Converting VHS Tapes to Digital

brachole

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 27, 2014
3
0
Hi All,

I'm a novice when it comes to converting videos, so I hope I can get helpful information here.

I have a lot of old VHS tapes that we recorded with a old Camcorder. Like everyone else, I'd like to convert them to digital to preserve the memories before the VHS tapes stop working.

Here's what I want to do:

Take the old VHS tapes and convert them into a digital files that I would leave on my computer, put them in iTunes and play them on AppleTV.

I don't really need to edit them, I just want to make a backup of them, so to speak.

I bought the Elgato USB Video Capture device that connects my old VCR to my PC via RCA. The tapes are playing fine and Elgato converts the file into an MP4 which is perfect for iTunes.

Here's the issue:

Some of my tapes are 2 to 3 hours longs and I noticed that any converted videos that are longer than 30 minutes, the audio and video become out of sync.

Is there a setting in Elgato that I can adjust to get the video/audio in perfect sync for long videos or am I using the wrong equipment?

Again, my goal is to preserve old VHS tapes and leave them in iTunes for playback on AppleTV.

No need to convert to DVD. Because I'm not expert in this kind of stuff, I'm not looking to edit or use 3rd party software for post production or anything like that.

Just a simple "press play" on the VCR and "press record" on the computer.

If Elgato isn't going to work for audio syncing, which is?

Thank you so much...
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,594
376
Redondo Beach, California
How many tapes do you have? Many times the best way to go is to outsource the work for a service. Quality conversions take a lot of manual effort and you have to watch the entire tape on the screen you can't just let it run because there might be blank spots on the tape or defects or color correction issues.
These guys do a good job
http://www.scancafe.com/services/video-transfer-to-DVD
Then it is simple to import the DVD to iTunes and keep the DVD as a backup at some off site location.

If you want to convert non HD older video formats yourself the best device I have found s a DV camera. All DV cams have a firewire output that plugs directly into most Macs. (Newer Macs needs a FW to Thunderbolt adaptor.) Most DV cams have an analog input for composite video and will pass that through to the FW output (AK "Sony iLink output)

The result files are large because DV does not use inter frame compression. But the files are higher quality then VHS can produce so there is no loss. Find a good DV cam. The are way-cheep now because everyone wants HD.

Then you give the DV file to either Handbrake of Apple's "Compressor" and wait a few hours.

If it were me and I cared about the footage I could edit and color grade scene by scene before comprising. Maybe run an image stabilization filter and clem up any audio problems
 

brachole

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 27, 2014
3
0
are you still hooking up a VCR to the DV Camcorder through RCA jacks? And are you saying that I won't have any video/audio sync issues using the method you described?
 
Last edited:

Ubele

macrumors 6502a
Mar 20, 2008
631
97
If you want to convert non HD older video formats yourself the best device I have found s a DV camera. All DV cams have a firewire output that plugs directly into most Macs. (Newer Macs needs a FW to Thunderbolt adaptor.) Most DV cams have an analog input for composite video and will pass that through to the FW output (AK "Sony iLink output)
Great suggestion, and one I wish I'd thought of before I bought a Canopus ADVC-55 several years ago. I have an old Sony DV camcorder and could have saved myself some money.

To the OP: I've done what you've done using a couple different methods. I don't have the Elgato device, but I do have the aforementioned Canopus, which does the same thing. It has a FireWire output to connect to my Mac, and RCA and S-Video inputs for my VCR. I capture my video to iMovie, because I plan to edit some of it eventually. It takes a long time, and the files are huge, but big hard drives are cheap, and I figure I might as well have editable files. I use Handbrake to create MP4 files for iTunes. I've never experienced an audio/video sync problem, but a couple of my VHS tapes didn't track well, and the video jumped around and had horizontal noise bands. I might take those to a video service and see if they can be cleaned up.

The other method I used was connecting my VHS deck to an old DVD recorder, burning DVDs (it doesn't hurt to have backups), and using Handbrake to create MP4 files from the DVDs.

If you use Handbrake, your MP4 files likely will have horizontal "jaggies" due to interlacing. You need to turn on a variable comb filter setting. I'm not near my Mac, and I can't remember what that setting is. (I'm having a problem related to this, and I've created another post about it.)
 

absolut_mac

macrumors 6502a
Oct 30, 2003
935
0
Dallas, Texas
I second ChrisA's recommendation of Scancafe.

I sent them a couple of Hi8 (remember that one?) and VHS tapes to convert and was very happy with the results. DVD copies looked better that the originals. No, obviously NOT sharper or higher resolution - it's not possible to restore info that wasn't there in the first place - but they definitely improved the washed out color and contrast making them look a lot better than the originals.

It would be too much work and effort to do anything but a straight conversion at home with the aforementioned Canopus etc.

These guys do this all day every day so they have these conversions down pat. If the tapes are important to you, then it's money well spent.
 

brachole

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 27, 2014
3
0
I have way too many tapes to being able to afford scansafe. I may however send them my wedding video. The rest is just some random videos like some presentations for work, kids play, etc...

So what I want is a good way to do it at home without having to edit afterwards.

