If you have compiled a large number of VHS Tapes you are not alone and actually VCRs do have a pretty good sales rate even today. The problem is your new devices can’t take advantage of this content so you need an easy way to convert it to a digital file format.
When converting video tapes to video files you want to preserve as much of the quality as you can. You will actually find that many commercial tapes with a bit of video manipulation can look pretty decent on your computer and new TVs.
The first thing you want to do is take inventory of what you have. Separate your commercial grade tapes from your home videos. Some commercial grade tapes have copy protection schemes that won’t allow easy conversion. All of your home videos should work just fine. Some of your older commercial VHS Tapes will also convert without problem however new ones won’t.
What you will need to convert VHS to Computer Video Files
The first thing you will need is a computer. Your best option right now is a Windows 7 computer that has a copy of Media Center and the Microsoft Video Recording Tools which can be downloaded for free.
Next you will need a TV Capture Card. There are video only capture cards but if you are spending the money you might as well get a TV Tuner and have the ability to later capture Live TV Recordings.
Depending on your hardware you can get a TV Tuner Card or a USB TV Tuner adapter. Personally I like the Tuner Cards because they have more options but a USB Stick Tuner will work well too.
If your Tuner manufacturer provided you with Software for the Tuner you can use that or you can find a number of Free Tools for capturing video off your VCR. The main thing is just like you set your Television to channel 2 or 3 you will also need to set your tuner card to that station before you begin recording.
Since most Tuner Cards accept Coax connections you won’t need any special cables.
You can connect your VCR directly to your TV Tuner and then record the video and sound to a video file.
Remember VCR quality video is no where near the HD video we have today but with video resampling tools like Handbrake you can increase the size, clean up the video and give yourself a better overall experience. But don’t expect to increase the video size to HD standards because the quality will be soft. You should be able to double the size of the video and add sharpen and gama modifications and have a file that is small but will scale good enough to be reasonable on your television from 15 feet.
What Software Tools Can Help Convert VCR Tapes to Digital Files?
Virtualdub is a pretty good tool that can capture video from most tuner cards.
You will also want to get a copy of Avidemux for Editing your captured files
And Handbrake is just the best converter out there right now.
Remember not every VCR tape can be converted because of Macrovision Copyright Protection and honestly there should be some type of rebate towards digital formats if you own the old movies.
But if you have lots of stuff you need converted get a Video Capture or TV Tuner card or USB device for about $20 and get to converting. All it takes is time.