If you have a mountain of soccer games dating back to your teenage years or Bar Mitzvah compilations from 1989 in VHS format threatening to crumble into your basement, it might be time to move quickly into the 21st century. Professional services to transfer your VHS to DVD can be expensive if you have multiple tapes in your home. Fortunately, you can do this yourself if you have the right hardware and software.
Method 1 of 3: Use an analog to digital video converter
Step 1. Choose an analog to digital video converter
Generally, these devices cost between 100 and 150 euros. The most famous models are:
- the HDML-Cloner Box Pro
- Elgato Video Capture
- the Roxio Easy VHS to DVD
- the Diamond VC500
Step 2. Connect the converter to the VCR using the MMI cable
Connect the converter to your computer via the mini USB port.
Step 3. Install the converter software
You can download it from the manufacturer's official website.
Step 4. Open the application on your computer
Insert the VHS tape and fast forward (or rewind) to the portion of the video you want to record.
Start playing the tape. You should be able to see its contents in a window of the software you have installed. Return to the part of the video you want to record
Step 5. Click Record before you start playing the tape
Make sure the software is in capture mode before playing the video. Otherwise, the first few seconds of the passage you want to record will not be captured. The process varies slightly from software to software, but in all cases you will have to wait until playback is complete to convert the file to DVD.
Step 6. Watch the video
When recording is finished, open the video in one of the players installed on your computer and check its quality. If you want to edit your video, open it in iMovie or free software like VirtualDub and delete the parts you don't want to keep.
- Make sure the sound and picture are in sync. If not, you can adjust the sound by selecting Interlacing … in the audio menu and entering a positive or negative value for the audio offset. When looking to determine the offset, it is useful to select Audio display in the display menu.
Method 2 of 3: Use a VCR-DVD player combo
Step 1. Purchase a VCR-DVD player combo
Although these devices usually do not have high definition outputs and software packages, this is the easiest way to transfer a VHS tape to DVD.
- A VCR-DVD player combo will probably cost $ 100-200, but you can find it cheaper on eBay or on classifieds sites.
- Alternatively, you can connect a VCR to a DVD player that can record. For this you will need a series of two-way AV cables. Connect the outputs of the VCR to the inputs of the DVD player and follow the rest of the instructions as if you are using a combo player.
Step 2. Clean the magnetic tape from your cassette
Depending on the quality of your tapes, this step may be unnecessary or necessary. If you are working with irreplaceable old family cassettes or extremely dirty cassettes, you will need to be careful not to damage them when inserting them into the player.
- Lift the protective cover to reveal the magnetic strip. Spin the spools and wipe the tape with a soft cloth or cotton ball.
- If the tape is wrinkled or twisted, smooth it gently with the fabric. Rotate the spools in the opposite direction to unwind the tape if it is very twisted. Pay close attention.
Step 3. Insert your cassette into the VCR
Also insert a blank DVD into the DVD drive. Check the drive specifications to see if it can burn DVD-R or DVD-RW discs and be sure to use the correct type of disc.
Step 4. Press the play and record buttons
This will depend on your hardware, but in general you will need to press the play button on the VCR and the record button on the DVD player. In some cases, however, there is only one button Save which automatically starts the transfer process.
Method 3 of 3: Use a business conversion service
Step 1. Go to the electronics department of the nearest department store
If you don't want to bother with purchasing materials to transfer a single project, you should know that many electronics stores offer this task cheaply. You won't be able to edit the video or take care of the tapes as you would like, but that doesn't require anything other than delivery. It is also a good way to convert unfamiliar formats like 8mm or Betamax.
The electronics departments of many stores offer this service for something between 10 and 30 euros per disc. Usually a disc can hold 2 hours of video cassettes
Step 2. Put down your tapes and instructions
If you want your daughter's birthday tape to go to one disc and your son's to another, state that in a note to add to your order. Make sure all tapes are clearly labeled and that you have a copy of the ones that matter most to you. Also advise personnel of the fragility of the cassettes or of any damage they may have suffered.
Depending on where you have your tapes transferred, you may take advantage of custom editing options
Step 3. Wait a few weeks to pick up your tapes
This option is ideal for people who only want to transfer small amounts of tapes. This saves them the cost of buying blank discs, hardware and software. There are also online services that offer the same thing, although you will have to ship the tapes and therefore pay more.
If the video starts skipping or freezing during capture, it may be the processor slowing down to prevent overheating. Video capture is very CPU intensive and I had a problem with my laptop that automatically slows down its operating speed so it doesn't overheat. The problem was solved by holding the machine over a fan that assisted its cooling system
- Avoid touching the tape inside the cassette. You may wrinkle, bend, or tear it, which could render it unusable.
- Do not attempt to copy commercial tapes of any kind (eg movies or TV series). It’s illegal and it’s a waste of time.