Digitised VHS Tape Problems


#1

Hi Folks,

This is my first posting on the forum, and I’d like firstly to congratulate the devs on a really wonderful piece of software, and a good looking site too!

However, I’m having problems editing a file that I recently digitised from a VHS tape, using VLC. The capture device is a cheap VCAP303 transmitting from composite A/V to usb. I have used VLCs defaults during the capture (H.264 and MP3 I think) except that I set the video resolution to 720p. I do seem to have successfully digitised the tape, and when I play the resulting file through VLC I get both video and audio. The video is very poor, coming as it does from a 30+ year old VHS tape, and I want to improve the quality somewhat.

The problem that I have is when I load it into Shotcut. The video is there as expected, and I can make some improvements using white balance, contrast, brightness, etc. However, there seems to be no audio coming through, no audio showing on the timeline, and whatever I do I can’t get any to show up.

After some research on this forum, I tried toggling the volume button just to bottom-right of the video window, and made sure that the mute filter is not active, and that the audio button to the left of the timeline is not toggled off. However, there is no audio on the timeline, and no signs of audio on the spectrum box when activated.

Doing a little experimentation, I tried capturing short clips of other tapes using different codecs, notably vorbis, since Shotcut is also open source, but the results with audio were either no solution or didn’t even capture the video either.

Using Mediainfo, I obtained the following results from the original capture, most of which make little sense to me. I’m hoping that someone on this forum can help me solve the problem.

General
Complete name : C:\Users\User\Documents\Old_Video.mp4
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (mp41/avc1)
File size : 2.35 GiB
Duration : 3 h 17 min
Overall bit rate mode : Variable
Overall bit rate : 1 706 kb/s
Encoded date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37
Tagged date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37
Writing application : vlc 2.2.8 stream output

Video
ID : 2
Format : AVC
Format/Info : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile : High@L3.1
Format settings : CABAC / 4 Ref Frames
Format settings, CABAC : Yes
Format settings, RefFrames : 4 frames
Codec ID : avc1
Codec ID/Info : Advanced Video Coding
Duration : 3 h 17 min
Bit rate : 1 573 kb/s
Width : 1 280 pixels
Height : 720 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 4:3
Frame rate mode : Variable
Frame rate : 24.971 FPS
Minimum frame rate : 1.894 FPS
Maximum frame rate : 1000 000.000 FPS
Original frame rate : 25.000 FPS
Color space : YUV
Chroma subsampling : 4:2:0
Bit depth : 8 bits
Scan type : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.068
Stream size : 2.17 GiB (92%)
Language : English
Encoded date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37
Tagged date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37
mdhd_Duration : 3266071

Audio
ID : 1
Format : mp3
Codec ID : mp3 -00
Duration : 3 h 17 min
Bit rate mode : Variable
Bit rate : 128 kb/s
Maximum bit rate : 3 344 Mb/s
Channel(s) : 2 channels
Sampling rate : 44.1 kHz
Bit depth : 16 bits
Stream size : 181 MiB (8%)
Language : English
Encoded date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37
Tagged date : UTC 2018-02-04 18:27:37


#2

After you open the file in Shotcut, open the “Properties” panel and click on the “Audio” tab. What does it show there?


#3

Nothing, or rather I can show the video and metadata tabs but cannot show the audio tab.


#4

That means that Shotcut does not detect the audio in your file. You could try to capture a different format for the audio. Or you could try converting the file that you have.

Typically, you see AAC audio in .mp4 files. So I would expect AAC audio to work for you.


#5

Thanks Brian. This is the ffirst time I’ve ever tried capturing a video file (of any sort), so excude my confusion. Given my failure in using different capture formats above, what specifically should I choose when capturing the file again through VLC?


#6

I’m not sure what options VLC offers. But I would expect .mp4 file with AVC (h.264) video and AAC audio would be very compatible. Also, you might want to choose a high quality setting for the AVC (h.264) encoding to make sure you don’t loose quality in the compression.


