Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by radhak, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. radhak macrumors regular

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    #1
    Anybody with suggestions of good Mac games for small kids and/or where I could find/buy them? No specs - if you feel its good, tell me, and I can evaluate it further. ( I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, but frankly don't expect to find anything for the younger one...).


    Also, when I get my 1.25GHz iMac, will I be able to convert my home-videos in VHS format to DVD as-is, or do I need buy additional hardware / software? How about converting a VCD to a DVD?
     
  2. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #2
    Go to an Apple Retail Store, they have a whole section devoted to educational developement games. If you do not live near an ARS (like me, not one within a 7 hour drive), you can go to the Apple Store Online and look around there.

    As for the VHS/VCD to DVD.....
    Unless you have a digital VHS player (do they even make those?) you'll need a way to go from the VHS analog RCA video out to the digital iMac Firewire post so that iMovie can recognize it. Unfortunately, I have not seen one of those for less than 300-400 dollars. :(

    Unless you can find an RCA to USB adaptor, which you might for around 100 dollars. It'll probably give you another level of conversion once you get it on the computer (will input at square pixeled 320x240 standard VHS res, and DVD res is non-square pixeled 730x480) but it's cheaper, and the final product will look very much the same. You'll also need some program capable of doing the conversion (QuickTime Pro for only 30 dollars is an AWESOME deal!) I don't think that iDVD or iMovie will accept video at any res other than 720x480 but you could try before you purchased QT Pro. VCD to DVD will probably also require QT Pro, but I've never done anything like that, although if all else fails, just run an external DVD player playing the VCD through that adaptor and go from there. VCD like VHS has 320x240 res so again you shouldn't be losing much quailty.

    I'm sure someone will correct me that you are losing massive quality, but with the kind of conversion you're talking about, you don't have much a choice. Maybe do one and see what it looks like, and decide if you can live with the look of the final product.


    Good luck radhak, feel free to ask for clarification!
     
  3. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    #3
    Re: Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

    Dunno about the games for the youngin's but you might check Apple's website... I'm sure they have a section somewhere on there.

    As for converting VHS to DVD. You'll need some sort of "inbetween". I have something called the "Hollywood DV bridge" which has a firewire port on it (which would go to your computer) and then rca video, s-video, and rca audio ports on it (which would go to your VCR, video camera, etc). It was about $300 I believe. You might however check out some sort of DV camcorder. Some have this functionality already built into them and you can use the DV camcorder as a bridge, plus you'll have a DV camcorder... if the price difference isn't that much... dunno for sure.
     
  4. FriarTuck macrumors 6502

    FriarTuck

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    #4
    There are two Finding Nemo games out there. The one targeted at younger kids is pretty good and might fit your needs.

    The Ollo game is nice, but you will likely want to do the game with your children to help them remember where some things are located during the course of the game.

    The Reader Rabbit and JumpStart series cover all ages and are generally of decent quality, in my 5-plus years of experience with them.

    Blues Clues is also pretty well done.

    My three and seven year old sons both like the Marble Blast game we got free with our .Mac account.

    And there is some good stuff to be found on the NickJr.com and PlayhouseDisney.com websites as well.

    As with most things in life, the kids get infinitely more out of it if you are there to shape their experience.

    Regarding the video, it is my understanding that you are going to have to convert the VHS to digital format before importing it into your Mac. Many digital camcorders have the ability to do this conversion. The other option is a rather pricey converter, e.g., Dazzle. I'd spend the money on an upgraded camcorder if yours doesn't have the capability, rather than buying the converter unit.

    Have fun with your new iMac.
     
  5. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #5
    Re: Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

    This is a project I'm interested in as well, and although I haven't done it yet I did some research to find out what additional hardware I'd need to be able to convert VHS videos to DVD. The DVDRhelp.com site was especially useful for me. As others have already reported, you're going to need some kind of analog-to-digital bridge. I don't think that these are expensive as they used to be, but of course you get what you pay for. One product that seems to have gotten very good reviews in the past is the Canopus ADVC-100, reviewed here.
     