Is the DV Camcorder a good way to do it and will I lose sync between video and audio after an hour?
 

Ubele

macrumors 6502a
Mar 20, 2008
631
97
Is the DV Camcorder a good way to do it and will I lose sync between video and audio after an hour?
I did a Web search and found several posts by people who are experiencing the same problem with the Elgato Video Capture device, but nobody was able to offer an explanation or a solution. Apparently the Elgato converts the video to H.264 format via its hardware. I can think of three other ways to digitize your videos, which should eliminate the audio/video sync problem:

1) Use a DV camcorder as a pass-through converter and import your video to iMove. Make sure you get a model that iMovie supports. I read that it doesn't support all models. This will create huge, editable MOV files, which you can then export to MP4. A camcorder might be your most expensive option, though.

2) Buy a Canopus ADVC-55, which converts analog to digital video but doesn't compress to H.264. They currently go for $180 new, but you probably can find a used one that's cheaper. This will do the same thing as the DV camcorder. Then import to iMovie and export as MP4 files.

3) Buy a standalone DVD burner or a combination VHS deck/DVD burner. Either type goes for about $100. Burning your VHS footage to DVDs does involve an extra step, but you'll have DVD backups, which isn't a bad thing. Since you don't need to edit your videos, use HandBrake to create MP4 files. This is the method I've used most often.
 

daybreak

macrumors 6502a
Sep 4, 2009
531
0
If you have your VHS Player connect to your DVD recorder and copy unto a disk. That is the easy way of doing it.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,594
376
Redondo Beach, California
I have way too many tapes to being able to afford scansafe. I may however send them my wedding video. The rest is just some random videos like some presentations for work, kids play, etc...

So what I want is a good way to do it at home without having to edit afterwards.

Is the DV Camcorder a good way to do it and will I lose sync between video and audio after an hour?
Whithout having to edit? There is no why on Earth you can avoid having to at least watch every minute of the video. The tape can loose sync and you will need to fix it. If you don't look at every minute of video you might have nothing by garbage in the captured files.

I suggest you do NOT store the captured video on DVDs. They have a finite lifetime just like tape and in 10 years one will own a DVD player. It's a declining format. Keep the files in iTunes. Disks are way-cheap not at about $65 per TB. Each TB can hold maybe 1000 hours of converted video and is a LOT smaller than 1000 DVDs.

Do have a backup plan. Keep at least three copies of each file and you need the data at two different physical locations. This is the dead minimum, I'd go with more. But really you need the off-site backup.

----------

If you have your VHS Player connect to your DVD recorder and copy unto a disk. That is the easy way of doing it.
No, it not "best". It ithe cheapest and easiest way. That is different from "best". And then what do you have but a stack of un-indexed DVD with poor quality video transfers.
 

jam007

macrumors newbie
Oct 18, 2008
5
0
Sherman Oaks, CA
I'm trying to transfer VHS tapes to my MBP via either a Sony DCR-PC1000 or Sony HVR-A1U and I've completely forgot how to use the pass through method.

I have all the cables but can't figure it out.

VHS rca --> SONY camcorder firewire out ---> MBP ---> iMovie or FCP X.

Does anybody remember or how can point me to a youtube video that explains it? I've searched and can't find anything.

Also if anybody knows which highest quality setting I should set it at would be great. I'm assuming saving as DV is over kill?

Thanks!
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,594
376
Redondo Beach, California
If the DV cam can't do pass though then record to DV tape, rewind the tape then download to the computer via iLink/FW. Yes, this will take twice as much time.

I'd save the files as DV. DV is good for editing.

I'm trying to transfer VHS tapes to my MBP via either a Sony DCR-PC1000 or Sony HVR-A1U and I've completely forgot how to use the pass through method.

I have all the cables but can't figure it out.

VHS rca --> SONY camcorder firewire out ---> MBP ---> iMovie or FCP X.

Does anybody remember or how can point me to a youtube video that explains it? I've searched and can't find anything.

Also if anybody knows which highest quality setting I should set it at would be great. I'm assuming saving as DV is over kill?

Thanks!
 

jam007

macrumors newbie
Oct 18, 2008
5
0
Sherman Oaks, CA
If the DV cam can't do pass though then record to DV tape, rewind the tape then download to the computer via iLink/FW. Yes, this will take twice as much time.

I'd save the files as DV. DV is good for editing.
Well they're both suppose to, and I'm almost positive I've done it before I just can't remember how. I have the booklet for the PC1000 and I can't seem to find anything in it. Does anybody remember what settings and buttons need to be pressed to do so?

Thanks!
 

Georgio

macrumors 6502
Apr 30, 2008
365
36
Essex, UK
If you don't get the pass through working then I would recommend the Canopus 110,

http://www.grassvalley.com/products/advc110

I bought one of these a few weeks ago to get video from VHS-C camcorder tapes to my iMac.

I used a S-VHS deck with a VHS-C convertor cassette and a SCART in/out to give me S-video and audio left/right into the Capopus.

The Capopus then connects via Firewire 400 to the Mac which I managed with a Neet 400/800 adapter and Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 connector.

