How to Convert VHS to DVD on a Computer

by Christopher Capelle

Now that VHS has been relegated to the legacy technology scrapheap, you might want to transfer the contents of your pile of VHS tapes to DVD. What is required to achieve this includes video-capture hardware, which converts the analog signal from the VHS tape into a digital file that the computer can read, and software for editing the movie and burning it on to DVD. This is also known as an analog-to-DV converter or a hardware bridge. Although Adobe Premier (available for both Windows and Mac) and iMove/iDVD (Mac only) are the most popular video-editing programs for the home user, there are other packages available.

A video-capture device: RCA jacks in, USB out

Acquire what you need for the project. This includes video-capture hardware, which is a piece of hardware with RCA jacks in and FireWire or USB out. You connect a VCR to the input jacks and then connect the unit to your computer with the USB or FireWire jack. Some mini camcorders have RCA inputs (the type that VCRs use), so they could serve as a video-capture device. You will also need video-editing software for your computer. Also, make sure your computer is powerful enough to handle the job, and is maxed out with RAM. Any computer with a 2GHz or faster processor will do the trick.

iMovie: Apple's basic video-editing software

Install any necessary software. This includes software for the video-capture hardware, any video-editing software and any drivers for third-party cards that you use for this project.

You will need a functional VCR to import your video.

Attach the hardware in this order: Connect your VCR to the video-capture hardware, then the hardware bridge to your computer, using the USB or FireWire port (depending on what type of video-capture device you have).

There are still a lot of VHS tapes out there.

Launch your video-editing software and select Record or Import. Start playing your tape. The importing occurs in real time, so if you have a three-hour tape, it will take three hours to import.

Macs are perfect for working with video.

Select Save when the file is finished importing into the computer. Then open the imported file with your video-editing software and edit out any of the bits you don't want to appear on the finished DVD. You can also add music, graphics or clips from other projects into your current project. Each video-editing package has different options, but all allow you to cut, copy and paste different sections into any order you want.

The end result.

Transfer the final edit to DVD using your video-editing software and your computer's DVD burner. Again, each type of software does this differently, but the end result is the same: a fully functional DVD movie that can be viewed in any DVD player or computer. Test the final DVD in a standard DVD player to make sure that it burned properly before deleting any files.

Tip

  • check Confirm you have ample hard drive space before starting. Transferring VHS to DVD is an extremely time-consuming process. Be careful when working with any copyrighted material.

Items you will need

About the Author

Christopher Capelle is a freelance copywriter with over two decades of experience. Subjects of his writing include the business and technology fields, consumer products and home repair/improvement. He graduated from The University of Connecticut and earned a master's degree in journalism from Iona College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Images 1, 2, 4, 5, 7: MorgueFile.com, Images 3, 6: Apple