Converting VHS to DVD?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by SLRphotography, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. SLRphotography macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2009
    I have been reading many threads trying to learn and just keep getting more confused. I need to convert some VHS tapes (home movies, stuff taped off the air, etc..) to DVD. The main reason is because my wife want to get rid of those big ugly tapes.

    That being said, I have the following equipment:
    PowerMac G4 (upgrading this very soon)
    Canon Mini-DV camcorder (can use as pass-thru analog-digital converter)
    Toast 10

    I ran a test convert by hooking up a VHS-VCR to the camcorder and the camcorder to my Mac via Firewire. Opened iMove and imported our wedding video. I marked a bunch of chapters and saved. Then I shared the iMovie with iDVD and converted the movie to a "disc image" then I burned the disc image to a DVD. I plugged the new DVD into the DVD at the TV and it worked fine. However, there was a good bit of image quality loss on the DVD. If I hook up the VHS player to the TV the image looks better then from the DVD.

    Any suggestions on how to improve the quality would be appreciated. :confused: If you know of some good DV type info on the web please point me to that as well.

  2. Pikemann Urge macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2007
    What did you use Toast and Handbrake for? They seem unnecessary for this process.

    Anyway, it is a concern that the quality is not so nice. I've done similar things before and not had an issue.

    Oh one more question before we continue: did you use the video camera as a recording device or just a pass-through device? I think this might be important. You'll have to explain your workflow with more detail though.
  3. dlegend macrumors 6502

    Jan 11, 2009
    Northern VA (outside DC)
    another thing you might want to look to see if iDVD is compressing the files. You can change it in a couple places, I forget how but it's in the thread I started in here on VHS-DVD.

    Also, Toast works well but I've found for a 2 hour tape you need a DL-DVD
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I use the same process, VHS player --> DV camera and then FW to Mac. I don't see any loss of quality. The result is a DVD with VHS quality video.

    What you are going to have to do is look at each step. Try recording to DV tape and play that back on the TV. There should be zero loss of quality. then import the DV tape and watch in on the Mac, full screen look at each step.

    Now I'm guessing... Perhaps the setting used to compress the DV video to mpeg before it was written to disc "over compressed" it and the degradation in quality is due to compression artifacts

    You do know that a VHS tape can hold more video then can fit on a 4.5GB DVD unless you compress the video quite a bit. Some VHS tapes are 120 minutes and standard recordable DVD is only 1/2 the save of comercial pressed DVDs. Check that the setting used by "magic DVD" do not over compress
  5. michael.lauden macrumors 68020


    Dec 25, 2008
    if you have an el cheapo camcorder that goes straight to DVD that would work.

    or a TV Tuner and run the VHS into that.

    there are a million ways to do it - some are cheaper than others.

    however ChrisA has probably the best process for retaining quality
  6. SLRphotography thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2009
    Firstoff I want to thank everyone for responding to my question.

    I was using the camcorder only as a pass-thru device. I was not recording to a DV tape. I didn't try and copy to tape first because this first video is 2 hours long and all my DV tapes are only 60 minutes.

    On iDVD I could only choose a single layer DVD image. However, on toast I could specify a double layer DVD image. The quality was the same. I guess I am just trying to figure out how to get the best quality from the VHS to the computer. I guess it could be a cable issue because I have shielded Monster Cables connecting the VCR to the TV but the cable from the camcorder to the VCR is just the cheap "included" cable that came with the camcorder. Could it be something in iMovie that captures the images coming from the camcorder? Are there settings in iMovie which effect the image quality? Is there a better program to capture the feed from the camcorder?

    Those where all just random thoughts.

    Thanks again for any and all help,
  7. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    Note. DO NOT USE IMOVIE 08 OR 09. Now that we got that out of the way, I'll explain why. The latest iterations of Imovie deinterlace video. So what was now once 60 frames per second, is now 30. If you view your dvd from imovie 09 and 08, it will look less smooth and a tad choppy, compared to the original. Its probably the reason it looks a lot worse that the original VHS. You see old VHS is interlaced, so every frame happens 30 times a second but contains 2 frames sandwiched together in a bunch of horizontal lines. so line 1 is for frame 1, line 2 is for frame 2, line 3 is is for frame 1, line 4 is for frame 2.... all the way to line 480. Hence 480i. Now if you have imovie 06, use that, it does not deinterlace. Also toast can capture video as well using its plug and burn feature which will capture an interlaced source. Just note, don't edit in imovie 08 or 09. It will just defeat the purpose by deinterlacing again. Use imovie 06 or you can use free tools such as MPEG streamclip to edit out unwanted parts in the the beginning or the end. If you have quicktime pro, you can also trim in quicktime as well. In the end, the video will look just like VHS on DVD. Maybe some slight degradation, but nothing that you would terribly notice.

    Personally. I use a set top box dvd recorder. I get perfect results and instant DVD. No need to wait for the computer to convert to DVD.

    Fell free to PM me or ask me anything else here on this thread. I know video like the back of my hand.
  8. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    I just remembered that toast does allow to to crop from the beginning and the end. It just doesn't have very good chapter support and its DVD encoder isnt the best. But works fine with the VHS source your feeding in. Just dont try to convert non standard size video (stuff downloaded from the internet). Its scaler is really bad. I typically will use FFmeg or visualhub (no longer available) to do DVD conversions.
  9. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    Shows you how much i use IDVD. Rarely. Its been about 4 years since ive opened that program. One step DVD did not exist last time I used it. The One step DVD will work just fine. Just follow what ChrisA said. Try to fit no more that 2 hours on 1 DVD or it will start loosing much quality.
  10. bassgalcrash macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2009
    Princeton, WV
    I recently started transferring my VHS tapes. I bought an EyeTV hybrid, but the file sizes were too large for my Mac.

    I spent just a little over $100 and got a DVD recorder. I love it!! It's real simple, just plug the VCR into the recorder, and the recorder into the TV. The recorder is very fast, and the quality is REALLY good! It's an upconverting recorder.

    Really, I found it much easier then trying to do this through the computer.
  11. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
  12. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    To bearcatrp. I like toshiba DVD recorders since i read they offer the most options as far as dvd recording qualities. I have one with a 120GB hard drive built it which makes editing nice and easy. But they dont, not does anyone else, offer models with Hard drives anymore. The only downside to toshiba is the interaction. The menu system toshiba is not very logical and their remote look like the remote from heck with buttons all over the place. Been through 3 toshiba models and all 3 put out very good results.
  13. bassgalcrash macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2009
    Princeton, WV
    I also have a Toshiba.. D-R410. No complaints at all.

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