Digitizing old VHS Tapes

Nick Kaufman

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Aug 2, 2003
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A Lost Time
I have some old vhs tapes that I am just tired of watching them take space, so I want to copy them to my PC and just throw them away after that. Those tapes can be separated on two categories, important and not so important.

1. The important ones are old political ads from Greek elections.Since they are a small part of history and they d be hard to find otherwise, I am thinking that the copies should be as high quality as possible. The original tapes are in the PAL format.

2. The not so important stuff are things that either might be worth uploading on youtube for others to see, or they would be nice to have in my personal archive. The former category includes stuff such as 1997 BBC coverage of UK election, along with Blair and Major's final interviews. The latter includes stuff such as the 1999 Grammy awards and some random stand up comedy specials. I don't think I care about getting the best quality from them.

An additional wrinkle is that while my old VCR can still properly play Tapes recorded in standard speed, it shows a ton of noisy lines on all tapes recorded with Slow Speeds.

From my research, one way would be to buy an decent PAL/NTSC VCR player of ebay but those are crazy expensive and I would have to hassle to sell it back. No thanks.

What I am thinking is paying money to a store to the job for the important tapes I want to have in high quality and then copy the rest of the tapes on my own.

A couple of issues.

a. What kind of equipment should i make sure that the store uses in order to ensure I get the best quality possible?

b. What's the best compromise between cost and value to copy the rest of the stuff?

I probably need a new VCR, a TV capture device and the appropriate software. Any suggestions?

Thanks
 

ifmanis5

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Sep 29, 2007
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Rotten Apple
Not sure they make it any more but I use a Canopus Grass Valley digitizer to get the signal from the VCR into a computer. Elgato also makes a device but haven't used it. Digitize to the best quality you can and then compress later if needed.
 

GeorgeThomas

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Apr 4, 2007
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Virginia
I used a previous version of the
Sony VRDMC6 DVDirect device. It works well, but it's now discontinued and Amazon wants almost $600 for the one they have. You may be able to find one on eBay.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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Dec 28, 2003
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I've been using the Elgato Video Capture wire.

Good quality. Took me a little while to figure it out but it converts well. I'm copying over old family videos and just the ones I actually want to save.

I also got Maxell VCR Head Cleaner (Wet Type).

That helped a lot with the VCR - I ordered these after I tried the first couple conversions. I forget if it was noise on the conversion or something else that prompted me to order the cleaner but whatever it was, it made things better.
 

DrBlinky

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Jun 18, 2002
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Cranston, RI
I've been using a Hauppauge USB-Live2 Analog Video Digitizer along with its bundled WinTV software to get output from a VCR to my desktop machine via USB.

Edit: As LoweTek warns below, this process is also slow as you have to play the VHS tapes. What is essentially happening is that you're using the Digitizer to stream the VHS output to the desktop and using the WinTV software to capture it as it plays.
 
Last edited:

LoweTek

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May 30, 2005
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A Super VHS VCR will copy protected tapes too if you use an S-Video to composite connector. Quality isn't great. I have one of these for the conversion:

Sorry, the link will not embed. Amazon has it: Clear Click Video 2 Digital Converter.

Warning: the process is very tedious and time consuming using this method. You have to play the movie. It records onto a micro-SD. You then use an adapter to transfer it to the PC.