  6. sigamy macrumors 65816

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    #6
    If you are looking for kids software that will run on legacy Macs check out http://www.smart-estore.com The titles are free, you just pay $4.00 for shipping. They have a lot of good kids titles listed.


    As for getting VHS into your iMac...Do you have a MiniDV camcorder with pass-through? If not find a friend with one. You would have to bring the VCR over to the iMac, put the tape in your VCR and then send the video out of the VCR into the MiniDV camcorder, then firewire from the camcorder to the iMac. You should lose any quality at all.
     
  7. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #7

    Of course!!!!


    Why didn't I think of that, that is by far the best way to do it if you can manage. If you don't have a camera at all, the investment would be well worth it. If you would be interested in buying a camera, I'll talk to my friend who just bought one and it does awesome video that stands up well to a 3500 dolar camera I used at a summer job. Sony something... but it also does the video conversion.
     
  8. flyfish29 macrumors 68020

    flyfish29

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    #8
    Re: Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

    I know Fisher Price makes some games for 2 or 3 and up so depending on how your child does with the mouse or pointing to the screen (where you operate the mouse) he/she might be ok with it. One of the game I have seen which is mac compatible (most kids games are still) is the fisher price discovery airport that had the little people in it. Our 2 year old is way into little people so we are going to try this game soon. Good luck.
     
  9. radhak thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Thanks FriarTuck and Sigamy, that's the start i was looking for in my 'game-hunt'.

    As for the conversion (thanks everybody for your inputs), I do not have ready access to a DV 'corder. I shall certainly get one to try what Sigamy suggests : maybe the simplest way. Would be interested in what your friend says, stoid, about that camera (camcorder?).

    I do have an analog camcorder and most of the mini-cassettes originally shot with it. So first thing to wonder is, would it be easier / better quality to transfer from the mini-cassette rather than the VCR? The other thing is, most of these 'bridges', do they have connectivity to an analog camcorder say by A/V cables? Else no use for me, seeing that my camcorder is some years old and only knows AV outlets.

    I had thought at least converting the VCD to DVD should not be a hassle. Looks like any-which-way, I need an adaptor to take inputs from VCR / DVD / Camcorder and output to USB/Firewire ports. Come to think of it, most should comply, seeing that I cannot be the first to try this? Right? Right...?
     
  10. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #10
    I'll get you the model number of the Sony camcorder he has. It has RCA V/A in (standard output on just about every video system ever made). Also, this camera will let you work with iMovie very easily!

    As far as VCD to DVD, I know that it is possible to do on the computer without needing a bridge, I just don't know exactly what programs you need, and without a Mac right in front of me I couldn't tell you which are the best. When I get my laptop in a few days, I'll help you out there. Good luck with your Apple.
     
  11. radhak thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    Re: Re: Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

    and i hope they continue being compatible... the best use of the Mac is in front of somebody (like a small kid, or an elderly person) who just wants to play a game and not be worried about the quirks of the machine :(
     
  12. dxp4acu macrumors regular

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    #12
    Okay, I have a MiniDV camera, but the miniDV tapes are only 1 hour long, so how would I get a whole movie over to the computer???

    Are there longer tapes I don't know about?
     
  13. kevin49093 macrumors regular

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    #13
    For the games.. I've got a few on my Mac at home. I'll find them and let you know later. They are good for really little kids because you just have to hit any key to make something happen.


    For the vhs to dv... I have used my digital video camera to record from the vcr. Then uploaded into iMovie just fine. Not much loss at all from the original vhs.

    If it is too long for one tape, use two and make sure you overlap just a bit. It is fairly easy to split at the right frames and make one long movie again.
     
  14. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #14
    Intuitively, I would think so. Make as few "hops" from the original source (the mini-cassettes) to the analog-to-digital bridge.
    Yes, I think that's pretty standard, although you obviously want to check the bridge's specifications up-front. For example, the Canopus ADVC-100 that I mentioned earlier accepts the "old" composite video inputs (two plugs for the left and right audio, plus one more for the video) as well as S-Video input.
     
  15. bryanc macrumors 6502

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    #15
    I think on of the best kids game/videos I've seen is Broderbund's "Living Books" version of Dr. Suess' ABCs.

