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Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import

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Michael DiLieto
Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import
on Aug 20, 2010 at 4:30:37 pm

Between the AJA line of products and the Canopus line of products, I am trying to figure out which is the best way to import analog VHS tapes into FCP for editing and export to digital DVD.

The Canopus ADVC 300 appears to take most analog connections and export through Firewire after digitizing. But then again, AJA has several products that appear to do the same thing, as well as cover other types of conversions and maybe be more useful.

I'm looking for the device that would least damage the footage and I believe 10 bit is the highest level of conversion available.

I would like to import the VHS data directly from an old VCR straight into FCP if that is possible.

Important note: I am NOT looking to convert to HD.

Thanks for any help!


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Michael Sacci
Re: Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import
on Aug 20, 2010 at 6:11:46 pm

The main difference is going to be the codec you what to capture to. With AJA boxes, you can capture to any number of codecs DV-ProRes-Uncompressed, with Canopus type bridges the video is always converted to DV. The AJA devices are also from video monitoring on a professional level. They are have a much steeper cost.

As far as 10-bit, unless you plan to color correct your captured video this will not even come into play. You can still color correct 8-bit just fine but 10-Bit gives you a little more room to play with, but unless you are planning on putting in the effort and time you are just taking up extra space on the HD.

As for myself, I would get an AJA box that had Analog in because it can do so much more than capture VHS, but if you are not planning on using it for an external monitor than it may not be worth the extra price for you.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import
on Aug 21, 2010 at 2:24:41 am

if you get an AJA product like the Kona LHi, it will NOT have a frame sync input, and your VHS capture will not work. You need a FRAME SYNCHRONIZER (like a cheap Datavideo TBC-1000) to recreate the unstable sync signal coming off of your VHS machine. No card (AJA, Blackmagic, Matrox, MOTU) will do this for you, but the AJA I/O, and the AJA I/O HD ( I believe) have frame sync inputs.

Want the cheap way out - get the Datavideo. And dont' get a used TBC on ebay - a Time Base Corrector is NOT a frame synchronizer. And those JVC VCR's with "built in TBC's" will not work in this application.

Bob Zelin



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Michael DiLieto
Re: Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import
on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:29:57 pm

Thank you very much for the response. Just to go a bit further and confirm, I want to mention that I didnt realize I was in the AJA Kona forum.

I am comparing buying a Canopus ADVC 300 to a AJA IO on Ebay with both in the 350.00 range. I know that the Canopus ADVC 300 will import into FCP in a .DV format which is how I import my footage now from my camera using DVcam tapes. I also have a camera without firewire and need to import that footage into FCP as well, so, I am thinking that using the Canopus ADVC 300 will be the "middle man" for importing old VHS, 8mm from an old camera, and DVcam from an older camera into FCP for editing and conversion to DVD.

But then I saw the AJA IO going for so litte now (300.00) and just wanted to make sure I was comparing similar products for my main priority which I think I am, although, I am thinking that the AJA IO will import from many additional sources that the Canopus wouldn't be able to; like from older editing decks with SDI cards installed, as well as from older beta cameras, VHS cameras, and anything else that was common place analog for the last 20 years.

Last question,

What is the difference between importing Dvcam footage from a newer editing deck via firewire like a DSR-20 into FCP which will give you .dv files after the import, and say using a AJA IO box to stand between a Mac with FCP and an older DSR 80 editing deck with an SDI card?

And, if there is no difference, would I even need an SDI card in the DSR 80 editing deck, or would the AJA IO box even import that tape footage without even haviung an SDI card because I am thinking that the IO box even converts those signals also?

Thanks again!


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Michael Sacci
Re: Converting Analog (VHS) to digital for FCP import
on Aug 25, 2010 at 3:57:55 am

SDI gives you more options. If you are getting footage from DBeta or BetaSP you don't want to make that DV, you are throwing away a lot of color. DVCAM and DV doesn't have that color info to begin with so you are not hurting anything if that is all you have to stay in DV. But while you don't gain anything with regards to the DV footage when it is captured as Uncompressed or ProRes with 4:2:2 color space, it will hold up better throughout the editing process, graphics and text will be smoother, color correcting can be pushed a little further. So it is not a good - bad situation, but maybe a good - better one.


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