View Full Version : Best Import Format for Import into Adobe Premiere Elements

January 3rd, 2010, 08:31 AM
I am planning to transfer a number of old VHS tapes, and I was wondering what the best format is for import into Adobe Premiere Elements 8. Here is a brief summary of what I think are the three leading contenders:

.vob - Typically a transfer service will transfer your VHS tape to a DVD. PE8 will read and use these .vob files. The picture quality is OK, but because of the high degree of compression some quality is lost.

.avi - This is the format that Adobe recommends. Each frame is separately compressed. The quality seems very good.

.mov (H.264) - A more modern way to compress the data. However, I read on an archived Adobe technote: "MPEG files don't lend themselves to editing because the video frames in an MPEG file aren't self-contained. That is, any given video frame contains only the information that has changed from the previous frame. During editing, a previous frame required to fully decompress a given frame may not be present, resulting in poor quality of the final rendered frame." I have used high quality .mov files in the past and have not noticed any loss of quality.

If the transfer service can produce all of these formats, which one should I select?

In terms of file space needed for a converted VHS tape, .vob would use about 4 gigs, and .avi and .mov would use around 15 gigs of space. Less compression is better, so I would think that .vob would be the least desirable option. The decision is really between .avi and .mov. File size is not really an issue these days because of the low cost of disk space.

January 3rd, 2010, 09:20 AM

All files with the file extension .avi are not DV AVI. DV AVI is the native format of the Premiere Elements Timeline. AVI is a wrapper format that can house a large number of different codecs (compression). In the case of DV AVI, DV is the compression and AVI the wrapper.

Conversion/transfer of VHS to a DVD disc as DVD-VIDEO is an easy way,
However consider....
a. For many, the Premiere Elements Media Downloader does a quick and great job of ripping the VOBs from the DVD disc inserted in the computer DVD burner driver tray. BUT, for many it does not work well, poorer quality and out of sync audio, etc. For the latter, the workaround is to convert the VOBs to DV AVI with the free program MPEG Streamclip, followed by bringing the DV AVI version into Premiere Elements. The MPEG Streamclip workaround produces excellent quality without out of sync audio.

So, it would appear that the roads lead to DV AVI, not just any file with a file extension of .avi, if you plan to edit the video in Premiere Elements. The Premiere Elements source media quality, as it is for any other program, is important. Is it possible for the transfer service to give you a sample of what it can produce for its .avi with DV compression and .mov with H.264 compression? But, it would appear that the competition is between DVD-VIDEO on a DVD disc and DV AVI.

If you have the equipment to convert the VHS to DVD-VIDEO with the assist from a DVD recorder, you could tryout a small scale VHS to DVD route which has the potential for giving you excellent results, do it yourself (saving a lot of money), but more an investment of your time.

Please update us on your progress.