Correct settings for capturing VHS - please help a newbie

Leatuwah

New Member
Hello!
I am new to OBS and to video editing in general, truthfully I will probably only be using the software to convert old VHS tapes into digital format. I hope someone can help me make sure I have the right settings for the purpose.
My current setup has resulted in black bars on both sides of the video, and files too large to manage (I mean, about 30GB file size for a 2-hour video...).
Additionally, the old tapes had lost a lot of clarity, and while the audio is clear, the video has stripes and all kinds of interference, which I suppose cannot be helped now; but tinkering with different aspects of the setup resulted in a video with much worse viewing quality.
I read in the forums that I should only be using 320x240 resolution...

Regarding settings, at the moment I have:
Device: AV to USB2.0
Output
Output Mode: Simple
Recording Quality: High Quality, Medium File Size
Recording Format: mkv
Encoder: Hardware (QSV)
Video
Base (Canvas) Resolution: 1280x720
Qutput (Scaled) Resolution: 1280x720
Downscale Filter: Bicubic
Common FPS Values: 25 PAL
  • What should be the optimum settings for capturing VHS?
  • How do I make sure I capture video at the best possible quality for its format?
  • How do I reduce the resulting file size?
  • Should I make use of any video filters, and which?
  • How to make sure I have the correct bitrate?
  • Perhaps you have some advice if you know of a way to reduce the damage done by time to the VHS tapes (stripes, noise etc.) I tried some software post-processing but it did not seem to do anything.
  • Black bars on both sides of the recording: should I remove them, and how (understanding that 16:9 is now the preferred scale and they would probably be added later anyway when uploaded to YouTube etc). Also at the moment I center the input video by hand and position the red and blue frames around the edges of it, but surely there must be a better way of doing this.
I had found a similar thread, but unfortunately it still left me confused.
Thank you for your help - I only have once chance of digitizing those videos and want to make sure I'm doing this right.
 

koala

Active Member
VHS tapes are aspect ratio 4:3, so there will always be black bars if you display this on a 16:9 monitor. You should record to a video file that most closely matches the source material, so record to a 4:3 aspect ratio file. The black bars are added by any media player at playback, but are not contained in the video file.
For VHS tapes, record to 768x576 (PAL) - depends on what the capture card is able to produce. In OBS, set Settings->Video->Base resolution and output resolution both to one of these resolutions. In Settings->Video set fps to 50 if you have PAL material or to 59.94 if you have NTSC material.
Use simple output mode and set the recording quality to "High Quality" or "Indistinguishable Quality". The latter produces bigger files but the best quality.

Don't use any video filters with OBS. Record the material as closely to the original as possible, with all drops and damage present. Do any beautifying in a postprocessing step with video editing software. This way you can postprocess the same material over and over again until you are satisfied without the need to re-record from tape.

The first postprocessing step would probably be to deinterlace from 50 fps to 25 fps.

The next postprocessing steps would be to correct colors or cut unwanted stuff. Since the effective resolution with VHS is only half of the original video (384x288), you might also downscale to this or to a multiple of your recording resolution - this is something you need to work out with trial and error. This downscaling will lessen artifacts/noise created by bloating up the small VHS resolution to 768x576. When upscaled again to your monitor resolution by your media player, the video will look better.
There are many different resolution variants (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard-definition_television for example), so you might try variants before fully recording hours of material.

There are many details to consider if you want perfect conversion, for example the effective pixel aspect ratio of a VHS recording is not 4:3 - pixels not quadratic. OBS, on the other side, works with quadratic pixels only, so I recommended to record to 768x576. This is aspect ratio 4:3 with pixel aspect ratio 1:1. Actually one should record to 720x576 or 704x480, but this will result in some slightly off aspect ratio, so it's probably better to record 768 horizontally. You can ignore all this and never see any difference during recording and postprocessing. But it may be that after recording and postprocessing, if you actually watch your videos, you might observe circles are ovals actually and wonder why this is.
 

Leatuwah

New Member
Thank you SO much for the detailed answer, you're a lifesaver! Will try the above suggestions and observe the differences :)
 
Top