How to Convert Videotapes Onto a Memory Stick

By Alexis Lawrence

For many years, videotapes were the standard format for capturing video footage from television, using VCRs. Videotape is still a major player when it comes to recording video with a camcorder. Though videotapes are effective for recording, they do not hold up well after repeated viewings, and they degrade naturally over time. To save videotapes for an infinite number of years and with no loss of quality, you should convert them to digital video files. Once converted, the tape footage can be stored on a digital storage device, such as a memory stick.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital capture device
  • VCR
  • Computer
  • Video editing program
  • Memory card reader
  • Memory stick

Step 1

Connect a VCR to your computer via a digital capture device. A digital capture device converts the analog signal from the VCR into a digital signal that can be stored on your system.

Step 2

Open any video editing program that has the ability to capture video. Standard editing programs, such as Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie, have video capturing capability.

Step 3

Turn on the VCR and launch the capture feature in the video editing program. The program should recognize the VCR as a capture device and display a blue screen in the capture window.

Step 4

Click on the “Start Capture” or “Import” button in the video editing software to begin capturing. Once the capturing process begins, press "Play" on the VCR to begin playback of the videotape. Click the “Stop Capture” or “ Stop Import” button in the video editing program when the videotape is done playing. The captured video is automatically saved to your computer as a digital file.

Step 5

Insert a memory stick into the memory card slot of your computer or connect an external memory card reader to your computer. A memory card reader attaches to the computer via a USB port and has a memory card slot for the memory stick.

Step 6

Open the memory card from the “AutoPlay” window that pops up, then open the folder that contains the video file created when you captured the videotape. Right-click on the name of the videotape file and select "Copy" from the menu that appears if you would like to keep a copy of the videotape file on the computer, or select "Cut" if you would like to move the videotape file to the memory stick, deleting it from the computer in the process. Right-click into the memory stick window and choose "Paste" to paste either the original file or a copy of the file into the memory stick folder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get a large memory stick. Video takes up considerably more space than still images.