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How can I capture 'dirty' video signals?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Video Synthesis  
Author How can I capture 'dirty' video signals?
My primary machine is a MacBook Pro running Mavericks, but I have access to laptops running both Win7 and Win8 as well. I've been using one of these to capture my tapes for the past while. Its built-in software works well enough for tapes that play consistently, but when tracking issues come into play it just cuts to a blank light-green screen.

I'm doing some lo-fi video art on VHS-C so increasingly I'm going to need to capture a more true-to-life representation of what was on the original tape, glitches and all. I'm wondering whether anyone here has any suggestions as to what I could use to better capture these tapes, grit and all.
Probally the easiest solution is just refilming it. I use a canon t2i and a tripod to film a ctr monitor.
Matos wrote:
Probally the easiest solution is just refilming it. I use a canon t2i and a tripod to film a ctr monitor.

yes, rescanning is a great option, and can yield lovely results.

however, if you want to capture what you see on the VHS-C as closely as possible, I recommend:

-get yourself more than one VHS-C adapter, and additional VHS players. -different players will give you different playback. the later VHS players have built in noise reduction, so earlier decks will keep more of the drop out artifacts
-learn how to properly clean the heads of your VCR. I use 97% alcohol and coffee filters. be careful, and check for any threads that might get stuck in the heads on the drum
-try different tape stock for better recordings
-try playing from the VHS camcorder itself
-use a TBC or frame synchronizer. or, use a video mixer with built-in Time Base Correction. I have found the Panasonic AVE5, AVE7, MX30, MX50 models to accept a wide range of inputs before they 'go green'

hope this helps. good luck
CJ Miller
A time base corrector is crucial for dealing with dodgy tapes. Damage to the tapes is as likely to hurt the sync data as the visual and audio bits. You capture device is looking for this sync data to know what to do with it, and be sure that it is even a real video source. A TBC takes video input, strips away crunky old sync, and replaces it.

And as BCB says, a lot of pro video gear has TBC built into it.
Alright, so it looks like the best option would be for me to purchase a time base corrector. What's the most simple device I could buy? I'm working within a very limited budget and in all honesty I don't know what to look for as I'm more used to working with VHS camcorders and other such straightforward, unmodified things.
A TBC will fix sync issues that you may find aesthetically important - maybe even a good chunk of what you're looking to keep, depending on the kind of glitches you're referring to. In that case, rescanning may be the only way to accomplish it. Furthermore, consider that different display devices may yield different looks... hard to say without knowing more specifically what 'lo-fi video art' entails. If you can get your hands on a TBC, it would at least help you to establish what is 'on the tape' vs what is 'my tv is freaking out'...
i agree with smrl and matos on this one.

in my experience, glitches look different on different monitors/TVs. older-cheaper ones seemed to be more forgiving than the newer ones when it comes to timecode errors.

record from the monitor and you'll get the same look
I have an old (80s?) Emerson TV that I'm doing some experiments in rescanning with now. Looks like I'll probably end up using an old Hi8 camera for the video source as it's one of the only camcorders I have that matches up the refresh rate (?????) well enough to not create those black bars across the screen.
try with a mixer video
i use my panasonic wj-mx10!
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