Other methods to convert VHS tapes to DVD or to digitize VHS video to DVD or other digital video formats involve using an internal video capture card or an external capture or digitization device.
However, the first step is to prepare your VHS tape for copying or converting. If the tape is in good shape and does not need any treatment, then fast forward the tape to the end and rewind it in the same VCR that will play the tape for the copying or conversion process.
This procedure conditions the tape to the VCR that will play it. This step is very important for proper playback, especially if the tape has been in storage and not used for a long period of time. Note that if there are any signs of tape damage or tape degradation, then this step should not be performed until the tape condition has been verified as being good. Otherwise, a tape restoration expert may have to be consulted in order to repair or restore the video tape before it is played in the VCR. A second important note when you convert VHS tapes to DVD is to make sure the best quality VCR available that is in good shape is used. If the signal being fed to the digitization device from the VCR is poor, then the digitized video will also be poor. At this point it is a good idea to establish how much video is recorded on the VHS tape. This will help you decide what video to actually convert and how long it will take to do the conversion. It is also recommended to play a small portion of the tape to ensure the VCR is tracking the tape properly. Improper tracking usually shows up as wavy video or groups of horizontal lines on the screen. Using the tracking adjustment on the VCR shifts the waviness or lines up or down until a stable and clear picture is obtained. If the digitization is performed without adjusting the tracking (if necessary) the video will be digitized with the lines, etc.
The next step to convert VHS tapes to DVD or other digital formats is to connect the VCR to the digitization device. The options may be limited depending on what the VCR has available for video output modes.
Option 1 – Internal Video Capture Card
A video or TV capture card is a digitization device that can be used to convert VHS tapes to DVD. The card must be placed in the appropriate slot inside of the computer. The connections are on the outside of the computer and vary depending on the type of video capture card. The inputs and outputs may be the composite type (red, yellow, white), component (red, green, blue), S-video, USB, or Firewire. Some cards also have coaxial inputs and outputs for recording or viewing cable TV on the computer.
Option 2 – External Video Capture Device
An external video capture or digitization device sits outside of the computer. Depending on the device various input and output options are available as discussed in Option 1 above.
Most of the internal capture cards and external video capture devices to convert VHS tapes to DVD come bundled with software that allows video editing and the digitization of the video at various quality levels. The video does not have to be stored to DVD format, but can be stored in a variety of digital video file formats from highly compressed for easy access and transmission or to no on lossless compression for maximum quality retention and archival preservation. It is best to check the specifications of the digitization device and bundled software to ensure it is compatible with the computer system being used and to ensure the software will be able to perform the functions that are required. The option to buy other software not bundled with the digitization card or device is also a possibility.
If properly connected, the VHS video being played can be viewed on the computer as it is being converted. Many types of software can turn off the viewing feature for better computer performance and video conversion in some cases.
Finally, the cost of these devices to convert VHS tapes to DVD or other digital video files depends on the type of digitization quality required. Basic units can cost as little as $50, whereas higher end devices will cost $3000. Generally, because the quality of VHS video is not all that great, the cost of using high end devices cannot be justified. Lower end, good quality digital conversion devices with a descent software package can do a very good job if used properly.