#7

Thanks again Brian. I’ll do as you suggest. The video is over two hours long and it’s 2.20am here, so I’ll get back tomorrow.


#8

Briian’s suggection did result in me being able to get Shotcut to recognise sound in the captures I made. It took a while to work out how to get VLC to open the AAC decoder. After some research I solved that problem in VLC by going to “Tools > All Preferences > Input/Codecs > Video codecs > FFmpeg” and changing the ‘Strict standard compliance’ to -2 .

Now I have sound recognised when I load the captured file in Shotcut. I do have another problem, which I suspect is caused by the size of the captured file. In short, the audio in the new file loaded into Shotcut seems to be out to sync with the video.

Specifically, for a 125 minute MP4/AAC file, at only 720p VLC is making a file that’s almost 13GiB. On my system (6 core CPU and 16GB RAM), when I load the file in Shotcut, the video is very choppy, halts for several seconds at a time, and the audio won’t stay in sync. Although I can probably alter things like brightness, contrast, etc, there would be no question that to do any stabilisation analysis would take days, and would very likely be a large waste of time, not to mention computer and electricity resources. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong here. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d gratefully try them out. FYI, here is the Mediainfo output for the capture I made this evening:

General
Complete name : C:\Users\Overseer\Documents\H2-4.mp4
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (mp41/avc1)
File size : 12.8 GiB
Duration : 2 h 6 min
Overall bit rate mode : Variable
Overall bit rate : 14.4 Mb/s
Encoded date : UTC 2018-02-12 22:33:15
Tagged date : UTC 2018-02-12 22:33:15
Writing application : vlc 2.2.6 stream output
Comment : QuickTime 6.0 or greater

Video
ID : 2
Format : AVC
Format/Info : Advanced Video Codec
Format profile : High@L3.1
Format settings : CABAC / 4 Ref Frames
Format settings, CABAC : Yes
Format settings, RefFrames : 4 frames
Codec ID : avc1
Codec ID/Info : Advanced Video Coding
Duration : 1 h 58 min
Bit rate : 15.3 Mb/s
Width : 900 pixels
Height : 720 pixels
Display aspect ratio : 4:3
Frame rate mode : Variable
Frame rate : 25.000 FPS
Minimum frame rate : 5.492 FPS
Maximum frame rate : 51.332 FPS
Color space : YUV
Chroma subsampling : 4:2:0
Bit depth : 8 bits
Scan type : Progressive
Bits/(Pixel*Frame) : 0.942
Stream size : 12.7 GiB (99%)
Language : English
Encoded date : UTC 2018-02-12 22:33:15
Tagged date : UTC 2018-02-12 22:33:15
mdhd_Duration : 2830608

Audio
ID : 1
Format : AAC
Format/Info : Advanced Audio Codec
Format profile : LC
Codec ID : mp4a-40-2
Duration : 2 h 6 min


#9

Not necessarily. Video editing is very demanding of a system, for smooth previewing during editing especially where there are filters applied, the computer will struggle if it doesn’t have the horse power to handle ‘on-the-fly’ edit previews.

But, before we go further please tell us everything you can about the computer you are using.


#10

Thanks Steve, for the quick reply. It’s a Sabertooth 990FX with AMD 6300 CPU, 16GB of DDR3 1800mhz RAM, and a Sapphire RX580 8GB GPU, running Windows 7 SP1. The capture device is a crappy VCAP303 A/V composite to USB. The CPU works hard when doing the job, but the RAM is far from exhausted.

Regarding the choppiness and out-of-sync audio/video, do you think that this would be fixed in any resultant edited file. I’m reluctant to even start editing, if it’s likely to still be out of sync after days of editing work. However, I’m very keen to get this file in presentable condition as it is an old video of deceased relatives, so would persevere if there was a likelihood of success.

Regarding the file size, I would want to burn it onto a 4.3GB DVD, so this would be a problem.

Also, looking at the Mediainfo output above, I’ve just noticed that the stated length of the video part of it is 8 minuites shorter than both the audio part and the complete file. There are (or should be) no blank sections in the video. Would this be an indication of the problem?


