I have had many requests over the past few months to write a guide which I hope in simple terms will give people the information they need about converting there VHS and Camcorder Tapes to DVD. Video Tapes have a limited timespan, in fact some manufacturers are now only giving you 5 years life span. We all know that is not always the case but we all have the odd VHS tape stuck away with perhaps a wedding, a christening or even an old favourite movie that we would like to save and DVD offers a more stable way of enjoying the footage for years to come.
Please let me know what you think of this guide and if it was useful, if not why not, what questions do you have that I did not answer. I really want to ensure that we supply top quality guides but if you don't give me any feedback I have no idea if we are on the right track so give me a vote either way to say good or bad. If bad let me know what I need to add
That being said we want things to be simple and straight forward and as far as I can see this is what puts people off. What cables do I need, what software do I need, it all sounds so complicated so I hope my little guide helps.
Also I want to answer the legal question early on here. Making a copy of your Video Tape is not illegal or breaking any copyright law as long as you purchased the original legally in the first place. In other words if I went out and purchased from the shop Lord of the Rings on VHS. I can legally make 1 copy for back up purposes as long as I have no intention of selling it or having it viewed publicly.
So here we go a basic guide
1. Connecting the Conversion Product to your VHS Recorder
This is usually the biggest issue. Nearly all of us Europeans have a SCART connector on our VHS Recorders but none of the conversion products are SCART so how on earth do I connect them up. I hope this explains it.
All of us have a VHS Recorder with a SCART socket on the back so the first thing you have to do is purchase an IN/OUT SCART Adapter. Cost wise this is 3 to 4 pounds. In simple terms this adapter creates the right sockets for you to connect the Conversion Product too.
For ease of reference I will use a product called VideoHome Light. The sockets on this product are S Video and Composite Video but this guide applies to all Converters you just need to check there connections
Now we have the right adapter on the SCART we need to get the Picture into the Converter. To do this we use a Composite Video cable. Yellow plug at both ends. Cost wise around 3 pounds. You plug one end into SCART adapter and the other into the Converter. No problem here as you plug into the yellow socket on the SCART and into the Yellow on the converter. So yellow cable into yellow socket job done
Now you have your picture going in time to get the sound in. For this you need an Audio Jack. One end has Red and White connectors the other has a Jack plug. Red goes into Red on the SCART adapter, white goes into white on the SCART adapter. The other end plugs into your Sound card, Mic in or Sound in on your PC. You now have sound. Cost should be around 2 pounds
Cables and Cost. These are all easy to get cables. Lots of eBay stores sell them and below are the descriptions to ensure if you have to you purchase the right cables.
This is the Composite Video Cable Yellow both Ends
This is the SCART adapter. Remember you need to purchase one that has an in/out swich as pictured below
This is the audio connector Red and White one end Jack plug the other
Most converters like VideoHome have a USB Connector so you simply plug this into your USB Port
Thats it with the connecting. You now have image and sound coming out of the VHS and going into the converter and the PC.
Now its time to load the software which is pretty standard point and click with most applications.
We are now all set to go.
1. Open the software and you will be shown a preview window. Once you have the window open press play on your VHS Recorder (ensuring you have a tape in it, I know obvious but....)
2. You will then see the video playing in the preview screen. You just need to check you have a good picture quality and sound quality.
3. Once you are happy with the quality you will see a Record button on the Preview Screen. Press record and a file will be created to store the video you are copying in. One tip here is save the file to desktop for ease of finding later. Remember most converters record in real time in other words if the movie is 1 hour long you need to leave it to play for one hour. When its finished your movie will be in the folder on your desktop. You can then make a copy to DVD.
I hope this answers some of the basic questions about conversion of VHS tapes but as always I would welcome your feedback to improve the guide. I know its not in depth but that was not the intended purpose. I will write more in depth guides if required.