Tape to digital

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jackwallace, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. jackwallace macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2011

    I am new to the forum, I apologize in advance if there are other relevant topics, I could not find one.

    I would like to transfer some old VHS tapes into digital format. I have a 2007 MacBook with a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and 2GB of RAM. No fancy video card.

    I have made shorts with IMovie but I have recently been given Final Cut Express as a present although I do not know how to use it properly.

    My question is, having seen many cables/hardware for VHS/computer connections on the market which piece of hardware I better get to get the tapes on my MACr? USB or firewire connection? Imovie or Final Cut Express (and how difficult to learn to use it?)?

    Thank you!

  2. Richardthe4th macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2008
    Below Sealevel

    Do you still have the video recorder or a video deck? They have composite/s-video or scart out. That is analog.

    Then you need a piece of hardware to convert the analog signal to digital. For instance canopus, but there are more sorts. With VHS tape quality as input, you can buy the most simple one, because VHS is very low quality compared to modern digital standard.

    The hardware converts it to files. Mostly by USB you can get it on your laptop. And then edit :) It doesn't matter in what application (iMovie, FCE or whatever). There are pieces of hardware 100% compatible with iMovie (DV file or Quicktime/.mov files output)

    So the editing application doesn't matter, it's the hardware converter box you need.

    Good luck.
  3. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Id recommend iMovie if your not familiar with Final Cut, as it can be a real pain to get it to do "simple" things if your not familiar with the UI. And itll be quicker to edit in it anyway I expect :D
  4. matteusclement macrumors 65816


    Jan 26, 2008
    this is one of those things that should be turned into a sticky. HOW TO TRANSFER VHS to DIGITAL. Maybe not this one, but one of the 1,000 out there.
  5. Macmonter, Jan 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

    Macmonter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2008
    Vermont, USA
    The Grass Valley Canopus ADVC55 will do what you need. I bought one from B&H (approx $160), and it has done an acceptable job of copying my old VHS and SVHS tapes. Read the reviews including mine on the B&H web site for its pros and cons:

    edit: now $175.00 at B&H
  6. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    And that one will work with any incarnation of iMovie I believe (I used to have that running in iMovie 5, so it should work with todays iMovie as well)
  7. De Rocca macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    I've used the canopus avdc110 for this, and it works great. Bought it second hand for 110 euro. (150 $). In 've bought a firewire adapter 6pin-9pin to connect it to the firewire 800 connection of my imac. I imported the footage using Imovie.
    You can even use it to connect a camcorder using the 4 pin firewire connector. Also you can use the advc 110 to convert an analog signal to a camcorder with a video input, without using a mac.

    Also I even connected the box to my digital tv decoder and imported footage from that one too (analog of course : scart connection), but the result is great.
    For this , one thing is important : i had to change the aspect ratio of the decoder to 3/4 to get a normal picture. The digital signal was widescreen 16/9
  8. jackwallace thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2011
    Thank you everybody, i will look into the Grass Valley ADVC-55 and 110, my problem is that I am in Europe and the cost is higher here. Due to come to the US at Easter and may just take advantage of the cheaper prices over there.

    The issue about Final Cut Express is that I really want to learn to use it, if not is a waste. Plus my girlfriend got it for me so if I don't she'll nag me for ever and get me sweaters for Christmas from now on!

    Thanks again, any further tip is appreciated!
  9. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Well, Final Cut Express can be a pain to learn (It took me a little while to learn it, with the Apple Book (Peachpit)) - But it does mean that you can make the jump to Final Cut Pro later with little effort (UI stays the same and its just a few extra features to learn.)
  10. De Rocca macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2010
    Hi, I'm also from europe (belgium), and if you look around a bit, you can find the ADVC 110 at an acceptable price (right now here's one locally at 100 euro, used, but in fine shape)
    I can send you the link

    Another (web) shop is selling at 220 euro in Holland...

    Great device
  11. ctakim macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2006
    I used the ADVC110 to convert some VHS and analogue tapes that were 20+ years old to a digital format. But I had problems with jerkiness and dropped frames and I found I had to get a Time Based Corrector (AVT8710) to solve this problem. Turned out to be more complicated than I had envisioned, but the problem was ultimately solved. My understanding is that if the tapes are old and stretched, the frame rate may jump around and this creates havoc with the A/D converstion. The TBC acts as a buffer for the frames.
  12. Linnea Ruby macrumors newbie

    Jan 31, 2011
    Nanaimo, BC
    DVD recorder or use computer?

    Hi-Joined today so not sure if I'm asking this in the correct place.

    Any experience with which produces the best results image wise? I've been looking at transferring both VHS tapes and Hi 8 tapes either using a combo vhs/dvd recorder or going through my mac book. I will do straight copying and edit down the road. (Considering the Panasonic DMR-EZ48VK recorder).

    These are my deciding factors from most important to least.

    Final image quality, Simple Method, Time involved, Limitations of my macbook hard drive space

    Hope my question is clear - Thanks!
  13. GLS macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2010
    One other possibility....if you possess or can borrow a digital camcorder (8MM, MiniDV, DVD) it may have an analog/digital passthru. I have a Sony DCR-PC1000 Mini DV that supports this.

