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Best practices for digitising tapes captured at a low resolution

+2 votes
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What would be best practice for digitising VHS and miniDV tapes where the camera was set to capture at a low resolution? Our usual practice for video digitistation to date has been to capture in uncompressed AVI format, which results in very large files. However, am wondering whether it is worth all the space required, given the quality of the digitised files will be relatively poor anyway. I do understand that using a compressed format to save space may result in even poorer quality files. Thoughts?
asked Oct 29, 2019 by bernieh (590 points)
Can you describe what you mean by low-resolution capture? I'm aware of SP/LP/EP for formats like VHS. Those still have the same number of lines per frame but don't look as good because they don't use as much magnetic tape to store the signal information.
Here's what I was told by the tape owner - "Although the footage in the latest round of tapes has been captured on HD tapes, the sensor in the camera used to capture it was low resolution (40 lines)".

Looking at the length of the tapes, some of the VHS ones go for up to 240 minutes; so I assume that would be either LP or EP. The miniDV ones are all 60 mins.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Hi, for VHS do you mean things like long play or EP? What do you mean by low resolution miniDV tapes? I am not aware of a low-res format for DV.

Anyhow, assuming that you mean things like LP and EP for VHS - I would use the same settings as for regular VHS or BetaSP or any tape format where you can't migrate the signal with the same format as the source (like DV) - Uncompressed or Lossless video (I like FFV1 if you want to save some space over uncompressed) using 720x576 for PAL (720x486 for NTSC) with PCM audio.

If a source tape has a weak signal, you should do your very best to capture as much of the data as possible, rather than damaging it even further by using lossy compression or lower resolution.
answered Oct 30, 2019 by kieranjol (180 points)
reshown Oct 30, 2019 by nkrabben
Welcome to the site Kieran!

For future reference, if you have questions for the question asker, you can add a comment directly to their question. Then you can keep your answer post focused on answering their question.
Thanks, Kieran, this is very helpful. I suspect the VHS files are long play, given that their length is recorded as 240 mins.