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Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 04:53 PM   #1
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Converting VHS to DVD?

I have a huge pile of tax paperwork that I really need to avoid get moving on, so I'm going to ask a consumer-electronics question.

I've been dragging my feet on backing up VHS videos or converting them to DVD. The only use I'd have for conversion to DVD would be the five hours of baby-to-kid growth currently moldering away on VHS video. However I can also see the advantage of converting all her VHS videos to DVD and freeing up a little storage in that rat's nest she calls a TV cabinet.

Page 26 of the Feb 06 Family Handyman magazine shows a "Dazzle". It's "just" an A/D converter between a VCR & PC with software to clean up & edit the video. Presumably it can also be used to add a root menu to the DVD that you eventually burn, and I can appreciate the utility of feeding VHS or VHS-C onto a DVD with a menu for easy viewing by adoring grandparents.

Our new desktop is a cheap Compaq with an AMD 3400 64-bit chip (I know, 32 useless bits of processing power) and 512 MB RAM. No graphics card-- that's emulated in RAM. It has about 140 GB left on the 200 GB HD, and I could move things around with another 60 GB HD if I needed to clear additional room. I'm hoping to learn that converting VHS video to DVD requires at least an additional GB or two of RAM or a spare HD or some other unnecessary gimme vital hardware. But speed isn't of the essence if I can set things up and let it run overnight.

I know that PC DVD burners only manipulate a dye and not a metal dimple. I'd back the DVD up on a HD and I'd probably even burn a new DVD every few years. And I have decade-old VHS tapes that still work fine. I'm just looking for a more convenient & compact storage medium that doesn't need an archaic piece of gear for playback.

What have you guys used? The Dazzle gizmo appears to be $30-$150 (depending on the flavor) and I'm not that sensitive to its price range. Is it worth it? Is there even a need for a special piece of hardware or can I just plug the VCR directly into the PC? Is there another system that makes the conversion as easy as this one appears to be?
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 06:18 PM   #2
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

The Dazzle thing will probably do the job, but Pinnacle products generally don't have a great rep.

For about the same price, you can get a full-featured TV tuner that also gives you video capture capabilities. (For example, ATI TV Wonder USB 2.0)

You can't just plug the VCR into your PC unless you have once of those digital VCRs with firewire, but your computer probably did come with software (Microsoft Movie Maker) that will handle the video capture and editing once you get an ADC or tuner.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 06:26 PM   #3
 
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I am interested in this also as I have a few VHS tapes that I'd like to get to a DVD. I am really a neophyte here, so what do you need to get a VHS tape to a PC file that later can be transferred to a DVD?

Is there a machine that reads a VHS tape and converts it to a PC type file? What do they cost?
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

CT, your VCR probably has composite or s-video outputs. So, you just need a device with composite or s-video inputs that digitizes the video stream, and then you can burn it to DVD.

Here's an example of one that also has a TV tuner and can act as a PVR:

WinTV

I'd recommend that one since it's well supported by third-party software (including Microsoft XP Media Center Edition).

If you don't like the idea of opening up your case for a PCI card, then there are several USB devices on the market as well. Including one from Dvico that can handle HDTV input as well as the usual fare.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 06:40 PM   #5
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I am interested in this also as I have a few VHS tapes that I'd like to get to a DVD. I am really a neophyte here, so what do you need to get a VHS tape to a PC file that later can be transferred to a DVD?

Is there a machine that reads a VHS tape and converts it to a PC type file?* *What do they cost?
My DW uses Dazzle (sp?) *There is a little hardware box and some software. *She grumbles about it and complains about it being user antagonistic, but it does get the job done. *She purchased it several years ago (4 to 6 maybe) so I'm sure there's something better on the market today. *It cost $250 when she bought it.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 08:12 PM   #6
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Yup, you've got a composite video output (usually yellow, and the red and white RCA jacks are audio). Any of the devices mentioned in this thread should do the trick. Another advantage of getting a USB device is that it'll work with your laptop.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 08:46 PM   #7
 
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I have one of these, and I just play the video and record it onto a DVD.

