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Old April 3rd, 2011, 10:51 PM   #1
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How can I capture a VHS Tape?

I have lots of old vhs tapes that I would like to edit using my nle. I no longer have the orignal camera. Whats the best way to capture? Is there some sort of adapter or tape drive I can purchase? I still have a vhs player. Can I somehow use this?
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Old April 3rd, 2011, 11:10 PM   #2
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Play them back from your vhs deck (analog signal out) to an av/dv converter, which makes a firewire digital signal you can capture in the regular way in your nle. I have had experience with Grass Valley products, but there are other brands on the market. Here's a start: AV DV Converter
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Old April 4th, 2011, 12:31 AM   #3
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Battle has given you a good suggestion but there are numbers of different ways ways to turn old VHS. tapes into a digitally format that you can edit and/or make DVD copies.

One way is the dedicated i/o device that Battle suggested. His recommendation of Canopus a/v devices is a good one. My Matrox MXO2 Mini (which I mainly use for monitoring while editing) is supposed to be able to feed analog-outs from VCRs to a computer, converting your VHS to SD *.avi or *.mov files. I've never actually tried it as I have other methods using my retired DV cams.

For these methods, you need an SD camera with a/v inputs and a firewire connector. Note that I said "a/v inputs." Not every camera's a/v jacks allowed inputs.

If you have a cameras with a/v inputs that can record SD video, you've got several ways to capture. These days, I mostly feed the a/v out from the VCR to a trusty old VX2000 to which I've hooked an MRC recorder. This records to CF disk while avoiding tying up my editing computer. (Seems I always get copying projects in the middle of my editing another project). The VX2000 is set for a/v passthrough. Hit play on the VCR and punch record on MRC unit. Hit the stop butttoms at the end of the tape. Import the files to the computer. Copy more tapes if needed.

A lot of older Sony and Canon cameras have a/v passthrough capability which allows them to be used as a/v capture devices so you do not have to buy a dedicated device. Some HDV cams have it as well, and it works as long as you are recording to SD formats. You run a/v cables from the a/v out connectors on the back of your vcr to the a/v inputs on the camera. (S-video connections are nice if you can use them). Connect the camera to the computer with the firewire/iLink cable. Open your NLE's caputure window. Hit play on the vcr and click on the "record" button in the NLE's capture window. Click stop when you've got the tape captured. Move on to the next tape. (If you have an older SD camera and version of Premier Pro that came with the On-Location, I suppose you could use On-Location to record from the VCR, as well.

Of course, there is always the time consuming route of playing out from the VCR and recording to tape using the a/v inputs on a mini-DV or old Digital-8 camera, and then capturing from those tapes via firewire.

Finally, you might consider looking for one of the VHS/DVD recorder combo unit. These will allow on the fly conversion of VHS tapes to DVD. (I believe that BH Photo Video still carries these things) If you've got an NLE that will read "vob" files from a DVD (or allow you to copy the VOB files and change the file extension to something like m2t or pmp2) you can edit the.tapes for your DVDs.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 03:44 AM   #4
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Kevin,

Is it VHS-C? You can probably still buy those adapter units to put the VHS-C tape inside your full-size VHS player.

UK example is here: Motorised VHSC Cassette Adaptor : Camcorder Tapes : Maplin

For conversion, I do the following:
- Capture the VHS player output into my domestic DVD recorder (the one I would use to record TV programmes too, it has a hard disk built-in).
- Use software like VirtualDub (MPEG2 version) to convert the .VOB files on the DVD to another format if required.

This is much easier (for me) and cheaper than messing around with those adapter/converter devices, plus you can use the DVD recorder for other purposes too. I've had my fill of converters, dongles, whatever they are called. Cheap and simple is good, especially if your current camcorder doesn't have AV in and do the conversion as Jay has described.

Given the original quality of VHS compared to more modern formats, any quality hit of going via the DVD is not normally noticeable.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:22 AM   #5
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

My method too Mike!!

