VHS to digital archiving

badobsession81

Standard Member
Hi there,

I was wondering if anyone could help regarding converting old VHS tapes to a digital format - initially just to archive and get them off the vhs tapes, but maybe to edit and create 'summary' dvds or digital videos to upload and share etc.

I've seen a variety of kit all promising the world from £20 up to £100s but am confused where to start. I'm computer literate and work in IT, but have rarely dabbled with video editing and codecs etc. and want to cut through all the BS to understand what's needed, but like simplicity. I'd hate to install dodgy drivers and bloated software unless needed, and like something to 'just work' (don't we all?!)

Anyhow, does anyone speak from experience with this? I've tried VHS to DVD recorder then rip the DVD, but it'd be good to cut that step out...
Any help or pointers really appreciated as I've spent the whole day so far looking at several products and getting square eyes! lol
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Using a DVD recorder to get a digital copy of a VHS tape is probably the most painless way to go as you can just start the recording and go do something else. If you already have the recorder then it is also a cheap option.

The USB video capture devices tend to be cheap but not always chearful as their quality can leave a lot to be desired with problems such as the video & audio drifting out of sync :(

The best quality way of getting the VHS to digital is to use a miniDV camcorder with AV-in or a Canopus ADVC capture device as this gives you an uncompressed DV .AVI video file that is easy to edit with no further generation quality losses. Again this is a cheap option if you already have the equipment, but miniDV with AV-in is as rare as hens teeth and the Canopus ADVC are expensive ti buy (but do resell easily for not too much loss of purchase price, especially if bought second hand).

However whatever route you take it will be a long winded exercise. For every 1 hout of VHS you are probably looking at around 2+ hours to get it onto the PC, edit and then create to DVD - more if you have an old slower PC. Therefore I would recommend trying to get as many original DVD copies of the tapes as you can and only convert those that you can't get from elsewhere, ie home made camcorder footage of the kids or your wedding video etc.

Mark.
 

badobsession81

Standard Member
Thanks for the quick reply - very helpful. Its mainly for preserving my home movies and a few rare vids thy aren't on DVD. Sounds like I ought to stick to the DVD recorder - I've got a Panasonic hdd n dvdrw so can record a few to hdd first if needed.

After they're on DVD what do ppl use to get the digital copies? It'd be good to create reasonably high quality (considering the weakness of the source) to play on portable devices too - iPhone iPad etc.

Cheers :)
 

MarkE19

Moderator
A DVD is a digital copy and therefore you can simply copy the .VOB files off the disc (no copy protection as it is home made) onto the PC. You can then use any tools you want to convert them to a format that will play on all your devices, ie I use Handbrake

Mark.
 

rickyt

Active Member
As said a DVD/HDD recorder is the way to go .I have just transfered 6 Videos for someone , the chap ,a retired boxing coach wanted his vids put on to DVD . All were transfered in real time to HDD then dubbed back to DVD . Quality is not bad considering the videos are over 20 years old . Some blank bits of the tapes were cut out , easily edited using the DVD/HDD recorder . I have suggested the disks could be ripped and encoded to xvids or divx's and put on one SD card so he can watch them on his laptop as it has a SD card slot .I'm personally not a believer of using DVD's as many I have done over the years are now unwatchable . They will deteriate at some point . I did buy some of more expensive Tio Yuden disks many years ago but cannot comment on them as I have only used one or two .
If you copy your DVD's to SD cards there are many SD/USB media players going cheap , just plug it into your HD telly ,stick in a card and your off .
 

12harry

Well-known Member
It's a touchy subject here . . . but commercial DVD are still being produced and maybe that says they aren't all that bad. However, "our" DVD's use a different recording process and many suggest they are re-recorded every so often.
I find that my burnt DVD's play OK on my DVD player, PC and BD player - when I have issues it is other people's kit that falls down, although some Apple Macs are pretty good - but considerably more money, they should be.

IMHO the best way to view DVDs is via a dedicated player and TV - I think this is likely to be more-reliable than using a laptop (whatever the recording medium). This is because the average laptop has limited processing power. Add to that the TV will be bigger and the chap can sit well-back to rest his eyes.

rickt is right that SD/USB may be an alternative, but the cost per Gb is another story. DVD's are about 5p/Gb - I doubt anything else touches this - also being physically larger, it may be less subject to mis-handling....?

Bear in mind that VHS is about half the definition of SD digital and nearly a quarter of HD - it is the value to the viewer that counts. I think OP's arrangement using DVD/HDD recorder is the most sensible route.
 
Last edited:

chrishull3

Well-known Member
As said a DVD/HDD recorder is the way to go .I have just transfered 6 Videos for someone , the chap ,a retired boxing coach wanted his vids put on to DVD . All were transfered in real time to HDD then dubbed back to DVD . Quality is not bad considering the videos are over 20 years old . Some blank bits of the tapes were cut out , easily edited using the DVD/HDD recorder . I have suggested the disks could be ripped and encoded to xvids or divx's and put on one SD card so he can watch them on his laptop as it has a SD card slot .I'm personally not a believer of using DVD's as many I have done over the years are now unwatchable . They will deteriate at some point . I did buy some of more expensive Tio Yuden disks many years ago but cannot comment on them as I have only used one or two .
If you copy your DVD's to SD cards there are many SD/USB media players going cheap , just plug it into your HD telly ,stick in a card and your off .
Yes i have never had a commercial DVD no matter how old fail yet,but with home made ones DVD-R etc has not been the same,luckily only a few have failed after a period,this is where storing the material on drives helps as replacements can be easily made,[not that drives can never fail]:(
 

rogs

Well-known Member
I've had several examples of home 'burnt' DVDs failing, but never a commercial one.
I think the difference is that the commercial ones are 'pressed' and the home made ones come with a dye that is 'burnt'.
Anyway, I don't trust them for long term storage, and feel that home made Blu-rays may go the same way eventually ( home made BDR types are also 'burnt' discs).
So I keep everything on at least 2 HDDs these days, (as Chris says, an HDD can fail too... although having 2 fail at the same time??...unlikely...) and use a Western Digital media player, rather than a DVD or Bluray player for my TV playback......
 

12harry

Well-known Member
I think rogs is right-on.
-Our recordable discs are dye-process (as are Our BDs). Storing vids on HDDs is a reliable-enough method, provided these drives are treeated with care and stored somewhere "safe". I'm not sure I believe that those commonly-sold Ext-Drives are suitable - since I'd like to see something like a padded-bag to transport it from the bunker to the PC.
Drives should ONLY Rarely be conncected to the same PC - this is when a virus could wreak havoc. Also, protection against electrostatic fields and lightning is something to strive for.
 

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