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Happy Expat:
Just tried VirtualVCR. Seem to be having some problems with the interface as well as Audio Sync. I also experimented by trying to capture direct to a USB stick but that results in far too many dropped frames! Will probably try capturing to a real USB hard disk to see if that's fast enough - unless either of you can already advise that would be a complete waste of time.
When changing VVCR's settings, it doesn't always seem to save them to the "default" settings, and when they are forced out to a profile, they don't all seem to save as I defined them.
It seems that each tab must be saved as soon as it is modified, otherwise any subsequent changes to other tabs causes those not yet saved to revert to their original state. Weird, confusing and frustrating, especially when you discover that you've just spent ten minutes running as fast as you can - and you're back where you started.
Audio only syncs when I can force the preview monitor into 720x576 but again, sometimes it seems I only thought I'd changed the resolution, so the audio is still not synced. (It won't allow that resolution for PAL_B but it will for PAL_G and NTSC so I have to select and save one or the other and then change it to PAL_B, where the resolution should be 640x480 but "sticks" on the other formats' 720x576. Does that description of the problem make any sense or is my definition just too confusing?
Even when I actually get an audio synced file, the image seems to be composed of visible lines and loads of jaggies on any curved or moving edges - just like an old 405 line TV - yes, I am that old!
I suspect I still need some tweeking of the settings, but it's difficult to be sure precisely what I have been able to change, when the parameters don't seem to be stable between experimental captures. I have completely removed and re-installed VVCR as well, in case I had a suspect installation but all the issues mentioned above remain.
For the record, here are the MediaInfo stats for a file saved direct to the USB stick and the virtually identical clip saved directly to the hard drive. Not sure if these will help resolve the issue of audio syncing vs resolution but they certainly do indicate how much gets lost trying to save to a USB stick.
hidden textGeneral
Complete name                            : C:\Users\Colin\Videos\VVCRfiles\capture (2014-03-10 at 08-59-03).avi
Format                                   : AVI
Format/Info                              : Audio Video Interleave
File size                                : 606 MiB
Duration                                 : 1mn 7s
Overall bit rate                         : 75.9 Mbps

Video
ID                                       : 0
Format                                   : YUV
Codec ID                                 : YUY2
Codec ID/Info                            : YUV 4:2:2 as for UYVY but with different component ordering within the u_int32 macropixel
Duration                                 : 1mn 5s
Bit rate                                 : 75.7 Mbps
Width                                    : 720 pixels
Height                                   : 576 pixels
Display aspect ratio                     : 5:4
Frame rate                               : 25.000 fps
Standard                                 : PAL
Color space                              : YUV
Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:2
Compression mode                         : Lossless
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 7.300
Stream size                              : 594 MiB (98%)

Audio
ID                                       : 1
Format                                   : PCM
Format settings, Endianness              : Little
Format settings, Sign                    : Signed
Codec ID                                 : 1
Duration                                 : 1mn 7s
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 1 411.2 Kbps
Channel(s)                               : 2 channels
Sampling rate                            : 44.1 KHz
Bit depth                                : 16 bits
Stream size                              : 11.3 MiB (2%)
Alignment                                : Aligned on interleaves
Interleave, duration                     : 246 ms (6.14 video frames)

hidden textGeneral
Complete name                            : C:\Users\Colin\Videos\VVCRfiles\capture (2014-03-10 at 09-01-25).avi
Format                                   : AVI
Format/Info                              : Audio Video Interleave
Format profile                           : OpenDML
File size                                : 1.20 GiB
Duration                                 : 1mn 2s
Overall bit rate                         : 167 Mbps

Video
ID                                       : 0
Format                                   : YUV
Codec ID                                 : YUY2
Codec ID/Info                            : YUV 4:2:2 as for UYVY but with different component ordering within the u_int32 macropixel
Duration                                 : 1mn 1s
Bit rate                                 : 166 Mbps
Width                                    : 720 pixels
Height                                   : 576 pixels
Display aspect ratio                     : 5:4
Frame rate                               : 25.000 fps
Standard                                 : PAL
Color space                              : YUV
Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:2
Compression mode                         : Lossless
Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 16.000
Stream size                              : 1.19 GiB (99%)

Audio
ID                                       : 1
Format                                   : PCM
Format settings, Endianness              : Little
Format settings, Sign                    : Signed
Codec ID                                 : 1
Duration                                 : 1mn 2s
Bit rate mode                            : Constant
Bit rate                                 : 1 411.2 Kbps
Channel(s)                               : 2 channels
Sampling rate                            : 44.1 KHz
Bit depth                                : 16 bits
Stream size                              : 10.4 MiB (1%)
Alignment                                : Aligned on interleaves
Interleave, duration                     : 249 ms (6.23 video frames)

Happy Expat:
Well chaps, you're gonna find this hard to believe.
It seems one of the packages that came bundled with this computer - Power Director 10 by Cyberlink - has an automatic function for precisely what I need.
All I had to do was right click the source file within PD10 and one of the features in the context sensitive menu is "Scene Detection".
It simply scans the entire file, tags all the probable scene changes and allows you to further edit, retain or delete the clips.
That simple.

