saving as uncompressed AVI. This was what was Imported into PP for the editing. Before the color and exposure correction, the two sources (DVD direct from VHS and VHS capture) looked the same on the computer's monitor. The VHS tapes (original) and the DVDs from step 1 looked the same on the TV. I was not 100% critical, but studied the different sources, and was satisfied that if I did loose something, it was minimal.
The edited/corrected footage from PP>Encore>DVD was by far, the best quality, judging by the whole image, not on a pixel by pixel level. Viewed on a 60" TV with feed from a Marantz DV9600 Progressive Scan Universal DVD Player, the edited/corrected DVD showed no sign of generational loss, and, with all things considered, was far better viewing, than the VHS, or the archived DVD - direct transfer with the combo unit.
My workflow was a bit long, as both the combo's conversion/burning and then the Turtle Beach A>D Capture was all in real time. That was when I sat, making notes, as I got to view all of the footage twice, before the editing began. By the time that I got the footage into the computer, I had a pretty good idea of what was going to need to be corrected, and what was going to be cut out, though I only edited out bad material, that could not be corrected, when the camera fell off the tripod, etc. My last step will be to compile all the hours of footage into 2 ~2hr. DVDs, fully edited, but that is another place that the hours of notes will help. Since I have all of the raw captured footage, I will pull just what I need, and then re-edit, re-correct. I could pull Sequences from the many Projects, with corrections, etc., already in place, but I can imagine that this Project would be gargantuan, and all I will be using will be tiny snippets from Sequences, that might run 40min. in the second phase of the whole thing.
I hope that I addressed the "quality" issue adequately. If you have S-VHS source, and the tapes are in great shape, you might want to do a quick test, just to see for yourself. In my case, the original source material was not that good, any longer. I feel safe in saying that no pixels were harmed during the production of phase 2, in my case.
Good luck, and let us know the route that you take, plus your results, as others might well find this thread (if they do a Search), have the same questions and get more useful data for their project.
Am I incorrect, or isn't Macrovision a copy-protection scheme used in commercial productions via replication?
I am "assuming," that the OP's source material is non-commercially recorded VHS, and the original tapes - not replicated ones, but did not ask that specific question.
If you will be transfering a lot of old VHS tapes and Dont have a good deck with TBC, consider the canopus ADVC 300 AD converter with noise correction. Below is a review i did a while ago...
Thanks for taking the time to cover this so well. Even though I already had much of the hardware, I would probably have invested in the Canopus box for my project, based on your recs. I think that it would have saved me quite a bit of time and possibly yielded better results.
Should this client find another 30 tapes, or another client show up with a similar project, I know what I will be picking up to add to the editing booth.