Recommended device. Live TIVO, but without the monthly charges.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-05-2006, 09:20 PM   #8
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I'm not sure of all the options out there, but there are supposed to be plenty of "one button" machines out there that will do a very basic VHS->DVD copy (i.e. no fancy DVD menus).

The method of choice for me is to use my ATI "All-in-wonder" graphics card that has a built-in TV tuner and a coax cable input to plug my VCR into it just like I would do with a VCR->TV connection.

Then I just start playing the tape and hit record on the software. It records it as a MPEG file on my HD.

My personal preference is to just burn the MPEGs directly to a DVD as a data disc instead of using DVD menu setups. It saves the hassle of creating a menu, plus I can just play the MPEG file using Windows Media Player and be able to jump anywhere in the video I want by using the slider.
(as opposed to setting up DVD chapters and using FF and rewind)

Unfortunately, if I want to play the DVD on a DVD player, then I'd have to take the MPEG files and run them through a DVD authoring program such as Pinnacle or Sonic that would re-analyze everything, add a DVD menu, and burn a DVD that can be viewed on any player.

But for me watching them on my computer is fine.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 12:41 AM   #9
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Do you have (or have access to) a DV camera with an S-Video input?
Don't use composite video, it'll make your vhs quality even worse.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 01:13 AM   #10
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
I have one of these, and I just play the video and record it onto a DVD.
Oh yeah. I have the version without a hard drive:

DMR-ES20

I wouldn't want to use it for video editing, and it's pretty picky about blank media, but it's an alternative to hooking your computer up to your VCR.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 09:45 AM   #11
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Sorry to hijack this thread but I have a somewhat related question:

I have about 50 small reels of super 8 movie film from when my kids were babies. Most of the footage is pretty worthless but some of it is really precious. I currently have no way to edit it. I also have a large quantity of analog 8mm video tape of the later years of their growing up. I would like to get all of this into digital format so I can edit it and eventually make DVD's for the family. Any suggestions on how to get this process started?

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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 09:51 AM   #12
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

There are some services that will do the conversion for you, with or without some guidance on what you want the results to look like. Usually ten bucks per vhs tape for a straight conversion, maybe fifteen if they clean up the signal a little bit and make it look better, for about twenty five they'll break it up into chapters where they see a natural scene break, build menu's, and so forth.

If you have USB 2 on your machine, there are some decent but not great video 'grabbers' that plug in that way, removing the need to open the computer. On sale, figure $30-50.

You can upgrade your video card from whatever piece of crud the manufacturer put in to an "all-in-wonder" from ati. These include video in, video out, the better models have great 2d and 3d graphics capabilities, and they also include software to capture the video and if you buy one of the models with a little more included software, they may also have the dvd burner software you'll need. Figure $125 to $175 and up, opening the pc, installing s/w, etc. If you wanted a better graphics card or to be able to hook the pc up to the tv, this is your chance.

Or the noted machines that copy a vhs verbatim to a dvd. I saw one at sams club for ~ $329. Note that these will NOT copy a vhs tape that has macrovision or other copy protection on it.

There may be some rocket science involved. You'll be 'capturing' into the pc from the vhs deck in either a standard or proprietary video capture format. You may then have to convert that from the proprietary format to something that is in a format your movie editor can handle (if you have a movie editor), then you'll have to save it from the movie editor in a format that your dvd creation software can import and burn. After that, you can transcode the video to some smaller sized format that still plays well on a PC but doesnt take up too much room.

I bring the video in as a raw AVI format, which is huge but almost anything takes it for input. I use windows movie maker to edit/reduce/rearrange the video and export it as windows media format with the highest bit rate available (I think its 2100). I import that into sonic dvd and burn. Then I go back and reconvert the windows media to another windows media format file that has a more reasonable bit rate (800-1500) and keep that as an archive.