A lot of different adapters I know but the end result was simply superb considering the age of the tapes and being VHS.
 

Keebler

macrumors 68030
Jun 20, 2005
2,945
180
Canada
If you don't get the pass through working then I would recommend the Canopus 110,

http://www.grassvalley.com/products/advc110

I bought one of these a few weeks ago to get video from VHS-C camcorder tapes to my iMac.

I used a S-VHS deck with a VHS-C convertor cassette and a SCART in/out to give me S-video and audio left/right into the Capopus.

The Capopus then connects via Firewire 400 to the Mac which I managed with a Neet 400/800 adapter and Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 connector.

A lot of different adapters I know but the end result was simply superb considering the age of the tapes and being VHS.
The Canopus is a great tool for ingesting tapes. Rarely drops frames or has out of sync issues. They also hold their value well if you wanted to resell. No moving parts also means you can pick up a used one for a good price then resell.

If you use a service like Scancafe, ensure they keep your tapes in country. There are some companies who ship media to Asia/India etc.. for work then shipped back.

Then again, to me personally, these are family memories. Not just tapes. Shipping with the possibility of losing them (albeit perhaps a small chance), makes me cringe.

These aren't like a hard drive or watch or anything else that can be replaced.

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers,
Keebler
 

davidg4781

macrumors 68020
Oct 28, 2006
2,238
173
Alice, TX
I think I'm going to be doing this soon.

I need a hobby...

Where's a good place to get a decent VHS Player? I've seen some really high prices and I don't want to do that. Goodwill maybe?

I think my mom may have a VHS/DVD player with S-video output. I may use that but I'm just wondering in case it doesn't work or something.

And to edit? iMovie? What about burning to DVD? Years ago I was planning to use iDVD but that's not around anymore. Any other recommendations?

Sorry to somewhat hijack this thread. I was about to start my own but this had pretty much every thing I was looking for already.
 

mtngoatjoe

macrumors regular
Jun 10, 2008
233
33
I think my mom may have a VHS/DVD player with S-video output. I may use that but I'm just wondering in case it doesn't work or something.

And to edit? iMovie? What about burning to DVD? Years ago I was planning to use iDVD but that's not around anymore.
You mom's player would be good because of the s-video.

As for editing, iMovie is great. Take a look at youtube to get an idea of what it's all about.

And finally, you can burn a DVD in the Finder, but you'll need to export the movie as 480p. You won't get nice menus and such, but it should work (test before you do more than one). But honestly, if you have an HDTV, it's far easier to watch movie on it with an AppleTV.
 

davidg4781

macrumors 68020
Oct 28, 2006
2,238
173
Alice, TX
You mom's player would be good because of the s-video.



As for editing, iMovie is great. Take a look at youtube to get an idea of what it's all about.



And finally, you can burn a DVD in the Finder, but you'll need to export the movie as 480p. You won't get nice menus and such, but it should work (test before you do more than one). But honestly, if you have an HDTV, it's far easier to watch movie on it with an AppleTV.

I'm planning in putting a few family reunions onto DVDs. I think I can fit 2-3 on one. I'd like to give them out to other family members.

That's why I'd like a menu system on the DVDs. If I have iDVD installed on my Mac will it still function with the current version of iMovie?
 

Georgio

macrumors 6502
Apr 30, 2008
365
36
Essex, UK
I'm planning in putting a few family reunions onto DVDs. I think I can fit 2-3 on one. I'd like to give them out to other family members.

That's why I'd like a menu system on the DVDs. If I have iDVD installed on my Mac will it still function with the current version of iMovie?
You might be able to find old copies of iLife on EBay that have iDVD, just install iDVD and leave the others.
Alternatively I think Toast 10/11 has DVD authoring and again you might be able to find a cheap copy on EBay.
 

Gregnyrfan

macrumors member
Jun 17, 2011
65
17
Help with final selection!

Hey guys,

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I've basically compiled a list of devices that would do the job of going from VHS to DVD/Mac. My questions is, Which of one these has the best video - audio sync as well as image quality transfer. I have a MacBookPro - Retina Display.

1. ADVC110 ($175) or ADVC55 ($160) (Will need the Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter $29)
http://www.grassvalley.com/products/advc_professional_family

2. Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac ($51)
http://www.roxio.com/enu/products/easy-vhs-to-dvd/mac/overview.html?rTrack=b_easyvhsmac

3. Elgato Video Capture ($80)
http://www.elgato.com/en/video/video-capture

4. Honestech VIDBOX for Mac ($53)
http://www.honestech.com/main/VIDBOXforMac.asp

5. Blackmagic Design Video Recorder ($142)
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/videorecorder

6. Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle for Thunderbolt ($230)
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/intensity

Thanks, Greg.
 

monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
1,861
382
Hilo, Hawai'i
I can tell you that the Blackmagic Video recorder (your #5) is a fine piece of equipment. I used one to transfer hours of VHS and it was flawless, and very easy to use.

I said the same thing a couple of months ago -- haven't changed my mind.

I used a recorder (Panasonic AG1980) with s-video output. I had no audio synch problems.