Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I decided that I needed to convert my collection of small video clips recorded with my TIVO to a non magnetic format. I want to end up with SVCDs since I can't afford a DVD write drive at this time. So, I purchased a cheap TV card for my PC. I got the Haupauge WinTV Go card from CompUSA for around $50. Seems as thought this is a slippery slope I have started down. There are so many variables in this process that getting good digital video capture from VHS tape is like trying to nail Jello to a tree.

After a lot of trial and error and struggling with getting the audio working I am now able to capture video and audio with no problem. I use the excellent freeware package called Virtualdub for my capturing. The initial capture creates a very large .AVI format file, about a gigabyte per minute. I am capturing at 480 x 480 resolution since the mpeg2 file needed for SVCDs requires that resolution.

I tried capturing using 24 bit RGB, YUY2, etc. etc. All of the captures exhibited color banding in the sky areas or any other large areas of similar color. I tried all sorts of filters in Virtualdub with little success. Finally, I looked at the web site and noticed that all of their testing was done in a 15 bit RGB format. So, I did a capture using that and no filters. The result was much improved with little or no color banding.

I was using TMPGenc to convert the AVI file to MPEG2 for creation of the SVCDs. On a whim, I decided to try my copy of Video Factory from Soundforge to do the conversion. This gives me some easy editing capability since Video Factory is my favorite editing tool. The results look very promising. I have played the resulting MPEG2 files in the Windows Media Player at full screen resolution and there are much fewer undesirable artifacts than before. I think the real breaktrhough was using the 15 bit RGB for capture. I may also try one of the other capture formats recommended by Haupauge on their Tips Page.

Next task is to burn an SVCD with Nero to test the quality of the playback on my TV.

To summarize:

1. Capture using Virtualdub and Haupauge WinTV Go TV card using 15 bit RGB at 480 x 480 resolution.
2. Load in to Video Factory and clip extra frames off as needed.
3. Use Video Factory to convert to MPEG 2 for SVCD production.
4. Load all clips into Nero for burning to SVCD.

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