Record any video that you can open and view on your computer, regardless of format, by using a VGA-to-tv converter. Record video and sound on a VCR and play it back on a tv. I took these digital photos of my digital tv's screen during playback of video tape of internet video recorded by this method. Actual playback is more sharp and clear than digital photo of screen. There are numerous computer programs that promise to record those videos that cannot otherwise be downloaded directly onto your computer's hard drive. I find them hard to operate, and they require constant attention in case they stop recording whenever a sharp transition takes place in the video or if the internet link hiccups. My method records the entire video no matter what happens. My interest is in capturing video, at wifi hotspots, for later viewing, using a tiny EeePC netbook computer running Windows XP Home Edition. You may need to make adjustments to the procedure to match your computer and operating system. Disclaimer: I am not actually a computer geek, I merely play one on the internet.
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Step 1: EQUIPMENT
VGA-to-tv converter: Vendors offer the ITV-900 PC to TV converter for up to $190, but I bought one new for $40 from HouseOfDeals.com, phone order 800.726.3718. This USB-powered unit is used to display computerized presentations on television sets, and it does not pass the audio signal, as do more expensive units. Several equivalent models and vendors turn up on an internet search for "VGA to tv converter." The ITV-900 has control buttons and an on-screen display that allow you to further adjust the size, color, contrast, etc., of the image being recorded and displayed on a particular tv, after it exits the computer's VGA connector.
Video Cassette Recorder having video and audio input jacks, preferably stereo sound.
Headphones that fit computer's audio output jacks or VCR's audio output jacks.
Cables and connectors to tie everything together, which will depend on what specific equipment you use. See the diagram and the photo of cables typically supplied with a converter.
This material is offered for novelty purposes only. Recording should be done in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and with the proper respect for the rights of creators and owners of protected materials. Before proceeding, you must click the button to accept.
Step 3: HOOKUP DIAGRAM
Connect the equipment as shown.
Step 4: VGA CONVERTER
The converter plugs into the netbook's VGA output connector and gets its power from a USB port.
During recording, you can watch the program on the netbook's screen, or you can turn off its display while it continues to feed the video out its VGA connector. You cannot do other operations on the computer while the recording is taking place. Be careful that you do not give the computer touchpad or mouse commands during the recording, or you might stop the video or change its screen size.
Step 5: SOUND
Plugging a jack into the computer's audio output will mute the computer's speakers, which can be a good thing if you would rather not disturb others while the program is recording (If you "mute" your computer's speakers, no sound will come out of the headphone jack to be recorded). In order to monitor the sound during recording, you can get an adapter or a short "Y" cable that will plug into the computer's audio jack and will accept both the headphone jack and the jack for the wire that runs to the VCR's audio input jack. Alternatively, you can connect headphones to the VCR's audio output jack. If you record while connected to a tv, you can just listen to its speakers.
Step 6: SET UP
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must attach the converter to the computer's VGA connector and USB port before booting up the computer, because it will not work otherwise.
It is easiest to check out the entire system by first playing a DVD to provide computer video and sound, which for the netbook requires an external drive. Once everything is set, you can record a little of the internet video of interest, play it back to make sure you are getting what you expect, then restart the video and VCR to record all of it from its beginning.
Computer management: You may need to set your display option to your local display (LCD) plus a external monitor in order for the video to feed out the VGA connector to the converter. The only setting that works for me on my EeePC is "LCD plus External Monitor-Clone". Set the computer so it will not turn itself off or switch to a mode that will interrupt the video if you fail to manually stimulate the computer for a while and test to be sure the video continues to record if your screen saver kicks in.
VCR: You may connect the converter to your VCR S-Video or component video inputs. You need to set the VCR to record from whichever connector is used, not the composite (RF) input. Recording will work whether you connect the VCR to the tv via component video, S-video or composite (RF) output, but you need to set the tv to whichever is connected.
Sound level adjustment: Start the VCR on "record," start the computer's video program and record for a few minutes. Note, by repeated trials, and judging by ear from the headphones or computer's speakers, what level of audio loudness produces good sound when the recording is played back on a tv. If you use headphones for this, always adjust their built-in volume knobs to full volume when adjusting the computer's controls, in advance of making a recording, to achieve what sounds like the good recording level. Once the recording begins you can readjust the headphone controls if necessary for comfort, or to off.
Computer display: You may need to try different settings of the colors and resolution of your computer's display to provide the best picture recorded on the VCR and displayed on a tv. These settings will probably be different from what you use every day. Always return to those settings before you begin making a recording. One way to save those settings is to create a user login on your computer that you enter just for recording. When you log out, the settings for recording will be saved, but entering your regular login will bring up your everyday settings. You may even want to create another user login to save display settings for recording a second screen format. Give the logins names that make it obvious which login is for which format.
Step 7: OLD SCHOOL
It may seem backward to use old-fashioned equipment to record videos that may have been created and transmitted digitally. However, VCR's are readily available, very easy to operate and provide a pretty good recording. A video once recorded can be transferred onto a computer's hard drive or a DVD in a separate operation if desired. The procedures for these exercises should be intuitively obvious to the most casual observer and are left to the reader.
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Photo background made of genuine pegboard.