    My setup is pretty convoluted, however. OSX doesn't support the camcorder....so, I have to attach it via Firewire to the Win 7 box I have here. I then attach a VCR to the audio/video inputs on the camera...make one setting change on the camera itself....press play on the VCR, and capture the video. The capturing software will not control the VCR (like it would the camcorder).

    After the video is finished, I then transfer it using a USB hard drive to my MacBook Pro 15, edit it there...and then save it in iPad format, publish it to Youtube, and burn a DVD.

    While I could cut out the final step and do all the editing on the Win 7 box...and save a bit of time....you get the idea.

    Thus far, I've converted a number of VHS tapes my wife has collected over the years with acceptable results. They transfer to the iPad fine...and although the picture isn't quite as nice as something taken from a digital source, it serves the purpose.
  14. jackwallace thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2011

    That is very interesting. I have a Sony PC120 minidv handheld camera, which is actually recognized (USB, not sure why but not firewire) by my mac, does anybody know if I can connect a VCR to it and record it again on a minidv tape or even import directly on the computer?

    I am in the US now and considering buying the Grass Valley ADVC-55 or 110, but apparetently prices have gone up, plus having difficulties to actually finding a store that has it. Anyway if I could avoiding the expense it would be even better!

    Thanks again for the help
  15. marc11 macrumors 68000

    Mar 30, 2011
    NY USA
    You don't even need to record it, just use the mini-DV player as a digital convertor and pass through. I had some old VHS-C tapes I wanted to convert and no longer had the VHS-C camcorder, but amazingly held onto the "tape buddy" and an old super VHS player. I connected my VCR via a S-Video cable to my old mini-DV camcorder, then I connected a firewire cable from the mini-dv player to my MBP. Works perfectly. Press play on the VCR, the movie plays on the camcorder screen, it converts it to digital and passes the digital to iMovie.

    The only downside is you have to check on it, once the movie is over it will not automatically stop and rewind like it does when you are converting direct from a mini-DV tape, but otherwise I converted 20 some odd VHS-C tapes and 15 or so mini-DV tapes in a weekend.

    Thank goodness THAT is over now everything old and new is 100% digital, with the new stuff being in 1080p.
  16. cr2 macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2011
    Quick and Easy Soluton....


    I went through a bunch of VHS and Hi-8 Tapes a couple of years ago. I got VRD-MC5 from Sony for $200 (on sale). Converted a bunch of video's to DVDs. Kept them in a box for over two years. Finally got MBP this year and converting them to MP4 format.

    Once in MP4 format, I can back them up and make into useful home movies at a later date.

    VRD-MC5 is now replaced with VRD-MC10. This I found a nice solution to convert and then edit on a computer at a later date.


    If you want even a cheaper solution ( I did not realize when I got MC-5) the other option is to get a simple DVD recorder with proper inputs.

    Some thing like this


    Hope this helps.
  17. jackwallace thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2011

    I actually had a friend passing one of my tapes to a DVD, the problem is that on the DVD there is actually a single 4hours long file (that's how long the tape was, I know...) which I movie or Final Cut Express would not open to be edited.

    Is the solution to that, and also to what Marc11 says, just to stop after a while of recording in order to get files that are not too big? I am assuming that there is no way to have it as the MiniDV tape system, during the importation of which a new file is created for every segment (Record to Stop) present on the tape.

    Thanks again guys, I like the sound of this!
  18. martinX macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2009
    I have one of those at work and I love it. Sometimes I need to just turn up somewhere and hand something unedited over ASAP and I have gone from
    • record on tape
    • transfer to mac (in real time)
    • create DVD using iDVD (about the same time some times)

    • create DVD on the spot

    I love it. I used to wheel around a DVD recorder on a trolley but that Sony recorder fits in my camera bag and it has a small monitor built in. If it did playback as well, it would be perfect. Can't have everything. :rolleyes:
  19. Soura2112 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008
    Like many

    All are great ideas, my way is like many have said use a miniDV cam for the passthrough or record on the miniDV, whichever is easier and cheaper for you. This is how I did lots of movies for people years ago when I got my first Mac and learned to edit. It's also a great way to learn more about all this video and editing stuff. At the time I didn't use forums so it was trial and error.

    IMO I would go with Final Cut Express over iMovie, unless you know iMovie already and want to keep it simple (I'm not a fan of the current imovies though, almost think Final Cut can be easier to learn). Of course it's how much money you want to spend too, obviously iMovie is free.

    With Final Cut Express 4 being old now books are cheaper to buy online, or you can find a cheap book at a Boarders that's closing (sadly, love my local Boarders!).

    Now with all beimg said in this topic you may want to wait till Final Cut X only because it's new, just don't want you to buy a program twice if you discover a love for editing. Not that any of know how Final Cut X will be until we get our hands on it, just want to point out the options (not even going to mention the other really expensive options).

    Good luck no matter how you choose to transfer your tapes. Keep in mind transferring is time consuming. Set it up and walk away for 2 hrs is how I do it.

Share This Page