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Topic: Video tapes to digital/DVD? (Read 2669 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • d_headshot
  • [*][*][*]
Video tapes to digital/DVD?
I have bunch of home movies on VHS of relatives and myself when we were kids and I would like to convert them to digital files and burn them to a DVD for my grandma. I have no knowledge of how to do this, and what equipment is required, as well as having no knowledge of the different types of video formats and when to use certain ones. Are there any guides for this?

  • DVDdoug
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Video tapes to digital/DVD?
Reply #1
 You want a new hobby? 

A couple of websites for more information:
DigitalFAQ.com[/color]
VideoHelp.com[/color]

The simplest way is to get a set-top DVD recorder, or a combo unit with a VHS player/recorder and a DVD player/recorder.  (These set-top units will work for home-made tapes, but they won't copy  commercially produced copy-protected tapes or DVDs.)

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If you want to do it with your computer (or if you want to do some editing), you need a "video capture device" and one or more applications.

This can get kind-of complicated, because there are 3 steps, and each step can potentially require separate software.      Most video software can do more than one thing, and it can get confusing trying to figure-out what software does what...

1. Video Capture (digitizing)
2. Video Editing
3. DVD authoring & burning.


If you have a Mini-DV camera, these can often be used as a capture device (an analog-to-digital converter) in "passthrough mode" to transfer audio/video from the analog inputs to the firewire output (depending on the camera).  Or you can record from VHS to Mini-DV tape, and then transfer the Mini-DV tape to your computer via firewire.  Or, any digital camera that has analog A/V inputs can be use to record the VHS tape to digital, and then you can transfer the digital video to your computer via USB or firewire.  (All digital video cameras have a way to get digital video into the computer, but they don't all have analog A/V inputs.)

Some other video-capture hardware:
EzCAP[/color] (Watch out for the "fake" EasyCap, or other cheap capture devices.)
Hauppauge[/color]
ATI/AMD[/color]

The capture device will usually come with capture software, and it's usually best to use the supplied software for the capture step.  Sometimes you'll get a complete "lite" software suite that allows you capture. edit, and create DVDs.

For editing, Microsoft Movie Maker is FREE.  Avidemux is also FREE.  I use Corel Video Studio ($100 USD) and Womble ($100).

The video editing software is sometimes used to encode the audio/video to DVD-compatible MPEG-2 with DVD-compatible audio.  Or sometimes, the encoding is done by the DVD authoring software.

Once the movie is editied, DVD authoring software is used to make menus and create the proper DVD file structure/format.    If you look at the files & folders on a DVD, you will see a particular format/structure.    The actual audio/video is in a series of 1GB VOB files in the VIDEO_TS folder.  The VOB files contain MPEG-2 video with LPCM  or Dolby AC3 audio, and optionally DTS audio.

Sometimes, DVD authoring is included in the editing software (Corel Video Studio can make DVDs).    Or, you can use a program like Corel DVD Factory ($100), or DVD-Lab ($100 - $250).  I think some versions of Nero can author DVDs...  Maybe oy can even edit video with Nero.    (I use DVD-Lab).   

Finally, DVD burning is usually built-into the DVD authoring software, or you can use a separate burning program like Nero or ImgBurn.
  • Last Edit: 27 June, 2011, 06:47:12 PM by DVDdoug

Video tapes to digital/DVD?
Reply #2
I have bunch of home movies on VHS of relatives and myself when we were kids and I would like to convert them to digital files and burn them to a DVD for my grandma. I have no knowledge of how to do this, and what equipment is required, as well as having no knowledge of the different types of video formats and when to use certain ones. Are there any guides for this?


DVDdoug did a nice job of giving a broad answer, so I'll give you a narrow one.

The first step is of course playing the VHS tape. I have a farily new Panasonic VHS HiFi player for that purpose.

Even though Ive owned several stand-alone DVD recorders, I favor digitizing to a PC because it allows editing and fixing up the tape. The choice of video capture card is imprtant because you want a video capture card that uses the same clock to capture both audio and video. Otherwise lip synch will be lost while digitizing the longer clips. A capture card that relies on the audio interface in your PC is thus disqualified from consideration.

If is a tape that you didn't make but is a commercial product, the VHS tape may be copy-protected which stops our discusison right there based on forum rules.  I will only hint out that the problem and hardware solutions to it have been around for a long time.

I agree with DVDdoug that the software that comes with almost all video capture cards may be all that you need for capturing video well.

For cropping, touching up and authoring the DVD I use Premier Elements which includes facilities for editing, building and burning DVDs with nice menus. IME one generally ends up editing the video if you want a really nice DVD, including menus, titling, transitions, touching up the brightness/contrast/saturation/color balance, etc.
  • Last Edit: 30 June, 2011, 04:54:35 PM by Arnold B. Krueger