18 Replies Latest reply on Jul 22, 2008 9:52 AM by the_wine_snob

    Improving quality

    ytlevine Level 1
      I recently transferreda VHS tape to DVD and imported it into Premiere.
      Since the original tape was older, and also from the general lower quality of VHS, the quality is not too great. Is there any way (built in, plugin, or something in After Effects) that would improve the quality?
      Thanks.
        • 1. Re: Improving quality
          Harm Millaard Level 7
          Short answer: no.
          What was not there can not be made up.
          • 2. Re: Improving quality
            ytlevine Level 1
            And the long answer...???
            • 3. Re: Improving quality
              Harm Millaard Level 7
              You are out of luck on this one. The source quality does not meet your expectations and never will. That is the consequence of using VHS source material, etc...., blah, blah, blah....
              End of message. Live with it.

              Long enough?
              • 4. Re: Improving quality
                Steven L. Gotz Level 5
                You might find that if the colors are a bit washed out, you can use the color corrector to saturate the colors a bit more, but other than that, you will find Harm's answer to be pretty accurate. Garbage in, garbage out is the saying.
                • 5. Re: Improving quality
                  Level 1
                  >Long enough?

                  Harm...Why don't you quit being such a smart ***. It's not as funny as you think!
                  • 6. Re: Improving quality
                    Dan Isaacs Level 2
                    How about a "real" answer?

                    First, transferring it from DVD and importing that in Premiere is probably not the best way to go. Capture it as DV using a analog->firewire converter (some DV cameras and most DV decks can do this.) If possible, find a higher-end analog capture card and capture as 4:2:2 lossless or something.

                    VHS sucks, that is a fact, but there are some things you can do to help it (in the order they should generally be applied):

                    1.) Best possible A->D conversion (mentioned above)
                    2.) Cropping noise from the edges of the frame (usually the bottom)
                    3.) Noise reduction (temporal and/or spatial)
                    4.) Color correction
                    5.) Possibly image stabilization if the picture is jittery
                    6.) Sharpening

                    All of these things will also help it eventually compress more efficiently to DVD. Even if it fails to really "restore" the original, it may help your final product.

                    I'm sorry, but I don't really know the best filters to accomplish this in Premiere or AE. I would use other software.
                    • 7. Re: Improving quality
                      Level 1
                      You cannot get past the fact that the quality cannot be improved, the only thing you can do is alter the
                      i perceived
                      quality by, as Stephen suggests, correcting the brightness and colour.
                      • 8. Re: Improving quality
                        Dan Isaacs Level 2
                        > the only thing you can do is alter the perceived quality

                        There ain't no other video quality but that which is percieved. However, MPEG2 encoders don't have eyes...

                        ... so if you're eventually going out to DVD it makes a great deal of sense to clean up a noisy analog source so the encoder is not trying crunch all those tiny dancing pixels into a spatially and temporally compressed format.

                        This way when eyes are eventually laid on the fruits of your labor they won't be seeing blurry little specs or pulsating blocks.
                        • 9. Re: Improving quality
                          Ann Bens Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                          You could make it look a little sharper.
                          Copy track 1 and superimpose. You now have two the same tracks on top of each other, add the sharpen filter to the top one and set it to about 50. Then lower the opacity between 50 and 70. See how that looks?
                          Instead of using the Sharpen filter you could also give Unsharpen Mask a go.
                          • 10. Re: Improving quality
                            Level 1
                            I think the bottom line is that - no matter what software or hardware you run the VHS footage through for import into Premiere - it will never look any or much better than the original VHS tape.

                            The best you can hope for is to reduce the degradation when capturing by putting a good TBC/ProcAmp between a good VHS playback deck with tracking for playback of your tape and Premiere capture. The TBC will replace the tapes timing signals and the procamp will allow you to adjust setup, contrast, hue and chroma levels prior to capture.

                            Always transfer the original video to the NLE via the shortest conversion path possible.
                            • 11. Re: Improving quality
                              Harm Millaard Level 7
                              What is going on here?

                              The OP wants to improve the quality of his VHS recordings and just the other day we had someone asking how to degrade his DV material to VHS quality.
                              • 12. Re: Improving quality
                                ytlevine Level 1
                                > I would use other software.

                                Which software would you suggest, Dan?
                                Thanks for a "real" answer.
                                • 13. Re: Improving quality
                                  Dan Isaacs Level 2
                                  > What is going on here?

                                  I know what you mean. Just today we had a presumably knowledgeable and experienced user tell someone they can't improve the quality of a VHS capture which, of course, they can.
                                  • 14. Re: Improving quality
                                    Harm Millaard Level 7
                                    Meaning that you can make 13 out of a dozen?
                                    • 15. Re: Improving quality
                                      Dan Isaacs Level 2
                                      First off, Nelson is correct that the best place to alter the color is in the analog phase (if possible). If you have a Proc Amp you can stick between the VHS deck and the analog port on your capture device then use it. I've got an old Panasonic pro S-VHS deck that has built-in controls for that. Maybe you're not so lucky.

                                      Try VirtualDub... it's free. Lots of free plugins for this sort of thing. The one think lacking is a nice, easily tweakable RGB color adjustment filter (at least that I've found). You can easy adjust brightness, contrast, etc. but you may need more than that. In any case, you can export from VirtualDub and then finish off fine color adjustments in Premiere (try the "Fast Color Corrector" first).

