[aklug] VHS conversion - hardware+software recommendations?

Greg Schmitz greg at amipa.org
Sat Jun 13 16:19:24 AKDT 2020

On 6/13/20 3:22 PM, Royce Williams wrote:
> Something other than the security sky falling for once. ;)
> A number of years ago, I used a Hauppauge WinPVR something-or-other 
> card to convert some VHS tapes to digital. I'm looking to do something 
> similar on modern Linux.
> I picked up a cheap EasyCap USB[1] and have been sifting through a few 
> howtos[2] for hooking it up to a VCR and using ffmpeg to capture. But 
> it looks like the driver isn't great, the max dimensions for raw 
> capture are 320x240, and the results (when I can even get ffmpeg's 
> complexity to behave) are spott. Also, honestly, the complexity of 
> ffmpeg drives me up the wall. :D
> FWIW, I have a few NVIDIA GPUs to throw at it and have NVIDIA support 
> built into my ffmpeg.
> Has anyone solved this problem recently and can share some scars?
> Royce
> 1. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H6OQI1W
> 2.
> https://gordonlesti.com/digitize-a-vhs-tape-with-ffmpeg-and-easycap-on-linux/
> https://askubuntu.com/questions/848713
> https://medium.com/@bionazgul/the-adventures-of-converting-vhs-tapes-to-mp4-using-easycap-and-ffmpeg-to-create-a-christmas-f12364bfefe1
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Sounds like your major issue is with Analog to Digital 
converter/conversion (audio and video).  Ashley Blewer 
<http://ashleyblewer.com/> outlines some of the options in this document 
She ranks the options she gives using $/$$/$$$.   For a $ option you 
might try using a video camera to do some of the A/D work.

At AMIPA we have been using hardware mostly from AJA Video Systems 
<https://www.aja.com/> though for now mostly working on Apple machines 
running obsolete OS X.

There has been some work on using FFmpeg in conjunction with SDKs made 
available by Blackmagic Design.  If you have access to a Blackmagic AD 
device you might find something by searching on "FFmpeg and Decklink,"  
I think a decklink option can be compiled into FFmpeg.

Other useful resources include:


 From Reto Komer:  https://avpres.net/FFmpeg/

Ashley Blewer  http://ashleyblewer.com/

AMIA-L archives (searchable): https://lsv.uky.edu/archives/amia-l.html

I'll take a look later to see what else I might have.



Greg Schmitz
Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association (AMIPA)
Anchorage, Alaska

v: 907.786.4983
f: 907.786.1834
e: greg at amipa.org

The Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to media preservation and education to ensure long-term access to Alaska’s moving image heritage.


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