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Old 10-15-2009, 04:05 PM   #1
friscoskid
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Today, is there any easy way to transfer analog video to digital?


Hello all,

I have done a fair amount of research on the Internet trying to understand how difficult or how easy it would be to use Linux to transfer old VHS tapes to a digital format. AVI or MPEG is fine and I can figure out how to get them to DVD or whatever afterwards. It seems that there were pockets of success here and there in the past years, but nothing has been written lately that I can find. Given a relatively new computer, distro of choice, capture hardware of choice and capture software of choice, what is the best way to do this with Linux today? Has anyone got a good working solution on a modern distro with relatively modern hardware (something I can actually purchase as of this writing 10/2009)? I'm looking for something very inexpensive (under $200 for the capture software and hardware, I already have the computer and can d/l Linux), something that is very stable (I have a LOT of tapes to convert from an old VCR and don't want it to quit in mid-stream) and something relatively easy to use (I'd prefer not compiling drivers or re-building the kernel, etc). Anyone doing this or has done this recently?

Thank you,

Frisco
 
Old 10-15-2009, 05:21 PM   #2
pljvaldez
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On my machine that has a Hauppauge PVR-150, I just hook up a VCR hit play and do cat /dev/video0 > myfile.mpg. Then hit CTRL+C to kill it at the end of the tape. If I care enough, I can open a video editor (Kino, avidemux, etc) and shave off the excess at the beginning and end.

I use the existing Mythtv setup to transfer to DVD, but there's probably plenty of other options out there.
 
Old 10-15-2009, 06:26 PM   #3
dv502
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I use a Hauppauge WinTV GO Capture card. It's a few years old and it uses the Bt878 module.

Step 1.
Here is how I capture video from this card. First, I will test to see if video and audio is seen.

Code:
mplayer -tv driver=v4l2:input=1:norm=ntsc tv://
Note: norm=ntsc is for North America, use PAL where appropriate.


If I see video and hear audio. Then I move to step 2, the recording/capturing phase.
If you don't hear audio, check your mixer settings and unmute any channels or adjust any volumes. The above uses the line in channel to record the audio.



Step 2.
Code:
mencoder -o movie.avi -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=1800:autoaspect -oac mp3lame -ffourcc divx -tv driver=v4l2:input=1:norm=ntsc tv://
Note: During the capture phase, video is not visible. This is normal.

input=1 is the composite channel i.e the RCA video jack.
To record a TV broadcast, change input=1 to input=0.

The code above will produce a MPEG-4 video with mp3 audio.

The mencoder man page will have options to produce other video and audio formats with bitrates, frequencies and such.

You can then use kino, kdenlive, mencoder, or ffmpeg to refine the videos.

PS: If you which to tranfer video from your digital camera use kino and an empty firewire IEEE1394 port.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by dv502; 10-15-2009 at 09:34 PM.
 
Old 10-16-2009, 09:37 AM   #4
friscoskid
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Hello,

Yes, those ideas do help. If nothing else, they have mostly confirmed what I suspected, but mostly lay out a straight-forward and easy to understand approach to solving this problem. However, the hardware mentioned isn't readily available and I don't already have those mentioned (the things I do have, no one else seems to be using or appear to be currently unsupported). I have resigned myself to having to buy a new card, but none of the new cards seem to be supported on newer distros of Linux. Plus, I've seen some pretty dismal reviews for some of what IS currently available in the Windows world. I.e. Pinnacle MovieBox, Dazzle Video Creator, etc.

I did see a good favorable review on the Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 with Linux. It seems to be an older card, but isn't so old that it has dropped off the market. If anyone has any experience with it, I'd appreciate a quick overview of what was required to get it to work and your impression of it. Otherwise, I may give it a go myself and report back. If there is any other recent hardware out there that is known to be supported, feel free to comment.

By the way, I do have Kino up and running and it DOES capture from a digital camcorder very well. One possible solution I have discovered is to use the camcorder's AV->Digital Out feature (It's a video Pass-Through option). I can plug the VCR into the camcorder and then firewire it to the PC. This works, if a bit ungainly. I'd prefer not to have the camcorder in the mix.

Thank you very much,

Frisco
 
Old 10-16-2009, 11:04 AM   #5
pljvaldez
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Most of the Hauppauge PCI cards work pretty well on linux, from my recollection. Just make sure they have a hardware encoder. Some of the cheaper ones use software compression, which not only drags down your machine, but increases the likelihood that it won't work well on linux (since the drivers are probably written for windows). Check out the HCL.
 
Old 10-16-2009, 11:15 AM   #6
dv502
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Linuxquestions.org has a HCL section.
http://www.linuxquestions.org/hcl/

Click on the link and in the search box, enter keywords like hauppauge, video capture, etc and see the results. Click on a card model and read the review. The review will tell if the card worked or not and/or how they got it to work and if they recommend it.

Older hardware will have a higher chance of working in linux because the drivers/modules has already been developed for the kernel.

Newer hardware will have a 50/50 chance of working in linux because most hardware vendors don't provide drivers and/or hardware specs for the linux developers to work with. Any new type of hardware needs to be created by linux developers around the globe. What will not work today, will work tomorrow.

Last edited by dv502; 10-16-2009 at 11:46 AM.
 
Old 10-16-2009, 11:39 AM   #7
thorkelljarl
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Just in case I'm not telling you what you already know...

http://www.linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/Hauppauge

I too have a Hauppauge PVR-150, but there has been development in the field since it was new. The PVR-150, as well as other Hauppauge cards, works well if it has the right chip, and cards of the same model name can come with different chips during the production life.

I bought mine used. Since this is an analogue card, there might be someone disposing of one because they are no longer usable after the transition to a digital signal.

Last edited by thorkelljarl; 10-16-2009 at 02:49 PM.
 
Old 10-16-2009, 01:13 PM   #8
rajuvk
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If your intention is only to digitise old VHS tapes, there is no need to spent money on costly PVR cards. Any cheap TV tuner cards ( internal not external will do the work. Resolution of a a VHS video is only 220 - 240 lines. Three years back, I have done a similar work with a card called "compro videomate PVR" I purchased here India costing equivalent to $60. I come with bundled software (windows) and the quality was very good. I am still using the card to record TV shows in DVD quality. I think the encoder is software based, but given the processing power of todays computers, it does not make any difference, as the recording speed (on computer) is only that of the play back of the VCR. I have not checked this card with linux, but check availability of linux drivers for the card before purchase.

Quote:
Originally Posted by friscoskid View Post
Hello all,

I have done a fair amount of research on the Internet trying to understand how difficult or how easy it would be to use Linux to transfer old VHS tapes to a digital format. AVI or MPEG is fine and I can figure out how to get them to DVD or whatever afterwards. It seems that there were pockets of success here and there in the past years, but nothing has been written lately that I can find. Given a relatively new computer, distro of choice, capture hardware of choice and capture software of choice, what is the best way to do this with Linux today? Has anyone got a good working solution on a modern distro with relatively modern hardware (something I can actually purchase as of this writing 10/2009)? I'm looking for something very inexpensive (under $200 for the capture software and hardware, I already have the computer and can d/l Linux), something that is very stable (I have a LOT of tapes to convert from an old VCR and don't want it to quit in mid-stream) and something relatively easy to use (I'd prefer not compiling drivers or re-building the kernel, etc). Anyone doing this or has done this recently?

Thank you,

Frisco
 
  


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