#11

You’re running a similar system to mine, though I use Windows 10 Pro.
I use Shotcut for light duty work but switch to DaVinci Resolve for heavier work as DVR works much better (smoother) on my system. For example, colour grading in Shortcut causes previewing to lag, in DVR no such lag occurs. You can also optimize media for editing in DVR, but the original resource is used when rendering.
However, the learning curve is a bit higher than Shotcut’s.

Often the encoded file is fine, it’s only choppy etc during editing.
I’d run a shortened test export first.

Remember, DVD video resolution is restricted to 720 x 480 pixels (iow: 480p) so this in itself will shrink the data size.


#12

Thanks again Steve. I’ll have a look at DVR, and do some more experimentation, and also try a lower resolution capture, before I try any editing. It’s late here, so I won’t reply tonight, but I will report any success or failures over the coming day or so. Cheers!


#13

Your problem is the variable frame rate. Shotcut does not work with variable frame rate files.


#14

Thanks. I’ll give it another go tonight, and try to fix the frame rate in the capture.


#15

To save recapturing, you could use ‘Handbrake’ and set the frame-rate as constant.

I have some VFR video footage which seem to work just fine in Shortcut Brian, is there a specific problem with VFR that I haven’t noticed?


#16

Steve, I’ve used handbrake before, mainly on debian for ripping or transcoding video files, and for this it works a treat. Like shotcut, it didn’t recognise the audio in the first capture I did using h.264/mp3, so I went onto using Brian’s suggestion of doing another capture using h.264/AAC. However, I’ll bear your helpful comment in mind should my latest attempt to capture with fixed frame rate fails.

Brian, I tried setting VLC to capture using fixed frame rate, but although the settings seemed clear enough, the resultant file still had a variable frame rate. Rather than trying to figure out what went wrong with this VLC capture (unless anyone knows a quick solution), I’m trying a capture using shotcut defaults.

From what I gather one has to go to “File > Open Other > Direct Show” and let the video play through the preview window until the end, then I stop the VHS playback and then tell shotcut to “export > capture”. I did a short experiment using this procedure, and shotcut is still in the process of capturing a 20 minute video - so far it’s created a 700MiB file some 20 minutes after I clicked “capture” and it’s still an ongoing process. The preview window is blank. Does this sound right to you?


#17

Typical symptoms of variable frame rate are choppy video and inaccurate seeking.

Lots of reading here:
https://forum.shotcut.org/search?q=variable%20frame%20rate


#18

That usb capture device is a problem. Better to have a real A/D converter. If you must use a the usb device then I would suggest capturing in a Standard Definition format 720x480 (NTSC) so the the converter and PC doesn’t have to work so hard - which may introduce choppy video that cannot be fixed in a video editor. Once the files are edited then you can transcode to an mp4 format. Also, usb converters are known for video/audio synch problems, so suggest you capture in smaller segments to avoid some of that. BTW, there are boatloads of video conversion advice on the VideoHelp forums.

-=Ken=-


#19

Thanks Kenj69, I tend to agree with you. I’ve tried no less than ten times to convert the VHS using the crappy device I have, and each time the resultant file is a different, but inadequately converted version, that I can’t use in video editing software.

I propose to buy something a bit better to do (hopefully) a proper job. I have limited funds to do so, and would be most grateful if someone could suggest a reasonably priced device that will do the trick. I’ve been looking at the “Elgato HD60 Pro”. It sells new for something substantially over £100, but I’ve seen used versions for somewhat less. Would this be the sort of thing I’m looking for? Other than that, what would people suggest?

Bear in mind my computer specs: AMD FX 6300 6-core 3.5ghz CPU, 16GB DDR3 RAM, Radeon RX580 GPU, Windows 7.


Any camera effects?
#20

VHS will look bad regardless, you cannot get even 480p out of it, its still 240p, and if the tape is old and used alot, its even worse, the only thing i do with vhs tapes is cropping, color/contrast/brightness and little sharping

i use this http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/data_usblive2.html and i captue in PAL with ff1/flac