How to Convert Home Movies to DVDs

Converting home movies on VHS or Hi-8 video cassettes to DVDs present a minimal problem. VCRs and VHS or Hi-8 camcorders have RCA style video and audio outputs that can be easily connected to a DVR or a DVD Recorder, and to a computer USB port using an adapter and video software. Unlike VHS and Hi-8 cassettes played on VCRs and camcorders, older film reels of home movies present a different challenge when it comes to converting them to a digital format. Most old 8mm projectors do not have video output jacks. The old projectors never converted the movies to any analog signal – they simply passed the images on film in front of the projector bulb. There is no easy way to directly dub this content to a digital format. Consider Using an 8mm Film to Digital Conversion Service So if you have reel tapes of 8mm or Super 8 home movies that you would like to upgrade to digital, you might want to shop around for a service that can convert the tapes. It wouldn’t hurt to get a good idea of the cost involved in using the service before deciding to do it yourself. Depending on how many tapes you have and your discretionary spending budget, paying someone else to do it may be the best option. Perhaps members of the family like siblings and cousins would even be happy to chip in for the conversion if they end up with their own copies. Getting a group of contributors could make this option more affordable. You can look online for conversion services, but don’t forget to check locally. While it may cost a few more dollars to use a local service, you would have the peace of mind of hand-delivering and retrieving your precious vintage home movie footage without the risk of it being lost or damaged during shipping. Also, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. The level of service and quality of conversion varies greatly between providers. Do a little homework and find out what you will get for your money. You Can Convert 8mm or Super 8 Film to Digital Yourself If your budget doesn’t allow using a service, don’t worry – you can still covert the old reels to digital yourself. You just need: A functional 8mm or Super 8 reel projector A digital video camera (and any required media for recording like DVDs) A good projection surface (a screen, a flat white wall, etc.) A tripod An audio cable As you might guess at this point, the best way to convert those old home movies to digital yourself is to project them onto a good projection surface and record them using a digital video camera. Obviously, you want to put the 8mm projector on a nice stable surface, and have a good stable tripod for the digital video camera, so it can be focused properly on the image to get the best possible result. Important Tips for Converting 8mm Film to Digital Here are some things to keep in mind while converting those 8mm reels to digital: Keep the Projected Image Small: A rule of thumb is that the smaller the image, the sharper it will be. So focus the projected image so it is fairly small yet easily visible. This usually also involves having the projection surface not too far away from the projector. Focus the Digital Camera to Maximize the Image: Adjust the digital video camera so that the image fills the recording (without losing any part of the image) while minimizing the amount of the unused projection...

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Guide to Video Copy and Conversion Basics

Video Copy and Conversion Basics When converting video formats or copying video, there are some basic things to keep in mind in order to accomplish the conversion or copy and maximize the quality of the video in the new format. These include: Analog or digital video Media formats Digital file types Connections Usually these become less of a concern if you using a DVD recorder, DVR, or VCR to record the content, these since formats and media are somewhat transparent to the user. You simply connect the devices, put the right disk or tape in, and start recording. Digital or Analog Most of us are aware of the difference between digital and analog video formats. Analog formats are waveforms on magnetic tape. Digital formats are bytes of ones and zeros stored on a disk – either removable or fixed. However, there are also digital formats found on magnetic tape like MiniDV camcorders. While analog video can be good quality, it is easy to find analog recordings of very poor quality. Sometimes this is due to the poor quality of the initial recording device (i.e. a very cheap VCR or camcorder), and sometimes it is due to poor copying or over copying. Every time an analog video signal is copied it loses quality due to the noise introduced and information lost through the playback heads, the connections, and the record heads – even when good equipment is used. Anytime an analog signal is part of the copying equation (analog to analog, digital to analog, analog to digital), then maintaining the best possible quality should be a consideration. With digital video, it is usually easier to capture good quality in the beginning and maintain it no matter how many digital copies are made. The sequences of ones and zeros are easily replicated without any lost information or degradation. However, managing digital video on a computer may mean paying attention to file formats and the video player or editing tools. Analog Formats Standard VHS tapes are the most common analog format. Quality of the copy depends on the quality of the signal, the recording/playback device, and selected tape speed. The faster speeds that record less time of content (like two hours versus four hours) provide better quality. S-VHS and Hi8 are a superior quality format for analog video. S-VHS are the same size and style as a regular VHS cassette, however, it takes an S-VHS capable player to play S-VHS cassettes (which can usually play regular VHS as well). Hi8 is a mini-cassette typically used in camcorders. Digital Formats Digital videos are usually on a DVD or in a video format computer file. VCDs can also be used to store and play video files, but this format is rare in the U.S. and other Western countries. Blu-ray is the newest generation of DVD. Blu-ray disks have more video storage ability, and in turn Blu-ray players use a smaller scan wavelength which improves video quality. Much like the VHS/S-VHS example above, Blu-ray players can play regular DVDs, but regular DVD players can not play Blu-ray. After a DVD is burned or recorded, usually a “finalize” step prepares the DVD to be played on any DVD device. The issue of digital video file formats (frequently called containers) can get confusing, as they are numerous and have names like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, RealVideo, WMV, and MVC. Then there are different computer based video players like Quicktime, AVI, and MP4. While generally there is compatibility between formats and players, it isn’t always the case. This is also true of video editing applications. Most programs for PCs...

