Instructables

VHS to DVD via computer

We have a huge selection of old videocassete tapes from home movies, TV recordings, and feature films that we want to archive onto DVD. I have the software to edit and burn the DVDs, but no way to get it onto the computer. I have a Lenovo 3000 J series, with 1 GB RAM, an AMD Athalon X2 64 2.01 GHz dual core processor, a 250 GB hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD/CD burner. nVidia GeForce 6100 built-in video card. My VCR has only RCA-composite video, but S-Video is possible through an old high-quality VHS camera. Would I need to get a new video card, or just a converter for RCA-USB? Low-budget recommendations would be appreciated.

I have and Adaptec GameBridge which should work well for what your trying to do. It just has normal rca ports (one version also has a tv tuner) and a usb cable and they are very cheap because the company that makes them went bankrupt or got bought out (I dont remember which). They go on ebay for ~$15 shipped and if i remember correctly i saw it on sale for $8 or $9 at frys. I've converted a few home movies and played xbox on my laptop without any problems.
CameronSS (author) 6 years ago
Okay guys, does this look like a deal? It look like it is exactly what I need, and cheap. The seller seems to be a computer dealer. If I can get at least one supporting reply it would make me feel like I had some justification. Than again, I can mow a neighbor's lawn for the cost of this card, so I can always pay my dad back if I need to.
. That should do it. My card has a few more features, but I paid ~80 USD. . The price sounds too low to me, so be careful.
CameronSS (author) 6 years ago
Okay, I need a consensus. According to LasVegas, who I am inclined to trust because he knows a tad bit less than everything, which is more than I know, I need a USB or Firewire converter. According to NachMahma, who I am inclined to trust because he has done it, I just need a TV/Video card. i don't need a particularly high-quality converter, as the VHS and the TV that they are played on are both about as low-quality as you can get.
. We're both right. His way will probably be of higher quality, mine will probably be a little easier. Probably not enough difference in cost to really matter. His way may have an advantage as it may not become obsolete as fast as mine (I can imagine PCI dying before USB/Firewire). . Now _you_ have to decide what's best for your application. Since your source is of such poor quality, I'd go with the cheapest thing you can find; with easiest running a close second. But who cares about easy on a DIY site?
CameronSS (author)  NachoMahma6 years ago
Well, I care, because we have over a hundred VHS tapes to transfer to DVD. And I don't understand your statement "I can imagine PCI dying before USB/Firewire." PCI is the name for the slots that cards fit into inside a computer case, USB and Firewire are data transfer docks. I think that I will probably go with a PCI card, as it would also be nice to be able to play video on my nice happy LCD that's bigger than our TV via RCA or S-Video. Then again, cheapest usually wins in this family. In case my other comments and forums posts haven't made it clear, my budget is in the vicinity of nil.
> Well, I care, because we have over a hundred VHS tapes to transfer to DVD. . Then I'd go with the fastest you can afford - whatever that turns out to be. FireWire will probably give you the best data transfer rates (of course, if all transfers are in real-time, it doesn't matter). The speed of the software will probably be the biggest factor by far. If you're just transferring and not doing any editing, software won't be quite as important. . > And I don't understand your statement "I can imagine PCI dying before USB/Firewire." . Sorry. Change "dying" to "becoming obsolete." Wasn't talking about reliability.
CameronSS (author)  NachoMahma6 years ago
Reliability isn't the issue, it's that they are not comparable. It's the old apples and oranges. While USB and some Firewire hubs are built into the motherboard, extra USB and most Firewire are add-on PCI cards.
NachoMahma6 years ago
. When I transfered some VHS tapes to DVD for my Father, I bought a cheap TV/video PCI card with RCA jacks for composite* video ran the video out of a VCR to the video in of the card, fired up the capture program that came with the input card, and away I went.
. It may be cheaper to go with a USB widget nowadays - check around. Don't worry too much about quality since your source is very lo-fi by today's standards.
. Most anything you get will be bundled with the software you need. If not, check out SourceForge.net or your favorite OpenSource downloads site for DVR, TV tuner, video edit, etc.
. Once you've captured the video to disk, use the editor to get rid of any trash at the beginning and/or end, save it as a DVD image, and burn. Nowadays a lot of video editors will handle everything but hooking up the hardware.
. The only problem I ran into was with a few tapes recorded at SLP (low speed/more time/very low quality). Wouldn't fit on a DVD without compression, but the bundled software took care of it for me.
.
. I know I didn't give you anything very specific, but maybe it will point you in the right direction.
.
. It may not be called composite - it's been a few years since I did it.
lemonie6 years ago
What input(s) do you have on your machine? 'Lenovo' doesn't inspire me with confidence... You could just buy a new video card, but I don't know how 'low' you mean by 'low budget' L
schorhr lemonie6 years ago
TV PCI Cards or cheaper videograbber cards have direct input.
CameronSS (author)  lemonie6 years ago
"Lenovo" is to "IBM" as "Buick" or "Mercury" is to "Ford". It's not the same name on the case, but it's built by IBM. And it was about 60% off. With a 19" widescreen LCD. Inputs: 6 USB 2.0, 1 parallel, standard 3.5 MM audio in/out. By "low" I mean probably that $29 that schorhr described.
Er... Um.... Buick is GM...
CameronSS (author)  LasVegas6 years ago
I know...I realized my error just after posting and didn't want rewrite the comment.
Thing's like that tend to catch my eye... Being that I'm a refugee from Flint, MI. :D
Does it have any video or s-video inputs? I think schorhr will be of more help to you, but I'm still interested.

L
LasVegas6 years ago
Sorry Cameron, there is no "on the cheap" solution. If you had a DV type camera (with video dub and DV port) the cheapest solution would be a Firewire card (about $15-30). As it is, you need to convert the composite NTSC signal into digital data. The cheapest solution would be a iTV or other Video to USB solution for a little under $100.

TV cards usually don't have direct video inputs, so that solution, while inexpensive, would consist of converting the analog video (VHS Tape) to TV signal (VCR), back to analog (in the card) and then to digital. Kinda like a photocopy of a photocopy, etc.
schorhr6 years ago
You just need a USB Analog video grabber or a PCI Video / TV Card (those are dirt cheap and have composite cinch most of the time, but dont get a digital tv card!). Then your computer has it as videodevice, just like a webcam, so you can record, cut and burn it to dvd with your existing software. I just checked target.com, even they have them for $29, so just buy it at ebay or a local cheap store you know.
CameronSS (author)  schorhr6 years ago
So would these take RCA or S-Video? And do you have any specific names? $29 dollars would be fine, but being the cheapskates we are, I'll probably check eBay. Pardon my dumbness, I haven't tried something like this before.
Say, seeing your Apple/Mac Avatar, are you using a Macintosh (OS X) as well? Then I'dd recomend getting a USB Videograbber with OSX compatiblitiy. Every TV-Card I have seen has at least Cinch, most do have SVHS as well (and there are adapters anyway). Go ahead look at ebay, just remember these things: -Check if the card will work with most recent windows xp (mac os x). -Check the inputs available -Especialy on older USB 1.1 devices, the resolution will be awefull! You need full PAL/NTSC at 30 frames (not something like "640x480 up to 30 frames") -Shipping costs! Ebay has some bad persons sometimes, where it would be cheaper checking the local stores. Do that, since tv cards are usualy on sale, due to new digital cards and such.
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