                                      AviSynth is even better than VirtualDub (more and better plugins -- especially for noise reduction) but there is certainly a learning curve there. (script based, no GUI)

                                      I don't do this sort of thing regularly enough to have a "canned workflow" I can give you. I usually play it by ear (eye) when I need to use crappy old footage. I've had to "remaster" a few old S-VHS masters in my time for DVD, CD-ROM and web delivery. It's never that pretty, but you can certainly end up better than you started.

                                      It also becomes a question of whether its worth the effort. In my case, the client needed this stuff and these were the only masters they had, so I did the best I could in an appropriate timeframe. That's all you can do, right?
                                      • 16. Re: Improving quality
                                        the_wine_snob Level 9
                                        ytlevine,

                                        I've had pretty good results (maybe I am less critical, as the VHS tapes were not shot by me and were also quite old), doing pretty much what Dan has suggested. I did not have the gear to go Nelson's route.

                                        A->D capture to DV-AVI with all settings (possible) tweaked. Once into PP, it's a lot of trial and error, but these Filters/Effects yielded acceptable results, though this was on a scene-by-scene, or maybe a Clip-by-Clip basis.

                                        Levels (do not use Auto, but adjust as needed)
                                        Highlight & Shadow (do not use Auto, but tweak each parameter, as is necessary. May have to Razor a Clip, to get down to a scene basis
                                        Fast Color Correction (1st, as mentioned) with Three-way Color Corrector used, if necessary).
                                        Neat Video for noise-reduction (lot of tweaking here and Render times go up quickly. Use sparingly and only when necessary to improve the quality)
                                        Sharpen (used Ann's method on some, but most were applied to the scene - again manual settings to eye)

                                        Most was SP, but some was LP and EP, requiring a lot more hand-work. One constant problem that I did face was with color casts for part of the frame. Here, it was just going for the best overall look, with fringes of errant color minimized, but never fully corrected.

                                        One thing that I did find was that the tapes did a better job, if I played them through at normal speed, then played them back (not using the higher-speed RW), to loosen up and get the tapes evenly wound. This did add plenty of time to the Capture part of the job, as these were done in RT, but the results from the old tapes was better.

                                        If you have a lot to do, I'd definitely go Nelson's route and just acquire the equipment. Extra cost up front, but less hand-work once in Post.

                                        Hunt
                                        • 17. Re: Improving quality
                                          Curt Wrigley Level 4
                                          I dug this up from an old post:

                                          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...

                                          Curt Wrigley
                                          ====

                                          For me the biggest benefit of the box is doing the color correction in real time as it is captured while cleaning some of the grain at the same time. This is faster for me than correcxting it in PPRO. Also, it is better to attempt the clean up while the video is analog rather in post; there is more information available. I liked the AGC (auto gain corrector) for video and audio. As sceens change it does a decent job making adjustments. (Sometimes the changes are too abrupt, so it depends on the footage)

                                          Note; My VCR has a TBC built in. So, it does a pretty good job on its own stabalizing footage ebfore it even gets to the ADVC300. So, the results would be more dramtic if I was using a VCR without TBC.

                                          For the curious, below are links to 5 videos I output to WMV showing the videos captured via a DV deck -vs the ADVC (using split screen)

                                          My setup is as follows:

                                          - Capturing without the ADVC300:
                                          JVC HRS9911 SVHS VCR conneted through a sony DSR-25 DV deck via Svideo. The sony DV deck simply provides analog passthru to DV. Of course the deck is connected to my NLE via 1394.

                                          - Capturing with ADVC300:
                                          JVC HRS9911 SVHS VCR connected to ADVC300 via Svideo. ADVC300 connected via 1394 to my NLE

                                          Test 1: Old VHS Beach footage
                                          http://www.wrigleyvideo.com/advc300/beach.wmv
                                          This was using the default settings of the ADVC right out of the box.

                                          Test 2a Home movie with 3d NR filters on strong
                                          http://www.wrigleyvideo.com/advc300/home_movie1.wmv
                                          This compares original to advc with the 3d NR filters on the strong setting. The 2D filters are off. Note; you will see some of the ghosting problem during the fast movement.

                                          My WebpageTest 2b Same Home movie capture showing NR on AND off
                                          http://www.wrigleyvideo.com/advc300/home_movie2.wmv
                                          Same footage as the previous clip. This time the left shows capture via ADVC300 with NO Noise filters on. Right side is with the same 3D NR filters on Strong.

                                          Test 3 Wedding footage vhs dup in EP mode
                                          http://www.wrigleyvideo.com/advc300/wedding.wmv
                                          Here's everyone's favorite. A VHS wedding copied to another VHS in EP mode. No magic here, but the NR does improve the background quite a bit.

                                          Test 4 Old super8 footage that was transfered to VHS several years ago
                                          http://www.wrigleyvideo.com/advc300/super8.wmv

                                          I encoded these to WMV ata fairly high rate so you can hopefully see the differences. I hope these help others who may be considering this box. It cant fix everything, and there are tradeoffs to the 3d NR, but my quick testing reveals the box does improve footage. And thats what I was after.

                                          Conclusion: If you have a VCR without TBC or are just using a cam Passthr, you will see improvement in the video quality if you route though this box rather than a cam or non tbc vcr. If you do analog xfers alot, this box can really help. If you have a VCR with TBC (or an external TBC) then the ADVC300 will provide SOME improvment, but I suspect the TBC will in itself make a big difference. Not for the casual users as it costs $500.

                                          Curt Wrigley
                                          • 18. Re: Improving quality
                                            the_wine_snob Level 9
                                            Curt,

                                            Thanks for pouring through the archives and for posting that.

                                            Hunt