Convert VHS to DVD at home

Convert VHS to DVD at home


VHS to Computer


If you’re willing to take the time and effort, with the right gear you can import VHS tapes to your computer yourself.  But what, exactly is the “right” gear?  It might not be as easy to undertake these conversions as it would be with professional help, but it is totally possible.
If you own a digital video camera, you might already have everything you need to transfer your old VHS tapes directly to your computer. Depending on the DV camera’s make and model, you may be able to import old tapes without any additional hardware or software.
Here’s what you’ll need:

  •     Windows Computer– Pass-through is simple in Windows, though still possible on OSX
  •     Digital Video Camera– This camera must support DV pass-through
  •     VHS Camera or VCR– Anything that plays tapes
  •     A/V Cable– One that connects to your DV camera
  •     Firewire Cable– Usually included with the DV camera

Most of this stuff probably came with your camera, or has been accrued over time. Check your cable drawers! With the gear in tow, here’s how to import those old tapes to your PC:

1.    Turn on your DV camera and enable the “DV pass-through” function. Consult your user manual for exact steps on how to get this done.

2.    Connect the VCR or VHS camera to your DV camera with the A/V cables. You can also use an S-Video cable, if the correct ports are present.

3.    Run a firewire cable between your DV camera and the computer.

4.    Turn on the VHS camera or VCR, and then set the DV camera to “Playback.”

5.    Once you turn on the two devices, you’ll receive an auto-prompt on your computer screen. Select “Import Video using Windows Import Video.”

6.    Name the file and choose a location for the import. You can also select your desired format in this dialog box.

7.    Hit “Only import parts of the videotape to my computer,” followed by the “Next” button.

8.    Cue the tape on your VHS player and tap “Play.”

9.    Click “Start Video Import.” When you have the content you want, hit “Stop Video Import.”

If this sounds to technical or time consuming for you, or if quality if of the utmost importance to you, hand the job over to us here at Play It Again Video.  We have been serving our customers for 25 years, and your satisfaction is our priority.

Video Tutorials at PlayitAgainVideo.TV

Play it Again Video TV

Dear PlayitAgainVideo Customers,

We have created a library of helpful videos to answer many of your questions about video tape transfer and 8mm/16mm film transfer.

If you’d like to edit your videos, we have step-by-step tutorials on editing with iMovie (MAC) and Windows Movie Maker

If you have not digitized your old home media, do it before it’s too late. The best time to transfer your old home movies is: YESTERDAY.

Will my VHS tape fit on 1 DVD?

We often get asked, Will my VHS tape fit on 1 DVD?

Well, a DVD can only fit up to 2 hours of video. Your VHS tape will fit on 1 DVD if it is shorter than 2 hours. Is your tape shorter than 2 hours? A regular VHS tape stores up to 2 hours of video. That’s what the 120 you see on the tape means – one hundred and twenty minutes. Most people don’t fill up the tape.

The compact VHS tape, which is about one third the size of a regular VHS tape – can store up to 30 minutes of video.

So your VHS tape will always fit on one DVD right? Not so fast.

Here’s the monkey wrench. Although the tape says 120 minutes, you can actually squeeze in up to 2 hours plus 3 or 4 more minutes. Now it won’t fit on 1 DVD (since a DVD only fits 2 hours). Now, you have to make a choice if you want that last 3 or 4 minutes on a 2nd DVD or not.

Can you squeeze even more video on your tape than 2 hours? If you look at the back of the VHS tape case, you’ll often see SP: 2 hours, LP: 4 hours, EP: 6 hours. That’s saying if you recorded the video in Long Play (LP), or Extended Play (EP), you can record a lot more hours of video into the same tape. The quality will be lower though.

Why would your parents or grandparents record in lower quality? Because VHS tapes was expensive at that time, and folks want to squeeze in as much video as possible into the tape.

What does this all mean for you?

When you bring your tapes in, you need to let us know if you want us to stop at 2 hours, or continue to transfer anything beyond 2 hours to a 2nd DVD. If the tape ends up being 6 hours, you will end up with 3 DVDs

Most of the tapes we’ve seen aren’t full, some may even have only a few minutes on it. Our lab report will show the actual amount of video footage on your tape and that’s what the final fee is based on. Your final fee is based on the actual video on the tape, not the capacity of the tape.

Your VHS tapes have a shelf life. If you are still hanging on to your VHS tape, they must be at least 15 to 20 years old. Transfer your tapes to digital formats before it is too late.

