In today’s fast-paced digital world, VHS, 8mm, Hi8, Digital8 and MiniDV tapes are not very useful for the person on the go. Having your video footage imported into your PC computer can give you access to these files on the road through a laptop or through a portable video player (such as Zune or video iPod). Many people who want to convert their older video recordings to DVD. Our service will make this conversion for you, or you can choose to do the transfer yourself. This article describes two ways to transfer that VHS tape of your special event, family gathering or Christmas party to DVD so that you can have a more permanent digital copy to share with family and friends, and have the ability to take your video on the road with you as you travel.
If you want to transfer your video to DVD without importing the footage into a computer first, a DVD recorder is a video device designed to record to DVD. This is a good option if you are one of the many people still around that still does not have a computer. You cannot record video footage that is copy protected, in most cases your video footage will be the same as it is now because video editing is not an option, and the units are very expensive. Also, depending on what model you choose you may or may not be able to play your new DVD on a consumer DVD player—you may have to play the DVD on the DVD unit you record it on.
First, you need to connect the DVD recorder to the video source (your VCR, or connected through cables to your video camera). If the option is available use an S-video cable because you will get a higher quality conversion. If that is not an option, you will need RCA cables (the ones with the red, white and yellow connectors).
Second, you need to select a blank DVD that will work with your DVD recorder. Caution—stay AWAY from DVD-RAM unless you only want to use your DVD recorder to play your new DVDs. We highly recommend using DVD-R blank DVDs, as they have the highest compatibility with consumer DVD players and computers.
Next, press play on your VCR or camera and make sure that you have a good signal of the video showing up on your TV screen. If it looks good, rewind to the beginning of the tape, press play and when you get to the point that you want to start, press pause. Press the record button on the DVD recorder, and then press play on your VCR or camera. You will need to watch so that you can be there when the tape ends so you can stop the recording.
If you have more than one tape, do the same thing over again to add your additional tapes. If your tapes are long, you won’t get many on the same DVD. Read the instructions with your DVD recorder to add chapters, titles, etc. before finalizing the DVD. If you do not finalize the DVD, it will not play on other DVD players. If you added more than one tape, each tape will be shown on the DVD menu. You’re done.
If you are going to use your computer’s capture card for your video to dvd transfer, you will need a connection between your computer and your vcr or video camera. Most of the time this is done through a firewire, but if you are using a VCR you will need a device like the Pinnacle capture device which allow you to connect the RCA cable from the vcr to the Pinnacle device, and then the Pinnacle device to the computer.
If you choose to use your computer capture card, it is a very simple process and it also allows you the ability (depending on your software) to edit the video, remove bad spots, remove blank spots, add music, and add transitions between scenes. If you have an older computer, you may not want to choose this method because if the computer is too slow, the audio and the video may or may not sync (you’ll see and hear that the audio of people talking doesn’t match the video of them talking—like a badly dubbed Japanese horror movie). You will also need a very large hard drive because the new files from the video that you import will be very large. An external hard drive is recommended not for the actual process, but to store the new files when you are finished making your DVDs. You will need either an internal or external DVD burner.
Next, you need to select a blank DVD that will work with your DVD burner. Caution—stay AWAY from DVD-. We highly recommend using DVD-R blank DVDs, as they have the highest compatibility with consumer DVD players and computers.
Now you will need to configure your video capture card. If you want very high quality, choose the AVI format. If you want very good quality, choose MPEG-2. If you want good quality, choose MPEG-1. If you’re doing a video to dvd transfer of only one tape, choose AVI. If you plan on doing more than one video file on the same DVD, choose MPEG-2.
Connect the video card of the computer to either your video camera (using a firewire cable) or to your Pinnacle capture device as described before to hook up between your computer and VCR. As before, do a test to make sure that you can see your video playing on the computer screen and follow the steps as before to start your recording. Note that you are not recording to the DVD yet—you are just capturing the video to your computer’s hard drive.
When finished, use software such as Sonic MyDVD or Roxio Media Creator and import the video footage into the program, set up your menu and chapters, and burn your new dvd. If your software has the option of video editing, you will be able to delete bad footage, adjust the lighting, adjust the volume of individual clips, add background music, and much more. Understand that the video editing process is long and tedious. If you’re not a very patient person, skip it.