Wednesday, November 24, 2004

EyeTV: Issues with analog VHS digitization

EyeTV Reviews and Owner Comments
iMac G4 800Mhz, 356MB Ram
- OSX 10.35
- eyeTV 200, vers 1.5
- formac FW ext drive 250 GB (for recording)
- Grundig GV 470 S S-VHS video recorder attached to eyeTV via S-VHS and audio cinch cables

Hi Mike, in addition to my earlier reports on eyeTV 200 I performed more tests, again only transferring VHS tapes to mpeg2. I did not record any live TV, neither did I use the programming features for TV shows. Alas, the results of my testings were again sobering.

My findings are as follows:

Converting 1st generation VHS (good to perfect quality) was not working flawlessly. In half of my recordings heavy block artefacts would occur on any given moment, which would last for minutes if left unstopped. Most of the time this only happened in recording mode.

On 2nd generation VHS (ie, copies from VHS to VHS) the results were almost always wasted due to artifacts.

It seems that eyeTV needs very bright and sharp feeds to render correctly. Since I was converting my music video collection lightning conditions were admittedly extreme: dark spots on stage, brightly lit artists, camera flashlights etc.

BTW: Research in discussion groups on the internet revealed that direct-to-mepg2 video rendering applications in the PC world are sensitive to this problem as well. Only digital video (DV) feeds seem to bring good quality results. Big drawback is the time needed to render DV to mpeg2 for burning DVDs. Here PCs (and probably G5s) are in advantage of my (slow) G4 system. I never tested Miglia or Formac products which offer analogue video to DV rendering, neither do I own a digital video cam to verify rendering time. But since I don't have to edit a lot in my recordings (titles, cuts, advertisements etc)--which is the DV advantage over mpeg2 video--this option never interested me anyway.
ElGato Tips for EyeTV 200 VHS Encoding Problems

To fix the VHS encoding problems with EyeTV 200:

1) Using EyeTV 1.5, go to EyeTV > Preferences > Devices... > Encoding > Custom > Edit...
2) Change GOP Structure to "I, P Frames" or "I Frames Only"
This should minimize or completely remove such encoding problems, by allow EyeTV to recover from glitches in the signal gracefully.
By the way, "I Frames Only" allows for frame-by-frame editing, a much requested feature.

Nick F.
Technical Support Specialist "
Hmm. Looks like some serious technical issues here. EyeTV has a money back guarantee, so I'd have to be ready to test and return. Pass-through on a digital camera seems to give the best results as near as I can tell.

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