VHS to Powerbook vidcap?
December 20, 2005 6:46 PM   Subscribe

VidCapFilter:Help me get my VHS tapes onto my Powerbook!

My family has several hours of home movie that are not aging gracefully, so I'm eager to get them onto my Powerbook, edit them together and burn them to DVD. This is sort of "Step 1: Idea! Step 2:? Step 3:Profit!" situation as I've never done vidcap before. What options exist? I'm not looking to spend a lot of money and the quality of these videos is on par with most home movies, so I'm not looking for high end equipment/solutions, either. Thanks!
posted by GilloD to Technology (5 answers total)
You have a couple options getting analog video onto the PB. You can either get something like this device which will convert it, or you can buy/borrow a digital camcorder that supports video input. Then you can put it on digital tape (hook the VHS up to the device via RCA yellow/red/white cord) and import via firewire from the camera to iMovie (or Final Cut Express/Pro if you want to get more advanced).

Maybe it will let you input directly through the camera without going to tape first, I'm not sure.

From iMovie or Final Cut you can pretty easily go to iDVD for the actual DVD creation.
posted by starman at 7:32 PM on December 20, 2005

There are plenty of (relatively) low cost commercial solutions . It's probably cost prohibitive to convert your whole library, but it would save a lot of time to do a few of them.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 PM on December 20, 2005

You can connect a VCR's outputs to a video camera's inputs, then connect the camera to your Mac just like starman said--you don't have to record it onto the camera's tape first. Just start importing in iMovie and hit play on the VCR like you were making a mix tape. It's very easy if you can borrow a camcorder!
posted by bcwinters at 4:53 AM on December 21, 2005

A better solution would be to borrow a digital camcorder, or DV recorder. DVD is not a good format for archiving (one, it's a 'lossy' format, two, the discs can deteriorate quite quickly.)

You would copy the VHS tapes onto DV tapes using the camcorder or DV recorder. Then do a digital transfer onto a PC via firewire, from where you could easily make a DVD using Apple's software.

The final step would be to keep the DV tape as a best-quality archive.
posted by ascullion at 5:29 AM on December 21, 2005

Look for a feature on DV cameras called "pass thru recording". This allows you to hook up a VCR to one end of the camera and then push the digital signal through FireWire to the laptop.
posted by laz-e-boy at 6:58 AM on December 29, 2005

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