Our video transfer lab is located in Newton, MA, and we serve customers from these towns:

Arlington ! Back Bay ! Belmont ! Boston ! Brighton-Allston ! Brookline ! Burlington ! Cambridge ! Dedham ! Framingham ! Jamaica Plain ! Lexington ! Medford
Milton ! Natick ! Needham ! Newton ! Waltham ! Watertown ! Wayland ! Wellesley ! West Roxbury ! Weston ! Westwood

Why some customers choose to
transfer to a hard drive (instead of a DVD)

ArticleHow we transfer your tapes to DVDProcess
ArticleYour VHS Tapes do not last forever.Tape Transfer
ArticleTransfer to DVD or to Hard DriveTape Transfer

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Your video tapes do not last forever

If you have not transferred your aging home videos to digital formats, chances are:

  • you believe that your home video tapes last forever.  You believe that if you take good care of them, put them in a cool, dry place, don’t let the kids bang them around, the tapes will last forever.
  • or you believe these tapes are of times gone by, your VCR player is gone, there’s no way to play those tapes anymore, so you should just toss the tapes out.

The bad news is that your video tapes do not last forever, but the good news is that it’s not too late to digitize your tapes into today’s digital formats so you can watch them again today.

Tape with Mould

Video tapes – which includes VHS, VHS-C, Betamax, VHS, 8mm and mini-DV – degrade with time because the film tape is made of magnetic media. What you see ten, twenty years later is no where as sharp as when the tapes were first created. So, what is the shelf life of a magnetic tape ?

If you ask an audio/video professional that question, the answer you get can range anywhere between 5 to 10 years. This is because it depends a lot on how 1) you handle it, 2) how you store it and 3) how often you play it.   Have you been following these best practices:

How to Handle Your Video Tapes

• Never touch the tape itself. Hold it by the side of the cassette
• Rewind the cassette before storing it.
• Keep away from curious kids, avoid dropping or banging the tapes.
• Keep cassettes away from magnetic fields
• Don’t leave a cassette in the car where it will be exposed to heat and cold
• If using a new cassette and it’s still cold, let it warm up to room temperature first.
• Occasionally fast forward and rewind a tape that’s being stored a long time.

Where to Store Your Video Tapes

The conditions in which magnetic tape is stored and used can extend its shelf life. Observe these video storage tips:

• Store in conditions that are stable, cool and dry.
• Stay away from hot, humid and dusty.
• Store cassettes in the cassette case.
• Store your tapes vertically and not flat (see picture) to distribute the gravity pull equally and stably.

How often you play it?

If you haven’t played your tape since you shot the video, that’s 10-20 years of one section of the tape being stretched at the same spot.  Consider the video on that spot pretty much degraded.  If you’ve been playing it over and over and over again, you won’t encounter “blank fuzzy spots” but the entire tape has been stressed which also affects the shelf-life of your tape.  What’s a person to do?

One answer: Digitize your aging home video movies into today’s digital formats that do not degrade.  Digital formats are composed of 0 and 1 bits that do not inch to 1/2, or 3/4.  A “0” bit, stays “0”.  A “1” bit stays “1”.  That’s as technical as I want to get here.  The bottom line: A digital file today is identical towhat is is 100 years from today.  Now, the media itself, the DVD can get scratched, or broken, but the digital file itself does not change.

Not sure what’s on your tape, but you no longer have a VCR player?  Call us.  Come by our on-site video transfer lab in Newton, MA, and view your old tapes.

What is the shelf life of your VHS tape?

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Transfer VHS to DVD or to Hard Drive?

We get this question more and more often: Do I transfer my VHS tapes to DVD or to a portable Hard Drive?

Here’s the short answer:
If you just want the convenience of watching your movies: choose DVD. If you have any plan to edit the videos, go Hard Drive.

The slightly longer answer:
If you plan to edit your VHS home videos, transferring to a hard drive (instead of a DVD) has 2 main benefits:

Benefit 1: Video Files are ready for your Video Editing Software
We will transfer your old home videos to AVI files or MOV files depending on whether you use the PC or MAC respectively.
Once you bring the hard drive home, you can directly import the files into your video editing software and start editing.
We do recommend that unless you have a blazingly fast portable hard drive, to copy the files to your computer hard drive first for speed.

Benefit 2: You get a higher resolution video file
A video file that’s on a playable DVD is compressed.
That’s why you can fit 2 hours of video on a DVD that’s only 4.7 Gig.
When you transfer to a portable hard drive, the video file is not compressed.
If you plan to edit your video files, it behoofs you to start with the highest resolution source file you can get.

The above applies to transferring any old home movies: 8mm film, Super 8, 16mm film, VHS tape, Hi8/Digital 8 tapes, miniDV.

If you decide to transfer your old home movies to an external hard drive, watch the video below for 7 frequently-asked-questions on hard drive transfer

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re located in Newton, MA, part of Greater Boston.

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