A simple to use VHS to DVD converter is a digital camcorder. The miniDV camcorder for recording digital video became the replacement for the VHS camcorder, the Hi8 camcorder and other similar analog camcorders.
Nowadays, HD camcorders are available as well and these can also be used to digitize or convert VHS to DVD or another digital format. This page will focus on the use of a miniDV camcorder as the digitization device.
A miniDV camcorder is a digital video recording device and therefore it has built in digitization electronics. This set up can be utilized as a VHS to DVD converter. The process is simple.
Prepare your VHS tape by fast forwarding it to the end and then rewinding it in your VCR. The purpose of this step is to adjust the tension in the VHS tape wind, since the tape may have been likely sitting on a shelf for a long period of time and is not at the correct tension for proper playback. This process also conditions the tape to the VCR. Use the best quality VCR that you have on hand.
The next step is to connect the VCR to the miniDV VHS to DVD converter. In order to do this you will need the right cable. The cable to use has a single plug on one side and the red, white, and yellow (composite) plugs on the other end. The single plug attaches to the miniDV camcorder in the Audio/Video slot. Plug in the red and white plugs for audio and the yellow plug for video in the corresponding audio/video out plugs on the VCR. There are other cables and connections that can be used since the camcorder does provide many options, but most basic VCRs only have the composite outputs.
Connect the VHS to DVD converter or in other words the miniDV camcorder in this case to the computer. This can be done via a USB cable or a Firewire cable.
Establish how much video content is on the VHS tape. This will help you decide what you want to actually convert and how long it will take to do the conversion. Play a bit of the tape and using the image in the camcorder viewfinder, make sure the tracking is well-adjusted. If not, adjust the tracking on the VCR. The VCR can also be connected to the TV and the tracking adjustments made while viewing the video on the TV. The settings on the camera might have to be adjusted in order to view the content in the camcorder. Check the documentation for the camcorder you have.
Rewind the VHS tape to the beginning and press play on the VCR. At this point you can record the video on miniDV tapes and then replay the tapes into the computer after the VHS tape reaches the end or simply use the camcorder as a pass through and record the video directly to the computer. You will have to examine your camcorder documentation to determine how to do this latter option correctly. The setting is usually a DV Out option. It must be set to ON.
The video can be saved in the computer in a variety of different formats depending on the software you have on your computer for dealing with the video. Windows Movie Maker is an example of such software. The most common format used is the AVI format. Once the digital video is in the computer as an AVI file or other file format, DVDs can be made or the video simply stored on the computer as an AVI file or converted to other digital video file formats.
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