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12-06-2011, 04:01 PM
fish1534 fish1534 is offline
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I would like to thank everyone that provides information on these forums because it is extremely useful and I have searched the forums for advice; however, I believe I am suffering from information overload. I am learning about DVD recorder models numbers and codecs but I am still not sure of the best way to approach my project.

OBJECTIVE: I am trying to figure out the best way to convert a closet with 30 years worth of family VHS tapes to both DVD and hard drive storage.

My options as I see them:

OPTION 1: Purchase a good VCR and DVD recorder. Copy the VHS to DVD and then I can rip the DVDS on my computer as needed.

OPTION 2: Purchase a good VCR and either a USB capture card or ATI video card. Copy the VHS to my computer and burn DVDs at will.

CONSIDERATIONS:

Paying for professional transfer is out because I think it would cost a fortune for so many tapes. My family purchased a video camera early in the 80s so we have a lot of tapes. Does anyone else remember their dad having to wear a battery belt for the video camera? It was kind of like ghost buster's equipment to a kid.

I only want to do this once so I want to do it right and use the best equipment in my price range.

I would like to budget around $500 for the transfer equipment without the media.

I don't have time to view or edit each tape so I want to rely as heavily as possible on the automatic equipment; basically press play & record.

I have a plethora of equipment (few cheap 2 head VCRs, old 4 head VCR from the mid 80's, a couple of video cameras, plenty of computing power and hard disk storage) but don't believe any of it is up to this job.

QUESTION: Is option 1 or option 2 the better way to go for this project? What equipment would you recommend for the job?

Also I see upconveting to 1080 on new DVD recorders in stores but have read on this site that I would be better off with a a high quality DVD recorder from a few years ago, is 1080 anything worth considering?

Thank you,
Kyle
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12-06-2011, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
I would like to thank everyone that provides information on these forums because it is extremely useful and I have searched the forums for advice;
Hi Kyle, welcome to the site.

Quote:
however, I believe I am suffering from information overload. I am learning about DVD recorder models numbers and codecs but I am still not sure of the best way to approach my project.
Video is hard, so this is actually quite easy to do. A lot of folks assume it's as easy as operating a calculator, but quickly discover that it's more like calculus or macroeconomics. It's definitely a complex mix of art and science. SO let's see what I can do to help demystify it a bit...

Quote:
OBJECTIVE: I am trying to figure out the best way to convert a closet with 30 years worth of family VHS tapes to both DVD and hard drive storage.
There's several methods, actually. Generally speaking, I prefer to capture as lossless video, filter/edit as needed, and then save to both high bitrate MPEG-2 (15Mbps to 25Mbps) on a hard drive, and then encode yet another version for the convenient DVD-Video format. Some people prefer to just use the DVD-Video method, and it's often "good enough" (actually good enough to be decent -- not just the excuse version of "good enough" that is used top defend bad quality). We do projects with both methods, as well as the newer Blu-ray method (which falls somewhere between the two).

Quote:
OPTION 1: Purchase a good VCR and DVD recorder. Copy the VHS to DVD and then I can rip the DVDS on my computer as needed.
This works well. I do this for converting my personal VHS tapes with TV recordings. The key here is to use a good DVD recorder, known for it's ability to actually improve the quality -- not make it worse, as most DVD recorders seem to do, due to bad engineering.

Quote:
OPTION 2: Purchase a good VCR and either a USB capture card or ATI video card. Copy the VHS to my computer and burn DVDs at will.
This works well. Depending on the specific ATI card, you can capture to lossless or uncompressed AVI, high bitrate MPEG-2 or DVD-Video spec MPEG-2.

Quote:
Paying for professional transfer is out because I think it would cost a fortune for so many tapes. My family purchased a video camera early in the 80s so we have a lot of tapes. Does anyone else remember their dad having to wear a battery belt for the video camera? It was kind of like ghost buster's equipment to a kid.
I only want to do this once so I want to do it right and use the best equipment in my price range.
I would like to budget around $500 for the transfer equipment without the media.
How many tapes? Generally speaking, a basic setup is going to cost $500 minimum, but more likely somewhere in the $500-$1,000 range. Having a good computer and accurate monitor will help. At very least, a good computer, and then constantly preview DVDs on a TV set because consumer LCDs are very inaccurate.

Battery packs like those were optional for consumers, but standard gear for Betacam shooters seen on the sidelines of sports events -- especially high school or college sports.

Quote:
I don't have time to view or edit each tape so I want to rely as heavily as possible on the automatic equipment; basically press play & record.
No two tapes ever really act the same, so this will be a problem. You're going to need to monitor the process at least every 10 minutes. Otherwise you may come back to a tape full of precious memories having been destroyed in a VCR. Even the best VCRs will have trouble with tapes, and for all kinds of reasons. Something as simple as a hard-to-turn spindle could snap off parts (of either the tape or VCR).

Quote:
I have a plethora of equipment (few cheap 2 head VCRs, old 4 head VCR from the mid 80's, a couple of video cameras, plenty of computing power and hard disk storage) but don't believe any of it is up to this job.
It may be useful for tapes that were badly recorded -- and the original recording device is still in the same "bad" condition to match -- but otherwise, no, not up to the task. Your observation is correct.

Quote:
QUESTION: Is option 1 or option 2 the better way to go for this project? What equipment would you recommend for the job?
The DVD recorder method is easier to use, and given your desire to save time, that's the one you may wish to look at the most. There's several JVC recorders available, between the marketplace forum on this site, and eBay.com options.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-DR-M10-D...#ht_500wt_1015
http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-DVD-Vide...#ht_500wt_1015

The tradeoff here, however, is that a good DVD recorder is a bit harder to find, and potentially a bit more costly.

Quote:
Also I see upconveting to 1080 on new DVD recorders in stores but have read on this site that I would be better off with a a high quality DVD recorder from a few years ago, is 1080 anything worth considering?
Do not upconvert. The upconversion feature found on DVD recorders is for playback anyway, not recording. DVDs cannot be recorded at any resolution higher than 720x480 or 720x576 (aka 480i NTSC or 576i PAL).

Hope that helps.

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