An analog to digital converter such as an internal video capture card or an external capture or digitization device are other methods to convert VHS to DVD or other digital video formats.
The first step is to prepare the analog VHS tape for conversion to digital. 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 conversion process. This procedure conditions the tape to the VCR that will play it. This step is 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 avoid this step until verification of a good tape condition. Otherwise, consult a tape restoration expert to repair or restore the video tape before playing the VHS tape in the VCR.
A second important note when you convert VHS tapes to digital is to use the best quality VCR available. If the signal sent to the analog to digital converter from the VCR is poor, then the digitized video will be poor.
At this point, it is a good idea to establish how much recorded video is on the VHS tape to establish how long the digitization process will take. The recommendation is 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 performing the digitization without adjusting the tracking (if necessary), the digitized video will contain 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 are limited depending on what the VCR has available for video output modes.
A video or TV capture card is an analog to digital converter device for digitizing VHS tapes to DVD or a digital video file format. 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.
An external video capture or digitization device sits outside of the computer. Depending on the type of analog to digital converter, various input and output options are available as discussed above.
Most of the internal capture cards and external video capture devices to convert VHS tapes to digital 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 alternatively 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 analog to digital converter and bundled software to ensure it is compatible with the computer system used and to ensure the software will be able to perform the required functions. The option to buy other software not bundled with the digitization card or device is also a possibility.
If properly connected, the VHS video is viewable on the computer while digitized by the analog to digital converter. 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 great, the cost of using high end devices is not justifiable. Lower end, good quality digital conversion devices with a descent software package can do a very good job if used properly.