Those VHS tapes sitting in your closet will not last forever. And if you do not have a VCR now, those home movies are very useless. If you really want those tapes to stand the test time, you should soon digitize them. Here are three different ways to put those VHS tapes on your computer, or burn them on the discs if you have a DVD player.
The Easy Way: Find a Service That Does It for You
If you would rather not go through the hassle-and are willing to make a little more money on the project just to get it done – there are plenty of professional services that will be your tapes for your transfer.
Yes Video is a popular option, and its service through local retailers like Costco, CVS, Walmart, and Target. Not only will they transfer VHS tapes for $ 25 apiece (sometimes less, depending on the retailer), but you can also digitize old film reels, photos, and slides, not to mention Betamax, 8MM, and other types of tapes.
There are also local shops in your area that perform similar services, so Yelp check out or ask around what can be available. This method can be pricey quickly, depending on how many tapes you have, but it needs almost no work for you. If that means the job is actually done (rather than sitting on your to-do list), it’s worth it worth.
The Direct, At-Home Way: Use a DVD Recorder
If you want to save some cash and a minimal amount of work in order to be willing, a DVD recorder is an easy-to-do option. It allows you to pop in a VHS (you need a VCR for this), insert a DVD-R disc, and press to dub the video over the press. There is a lot of waiting involved, but it is not a ton of active work, and it’s much cheaper than a professional service if you have a lot of tapes.
You can grab a separate DVD recorder that plugs into your VCR with analog cables, but I recommend using a VCR / DVD combo unit if you have one already. These are becoming rarer in stores, but you can use the grab on eBay for between $ 50 and $ 150 models (I actually found one at my local e-waste center for a measly five bucks).
Setting Up Your Recording Device
Plug your device into your TV, your tape and blank DVD insert, and press record-making sure your player is set to record VHS to DVD (and not the other way around, you can not buy your precious home movies).
Once it’s recording, press play on the VCR side and it should dub over your video with little hassle. (It can help to check the DVD recorder’s manual before trying to record-you can often find them online by model number.)
Once the video is on a DVD, you can rip that DVD to your computer if you want a backup digital copy.
The Custom Way: Connect a VCR to Your PC
Most people will probably want to go with one of the above two options – they’re the easiest. But if you want to change those old home videos on a PC, or store them as separate clips instead of two-hour-long, you can make your VCR up to more accurate recording for your PC.
It takes a bit more time, but you will get the cleanest result-you just need a VCR-to-USB adapter like this $ 14 one from Amazon and an RCA cable. Plug the VCR into your PC using the adapter and it should automatically install the necessary drivers. (If it does not, insert the disc that came with the adapter to install them.)
Download Your Recording Program
Many of these devices come with their own recording and editing software too, which may or may not be good – I could not even get my right to launch. But that’s okay, because a free program called Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is very good, and should work with these types of adapters. Download OBS, install it, and start it up, using its default default settings for recording when prompted.
Prepare Software for Recording
The main window may be a bit scary, but do not worry – you only have to do some basic things to record the video.
Under the “Sources” panel on the bottom, click the plus sign and choose “Video Capture Device” from the list. Choose “Create New”, naming it whatever you want, and click OK. Then, from the “Device” drop-down in the next window, find the option for your VCR’s adapter-mine called “AV TO USB2.0”. Leave the other settings at their default and click OK.
You should see a new square, outlined in red, appear in OBS ‘main window – this is the video it’s reading from your VCR. (Mine was just a blue screen.) If you press Play on the VCR, you should see your video start playing this red box. Use your mouse to resize the red box so it fills the middle of the black window, and drag it to the middle, as shown above. Then, no audio tracks that are not from your video capture device.
Change Recording Format
I also recommend going to Settings> Output and changing the “Recording Format” to MP4, which is a more common file format than the default FLV. OBS is really a very powerful tool, and if you know what you are doing, you can tweak a lot of colors, sharpness, and other settings tweak your video to ensure that your video looks as good as possible – so feel free to browse the settings or Visit the OBS forums for ideas.
When you are ready to record, press the “Start Recording” button on the left side of the OBS ‘window, then press Play on your VCR. OBS will start recording your VCR’s output to a video file. Let the tape play as long as you want, then press “Stop Recording.” You should see the resulting video clip in your “Videos” folder in Windows Explorer. Play it to make sure everything was captured properly, and repeat this process for the rest of your tapes.
It will take you some time, but when you’re finished, you will be able to edit your favorite video editor in a DVD, burn them to a DVD, or a service to upload them like Google Photos for safe keeping.