Monday, January 9, 2012

How to convert VHS to DVD

We don't have that many VHS tapes lying around our house.  However, our wedding video is one important exception.  As a present for my wife on our 10 year anniversary, I decided to see if I had enough junk in my garage to do a conversion to a digital format so we could watch it.  Turns out I do.

The first think I would obviously need is a VHS player, also known as a VCR.  Fairly simple, nothing special.  I might have gotten a little better quality if the VCR had an S-video output instead of RCA composite video.  Maybe.

The next thing I thought I would need is my old digital camcorder.  I used a Canon DV camcorder.  It uses tapes but stores the video in a digital format.  This is where the analog to digital conversion takes place.  I could have just recorded directly from the VCR to a DV tape, but as it turns out, my camcorder has a AV/DV conversion mode.  This allows the camcorder to take the input signal from the VCR, convert it, and output it directly to the Firewire port in DV format.  (I know, I'm over simplifying it, but that doesn't matter.)  I then hooked up a Firewire cable from my camcorder to my PC.

I then used a simple piece of free software called WinDV to capture from the Firewire port on the PC to an uncompressed AVI file on my hard drive.

Once I had everything started up, all I had to do was pull the trigger.  I started the capture in WinDV then started playing the tape in the VCR.  As the tape played, the camcorder converted the video to digital and outputted it to the Firewire port, where WinDV picked it up and stored it on the hard drive.  The hard part was to remember to come back to the whole setup and stop capturing once the video ran out.  The VCR has no way of notifying the WinDV software that the tape has ended, so WinDV keeps capturing blank video to the hard drive until it's shut off.

From there, I could use Handbrake or any other free encoder to get the video into a format that I would want.  Since the title of this blog is how to get it to DVD, I'll continue a little.

There are two options, I won't go into detail on how to use either.  Windows Live Movie maker should be easy enough to edit the video and put it onto a DVD.  Or you can use a free software called DVD Flick to create a pair of TS folders which can be burnt to DVD using ImgBurn.

Like I said on Facebook, I'm perfectly willing to do this conversion for anybody that wants it, provided the incentive is right.  I can usually be bought with anything chocolate.