Archiving For The Future.
From VHS and movie camera tapes to CD/DVD
I have been archiving our own family video and movie data for a year or so with great success. I warn people to be aware of Copyright laws.
Now at 2016 I have captured most of our personal VHS tapes.
I use my PC11 2.4gHz PC using M$oft Windows XP. I installed a Leadtek Winfast TV2000 XP (expert) PCI card. Software included is Leadtek's own PVR and Ulead Video Studio V8. I have used both to capture analogue data with differing success depending on the VHS tapes. A few months ago I purchased a boxed version of MAGIX's Movie Edit Pro 11 (MMEP11). MMEP is much easier to use. Be warned that it's a very time consuming task. When capturing an hour of VHS tape one needs another three or four hours to edit it and write it to CD or DVD. So as a rule of thumb multiply the capture time by four. Most of the time after one's edits is the data has to be encoded or re-encoded. Of course it also uses a LOT of hard disk space. I will add more here another time.
VHS tape to PC.
This, my Web page about capturing VHS data to a PC is not meant to replace some other people's Web pages but is meant to be a rough guide for people wanting to do this task. I point out that I'm 74 years young and have been using computers for three decades so I do have some experience. I mention my age because I teach people my age and older computing and I need to impress on oldies that we can do this new technology stuff if one puts one's mind to it. Don't be afraid.
There are probably hundreds of Web sites covering the subject. I have read hundreds of pages and have come to the conclusion that it is not a task to be tackled by beginners learning how to use a computer. A task not for the faint hearted. Of course business' and such like that sell software and hardware would tell people it's easy. One has to be prepared to spend many, hundreds of hours testing and experimenting until a decent result is achieved. As usual one has to take with a “grain of salt” some things one reads on the subject, either by book or on the Internet.
On my Web site I hope to guide people in the right direction so people can read up and do some homework before and during doing the task, capturing data from VHS tape and saving it on a PC's media, hard disk, DVD etc.
Leadtek Winfast TV 2000 XP means experience not M$ Win XP
MAGIX Movie Edit Pro V11
At the time I type this, December 2009, I am still using MAGIX MMEPro authoring software to assemble, edit and write to DVD or CD. It is very easy to use although I have only seen Pinnacle in operation. They all do the same thing but in different ways. I won't talk about the very basic Micro$oft's Movie Maker.
Once I have edited the movie and put in the chapter points the next step is to write (burn) to DVD or CD. This is much easier than Ulead's VideoStudeo 8SE which one needs to make various decisions where as MMEP guides one correctly.
Now November 2016, updating my systems, as I use GNU/Linux 95% of the time I use the great video editing application called “Kdenlive”. It is quite complicated to use so I don't recommend newbies to use it.
This is a drawing of the PCI card, the blue parts are the relevant bits.
I recommend a fairly fast PC, a P3 running at least 1GHz. My PC is a 2.4GHz, about 700MB RAM and a 17 inch CRT monitor. M$ Windows XP is OK. I now also have another P4 running at 2.6GHz with 2Gbyte RAM.
Early in 2005 I started on the journey by doing much homework and early in 2006 I purchased a capture card.
There are two basic systems. A PCI card that is installed inside the PC and an external unit which usually is a USB device.
Before I continue I need to point out that capturing/copying data from a digital camera a special board or USB device is not needed as the data is already digital.
Working with VHS tape and other similar tape that are analogue is more complicated. But you can do it.
I decided on an internal PCI capture card because my feeling was that the external USB type gave some problems. I can not say by my own experience only by what people have said on the Internet. The decision is yours.
I purchased a boxed commercial PCI capture card as illustrated above. A Leadtek Winfast TV 2000 XP cost me AUD$168.99 from Harvey Norman in Brisbane. The system is really a device that does away with a VHS recorder and TV. One can “record” from a TV station's programme just like a home VHS video recorder and listen to FM radio stations. But this is not for what we need. The card has various sockets on the back to connect to a VCR, TV antenna and an FM antenna.
Another way of Capturing from a VCR is by using one of the many USB external devoices that are available. One such device is the Kaiser Bass unit. This is a good way for people who don't want to open up their PC or if one only has a laptop. There would not be enough room inside a laptop for it.
One has to install from the CD, the card's software drivers, the software that actually does the video capturing and what's needed to play, see and hear the video. Also in my boxed TV 2000 XP was Ulead Vision V8 software on a CD which is what one uses to make the movie or video once it's captured from the VHS tape. I had trouble using both so after a year or so I purchased a boxed commercial application MAGIX Movie Edit Pro11 (MMEP). See the photo. MAGIX is a German company and I find it is much easier to use, more intuitive.
I suggest to record a few minutes of a TV station at first using various settings. One setting is if the video is too dark one can lighten it up. Or if the video is too red one can reduce to redness and so on. You must know where your clip files are saved so you can work on them later. Once you have done this testing/fiddling for a week or so it's time to progress to capturing from a VHS video recorder. There are many settings that you need to be aware of and try out. Many hours/days to find what is best or correct.
Once you have captured some files it's time to edit them by using Ulead VS8 or MAGIX's MMEP. Movie Maker which is bundled with M$ W XP is also worth a try. The whole idea is to capture from say a three hour VHS tape, the two, three or four minutes of a birthday party. Just the part where the person is blowing out the cake candles and not all of the half hour of unessential “junk”. Each piece is called a clip. With MMEP one can insert still images (photos etc) in between clips. One can insert text over both and a hundred other fancy things. I warn you, be prepared to spend hundreds of hours on the job. Some hard wasted hours, other times you will be overjoyed with what you can achieve.
End so far at 4 March 2008, I will be adding more here.
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