Getting the most out of the Elgato Video Capture
I just bought an Elgato Video Capture, and if you just did too, that's great, because i'm about to show you how to get the best video quality out of it.
"disclaimer": as far as I know, this is the best quality, and you may be able to do better than me. I'm just sharing what I know.
If you're using the software that's included with the Video Capture, stop. Because the software is not very good.
First of all, it crops the edges of the video off, so you lose some content right there. Also, it slightly compresses the video, which creates compression artifacts that are easily visible. Lastly, there are some cases where the video goes all choppy, and I've found a way to fix ALL of these problems (for the most part).
I'm about to talk about everything I have to say about this, including setup, software and what you need to know, so be sure to sit down for a minute, or just use the index below to find the topic you need.
1. Initial SetupJust in case you're not familiar with setting up this kind of equipment, here's how it's done.
On the back of your VCR, connect the RCA (yellow, white, and red) cables into the correctly coloured connectors.
Plug the other ends of the cable into the coloured connectors on the Video Capture. You do not need to plug in the USB connection until you finish setting up the rest of the necessary software.
2. DriversThe Video Capture won't work without the drivers that are available at this link on the Elgato website.
Just download the file (windows only, if you're on mac/apple just look up "elgato video capture drivers" and you should find them. I don't have a mac, so I can't provide a download that I am sure will work.) and go through the installation progress.
3. SoftwareYes, the Video Capture comes with it's own software, but I don't like it. It crops the edges out of the video, and doesn't give me as much freedom as I want in my capture software.
I would reccomend OBS, available at this link
Before opening OBS, plug in the Video Capture. After OBS has loaded, create a new "scene", then add a "source".
When adding a new source, choose "Video Capture Device".
If you see a solid blue screen (mine says F-1, because my VCR is on), then press OK.
If you do not see anything, close OBS, unplug the Video Capture, and wait a few seconds. Then, plug in the Video Capture, and open OBS. If you still do not see any video, there could be a problem with anything. Drivers, incompatibilities, you name it... computers are a pain in the ass.
3.5. Software Configuration
This is only what i've learned in the past 2 years of trying to get a video capture to work. I am going to beleive these are the best settings, don't quote me on this though.
4. VCR ConfigurationAll VCRs are different, but I do know that many late 90's / early 00's models are like this one I have here.
Once you are ready to capture, press "Start Recording" on OBS, and then "PLAY" on your VCR.
Let the tape play until it reaches the end, or whenever you want the video to stop, then you should have a fairly good copy of the tape in a digital format in the "Videos" folder on your computer.
I should say that almost no video capture is truly perfect. Things degrade, especially in Analog to Digital conversion. You can never have a truly perfect capture, BUT, this does look pretty dang good.
The image above is the full resolution capture of a 31 year old Home Movie.
It's not my home movie, I have no idea who these people are, but they're workin on their country house in Florida.
Video quality isn't perfect (it's vhs what can you do), I have personal home movies that look better, but I think i'll have this person here instead of 2 year old me.
To be honest, if I hadn't been running this VCR through hours of tapes since 2018, maybe this capture would look better.
5. File StorageMost people are always thinking of "VHS TO DVD VHS TO DVD", but I don't fully agree with that.
Never thought this would happen, but DVD is getting obsolete. In fact we've seen DVDs degrade faster than VHS tapes, and you can read my article about how long VHS tapes REALLY last here.
If you are really thinking of the future, go the external hard drive way.
This tiny drive here can hold 1000GB of data. I keep a backup of everything i've ever captured on this drive.
You can keep videos on here and play them on your computer. I bet this drive will last longer than some DVDs will.
I do still burn DVDs, because I do conversion jobs for some people who want DVDs.
If you really want DVDs, you can download a program called DVD Flick.
It's a very user-friendly peice of software that lets you drag & drop files for burning onto the DVD.
ConclusionIf you read my webpages, you would know that i'm bad at making conclusions because i'm bad at writing, so i'm not going to make a conclusion.
This page is not sponsored or affiliated with Elgato or OBS in any way. "Elgato Video Capture" is probably a trademark of Elgato, but I am too lazy to check.