Being the technology inclined person in my family, it has fallen on me to try and preserve our home movies that have been collecting dust since the late 80s into the early 2000s. My family, like many others, have tons of hours of footage captured and stored on VHS tapes. Now in an age where VHS is long gone, and approaching a time where DVDs are even old school technology, I am working to convert hundreds of tapes into digital files that will last forever. Sometime down the road, I will edit and better cut the footage to make it more enjoyable to watch, but the major focus is currently to convert from VHS to digital.
Step 1: Gather the necessary hardware
There are basically 2 methods for converting VHS to a digital format.
- Use a VCR + DVD combo machine
- Connect a VCR to a computer and rip the audio and video.
Using a DVD/VCR unit may make things easier. In theory, it simply outputs the content of the VCR onto the DVD.
However, I had issues when trying this. I admittedly wasn’t very enthusiastic about my new task of converting all these tapes, but I couldn’t get the model I had working to make any dvds. It just wouldn’t work. It had been sitting for a while before I ever tried, so there was no option for a warranty claim. I gave up for a while and put it behind me.
Eventually, I tried again, and with no luck direct to DVD, I set my sights on converting from the VHS to files on my pc. This would give the added bonus that I would be able to more easily edit the files and cut out things nobody cared to see.
In order to rip from VHS to a computer, you will need:
- Working VCR
- Converter wire for RCA to USB
- Software to view/save the content
Finding a VCR may be an issue, as at this point people are mostly throwing them out. They aren’t cheap to buy new since so few of them are produced each year. My parents still had a few VCRs avaiable so I didn’t have to search long.
For the converter, I found one that came with some software. My parents had previously purchased this at a big box retailer, and i think it wasn’t cheap. Initially this worked fine. The software was a little clunky, but i was moving along. I hit a snag when the converter wire seemed to completely stop working.
That is when I looked to amazon and found converters were more widely available that previously. I found one for approximately $10, and took a shot. It worked!
This isn’t the exact model, but similar to what I bought. https://www.amazon.com/UCEC-Capture-Adapter-Converter-support/dp/B00WSAWZ1M
The proprietary software didn’t seem to work well with the new adapter, so that is when I had to find software for saving the content to my computer.
We will save that for Part 2.