Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Zortrium, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. Zortrium macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    I've got a couple of old home videos that I'd like to get in digital form and was wondering what the easiest/cheapest way to do it was. I've only got around 5 of them and probably won't have any reason to do it again, and furthermore, I don't even own a VHS player anymore. Given that, it seems like maybe I should just take them somewhere to get them converted to DVD and then rip in HandBrake later, but I imagine those places might charge a lot more than necessary. The other option would be buying the equipment to do it myself, but 1) I don't know what that equipment would be, and 2) I don't want to spend a bunch of money on stuff that I'll likely never use again. How do you guys think I should proceed?
  2. spinnerlys Guest


    Sep 7, 2008
    forlod bygningen
  3. huntercr macrumors 65816

    Jun 6, 2006
    Goodwill has tons of VHS players, if you do end up going that route. Do you have any friends that have a DV video camera? Many of those can do analog to digital passthrough.
  4. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    If it's just a pure capture of DVD from VHS then why not just buy a combo VCR/DVD Burner unit for the cost of what a video place would change you for 2 tape transfers?

    Here's an example of new ones for 150-200 dollars. Used on eBay it would be prob under $100:


    This would be much easier for a direct transfer to DVD than going through the computer IF you just want to save everything that's on the tapes and you don't plan on editing yet. Then, like you said, you can pull the DVD info off it later and edit if you wish.
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    As someone who has done this, I will just say that if these are precious home videos, you will want to keep at least one copy of each in dv format. From there you can make copies in whatever delivery codec you like, but at least you'll have the source material saved at the best picture quality you're gonna get from a VHS transfer. Keep these dv files safe and backed up, and use the DVDs or the mp4s to watch them on your television or computer, etc.

    Also, don't record straight to DVD and then rip the DVD for editing. Too many transcodes, and it will give you even poorer picture quality.
  6. Droooooj macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2009
    London, UK
    I've been looking into doing this for some time, and like spiceweasel says, I wanna keep the quality as high as I can (ie something like DV) for archiving, and then I can make 'low res' DVDs off that later if I want.

    However, I don't have any DV equipment at the mo and have barely used the format. How robust is it?

    Eg, I did a test transfer on a borrowed standalone S-VHS > DV machine, and found occasional audio dropouts which weren't on the original VHS, and a pixel blocking glitch (just for a few frames) on a fast moving piece of footage.

    I can't work out if this is the machine causing this, or the tapes I used (the audio dropouts occured on 3 or 4 tapes, but all from the same batch). Whatever, I want something I can trust, and ideally not have to sit back through hours of encoded footage to check for glitches.

    Has anyone got experience/expertise with this sort of thing?
  7. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Quality is going to depend on the quality of the source material, the quality of the VCR deck and how clean and aligned the head, drum, etc. are, and how good the analog to digital converter device is. I use a Canopus ADVC110 and have found it to be excellent. There are even higher end models, but this one suits my needs just fine. For VHS captures, I use iMovie HD, create a new project for each tape (or segment, in some cases), and then export as DV. I have not noticed any aberrations in these DV files that were not in the original source material.

    EDIT: As a bonus, the Canopus will allow you to transfer macrovision-protected tapes. Not that I'm advocating breaking copyright law or anything. But if you have a collection of commercial VHS tapes and want to digitize them, it will do it.

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