The Best Way to Convert VHS Tape to DVD

By Mateo Zeske

There are often-utilized ways to transfer VHS tape footage to a DVD. These methods make it difficult to do much editing to the source material and are best for home movies or footage already complete on the VHS. The best-looking final product will start with first transferring footage from analogue (VHS) to digital (DVD). Doing so will help with a project you are going to edit or to ensure a greater number of options when creating the final product.

The Argument for Conversion and Compression

Converting the analogue footage to digital will provide the cleanest final product and allow increased flexibility when editing and adding audio and menus to your DVD. With this method, it is advisable to compress the footage. It may not even fit onto your DVD otherwise. Also compress the audio. You can do this with an MPEG-2 encoder. If you are going to do heavy editing, convert the footage to MPEG-2 and capture it directly to your computer's editing program. Although time consuming, this will optimize your editing freedom. (If you don`t need to do much editing, you can skip directly to burning the DVD and adding menus.)

Methods of Conversion

If you already have a digital camera with an analogue input, this will do the trick, and you can then immediately put the edited, finished product on DVD. Analogue-to-DV converters are available, but offer little else. Some cameras have "analogue pass-through," which can get the analogue footage to the computer's Firewire port without having to record to digital beforehand. This can be a true time saver.

Connecting Devices

Use RCA cables with corresponding color ends to the VCR's video out port and the camera or capturing device's video in port. Consult the video camera`s manual because specifics can differ amongst brands. Once captured, reconnect the capturing device to your computer, then compress.

General Pointers

Before you begin converting, clean the tape heads of the VCR. If it features an "Edit" button, use this to manipulate the playback sharpness so there is less of it. Be sure your computer can actually burn DVDs or get software that fixes the problem. If using a camera, ensure it has the conversion features mentioned above. Once your footage has been captured and is being edited, you can alter contrast levels, color, brightness and overall quality using options from the timebase correctors. Check to see if your DVD needs to be "finalized" before removing it from the DVD unit or computer. You don't want to lose that footage.

References & Resources