This year for Christmas, I'd like to get my parents the gift of converting all their VHS tapes to digital format. I'm a sometime video editor and effects artist, so I need a solution that's a) cheap, b) not too involved, workflow-wise, and c) meets my video nerd half's demand for quality. What's the best solution that fits all three?
I just want my parents to have digital copies of the video on the tapes: we don't need to edit the footage. So I'm guessing that high-quality H264 is my likely final target format.
Tooling around on MeFi, I've found a few options:
1) A DVD recorder. These are also a bit pricey; worse, DVDs are a dead format, and the DVDs themselves would have to be backed up in a few years time anyway, as DVD-Rs don't last that long, and I know from experience that MPEG-2 is a pretty inefficient compression format.
2) The various Canopus converters. Most of these are more expensive than I'd like to pay, and I'm guessing that I'd have to first capture the tapes to DV (or other high bitrate format), then transcode to H264, which seems like a hassle -- I'm going to be digitizing a few dozen tapes over the holidays, and I'd rather be eating cookies than spending all my time wrangling video.
3) A push-button consumer solution. Cheap, but many of them produce very low-quality video. The best-reviewed I've found so far is the Elgato Video Capture Device
. If the quality produced is up to snuff, this looks like the sweet spot -- it's easy, flexible, and produces H264 -- but I'm concerned that the fact that cheap and done over USB will mean that the video quality will be poor.
So: Does anyone have any experiences, good or bad, using the Elgato? Basically, I'm looking for video good enough that I won't see any compression artifacts at full resolution.