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vhs to dvd?
Old 21st August 2007
Lives for gear

vhs to dvd?

Hi Guys,

Slightly off topic.

I just managed to buy a selection of Brian Eno's films from the eighties from ebay.
(mistaken memories of mediaeval manhattan, thursday afternoon etc)
I like the films but would like to stream them in my studio as visual stumuli while I am mixing.
To do this now I would need a vhs player and a spare tv.
I was thinking of a way to transfer them to an old dell pc and have them play from the hd on repeat (in machine room) and get them played back on a cheap vertically mounted flat screen.

How would I go about the transfer, i've never done any work with video.


The videos are designed to be shown vertically, another of eno's ideas which didn'y come off like the three speaker surrond system mentioned on the back of on land!
Old 21st August 2007
First, good idea, every time you play a VHS, it wears away part of the picture and audio track. Happily, analog degrades better than digital... but that's small consolation down the road. Best to get those babies onto a more secure medium.

Easiest way is to go down to your local consumer big box electronics store and buy yourself a "set-top" DVD-recorder (or borrow or rent one). I bought a Panasonic consumer recorder for a little around $160 that has been a champ, burning well over a thousand movies [fair use from broadcast] on something like 700 discs. And still running fine. The picture seems all but indistinguishable (on my good CRT TV) from the orgiinal in the 2 hr mode (there's also a super high quality mode that gets one hour to a DVD that I've never used.)

(If you've got a VCR with S-VHS output you can even use that with the Panasonic I got. Though with an old VHS, it's likely it'll make that much difference, it's probably the best path.)

Once the discs are burned, put the tapes away in a safe place, tape-friendly place as you would any masters and play your DVDs.
Old 21st August 2007
Lives for gear
sahiaman's Avatar

ADS Video Xpress, $60 at Compusa. I used it to convert a bunch of videos as mpeg files on my computer. Then I burned them to DVD. Works great. You put one side into your VCR, and the other side is USB, goes into your computer. Hit record on the software the provide, and come back to your computer to check the image every once in a while. You're done in no time.
Old 22nd August 2007
Lives for gear
jmikeperkins's Avatar
The easiest way to transfer these to DVD is to buy a stand alone DVD recorder, plug the VHS playback deck into in, put in a blank DVD, select the right recording speed (the 1 and 2 hour modes look pretty good but the quality drops a lot from there at the slower speeds due to the amount of video compression needed to fit 4-6 hours on one disk) hit play on the VHS and hit record on the DVD recorder. Then when are finished you "finalize" the DVD and you are done. I have several Panasonic stand alone DVD recorders (with and without internal hard drives) and they work well and are pretty cheap. You can transfer the VHS into a computer and burn a DVD that way, but it takes a longer and is a pain compared to the ease of a stand alone DVD recorder which will incode the analog VHS to digital on the fly. The computer will require AT LEAST one additional step, the "capture" of the analog VHS signal to hard drive on the computer (in real time), then another step to convert that to the DVD format and burn the disk (almost takes as long as the capture), and then you need to finalize the DVD.

The main thing which will determine the quality of the DVD transfer (other than the quality of the VHS source material) will be the quality of the VHS playback deck. VHS and especially the VHS-HiFi system are notorious for TRACKING PROBLEMS as the VHS-HiFi heads are mounted differently from the VHS video heads and its easy to get the picture locked in tracking wise but have the audio not track and visa-versa. I have transferred thousands of tapes and I keep 3 or more VHS-HiFi decks hooked up hoping one will track a given tape if the others do not. The quality of a transfer from a pro-sumer or professional VHS deck will be noticably better than a $40 VHS deck from Wal Mart. The quality of the DVD recorder is not near as important. If you are serious about transferring VHS tapes to DVD, you will need an outboard Time Base Corrector to remove the "bend" at the top of the screen that you get sometimes with SOME TAPES (but certainly not all) when transferring VHS tapes to digital. I don't trust DVD-R disks as an archival format so save your VHS tapes or make another copy on something better like DV tape (if you have the ability to do that).

J. Mike Perkins
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