19 September 2015 Comments Off on How to convert my VHS to DVD

How to convert my VHS to DVD

All of us who are still able to remember the VHS cassettes have been through the digital revolution, leaving us with CDs, DVDs and BluRays instead of our beloved magnetic tapes. Life goes on and it is pointless to struggle against new technology. But, while we may embrace it, a dilemma remains – all our old memories are stored on an obsolete medium that no modern audio-video player can play. A question appears – can these memories be transferred from the old medium (in our case, a VHS tape) to a more modern form (a DVD to be exact)? The answer is yes! Is it complicated? A bit if you despise technology, not at all if you are familiar with your computer and how digital data is transferred. Let’s see how it is possible.

First, our basic requirements: An old, but still functioning VHS player with a RCA output (for those of you who hate technology, the red, white and yellow round cable output). A SCART output will also do, but you will need a SCART to RCA converter cable. The next thing you will need is a video capture module. These come in all shapes and forms, prices ranging from 5$ and up to 70$. You do NOT want to purchase a cheap one, as those usually output horrible sound, and your digital video will end up half-complete. The ones around 40$ are decent, such as the “EasyCAP Video Capture 2.1″ for example. These modules take the output from your VHS player via the RCA cable and convert it into digital video that can be sent to your computer via an USB and (optionally) Audio IN cables (included with the module). Which brings as to our third necessary ingredient – a compatible computer. Your computer must have at least: 256 Mb of memory or greater, 1 Gb of hard drive space¬†available¬† and a processor with a frequency equal or greater to 1.6 GHz. These specifications vary slightly in different manufacturers, but if your computer is less than ten years old, it should be able to meet all of the above requirements. You will also need a DVD and a DVD burning capable drive in your computer. Now for the process.

Step 0:
If your VHS player is covered in dust (chances are, it is) you might want to play a cleaning tape in it first, to clean the magnetic head, otherwise it might not work. If it is not, continue with the next step.

Step 1:
Connect the video capture module to your computer via USB. Most of these come with an installation manual that differs between manufacturers, and a CD. Just be sure to install it as per instructions in the manual. Also install any video capture software that is included (more on that in a bit).

Step 2:
Put your tape in the VHS player, rewind it, and plug the VHS player output into the RCA input in the video capture module. If the module manufacturer requires you to press a button to activate the module, do so according to the manual.

Step 3:
Run the video capture software on your computer, set it up according to the manufacturers instructions and start capturing the video (usually by a “Capture” or “Record” button on screen). Start the tape’s playback immediately after that. While delay does no serious damage to the recording, you will end up with a black screen at the beginning of you recording for as long as you wait.

Step 4:
Wait. The tape must now run it’s course for the video capture software to successfully record it.

Step 5:
After you hear the video tape come to an end, stop the recording on your computer, and if asked, save the output file to a location you can later find.

Step 6:
Open your DVD burning software of choice (Nero Burning ROM and NTI Burner are the most common). Put your empty DVD disc into the computer drive, and select the corresponding drive as the target in your software (these are so different that I cannot possibly describe them in more detail, try reading the software instructions). When selecting the files to burn, select the file you just created with your video capture software, and optionally set up a DVD menu. If you have multiple files that still fit on a DVD, you may include more of them. Select the “Start”, “Burn” or equivalent option to burn your DVD.

Step 7:
Wait. Yes, again, this time for the DVD to finish burning (5-10 minutes or more if you have and older drive). After it has finished, take the disc out of the drive. There! You are now holding in your hands a DVD of your favourite VHS videos, and thus a digital copy to last for generations.

Step 8:
Sit back, relax, and watch your new DVD, or copy it for friends and family. The possibilities are endless.

Good luck!

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