How to convert videotapes to digital video?
February 3, 2011 2:20 PM   Subscribe

What is the cheapest and easiest way of taking 10 videotapes and turning them into digital video on my computer? Note: I do not own a VCR.
posted by joshuamcginnis to Technology (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Plenty of online services do this... fairly cheap, about $10 a pop, you likely have someplace local that will do it as well, but you don't list location in your profile so it is hard to check.
posted by edgeways at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011

Step 1: find friend with a good VCR
Step 2: This Ask Metafilter question - answer: used Canopus ADVC-300 for around $200
Step 3: Connect to a Mac with the right kind of Firewire connector and convert
posted by zippy at 2:55 PM on February 3, 2011

Get one of those VHS/DVD recorder combos to transfer the tapes to DVD, and then rip the DVDs on your computer to whatever format you want using free software?

Unless your VHS tapes are absolutely pristine (and hopefully SP) to begin with, the quality's not going to be all that great no matter what...
posted by xedrik at 3:31 PM on February 3, 2011

Costco does this
posted by Freedomboy at 3:45 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't do the VHS-DVD-Computer bit; you really want to do this in one pass. VHS is going to look crappy enough without the added artefacting of a second decode-and-reencode step.
posted by mhoye at 5:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite] Which is where Costco will send them.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:52 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

and please don't throw out the original videotapes once you've transferred them! often people make the mistake of thinking "oh, they are converted, i don't need them anymore" - which may backfire in the future (or in some cases, technological advances mean you can go back to those original sources and make better copies). i've seen too many people make this mistake and regret it.
posted by kuppajava at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2011

Response by poster: The videotapes are in ROUGH shape. I can see a ton of dust through the little window. Is there any experience with sending them off the in this condition (aside from the fact that they just might not work).

I'm debating doing it myself because I'll have more time and control over the process. If I need to break out a can of duster, I will. I don't want a place like to pop it in and go "Oh, it doesn't work. NEXT"
posted by joshuamcginnis at 7:59 AM on February 4, 2011

Have you tried talking to a local library or university/college, or a community TV program. They often have these sorts of resources and/or could point you in the right direction (and you would get to do it yourself with their equipment).
posted by soy bean at 8:30 AM on February 4, 2011

The Roxio VHS to DVD software+usb Dongle for inputting L/R sound and Svideo or RCA video is $59, including software, and hardware (it is called VHS to DVD... but it really means VHS to Digital Computer File, and the option to burn direct to a DVD).
Still would need to find a VCR availability, but the software that it comes with does a good job of capturing the feed... as a bonus, you then have a way of inputting pretty much any source to your computer via USB (it also can just be plugged into the RCA cables on something like an old tape player, or a Record player for digitizing vinyl), or tv out, or a video-game system. Cost wise, best option would be a public library/local university library/public access.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:38 PM on February 12, 2011

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