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Convert VHS Tapes to DVD - Convert, Edit & Enjoy for Decades to Come

As DVD players become more popular and VCRs slowly become obsolete look at your video library. Do you have any precious family videos on VHS? Memories of vacation trips, family genealogy, or just your personal copy of Super Bowl XX captured with the VCR?

Put it on DVD! When it comes to long-term storage, consumer-grade VHS tapes are not your best bet. While they have a shelf life of about 30 years, signs of tape decay can begin to appear in as soon as 5 years. By moving your memories to DVD, you'll gain a longer shelf life for your videos with a better image quality.

You have two good options to make the move:

  1. Have someone else do it.
    How many videos do you need to convert? If the answer is only one or two, getting the equipment necessary to do it may not be your best move. Numerous companies will convert your VHS tapes to DVD for reasonable prices; for a low volume of tapes, or if you're concerned about your technical know-how to do it, this may be your quickest and easiest answer.
     

  2. Do it yourself!
    If you're fairly familiar with your computer and DVD burner, converting a VHS tape to DVD can take only a few hours per tape.

    What You Need:

    • Computer with a large hard drive with considerable free space allow at least 2.5 MB of disk per minute of video; allow twice that per minute if you intend to edit the video file

    • Video Capture Card either a USB video-capture device or a PCI-based FireWire card

    • Video editing software

    • DVD Burner

    • Blank DVD media compatible with your burner and DVD player

    • Patience

    How to Do It:
     

    1. Connect your VCR or camcorder to the 'Analog-in' ports on your video capture card.
       

    2. Exit all other programs open on your computer except the recording software that came with your capture device. This will help your software run faster and minimize 'crash' risks.
       

    3. Specify a video source within the recording software. Most software and devices offer several options VHS tape, camcorder, TV show, etc.
       

    4. Record video to your hard drive Depending on the source video quality and the DVD quality you hope to make, this will take up a lot of space. Be sure you have it by checking disk space before you start, and moving old files off your hard drive onto CD or DVD backups.
       

    5. Edit your video if you use Windows XP, you may already own Windows Movie Maker, which is a free and easy-to-use program for beginners. Most G4 Apple Macintosh computers include iMovie editing software that is also very easy to use with many features for beginners and advanced users alike. More advanced video editing programs are available from Avid, Adobe, and Roxio, among others, once you've gotten some experience.
       

    6. Assemble ('Author') the DVD Most video editing programs will allow you to create menus and prepare your video creations for burning. The burning software that came with your DVD burner will also aid you in this process, if your editor can't.
       

    7. Burn Baby Burn Get your masterpiece onto DVD by burning it. Use DVD-R or DVD+R, depending on your burner and DVD player, to make a permanent copy. If you're worried about 'not getting it right,' try a DVD-RW or DVD+RW disc they can be erased and you can try again with the same disc.
       

    8. After you've tested your DVD in your player, be sure to either erase your raw original transfer from your hard drive, or back it up to another piece of media if you think you'll want to edit from the raw copy again later (once you've got more editing experience!). This frees up hard disk for other transfers, and will help your computer's overall performance in other applications.
       

    9. Similarly, always defrag your hard drive after performing a VHS to DVD transfer. Using Windows, shut down all programs and disable your screensaver. Then, click Start and select Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Disk Defragmenter. This may take a while, so go watch TV or get a sandwich while it runs.

Another Way to Do It Yourself

Several companies, such as HP and Sony, have announced external DVD burners designed to make moving VHS tapes to DVD a plug-and-play experience. While these units are also suitable for burning standard data CDs and DVDs, they are more expensive than 'standard' DVD burners for your desktop. However, if you have a lot of movies to transfer or want to avoid figuring out how to get video cards installed on your computer, these devices may provide an easy solution for you. More information can be found at this Video Capture Devices page.

Quicktips:

1. When converting old VHS tapes to DVD, using the highest-quality recording setting is often a waste of DVD space, as VHS quality is well below that of the higher-quality DVD settings. Take a look at the quality of the tape before choosing a recording quality level for your conversion.


2. Convert VHS tapes to DVD now. studies and experience shows that VHS tapes can have a life span of as little as 10 years, depending on storage conditions and use. Conversion sooner rather than later will help preserve picture and sound quality.


3. Store all CDs and DVDs in a cool, dry place. Ideal storage temperature is between 23 degrees F - 86 degrees F. Do not leave the disc in direct light or sunlight or in a hot, humid environment - like your car on a summer day. These conditions can warp and damage your discs!
 

Source: Imation

 

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