    Despite being a classic app, low resolution and screwing up the colors on my system, this little gem is full of great voice acting, lovely (and clever) animation, and lots of hidden detail to keep an adult that is playing with their child amused. And of course, it has the wonderful writing of Dr. Suess!

    PM me if you want more info.

    Cheers
     
  16. parrothead macrumors 6502a

    parrothead

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    #16
    eye tv

    The easiest way I know how to convert VHS or just about any video/tv/vcd to DVD is to use EyeTV. You just plug your RCA cables into the little box and plug the USB cable into your computer. After recording your source you then can select the "burn DVD" option in the latest version. Much easier than converting to mini DV and then importing etc.... Plus once you have used the EyeTV for that you can use it to record TV shows too. Hope this helps.
     
  17. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

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    #17
    The idea with the mini DV camera is that it is conected to both the VCR and the computer at the same time. Thus acting just like a bridge.
     
  18. DavidFDM macrumors regular

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    #18
    I use the Dazzle Hollywood DV bridge using an s-video/audio RCA connectors to FireWire. It works very well. The issue is really the quality of the tape. It is best to keep the heads clean on the VCR. Good luck.

    - David
     
  19. radhak thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Re: eye tv

    The '...hit any key to make something happen...' is the best for a pre-schooler ;). I await the names.

    If i get hold of a dvc i would use it just to pass the video directly to the Mac instead of recording it, don't you think?

    So EyeTV is the TV-Tuner option for the iMac, i guess? Again, another form of a 'pass thru bridge' then.

    Btw, how does anybody make copies of DVDs with a superdrive? [ i am thinking of making - ahem - personal backup copies only, of course :D ]. Do you copy the whole DVD to HD and create another, or does it give you the option to copy disk-to-disk? Either way, copying from a VCD should be just as simple, right? i am assuming the Superdrive plays a VCD, please correct me if i am wrong. the VCD is pretty prevalent in Asia, not so much here in the US.
     
  20. tutubibi macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Using DV camera to convert VHS -> DVD

    Almost all of Canon MiniDV cameras have analog to digital convertor built in.
    I am using ZR40 and quality of captured video is pretty good.
    I don't think they make ZR40 any more but newer ZR60 could be found for ~ 700 CAD (around 500 USD).
    I suggest using original tape as a source as it would definitely produce better video than VHS copy.
     
  21. Fender2112 macrumors 6502a

    Fender2112

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    #21
    Re: Games for toddlers, converting VHS to DVD

    You want games, eh? If you have a CompUSA or simular type store (maybe Best Buy or Circuit City) you can find plenty of games to pick from. I have an 8 year and a 3 year old, both girls. Disney has some really nice titles. Magic Artist Delux is one the kids like. Jump Start has a nice learning series that start with preschool and goes up to 6th grade I think. Our latest purchase was one of the Finding Nemo titles. I you have any questions, just ask. I propabley have the game.


    I can save you some trouble here. Avoid the Dazzle DV Bridge. I have not heard anyone say anything good about it or who was willing to recommend it. You can find USB converters for under a $100, but you get what you pay for. If you want something a bit nicer take a look at the Canopus ADVC 100 (Canopus.com ). It lists for $299 but can found for about $250 if you look around. This is the one I chose. I haven't tried it yet (still waiting for my G5). The reviews I read were quite favorable.

    Good luck
     
  22. Fender2112 macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    You use iMove or Final Cut Express to import it. You'll need a good sized hard drive. I think the rate is 100MB per minute of video at 30 fps.
     
  23. Fender2112 macrumors 6502a

    Fender2112

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    #23
    and another thing ...

    you might want to get a trackball instead of a mouse. I have a Kensingtom Turbo Mouse. Its the one with the big ball. The girls seem to navigate with it better than a mouse. As for the "hit any key", don't worry about it, the pre schooler will adapt quite quickly to a mouse or trackball. It's amazing how fast they pick up things. My 3 year old is able to get to Disney.com all by her self (she clicks the Netscape icon and Disney.com is the default homepage ;) ). Put a few sites in their Favorites bar (PBS.org, barbie.com, divastarz.com) so they can point and click and your all set.
     

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