Disk throughput is important, and you should have ~300MB free ram for transcoding, but its really ALL cpu. On a pentium 4 2.4GHz machine, it takes about an hour per hour of video to do each transcoding step. Which 'codec' you use to encode/decode makes a big difference; i'm using the WMA codec. Some mpeg2/mpeg4 codecs are a lot faster and more efficient, but some software may not take the input or produce an output compatible with anything else. After lots of wasted time and false starts, I just stuck with raw avi and wma.

Nords, that AMD processor might catch fire doing this. Keep an extinguisher handy.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 09:54 AM   #13
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
Sorry to hijack this thread but I have a somewhat related question:

I have about 50 small reels of super 8 movie film from when my kids were babies. Most of the footage is pretty worthless but some of it is really precious. I currently have no way to edit it. I also have a large quantity of analog 8mm video tape of the later years of their growing up. I would like to get all of this into digital format so I can edit it and eventually make DVD's for the family. Any suggestions on how to get this process started?

Grumpy
You'll need someone like this:
https://www.apmstudio.com/film-reels...eel-to-dvd.asp

$15 a reel. Might be able to get them to send you a WMA or AVI file rather than the burned DVD. It is a lot of work to convert existing DVD to a format you can edit, then convert back again.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 09:56 AM   #14
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I may be missing something, but would a $90 DVD Recorder from Walmart or elsewhere not do the trick? The kind you plug up to your tv. I guess VHS movies you want to "back up" with macrovision protection would give you problems. But recording home movies to DVD would be pretty easy. Not sure about the feasiblity of putting menus and such on the burnt DVD's.

Would it be cheaper/easier to buy the hardware to encode the VHS movies, or instead, sell the VHS movies and buy new (used) ones that you/your daughter still want in their place?
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:00 AM   #15
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Thatd work for the home brew video tapes, but not the store bought ones.

For the store bought commercial ones, yes, selling the vhs tapes on ebay and buying used dvd equivalents would be easier, maybe even cheaper.

You can get a "macrovision defeater" to put in line, thats another $20-40+. Might or might not work on some of your tapes if they got tricky with the copy protection.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:03 AM   #16
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I guess it depends on the extent of Nords' VHS submarine war movie collection.

I'm guessing Nords' daughter's old barbie and barnie videos aren't too important to her anymore.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:06 AM   #17
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Now, get barbie on a submarine, maybe give her a gun...you've got something....maybe have her shoot barney.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:25 AM   #18
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Quote:
Originally Posted by (Cute Fuzzy Bunny)
....maybe have her shoot barney.
You should probably clarify which barney she's shooting. As this guy found out, the folks who own the rights to the purple one don't appear to have much of a sense of humor...

http://www.gargaro.com/barney.html

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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:34 AM   #19
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

I was rather fond of a MOD for the original "DOOM" game. At the end of the game, you face two huge horned demons that shoot missiles and scream at you. The mod replaced those with giant barneys that sang the "I love you, you love me" song.

My kill time was a lot better on the barneys.

But for the sake of avoiding lawsuits and whatnot, lets say 'barney fife', but in a purple outfit.
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?
Old 02-06-2006, 10:52 AM   #20
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Re: Converting VHS to DVD?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I guess it depends on the extent of Nords' VHS submarine war movie collection.* *

I'm guessing Nords' daughter's old barbie and barnie videos aren't too important to her anymore.*
Naaah, I don't collect videos. The last good submarine movie was "Das Boot" and even today I can't stand to watch it.

Kids tend to watch things over & over-- either to desensitize the scary stuff or to impress each other with their dialogue-memorization skills. (Kinda like submariners with the movie "Road House.") Our kid tapes a lot of TV (30 VHS tapes so far, nearly 200 hours) and it's all sentimental value. I figure the DVD format will make it a lot more portable and a lot less likely to get chewed up at the next play.

Our kid never "got it" about Barbies. Barney, however, was a huge hit. I think there are still a couple in the stuffed-animal collection.

So, TH, about that AMD processor, I should only soak it in non-flammable vegetable oil?
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