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How to Use Your PC to Transfer Video Tapes to DVD

You see it in so many homes – including yours. Shelves, stacks, and boxes of old VHS and video tapes we just don’t want to get rid of. They have our favorite episodes of Seinfeld, our treasured home videos, and a backlog of movies recorded from HBO or Showtime that we just never got around to watching. Why Convert VHS to DVD? There are a few problems with keeping these old VHS video tapes: VHS Tapes are Bulky: With VHS tapes, a few hours of video takes up as much space as a book. Converting VHS to DVD means storing the same video content on a small stack of disks – probably taking up less space than just a few of VHS tapes. VHS and Video Tapes Deteriorate and Break: Analog tapes, whether VHS or 8mm cassettes, degrade over time much more rapidly than digital disks. While storing tapes in constant temperature and humidity helps delay deterioration, the longer you wait to transfer video tapes to digital disks the lower the quality will be. Plus, cassette tapes have mechanical moving parts that are more likely to break or malfunction the older they become. VHS Tapes are Obsolete: VHS tapes and players are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur. If you keep waiting to do something with your old video tapes, one day you will find yourself with no way to play or reproduce them. Then you may end up spending big money to pay a professional to salvage your precious home movies. How Do I Convert My Video Tapes to DVD? There are several ways to copy VHS or other video tapes to DVD. If you have a VHS player (or a camcorder) and a component DVD recorder, just connect the output of the VHS player to the input of the DVD recorder and record directly to the DVD. Some of you may even have dual VHS and DVD recorder decks. Most of these have a dubbing function that will make copying the tape to DVD easy and fast. Whether or not you have a DVD recorder to use for copying your tapes, consider using your PC for converting them to DVD. First, if you don’t have a DVD recorder, you probably have a DVD burner on your PC. You can buy the tools needed to use your PC to convert the tapes for much less than you can buy a component DVD recorder. Second, while direct dubbing will copy your tapes, using a PC gives you tremendous power to easily edit and create DVDs you will actually want to watch. Plus, you can add background music and soundtracks. Using a PC to Transfer VHS to Digital is Easy! Using the power of your PC to capture and transfer analog videos to digital DVDs has never been easier. In the past it may have involved buying a video card and opening your PC to install it in an open PCI slot. Next you installed the video card drivers, then you crossed your fingers and hoped it all worked. Now it is almost as easy as plugging in a USB cable. A number of manufacturers provide exactly what you need to make it fast and simple. Just search on-line for “VHS to DVD Converter” or visit your favorite technology store. Comprehensive packages include the hardware and software needed to transfer your old tapes. The software makes it easy to capture and edit the video. The hardware adapter connects your computer’s USB port to the RCA style jacks for video (yellow) and audio (red and white or black) found on...

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