Quick Guide to Time Base Correctors

Do you have home videos to archive but the noise and glitches are annoying you? Or, do you want to have an almost HD view of your 90s TV series recorded in VHS? Invest in a good time base corrector.

This article will guide you to the basics of time base correctors, such as:

  • Description of the time base corrector
  • Types and uses
  • Buying the right time base corrector

What is a time base corrector?

A time base corrector, or simply known as TBC, is a tool that corrects the image quality and signal of videotapes. Glitches and noises from old videos will be eliminated or reduced once worked with TBCs. These timebase correctors especially work on VHS and S-VHS tapes.

In simple words, when the video is being inputted into a buffer, a TBC corrects it before it shows to the viewer.

Remember, “TBC” can likewise apply to any type of correction. If you want to really know more about how TBC works, you have to examine a device and analyse what TBC does inside.

Types and Uses

1 – Modern Standalone, External Full-Frame TBC

  • This TBC reduces on-screen jitter.
  • It overwrites noisy signal area, which prevents image quality issues.
  • This provides a stable signal that avoids dropped frames or premature recording stops on DVD recorders

2 – S-VHS VCR Line TBC

  • This is the most recommended TBC, however, it doesn’t really remove vertical jitter.
  • This TBC removes and/or reduces Chroma noise, which is the red or blue mist that can be seen on all VHS tape formats.
  • It also removes geometric distortions, like the horizontal jitters. These horizontal jitters are the wiggling lines of older video, like the ripples on a lake.

3 – DVD Recorder ‘TBC’

  • Be wary of this type of ‘TBC’, as sometimes it’s often just a frame synchronizer.
  • It does, however, remove Video Tearing. Tearing is the “waving flag” glitch you sometimes see on old videos.
  • Other DVD recorders also digital noise reduction (NR), but this can cause blurring or ghosting in the video. Thus, DVD recorders are not usually suggested to replace Standalone TBCs completely.
  • DVD recorders are only useful when a video has a lot of tearing.

4 – DV Converter Box ‘TBC’

This TBC is suitable for small studios and simple switching applications. It fixes poor time-based signals and synchronizes track errors in playback.

Buying the Right Time Base Corrector

Here are some tips for buying the right TBC:

  • Don’t buy old TBC models, especially if you’re dealing with digital conversion.
  • Opt for late 2000s models, as they are more suitable for analogue-to-digital workflows.
  • The highly recommended move is to invest in an S-VHS VCR that has TBC, with an external standalone frame sync TBC, to enhance the image and signal quality.