E85: Transferring movies from VHS to DVD-R


Standard Member
I've started tranferring my huge collection of movies recorded from TV to DVD-R using my Panasonic E85. I've done a couple, and I would be quite grateful for advice from those who are ahead of me and more experienced.

the method I use is to dub the movie directly from VHS to DVD-R, using 'Flexible Recording' to put one movie onto one DVD-R. I usually know (not always) the duration of the movie, so if, for example, the duration of the movie is 1:50, I would select maybe 1:55 or 2:00 in Flexible Recording to leave a margin for error, pause the VHS player at the beginning, and then kick them off together. If I'm in the room 1:50 later I would check it to try to stop the recording as the movie finishes, rather than have rubbish on the DVD after the film.

I have some questions:-

1) Would I loose much quality if I tried to put two movies onto one DVD-R by setting Flexible Recording to the sum of the two durations, pausing the E85 after one movie, changing the VHS tape and then recording the next movie? I would then typically be putting about 3.5 to 4 hours onto a DVD-R. The quality I'm getting now is indistinguishable from the VHS source.

2) when I set a recording going and then get on with something else the recording may terminate without me watching it. It would be nice to qo quickly to the end of the recording to just check that the end of the movie is on the DVD-R. I haven't found a way on the E85 to go directly to the end of my recording, I have to fast forward to get there; the '>I' key doesn't seem to do anything, and there's nothing in the sub menu. Does anyone know a way?

3) If I were to record to HDD with High Speed Recording mode engaged, what effect wouuld I see in quality (Highbrid VBR Resolution would be fixed); and I don't understand at all the stuff about 'pictures saved at 4:3'. But then I've never understood the whole area of 4:3, 16.9, black bars, etc. What would a widescreen movie look like with this method?

4) I have a few commercial VHS tapes unnavailable on DVD. As my E85 is multi-region is there much chance that its Macrovision has been fixed as well, or will I need to buy some Macrovision disabler? Any recommendations?

transferring movies is obviously already a very time-consuming business, which is why fast-forwarding to check that the end of the movie is there, for example, does add significantly to the faffing time, and I'm interested in anything that makes it more straightforward. I would certainly welcome any advice from any of you who've done this and can see from what I've described that there are things I could improve, or have really worked out a system that works for you.


Prominent Member
1) I would stick to one film per DVD-R.
Anything over approx 2hrs 15mins will significantly drop in quality.

Take the time and effort to know how long the film on th etape lasts and continue using the FR mode. It should be pretty quick to fastforward a tape 90 mins or so to near the end.

2) A few presses of the 'Time Slip' button on the E85 should get you to near the end of the disk in seconds.

3) Not worth going via HDD to DVD-R unless you want to remove some excess material from the original tape recording. You certainly won't gain any picture quality. It's just an unecessary stage that you don't really need as long as you trust in your vcrs playback reliability.
Your ecordings will always be the same regardless if they were made in 4:3 or 16:9. all recordings are in fact 4:3, 16:9 is just 'squashed 4:3'. It's the 'ws flag' that you will lose on the DVD-R. All this does is tell the TV to switch to 16:9 mode. You won't actually gain or lose any content. Depending on the picture aspect rati othet the film was recorded in (say 2.35:1) then black horizontal bars will be part of the picture as it's wider than 16:9.

4) Not sure, why not do as demo recording on the HD or a RAM disk.


2) Go into Partial Erase, press skip (>>|) and it'll take you to the end of the recording.. pressing skip (|<<) will take you back to the beginning


Standard Member
Thank you very much for your helpful suggestions. I'm at the moment trying to put 3 hours on a DVD-R. I might report back here the quality I find. Ben, I can't verify this now as my E85 is busy, but I think there is no Partial Erase option in the sub-menu when one is looking at a DVD-R, only when one is looking at HDD. I think I noticed that when I had the idea of removing advertising breaks. It left me thinking that if I want remove them I shall have to record via HDD.


Yes, you're quite correct. I tend to record to HD first (in order to trim ads etc) and then dub to disc.


When I copy a tape I first FFwd it to the end and hit Clear, which resets the VCR timer to 0:00:00. I then Rewind to the beginning to just before the movie starts and the timer will show the length in "-" format, such as -1:55:26. I then cue and pause the tape at that point and start a Flexible Recording set to the next highest minute, but I make it at least 30 seconds more. That is, if the length were from 1:55:00 to 1:55:30 then I would set FR at 1:56, but if the length were from 1:55:31 to 1:56:30 then I'd set FR at 1:57. I used to set a higher margin of error, but found it was not necessary.

For stopping the recordings I use the Timer function of my watch, so I can get to the recorder and stop the recording manually.

For quality, I try to not do much more than 3 hours for VHS-SP recordings, even if it means splitting a movie between two discs.

For LP or EP recordings I may go as high as 4:00. Sometimes I will let the DVD quality suffer some for LP/EP tapes if it means I can get a set of tapes on one DVD. I may also go higher than 4:00 if the tape is of poor quality.

For commercial tapes, I'd recommend that you try and see if it works. My Panasonic E75 (VHS/DVDR) will copy many. I didn't think it would when I bought it, but was surprised to find out it did. It won't copy anything from Disney, CBS/FOX video or MCA, whether it is a major or minor release. For the other major studios (Paramount, Universal, etc.) it seems to be hit or miss. And I've yet to find a tape from the smaller or independent studious that it won't copy.

For verification, after I finalize the disc, I've been using CDCheck to check for errors. I've tested it on discs which I have seen errors during playback (momentary freeze, pixelization, etc.) and it finds them. It can be downloaded from http://www.elpros.si/CDCheck/


Established Member
If you record in SP or XP and then do an FR dub, it takes forever, because the movies are only replayed at normal speed. And you will inevitably lose a little quality in the re-encoding process.

My own preferred method is to record to HDD in FR mode, making sure to choose the right bit rate in the first place. Then it's a quick process to top and tail the movie, remove the ads, and do a high-speed dub to DVD.

To get the duration of a movie, I use the VCR's display, as JPurkey has described above. Then if necessary I subtract an allowance for ads, assuming 10% for UK or 15% (drives me nuts) for Australia.

If the movie is very long or is of exceptional visual quality, I give it a whole disc. Otherwise I will put 2 movies on a disk, in which case the FR arithmetic must include both movies from the outset.

To help me make these decisions, I have identified the Panny E85's thresholds of resolution in FR mode (by doing a series of tests). They are as follows...

704x576 up to 2 hrs 59 mins
352x576 from 3 hrs 00 mins to 4 hrs 46 mins
352x288 from 4 hrs 47 mins upwards

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