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Simple Steps to Transfer VHS Tapes onto Your Computer

With computers forever become the centre of our personal world of entertainment with the likes of Netflix, YouTube and television catch-up services, many more people are storing all of their personal home movies and VHS tapes onto their computers. The benefits of doing so are huge, what with the increasing size of storage available on a single hard drive, the software and cables to do so have never been cheaper!

With these simple steps, you can have your favourite home movies and VHS tapes stored onto your computer for quick access, the ability to share your videos, as well as stream them back to a television set with ease. For the simplest method to transfer your videos onto your computer, you can try the VHS to DVD conversion for greater flexibility.

For VHS to DVD transfer, you will need -

  • A VHS player with a high quality video and audio output such as RGB SCART, SVHS or rarely HDMI
  • A computer with video input ability, such as a video card with DVI, SVHS or HDMI inputs
  • A DVD burning drive capable of making discs
  • The compatible video cable to connect the two devices
  • External video recording software such as a TV Tuner card, VLC or Windows Movie Maker

For the best results, the most modern VHS player would be a wise choice, as they tend to have the most recent video output options in terms of cables. RF coaxial is a poor choice as the cables suffer from a lot of interference, whereas an SVHS, Component or HDMI signal will provide the optimum video quality in terms of image to transfer to your computer.

The idea is to connect the VHS player to the computer to record the video to, and then a DVD will be made after the analogue to digital transfer is complete. There may be a number of specialist VHS to DVD conversion software or apps that will allow the recording of video directly to a DVD, but often this software is expensive, so let’s stay with the free options for now.

Using Computer Software to Capture video

Computer software such as VLC or Video Lan allows you to open the source of the video from a video card, TV tuner or external video input device in the settings menu. Most video card inputs and TV tuners will be listed as a choice in the device selection screen when you try to open a device.

After you have opened the device you will see the home screen of your VHS player, so you know it is ready to record. At this point, you can go into the settings of VLC to tell it to record the stream that is coming into the computer in a particular quality, bitrate and file type.

Tips on how to store VHS tapes and vinyl records:

Best Ways to Keep Old VHS Tapes & Vinyl Records in Good Condition

Video Resolution

Video Resolution

For best results, choose the resolution of the recording to match the resolution of the input source. For most VHS tapes this will be 576p or 720x576 for PAL video cassettes.

Video Bitrate

The bitrate of a video refers to the amount of information per second that is used to save the video in. VHS bitrates range from 9000k to 12000k depending on source quality. There are two main types of bitrate settings to ensure the video isn’t blocky or poor quality: Variable bitrate and constant. Constant uses the same amount no matter the video content, whereas VBR can detect motion in the video and up the quality of the recording in order not to make sports or action scenes look blocky and poor quality. So it's inevitable to understand bit-rates in video file.

Codec / Container type

The codec you need to choose will determine what devices the digital media file will play on. The most common file format for VHS video is usually MPEG-2, AVI or DivX. These codecs compress the video file to make it smaller, whilst retaining the quality of the image.

It may take you a few tries to get the settings just right in order to preserve the quality of the video from the VHS, so use trial and error for your particular content. Once you have chosen a good bit rate, resolution and codec/container, it is time to hit play on the VHS and record on the computer software and wait until the VHS has stopped playing.

Watch, Enjoy and share with the family!

Watching family videos - Cineclair Productions

Once you have the digital video media file, you can then use your computers built-in DVD burner software to create a DVD. Your VHS movies will now be able to play on your DVD player, games console and other computers, making it easier than ever to share with friends and family.

VHS to DVD conversion is a pain-staking task that may take many hours and days if you have a large VHS collection you want to transfer. If you are not so sure about the technical side of creating media files to capture the very best image quality possible, why not hire a professional who will be able to copy all of your VHs movies to DVD, meaning the cost for time for a lifetime of home movies is worth every single penny!

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