What's the best way to digitize and edit imported VHS video?
April 19, 2005 10:46 AM   Subscribe

We have a few stacks of 80s-era VHS and VHS-C tapes that I'd like to both digitize and edit as a gift. Goal 1: Digitize and burn all footage to DVD for archive purposes. Goal 2: Edit the worth-watching footage into a small DVD set (the gift).

I'm looking to do this myself. First question: is this an OK plan for protecting our precious home movies of people standing around awkwardly and waving at the camera?

Secondly, can I use my current computer? It's a relatively new Windows box, but I tend to think of Macs as the video-editing superpowers. Can I get quality video import hardware and editing software for Windows? If so, do you recommend any specific hardware for importing VHS?

posted by johndavi to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I recommend Sony Vegas as an inexpensive but really good and reliable non-linear editing system for the PC. You'll need a firewire video conversion box, and the Canopus ADVC-100 is again both reliable and high quality for around $250. Vegas can run on any reasonably fast PC. It also gives you lots of tools to improve the quality of the imported footage with plug-ins that allow you to sharpen and do color correction. There's also a version of Vegas that comes bundled with the Sony DVD creating software. You can download a vegas manual from the website to get a sense of how things work and if you're up for learning the system.
posted by gallois at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2005

I own one of these DVD Recorders and I LOVE it. Not only can you hook up your old VHS player to it and record straight to DVD, but you can also use a firewire cable hooked up to your MiniDV camera and record DV-->DVD in real time. It's great for archiving old tapes, just like you're talking about.

It's also great to have on hand for recording TV straight to DVD. It's just as simple to use as a VCR, but you're making DVDs instead of tapes.

As far as editing, this machine has limited editing features, but you could easiy take the raw DVDs you create and edit them in a simple editing app on your computer like iMovie, if you have a Mac.

It's a $200 investment but I can't think of an easier or cheaper way to archive several old tapes to DVD. And then you can keep the machine and use it for other things.
posted by evoo at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2005

Second the Canopus vote. Great little machines. Color correction, perfect audio-video sync. But you've got to have a Firewire port, and on a Windows machine, you get some problems with drivers and the like. Not so with a Mac, but assuming you get the Firewire piece worked out, Canopus is the way to go.

An hour of captured video works out to a little under 13gb, so if you want to capture four or five hours at a time, consider that. I run video from the camera to a 7200rpm USB2.0 drive. Works like a charm. Again, this is on a Mac, but Windows should do the same.

I've tried the DVD Recorder, two of them, and returned both. Jerky picture, lots of hiccups. This speaks more to my Midas touch than the DVD recorder, but the trick you do run into, is with editing. If you want to edit much at all, the video has to make it to the computer somehow anyway. Recording to DVD then the computer then DVD again, introduces another generation of compression, so you'll lose a hair of quality the second time around. But the flip side is you can record Jeopardy! straight to DVD.

Good luck.
posted by airguitar at 11:53 AM on April 19, 2005

I just use a USB 2.0 Analog -> Digital converter ($50), and edit with the software that comes with it...i haven't encountered any big problems.
posted by schyler523 at 2:51 PM on April 19, 2005

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