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Old 18th November 2020, 23:39   #1  |  Link
trotskito
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Brightness mess when capturing *some* VHS through Sony DCR-TRV33E

Hello everybody,

I've been lately playing around with VHS capture, nothing in professional terms but just an amateur distraction. As I recently learned VHS does degrade over time, I wanted to keep some tapes from my childhood like old Terrytoons cartoons and my beloved Star Wars trilogy.

My equipment is pretty basic, but it works fine for my intentions, as I don't really want to restore or improve quality, just keep it as near to the source as it can:

- Sony DCR-TRV33E paired with a PCI FireWire card as capturing device
- Daewoo ST847S VCR (6 heads)

I've succesfully transfered a couple of tapes. I 've used sclive, Adobe Premiere and now VDub2.

But I'm having some trouble with the Return of the Jedi VHS: While it seems to capture properly, I've noticed that, in some specific parts of the movie, brightness goes up and down, concretely after scene changes.

At first, I thought it was an anty-copy problem, but using a Macrovision box I have didn't change anything. Then I tried with another VCR, an LG C20P, with no change at all except for lower image quality overall. Not to say that the problem does not occur when displaying the VCR through a TV (brightness keeps stable, with any of the VCRs).

The problem is already visible in the Handycam (I can see the brightness fluctuating in its LCD screen), so I guess it has nothing to do with the FireWire cable or card. As others have suggested, it seems to be some kind of brightness 'auto-adjust' that is causing the ups and downs, but it's confusing that it only happens in some movies.

I've read threads of users with similar problems to no conclusion. Even read that people using superior devices such as SVHS with TBC can't get rid of the problem.

Here is a portion of the capture that clearly shows the problem. It was captured with VDub2 and then encoded for uploading with the same program.

Thank you in advance!

Last edited by trotskito; 19th November 2020 at 13:58.
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Old 19th November 2020, 02:39   #2  |  Link
manolito
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This sure looks like Auto Exposure to me. Can't you find any menu setting to turn off AE?
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Old 19th November 2020, 10:22   #3  |  Link
trotskito
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Hi, manolito

That's what it looks to me also, but there's no autoexposure option in the camera's VCR mode. There's an option in camera (record) mode, but it has no effect on AV input-fed video.

One user at digitalfaq suggested it could be indeed a Macrovision problem. It's weird because the tape is from 1995 and I'm almost sure I made some VHS copy of it back in the 2000s without this problem.

BUT,

Could it be that I'm using the Macrovision box not with its original scart cable, but with different RCA ones instead (in order to use the camcorder's RCA-to-minijack cable)?. I attach pictures of both.

I have the original cable, but as it ends in another scart, I cannot use it in the camcorder, unless there's some kind of female scart-to-rca adapter. But, would that make any sense?. Also, maybe the box is broken.
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Old 21st November 2020, 21:25   #4  |  Link
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Has your sample been obtained with or without a de-macrovision box inserted ?
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Old 22nd November 2020, 18:09   #5  |  Link
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First of all, there is no "macrovision" - this is a company name (was ) and conversely encompasses about 3 major variants and some subvariations. There are other copy protections as well. One box does not solve all of them, not even a full pro TBC. One need a full TBC and a signal processor.

Anyway, back to your problem - and you should have done this BEFORE asking here - is this (d)effect seen on TV when playing the cassette? Can you confirm the signal leaving your "demacrovision" box has (or has not) this (d)effect? Can you insert a color proc or any other processor in order to fade the signal (if level too high it may be clipped or the DSP would react to it)?

If your observations are correct and complete, it's not "macrovision".
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Old 23rd November 2020, 14:47   #6  |  Link
trotskito
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghitulescu View Post
Anyway, back to your problem - and you should have done this BEFORE asking here - is this (d)effect seen on TV when playing the cassette?
I already said it in my first post. I have tried, and there are no brightness changes when playing the tape with (any of my) VCR on a TV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emulgator
Has your sample been obtained with or without a de-macrovision box inserted ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghitulescu View Post
Can you confirm the signal leaving your "demacrovision" box has (or has not) this (d)effect?
I've tried both with and without the box: The result is the same. In fact, I added the box to see if I could get rid of the problem with it, but didn't help. The box should work, as I've noted the camcorder prevents direct record of the AV input (to a MiniDV) unless it is plugged in between.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghitulescu View Post
Can you insert a color proc or any other processor in order to fade the signal (if level too high it may be clipped or the DSP would react to it)?
I'm sorry but I don't even know what sort of device you are referring to.

I think the problem is definitely on the camcorder. Some sort of Automatic Gain Control (as told by other users in other forum) that cannot be adjusted from the camcorder menus. Now I'm waiting to have another camcorder borrowed and see if I can do the capture with it.

Thanks!

Last edited by trotskito; 23rd November 2020 at 14:52.
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Old 25th November 2020, 12:00   #7  |  Link
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I meant put the TV right after the macrovision box, instead of the Sony.
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Old 2nd December 2020, 21:43   #8  |  Link
trotskito
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For those who might be affected by similar problems...

Quote:
Originally Posted by trotskito, in the videohelp forum
I'll try to make a short summary of my journey:

Our last conclusion was that the problem was caused by some sort of unavoidable autogain setting in the Sony TCR-DCR33E Camcorder. So my first hope was in testing a different DV cam. Last week a friend lent me a Canon MV700, which is pretty similar to mine in terms of age and features, but unfortunately it lacks AV input. No more (free) camcorders were available in my circle, so I left that way frozen until I could try my other options (and, if they failed, consider the acquisition of a different capture device).

Then I went on testing the Panasonic DMR-E50 DVD recorder as passthrough device between the VCR and the camcorder, with the MV box plugged also in between. My first attempts were frustrating, as I didn't notice any difference between the previous captures without it. The day I got the Panasonic I tried all the sensible combinations I was able to wonder, but I got nothing in return. Therefore, I convinced myself that the problem was indeed in the camcorder. I thought then that I would have to buy a capture card, yes-or-yes.

Today I had to get rid of all the machinery until I could buy the new equipment. But before putting everything in its box, I wanted to do a last try, only that this time I would use the original Scart-to-Scart cable that was provided with the MV box to connect the VCR to the DVD-R and...magic!: the problem disappeared, and I've been able to capture the movie without the annoying brightness mess. Somehow I wondered that the RCA cables were missing some type of signal (...or something) that was present in the Scart connection. I understand this must have a rational explanation, which I ignore at the moment (I mentioned my first suspicions in the #7th post of this thread).

This way, the DVD recorder has proven essential, as I cannot use the original MV box Scart-to-Scart cable to connect the VCR to the camcorder, and had to do the Scart-to-RCA adaptor workaround. Then, the problem was (as some suggested) an antycopy protection issue, that the camera was able to manage up to a certain point but not further: the MV box only works by using its original Scart cable. And all has been solved for €20, the price I paid to a neighbor for the Panasonic.

I want to thank you all for your time and suggestions. Heck, now I have some hours of quality entertainment assured.

Last edited by trotskito; 2nd December 2020 at 21:54.
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Old Yesterday, 18:23   #9  |  Link
Ghitulescu
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The video signal (composite) is the same whether RCA or SCART.
The DVD recorder however may have different behaviour depending on the SCART used (if it has 2, I think E50 has 2), as the lower one is used for Decoder/STB and the top one for regular copying/connectivity.

However, SCART may contain YC or RGB, which are usually not affected by macrovision. However, your Daewoo has no RGB nor YC output, so you can't profit therefrom.
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