DVD Copy Reviews

How To Convert VHS To DVD

Victor Company of Japan, (JVC) Limited developed VHS (Video Home system) as a recording and playing standard system. The format was the general standard used in manufacturing film prints and other viewing material in the early nineties. We clearly do not use VHC tapes anymore and its pretty much an obsolete technology.

VHS to DVD convertion

However, converting VHS prints to the DVD format offers a way to preserve, enhance, backup, digitize and share old tapes. Tapes created in VHS format do not have a long shelf life, and are neither portable nor affordable. Cconverting VHS tapes to DVD offer many benefits such as adding internal menus, background music, and enhances the viewing experience by displaying it in a 16:9 ratio.

The Hardware and Software required

There are suitable hardware and software for Linux, Windows amd Macs. Its strongly recommended that you run a Pentium 4 or Pentium dual core and above with one 1GIG or more of RAM and at least 20 GB of hard drive space because it can be quite intense for very slow CPU's and you without proper RAM and hard disk space you will run out of space to burn your dvd.

You will also need a decent speed (20x plus for CDs and 2x speed for DVDs) DVD / CD burner and a bunch of blank DVD discs. You might also need a good video editing software like Windows MovieMaker, QuickTime or iMovie to modify resolution, quality and output of your video. These softwares can also add subtitles, chapters, etc.

Video recorders such as DVD Xpress or Instant DVD from ADSTech make it easier to transfer videos from VHS tape to a DVD disc. These devices are connected externally to the system and may require additional memory to work successfully.

A Few Methods of VHS to DVD conversion:

In this method, the analog- to-DV converter or DV/Digital8 camcorders play a very important role. Your video editing program can then convert the captured video file into a variety of resolutions. These files can be clipped, modified and improved using various editing techniques offered by the software package. It is also advisable to encode the video file in the universally accepted 'MPEG-2' format (An Mpeg-2 format file can run on any Windows Platform.

Although the process is very time-consuming, it offers its users a wide range of customizing techniques. Depending upon the quality of editing software and the power of your computer system, a video can be edited with special effects, transitions, music, etc. However, regardless of the software used, the encoding procedure can slowdown a systems performance and power and may even insist on complete disconnection from all online services. If you prefer the AVI format that offers better video quality, then a system with over 512 MB of RAM is recommended. This process that involves converting VHS to DV, can take more hard drive memory and make it complex to get good MPEG compression.
  
In this method, a VHS video can be directly captured within an operating system computer using basic hardware capturing device. The output file of this device should be MPEG-2. The process is equally time-consuming and may have increased memory demands, causing the process to run slowly and adapting itself to the speed of the computer.

While recording, the user is offered limited editing options of the MPEG-2 files. Once recorded, you can create custom DVD menus and modify color quality. Many users prefer using this method as these hardware analog-to-MPEG boxes offer pictures of a very high quality. The recording process in such hardware, takes place in parts, as the original analog source. Video need not be converted into DV format before being encoded to MPEG.
  
You would get the same kind of quality and feel, like that of a VCR, if you connect the camcorder or VHS VCR to a standalone DVD recorder. A VHS to DVD recorder would give you a DVD copy of the tape in real good time. You may not have the flexibility in the chapter settings, menus and buttons, yet it is the fastest way of converting VHS to DVD. You can easily plug a DV/Digital8/DVCAM camcorder or VCR into a "DVD VCR" which has Firewire connections. Subsequently, you can easily transfer the tapes to DVD with much more higher quality compared to the analog connections.

Irrespective of the method you choose to employ, you must ensure that the analog video displays the highest quality. You might experience certain snags and get magnified flaws, if you convert an analog video to MPEG-2 and thereafter convert it to DVD.

Tips to Improve Quality of the DVD

VHS tapes, deposits large quantity of residue on the camcorder and analog VHS heads, especially the old ones. This results in many flaws in picture and dropouts. Hence, it is necessary to clean the tape heads from time to time to avoid any accumulation of residues on the head.

You should monitor the sharpness of your VHS/VCR. Bear in mind that this can be done only in some VHS VCRs, as this control feature is not available in all. Some players have  'Edit' button that directly effect playback sharpness.
Attach video processors to the output of the analog tape player and thereafter attach the output of the processor to a capture device.Time Base Correctors (TBCs) and 'proc amps' will offer you the ability of stabilizing analog videos; adjust contrast levels, color and brightness. Merely tweaking the color and contrast levels would definitely give you a much better look compared to the original VHS tapes.

If you wish to convert 8mm to Hi8 to DVD, the best alternative would be importing it into your computer with the help of Digital 8 camcorder. Numerous D8 camcorder models can easily playback analog tapes and convert them to DV. D8 recorders also have built-in TBCs and digital noise reduction that would clean-up analog videos before converting them to DV. Thereafter these tapes would be sent to the PC via a Firewire cable.
   
When you transfer 2 hours of VHS to DVD, it could result in a considerable loss in quality. To avoid this, you can use some methods that would encode the video at 'half resolution' or use a high-quality MPEG-2 encoder. The normal DVD video has a resolution of 720x480 for NTSC. However, some DVD authoring programs and encoders would allow you to use 352x480 resolutions. 

It is advisable to use compressed audio on DVD. If the Uncompressed - PCM - audio is directly added to the DVD, the audio may encroach in the data files and thus force you to compromise on the quality of the video. The best choice for audio compression is Dolby Digital/AC3.

PLEASE NOTE: If you follow method 1- that involves converting the analog file first into DV and then into MPEG 2. You must assign a specific disk drive on your computer for the process. An analog video in the DV format can occupy a very large space on the hard drive. A single hour of analog file can take over 14 gigabytes of space in the DV form, which is why a MPEG-2 encoder is an absolute necessity. The encoder can compress the DV file and output it in a standard MPEG-2 video.


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