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Old 08-19-2011, 08:12 PM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
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Default Converting old VHS tapes to DVD

I've got a bunch of old VHS tapes that I want to convert to DVD.

Originally, I bought a gadget from Diamond that's supposed to do this. If I can't get my money back for it at the store, I'm going to drop it on the floor and stomp on it. Utter trash, from documentation to hardware to software install to software uninstall, and likewise to the software in the middle.

Next, I got a similar gadget from honestech (VHS to DVD Deluxe 5.0). World of difference; minimalist but professionally done documentation, the software works smoothly (and isn't a cobbled together horror of three or four distinct apps like the Diamond abortion). Plug, Play. Quality? Can't really speak to that; the original tapes are pretty awful to begin with. The DVDs don't seem markedly worse than the tapes, but there's not a lot of ROOM for worse. <g>

Remaining nuisances:

The capture's in real time, which I suppose can't be avoided. You have to tell the software how much time to allocate (which in turn determines the quality of the capture). That's not TOO bad, since I can just give 'em, say, 90 minutes. All the stuff on the tapes is that or less.

Or in theory, and even better, I could just have it record the whole contents of the tape, then edit it into individual programs and record each of them off to DVD. The software allows for that, I'm pretty sure. BUT ...

The tapes are old and mechanically cranky. They're prone to just stopping midstream. I can't just set it to recording and go do something else while the magic happens. Grrr.

I've tried FFing then rewinding the tapes a couple times prior to starting the transfer but it doesn't seem to do much good.

Does anyone have any ideas for making the tapes work better? I'm going to try them in another player when I get a chance, but that's a PITA, since it'd be in another room on another floor in the house where it'd annoy SWMBO while she's working.

   
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:19 AM   #2
Hugh Wyn Griffith
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If you don't get what you need here do check in on Gadgets & Gear Community on Compuserve -- there's a lot of user expertise on dealing with this sort of thing.

   
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:55 PM   #3
Steve Rindsberg
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Thanks, Hugh.

   
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
Gerry Kowarsky
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I don't have any suggestions, but I'm curious about one thing. Does the PC have to be dedicated to the conversion process, or can you do something else while the video is being re-encoded? I'm curious because I have tapes I'd like to convert, too, and I've wondered how demanding re-encoding is on the hardware.
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Old 08-21-2011, 02:57 PM   #5
Robin Springall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rindsberg View Post
Does anyone have any ideas for making the tapes work better?
It's been many years since I ran a VHS duplication company, but I used to find that spooling dodgy cassettes forwards to the end and back again two or three times used to work.

But maybe it's the VHS player that's cranky, not the tapes. Try spooling in the other player.

   
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
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I'm no expert by any means but all the advice I've read suggests not doing anything else on the PC while the conversion's going on. I've even read a few recommendations for disabling unnecessary services, background programs, etc.

I'm lucky (or as Herself might put it, profligate) enough to have an extra PC or two around the place, so this is no big deal. If only one's available, an overnight session might do the job.

   
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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Robin, as luck would have it, that's tonight's project ... playing one of the iffy cassettes on another player. It's a monster of a thing, built into the TV, but if I have to drag it downstairs, it's unlikely that anyone will miss it.

   
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