Vurbal:
My apologies to both of you. I hadn't noticed the change of roles and thought I was still talking to Vurbal about the current capture facilities and 4wd about the scope for the Sony HandyCam :-[.
-Happy Expat (March 10, 2014, 02:32 AM)
--- End quote ---

It's an understandable mistake since 4wd is giving you the same technical advice I would have if I hadn't forgotten some of the things he has mentioned.

BTW Vurbal, I have noticed your aversion to, Sony ---- Their appalling treatment of GEOHOT and the independent developer community in general?

--- End quote ---

That's part of it, or perhaps I should say it's a symptom. I find their treatment of consumers, going back to Sony Music's audio CD rootkit, extremely offensive. Having said that, the best solution for your capture needs is likely to involve Sony hardware, and conveniently it would almost certainly be used so even I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Rather than focusing on what you've done already it may be more helpful to take a fresh look on your options now that I'm taking something of a fresh look at things. In part that's because I think it may be helpful to arm you with a little more information about your source format, but also because 4wd's posts have jarred some things loose in recesses of my memory.

Let's start with your Hi8 tapes. I initially thought it would be more useful to skip this part but that was probably a mistake. Feel free to ignore this if you're already familiar with the technical specs.

Hi8 is really just a prosumer version of Sony's high end (analog) tape format called Betacam. Actually that's true of every Sony analog tape format. Video8 is more or less the same as Betamax and quality-wise roughly equivalent to VHS. Hi8 is roughly equivalent to S-VHS (Super VHS) which is why (here in the US) it became the defacto standard for local news reporting. Eventually higher end Hi8 equipment also added support for stereo digital audio, similar to audio CDs but with slightly lower quality. This may have been primarily in Hi8 studio decks rather than the actual camcorders. To be honest I'm not exactly clear on that point.

Digital8 is Sony's implementation of miniDV, just using a different tape format to enable backwards compatibility with Hi8 media. As 4wd mentioned, the simplest way to capture Hi8 tapes is using the built-in conversion feature on a Digital8 camcorder. You do have to be a little careful since I seem to recall not every Digital8 camera included support for reading Hi8. I'm guessing this is limited to first generation units but that really is just a guess.

Once the file is encoded and transferred via firewire you will have either a Type 1 or Type 2 DV file. This is entirely dependent on the camcorder since all you're doing is copying the original file stream and packaging it as an AVI file. There's a lot more you will want to know about working with DV if you get to that point but there's no point in covering it unless/until you get to that point.

Assuming that's not an option, my first recommendation for analog capture would actually be an external Canopus DV converter. The video quality would be nearly as good and the capture process nearly as simple. Unfortunately it's likely to cost as much as a used Digital8 camera. Back in the day the ADVC-300 was their best consumer converter but I know they stopped making them some years back. After that was the ADVC-100 which was replaced at some point by the ADVC-110. Canopus, which is now Grass Valley, stopped making consumer DV converters entirely at some point IIRC.

If you can find a used DVD recorder that has analog inputs rather than being limited to capturing from a built-in VHS deck that would probably be the next best option for quality and simplicity at a reasonable price. You would also want to make sure it offered S-Video input and not just Composite because otherwise you would lose most of the quality advantages of Hi8.

The discussion about EzyCap's apparent resolution limit reminded me of some analysis I read a few years back about USB capture devices in general. Now that you guys mention it I believe that's standard, if not universal, for USB capture. As you've noticed already you're getting dropped frames even at that resolution. That's the USB transfer limitation I was talking about. If you could directly access the Phillips video chip's output - and you probably can't - you would get full D1 (720x576) resolution but almost certainly with a significantly higher frame drop rate.

Back when I first got into analog capture I was lucky enough to have a Sony multimedia PC (yeah I see the irony) which came with one of their proprietary capture cards. Their cards actually used a MPEG-2 hardware encoder developed for Japanese market DVRs. You could probably find one of the cards for sale but I've never found solid evidence they will work on a non-Sony PC. Unless somebody has repackaged it themselves, the driver is installed as part of the GigaPocket software which came with it. In fact back when I was using mine there wasn't any other capture software which even recognized it. That was quite a few years ago so things may have changed.

Vurbal:
Well chaps, you're gonna find this hard to believe.
It seems one of the packages that came bundled with this computer - Power Director 10 by Cyberlink - has an automatic function for precisely what I need.
All I had to do was right click the source file within PD10 and one of the features in the context sensitive menu is "Scene Detection".
It simply scans the entire file, tags all the probable scene changes and allows you to further edit, retain or delete the clips.
That simple.

-Happy Expat (March 10, 2014, 08:23 AM)
--- End quote ---

Not surprising at all - knowing the right terminology is half the battle. Power Director started out as primarily a DVD authoring suite so that makes sense. The primary use for scene detection is actually for improving encoding - like when you're converting prior to disc authoring.

Happy Expat:
Well, would you believe it, I've just reclaimed an old DVD recorder that I was about to put into the local Waste Collector's Bin.
Digital audio out via optical and coaxial
Analogue audio out via stero RCA
Video out via RCA and s-video
Scart in & out
AV3 in via RCA and s-video
I also cut the power lead off but that's just a five minute job to reinstall :-)
Am I likely to get somewhere with that little lot?