My own wedding video was gathering dust (My VHS player died a long time ago) but my mate had a VHS player and DVD recorder and NLE's like Vegas will also import the VOB's direct!!!

It actually looks a lot better than the VHS copy now as I could tweak it a bit and fix the audio...considering that VHS barely resolves 200 lines don't expect a Hi Def result!!

Chris
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:01 AM   #6
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Chris,

Maybe the world is ready for an upscaling HDMI VHS player!

Probably been done already!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:10 AM   #7
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Nobody will develop any new VHS products, it's a dead format from the manufacturers perspective. I keep my eyes out on ebay for those dual S-VHS/DV JVC decks - I've had two now, and wore one out, but still have one good one. Ideal for playing in DV tapes, but but prodding the copy mode button, you can play VHS to the DV side, and then that emerges on the firewire socket. For the occasional times I have to do this, it works fine - but it's always a shock seeing how poor 240 line VHS really was - yet we were all happy with it!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 08:13 AM   #8
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Thanks for everyones input. Mike, yes it is the VHS-C format. I belive these tapes only held 15 and 30 minutes worth of video. This is why I was trying to bring it into my nle, so that I could put at least an hours worth of footage on one dvd. I could simply purchase a vhs dvd combo and record that way, but then the end result would yield to many DVDs. With the combo units, is it possible to put various tapes on one dvd or does the dics close once the first tape is complete?
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Old April 4th, 2011, 08:37 AM   #9
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Kevin,

My experience is with a Panasonic DVD + Hard disk combo, not a VHS+DVD recorder combo. I would simply not buy a VHS device of any sort, especially if I had a full-size VHS player that I could wire up to the recorder with AV leads.

If I have multiple source tapes, I can just import them one after another to the hard disk on the video recorder, even chop out some of the unwanted bits, insert chapters etc. Or I can just record to a DVD-R directly. You can record one tape to the DVD, then keep recording another tape, and another tape. You could get 4x 30 minute VHS-C tapes to a DVD-R at that rate.

It does mean binning DVDs at some point, if you are just using them as import media. I know it's environmentally unfriendly, but I'd have to toss a lot of 20-cent DVDs into the trash and transfer a lot of VHS tapes to make it cheaper to spend more money on a converter!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 11:29 AM   #10
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Beckett View Post
Maybe the world is ready for an upscaling HDMI VHS player! Probably been done already!
Indeed, it has. See this post: Panasonic DMP-BD70V
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Old April 4th, 2011, 03:04 PM   #11
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Lewis View Post
Thanks for everyones input. Mike, yes it is the VHS-C format. I belive these tapes only held 15 and 30 minutes worth of video. This is why I was trying to bring it into my nle, so that I could put at least an hours worth of footage on one dvd. I could simply purchase a vhs dvd combo and record that way, but then the end result would yield to many DVDs. With the combo units, is it possible to put various tapes on one dvd or does the dics close once the first tape is complete?
I believe that any of the devices with a hard drive will allow you to combine multiple tapes on one DVD. As best I recall, most of the DVD/VCR units I've seen have what is called "multi-session" recording. As long as you do not finalize a DVD, you can continue to add tapes to fill up the disk. This is an RTFM thing --- you have to read the manual to find out which ones do what.

If you need a VHS-C adapter, I found that Radio Shack still carries them. I bought a new one about four months ago when my old one fell off a high shelf and broke.

I believe Sony makes a device specifically for putting video tape to disk storage. I recall it being called a Sony DVDirect. Our local Costco had them over Christmas for something like $200 but no longer carries them.
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Old April 7th, 2011, 08:59 PM   #12
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Re: How can I capture a VHS Tape?

the cheapest way is plug your camera into the vcr via rca and either capture it to dv tape or if it has the ability pass through to your computer via firewire. canopus also sells a converter for this type of thing.
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