Video capture stuff!

So I’ve been trying to find an affordable video editor to avoid the mutlitude of format-incompatibilities with the various freeware I’ve tried so far. A few days ago I installed “VideoPad” which until the 15th of Jan is on 30% discount making it about £45.

Of course that’s £45 I shouldn’t be spending, but.. well some quick and dirty edits seem to show it working fine merging videos of different resolutions and framerates. Okay framerate conversion is rather rough looking, but whatever it’s doing it’s FAR more tollerant than the other programs I tried (remember the one that wouldn’t combine clips because one was 30fps and the other was 30.00003fps? Or had the codec info case-sensitive so it thought they were different formats?).

The built-in capture util sadly wouldn’t let me change the video card input port. But NCH bundle their software to link-out to associated software. I clicked the link within VideoPad for “Golden Videos” a small capture program intended for capturing from tapes. But best of all it actually fucking works with my RealTek soundcard AND captures without dropping frames at full PAL resolution.

I have litterally been in tears of joy, because since I switched to Windows XP I have tried everything I could think of to get full-frame full-rate capture working. The best I’d been able to manage was installing an old copy of WinDVR to capture to mpeg2 and to disable onboard sound, instead throwing in an old (noisey) PCI Soundblaster card. And that had even odds of bluescreening the machine every time you started the program.

More than 6 years trying to fix one issue and a solution just dropped in my lap.

Okay this program’s ripping to Xvid rather than uncompressed, but it looks better than mpeg.

I’ve ripped a few old tapes to the PC now. Some are very good looking, others not so much. The Furry-artist interviews I did at that convention in the USA have suffered quite badly, as the camera did not travel well and started conking out at points due to temp/humidity, as well as being set to LP for a large portion. The audio, with a few FZZZTs asside, is actually very good though. It’s given me the idea to chop the unwatchable portions of video and fill them with sketch-animatics of the artists and other reference images. It could actually work quite well in the end.

Mostly I’m glad I found the impromtu interview with Ashryn. I thought it was the last thing I recorded there and since it wasn’t after the last “proper” interview on the last tape, I assumed I must have done the whole interview without pressing record somehow. But no, just got the order mixed up in my mind and it’s still there.

I should be able to do something good with this, even if it is 6 years later than I’d intended.

Also found video of my grandfather showing how to make his famous apple tarts, and some footage of one of his birthday parties. Is bittersweet to watch.

And ancient footage, even a short bit of the folk I worked for down in Hastings when I first got a video camera (not the huge one I got later), followed by the big Exeter Therians meet back in 2001.

Lot of lost history on these tapes. Just like the lost chat-logs and photos I’ve saved from the old tiny HDs.

So many things that were lost and gone are suddenly found.


Video rage

My Fuji FinePix S5600 records at 30.00030fps, 640×480, Motion-JPEG. Audio’s PCM, 16000Hz, mono, 128kbps.
I’ve got a 4-second animated graphic I want to use with my youtube videos, but it’s MP4, 25fps, 768×576, no audio track.

I’ve got VirtualDub and Avidemux, both free software. VirtualDub won’t load MP4 video, even with it’s import plugin. I can convert the resolution in Avidemux but can only do the frame rate to two decimal points (30.00 not 30.00030). This means it gives a sample rate mismatch in VirtualDub when trying to edit in with footage from the camera. Adjusting it in VirtualDub to 30.00030 still gives the mismatch error.

These programs only support appending as best I know, so you have to load the video segments into them in order. If I load the logo into VirtualDub, on the following video I get a mismatch and it fails. If I load it into Avidemux it stays with the logo segments lack of sound all the way through. If I give the logo a soundtrack from inside Avid, the sound on the following segment becomes gibberish. If I add a soundtrack to it in VD and load it in Avid the video scrambles.

Is there another free/cheap to use bit of software that’s simple and actually WORKS?

Camera diagnostics, part 1

Always knew getting the service manual would be a good move.

Dug out the old JVC GR-S707’s. They’re a pair of SVHS-C semi-professional camcorders I picked up off ebay years back. One worked fine, only needing a new microphone muff. This came with me all the way to the USA to do some filming at a convention, and damn near broke my spine in the process.
The other was acquired a couple of years after that and turned out to be actually broken, as opposed to a little temperamental in high humidity. I set it aside as a parts camera, or something to try and fix later. It now may be “later”.

I still haven’t tested the capture rig, but will be in the next few days. I was actually looking for a lens this evening when I dug out the spares/repair cam. I had a couple of ideas though, and tried them out quickly.

The viewfinder displays a heavily distorted and rolling image when filming or on playback. The spares kit included all the proprietary cables, so I tried hooking it up to the capture card. Same result there, only in colour. Very heavy blue distortion.
Noticed however the viewfinder and AV output share the same connector type. May mean I can fit one or the other with a colour viewfinder from a different camera at some point. I think I have an even more elderly camcorder with a colour tube.
Found a tape to test in camera. Noticeably worse playback than on dedicated playback unit.
So here’s the interesting bit: PLAYBACK on the damaged camera works fine. However recording is badly affected.

A/V board eliminated. Viewfinder eliminated. Playback eliminated.

Now, from the diagrams it APPEARS that the viewfinder connects to the CPU board. Probably since on-screen info can be included on the video and the viewfinder separately, so that’s done there.

Pain the bum is a lot of these block diagrams had sections in green, and they were scanned in black and white for the PDF, so large portions are near-illegible grey smears.

Still, that both outputs from the CPU board are effected, including the portions that should be different for each output, says it’s either the CPU board itself, or the CPU board’s trying to fit the on-screen data to corrupted video. And since I can’t see how the CPU could corrupt the video feed as well, we move further down the line.

The overall wiring block diagram has the CPU connect to the THD (no explanation of abbreviations included for PCBs). Schematic diagrams show this to be motor and sensor control for the optics themselves as well as pass-through for video and character data, to the Video board.
The video board seems to have tonnes of lovely little trim-pots, any of which might have gotten out of whack. Two are named “Sync level” and “1H Delayed sig level”, both of which sound to me like they could be the cause of this odd issue. It does seem to be some sort of timing issue, afterall (and maybe more, if the blue tint isn’t an associated effect).

That said, the grip on the camera has always been.. sticky. As in coated with something. It could be something leaked down inside the camera through the zoom controls and onto the PCBs under it, altering component values.

In any case, opening it up and giving it a clean-out would seem in it’s best interests.

Ah, forgot I also bought an original non-PDF copy of the service manual. PCB diagrams are still in greyscale, but in much more detail. Schematics are detailed in colour. Indications of binder-holes though suggest either isn’t (wholly) original itself, or JVC actually sent out service manuals that were photocopied from an original.

Mind you, nice that it even goes into detailing the functions of the pins of each IC used, including part numbers. If I should ever need to make a new CPU board for one of these, it’s nice to know it’s only cost me $300 in processor chips alone. :P

[20/06/2010: Amalgamating old posts from “Dreamwidth Creative Blog” into to re-purpose DW blog account.]