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Creating Web Images from VHS Tape

     
3:16 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What's the best way to get from a VHS tape to a few static images for web or print use? I'm not expecting superb quality, but since the objective is to publicize a TV appearance, a TV-quality image is OK. Scan lines are a plus. ;)

I tried the crudest approach imaginable, taking a digital photo of a large-screen TV playing the tape. It actually worked very well (for my purposes) with one exception - there was a noticeable hotspot in the center of the image. This is no doubt an artifact of the projection process - it isn't visible while watching the TV, but it's enough to mar the photo.

Any other ideas for this that don't require exotic hardware? Or is there some kind of service provider likely to be equipped to do this?

3:19 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Many modern graphic cards have a "video-in" port and can read FBAS- and/or S-Video signals. Those cards are usually equipped with a WDM-driver which can be used to capture video and/or single images from video editing software like "Movie Maker" which comes as part of Windows XP.

Those graphic cards usually cost less than US$ 100.

There's also USB-grabber-boxes for FBAS or S-Video, which usually bring their own drivers and editing applications. Also for less than $100.

7:11 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Those graphic cards usually cost less than US$ 100.

in addition: I found that media cleaner pro had some good features regarding improving image quality.

7:15 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As a non native speaker of English I always wondered: ist it "graphic card" or "graphics card"?

From some sniggering I got at a presentation I have the impression that one of the two is suggesting some rude or explicit content?

7:43 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Dazzel works well its about $60 connects usb.. Also check out download.com for the 30 day free video edit programs.. noe dvd ok Pinnacle is better
7:58 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have done most of these methods, and have settled on high-quality digital camera shots of the screen. By high-quality I mean pro-quality photography, not necessarily equipment.

You can control the lighting in your "studio" and work out any problems in Photoshop. I use a pro digital SLR with flat-field macro lens and an 85mm "portrait" lens on a tripod, in a dark room, and a flat screen CRT. Between the camera exposure settings and digital ISO control, the monitor's controls, and Photoshop (minimal need, truthfully) I am very happy. PS techniques are very capable of eliminating most scan lines. Avoid Sony trinitron monitors since they have 2 very uniform horiz lines across them (a product of their Trinitron technology). Uniform anything is hard to eliminate, although I am working around it myself.

Use as large a monitor as you have (I have 21" flat) and shoot it full-frame max resolution. When you shrink it down to web size, it looks mahvellous.

Video card drivers are a nightmare, even today. I own Matrox Parhelia, Nvidia 9600, 9700, and 9800 pro cards, Matrox G200 and G450's, ATI All-in-Wonder Pros (2 generations) as well as Pinnacle, ATI, and Matrox video capture systems, and an ADO (?) USB capture device. What a waste of money and time. I will now do most anything to avoid changing anything on my ssytems related to those drivers... stability is very very hard to achieve IMHO and very valuable.

Lots of history in there... I hope this helps.

10:02 pm on May 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you need capture software, you'll find that most companies that make analogue / digital converters, also have capture software as free downloads on their sites for support. This software will capture from any video input, whether it's a video/s-video input of your graph card (pmkpmk, see I used the term "graph" and who really cares?) or DV device, so you don't need the hardware. I personally use a Canopus converter to convert VHS to DVD, and I get fantastic stills depending on the quality of the original tape. You probably know that if you want to print them... reduce the print size and increase to resolution accordingly.
Smokey