elgato Video Capture for Mac - Review

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As promised, we finally had a chance to put the elgato Video Capture through its paces last night. 

I found a VHS tape in our basement storage - the SNL 25th anniversary special, which means it was recorded in 1999. 

I hooked up the JVC SVHS VCR - and it worked perfectly. 

And the elgato Video Capture was the best analog video capture device I've ever tried. 

The elgato software is dead simple. 

It asks you to attach a video source - I used an S-Video cable to connect to the back of the VCR, and immediately saw Steve Martin and Martin Short on the SNL stage. 

It asks you to attach your audio cables (basic red-white-yellow is the only option, and a cable is included), and the sound started coming through my iMac speakers. 

And then you're presented with the record button. 

That's literally it. 

If you're looking for specialized video processing, this software doesn't give a lot of control. I don't see deinterlacing, or "bob and weave" or any of the other tricks people used in, say, VirtualDub in order to work with VHS video. 

That said, there is a limit to how good I can make a digital capture of VHS source material. 

Best case, there are 480 lines of resolution, interlaced.  

It may be that "good enough is good enough" here. 

And the JVC 9000-series SVHS VCR presents a really, really good picture for VHS. It uses time-base correction to smooth out some of the errors and distortion common to videotape. 

Obviously, SVHS source material would be substantially better. But we can only try to make the best of what we've got. 

And this VCR, and this Video Capture device, gets us pretty far down that road. 

This isn't a scientific observation, just yet. 

I'll update this post with some side-by-side frames comparing the VHS capture work we're doing now, with the VHS captures I got with an old Zenith VHS and a Sabrent USB video capture device in 2010.

For now, though - I'm happy with the elgato Video Capture, and I'm absolutely ecstatic that the JVC VCR I picked up on Craigslist still works. 

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