Convert Video Tapes to DVDs in 3 Simple Steps
Here's how to convert your old video tapes to DVDs with just three button clicks.
Sooner or later you're going to have to do it - convert your old video tapes to DVD.
Fortunately, if you have a DVD recorder (even a CD Recorder) in your computer, converting old video tapes to digital DVDs or VCDs is pretty easy.
Here's all you need to know.
The right equipment
Before you start, you will want to make sure your computer is properly outfitted for the task. This means you'll need:
- A way to get analog video into your computer - If you have a camcorder with a firewire (1394) connection, and you have a firewire card in your computer, you have everything you need. You can connect the audio and video output of your VHS tape player, into the audio and video input of your firewire equipped camcorder, and then connect the firewire to the computer. Doing this, you are passing the analog video through your digital camcorder, where it is converted automatically to digital format, and then forwarded onto your computer. (See illustration below.)
If you don't have a firewire card in your computer, you should seriously consider getting one. You can purchase a great firewire card with DVD authoring software for under $70 (retail). You can often find these on eBay.com for under $10.
- A DVD or CD Writer - If you want to create DVDs, you'll want a DVD writer in your computer. My choice is the SONY DRU500AX DVD writer which can read/write any format DVD or CD. These can be purchased for just a little over $300.
If you want to convert your videos to CDs, you can do that as well - but you will give up some quality. Any CD writer will do the job.
- Tape to DVD software - You'll need software to convert your video tape to DVD/CD. I use Sonic MYDVD 4.0 to do this. This software is included with most DVD drives, and with many firewire cards. If you have already purchased a DVD writer or firewire card, you may already own this software. If not, check eBay.com, where you can often find MYDVD software for under $20.
Converting Video Tapes to DVD in 3 Steps
- Step 1 - Start MYDVD and select 'Transer Video Direct to DVD'. (If you are creating a VCD, click on Video CD', then click 'Transfer Video Direct to CD'.
- Step 2 - Select Menu Style, Choose a Name for the Project, and Select the DVD/CD device. Be sure the camcorder is powered up and connected to your computer (see diagram above). The click 'next'.
- Step 3 - Click the red 'Start Capturing' button, and press Play on the video tape player (which is connected to your camcorder). When things start, plan to take a long break. If you are converting an hour-long video, it will take about two hours (or longer) to do the conversion. If the video tape is longer than an hour, you will either have to make two DVDs, or change the 'record settings' to 'better' (from best - see image below) to reduce video quality.
That's it. Follow the above instructions and you'll have a DVD master of your video tape.
MyDVD software allows you to create menus for your DVDS if you choose. To do this, you can set the DVD to automatically create menu (chapter) points every few minutes, or you can manually insert menu points by pressing the space bar during the conversion process at each point in the video where you want a menu point on the DVD.
Converting video to DVD format uses a lot of computer memory and hard disk space (but only temporarily). Be sure you have at least 256Meg of memory in your computer, and at least 1 Gig of free hard drive space. Don't run any other programs during the video to DVD conversion process. If you have a old, slow computer, you may not be able to convert video to the highest DVD quality.