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Anyone have a way to capture AND record to VHS?
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I'm considering a project for which I would need someone to record something out onto a VHS tape and then capture it again. Even better, but not obligatory: A second pass with a VHS-to-VHS copy and then capture that, and maybe even a few more times, to get samples for various depths/generations.

I haven't prepared anything for this yet, I would only do that if there's any way to actually do this.

My idea is to train a neural network to upscale VHS content of variable generations (copies of copies) to HD. I have some very high quality Prores material archived, from all kinds of sources, that would be perfect for training this. So basically, I would cut together useful snippets, maybe some 20 minutes of material or so, then send that over for copying to VHS in lossless format (or ProRes), and then it would be captured again (ideally with multiple different generations) losslessly, and I would then apply various typical compressions (MPEG-2, DivX, Xvid) to the lossless capture and would create a dataset with a big variety of source qualities, but always the same reference HD image. I've done a similar thing for just normal XviD/MPEG-2 material; it's not awe-inspiring, but it's pretty neat, and with VHS it would probably give the added advantage of maybe reducing some of the VHS artifacts, as reduction and detection of artifacts seems to be a side-effect of the training.

Of course it wouldn't end up being all too mind-blowing, seeing as VHS is a really limited format, but even if it can get there just a few steps that would be nice, and could allow a bit of a restoration of some old workprints and such. Some of them look really rough, with all kinds of color bleeding, obviously low resolution, low saturation, weird colors etc. Would be nice to at least have some mild improvement. The final output wouldn't have to be HD of course, it could be downsampled to DVD quality, but for the training I think it would be a good idea to use the highest possible destination resolution.

Now, I could of course just try and take a Blu Ray and a VHS of some movie, but the problem is that for this to work, the sources need to be pretty much aligned perfectly and that would be a hell of a lot of work to achieve, if not impossible. So going from a fixed HD source to VHS and back seems like the best option.

If anyone is interested in helping out, let me know and I'll start thinking about assembling the footage.
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Thanks given by: williarob , alleycat , bronan , Soundman


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