Digitizing Analog Video through a Digital Camcorder #Video @pagetable

pagetable.com explains a setup and workflow for digitizing analog video (e.g. VHS, Beta, Video 2000, LaserDisc, …) using a Mac and digital camcorder – in high quality and with interlacing intact; optimized for archival. It uses an old-school digital camcorder (they are cheap!) to convert the analog signal to a high-quality digital “DV” stream and then record the DV stream on a computer using a FireWire connection.

Standard definition analog video is either

  • 576i50 (PAL/SECAM): 25 full frames per second of 720×576 pixels, interlaced
  • 480i60 (NTSC): 30 full frames per second of 720×480 pixels, interlaced

Interlaced video was natural for old CRT displays, but in order to show interlaced video on modern displays or encode them into modern video compression formats, they need to be converted into progressive format, i.e. deinterlaced.

Deinterlacing is hard, especially if you want to do it well. When digitizing analog video, it is best to keep the interlacing intact.

The consumer format for digital SD camcorders is the 1994 DV (“Digital Video”). Unlike today’s common compression methods (e.g. MPEG-2, H.264, H.265), DV compresses images individually, so in the stream, there are no dependencies between images. You can imagine DV as a stream of 64 KB JPEG images. DV is an excellent match as an intermediate digital representation or even as an archival format for pretty much all analog media, it even surpasses LaserDisc and matches DVD.

Read about the method here.


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