VCR to PC to record on DVD

August 25, 2005 at 13:46:09
Specs: WinXP, 3.2gh / 512mg

I would like to transfer my VCR tapes to my PC so I can record onto DVD. We have a good gaming PC with a ATI 9800 pro video card but it does not have VCR inputs.

Is there an inexpensive video card out there to install while doing this or any other way to do it?

I came across this and was wondering if it would do what I need?¤cy=USD&products_id=3071

Thanks for you help,

See More: VCR to PC to record on DVD

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August 25, 2005 at 14:41:09

PCI TV Tuner Card:

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August 26, 2005 at 01:07:41

I tried your link but it did not point to any specific product.

Your choices are PCI video capture cards, with or without tv tuners, and video to USB converters. The better ones of both types will save the video and sound as MPEG2 files. The best of the capture cards will have hardware encoders, which will convert to the highest quality. If you are going to edit then find a card and software in the right format.

You specify VCR tapes which I assume to be standard VHS. If you have a DV recorder and you have firewire output then you have the additional choice of a firewire input.

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August 26, 2005 at 06:36:02

As an alternative to a video card: Plextor AV100U Analog to Digital converter

I use this and it works just great.
It is the cheapest one I could find.

It comes with WinDVD for editing the video but I use Pinnacle Studio 9 that I already had installed.


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August 26, 2005 at 06:38:52

Oops will work better.

It uses USB2 to connect.


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August 26, 2005 at 08:16:42

Thanks for all the help.

Bryco, the product that my link was pointing to was the "Zio CameraMate Video Safe" device which I'm not sure if this would be the same thing as what you were pointing out. At least yours would be something I could get locally.

I will also look into a capture card.
I don't think the RCA to USB adapter cable would work for me because as you know VHS types are not the best quality to start with and I want it to be converted to the best it can be. These are of family get together from way back.

I do have a TV-Tuner card. Would going from the VCR’s cable out to the TV-Tuner in work?


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August 26, 2005 at 08:26:16

Another question:
Does anyone know about how much hard drive space a 8 hr VHS type would use if it is converted to MPEG2 format?


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August 26, 2005 at 08:50:11

Sorry, another question:
The DVD recorder I have on my PC is a dual layer. If I was to record these on a dual layer DVD disk can others play them on there standard DVD players to watch on TV?


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August 26, 2005 at 17:13:30

1. Your TV Tuner should work fine - certainly worth trying it before you spend any money.

2. A 4.7Gb DVD holds a little over 2 hrs of MPEG-2; for 8hrs you are looking at about 18-20GB.

3. A dual-layer disk (holding about 4 hrs) should play on a standard player; compatibility problems seem to have largely been overcome nowadays. Unfortunately these disks cost an arm and a leg, so you may prefer to edit the video onto several single layer disks - people will need a break every so often anyway.

4. You really need to be running XP on NTFS in order to handle files of this size.

5. You will need some DVD creation software - some probably came with your burner.

Hope this helps.

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August 26, 2005 at 21:11:41

WOW. I'm not sure how many VHS tapes I would be dealing with at this point since it's my sister that has them all but since I'm new to this stuff... What would be a format just lower to MPEG-2 that might not take up quite as much room? I would think MPEG-1.

Not sure on all the different formats and what would be good for watching on a standard DVD player on TV.

I will definitely try out my TV-Tuner first just to see.


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August 26, 2005 at 21:35:49

DVD's play MPEG2 as standard. There are different levels of compression that can be applied when creating the MPEG2's. For typical DVD resolution it takes about 2 GB per hour. For VHS resolution you might get by with 1 GB per hour. If you intend to edit they your will need much more space. Maybe more than 8GB per hour. If you are working from VHS you will not get the best resolution anyway. Speaking of resolution if you use the cable out of your VCR to the cable in of your capture card you will lose a bit of the resolution. You will be up converting the signal in the VCR and down converting it back in the tv tuner card. The best resolution would be S-Video, followed by baseband (AV). The best method would be to experiment. Going to would be recommended.

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August 28, 2005 at 05:04:22

I do not have a lot of experience in working with video on the PC but my limited experience has produced the following results:
Using either my digital camcorder via a firewire connection or using the VCR with the Plextor Analog to Digital converter they both import to the PC in .avi format at around 1GB per every ten minutes of tape.

I always add music that I originate from .mp3 and they are converted by the video editor program (Pinnacle Studio 9) into .wav format at around 50MB per song.
So, a 4 minute .mp3 song converted and attached to the video times 10 songs for a 40 minute video is another half a GB for the music.

I have been finding that a 40 minute video is a good length both for compiling and for viewing. Home video can get a little boring. Adding the music makes all the difference.

Depending on the software that you use to import the video you may be able to set it so that it breaks the video import at a specific size like 4GB.

The videos I have made from importing from the VCR produce a quality the same as the original video as it is played on the VCR.

I use the default settings when converting the edited video for burning onto the DVD so I am unaware of any compression if any is applied during the conversion.


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August 28, 2005 at 11:51:01

Thanks all for the good info.

I did try to install my Hauppauge WinTV Tuner and it would install the drivers from the CD but would not show up in the device manager for some reason so when I ran the setup to install the WinTV app it would state that it could not see the device and would not install correctly so I didn’t have the 'record' buttons. I will email Hauppauge to see what's up.

I would like to get this working just to practice on it first to see if this is something I want to dig my teeth into. I'm figuring that there are going to be at least 8 to 10 tapes I'm going to be editing and splitting into family events and they are not in any year order either. This will be an experience but would cost a fortune to have someone else do it.


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August 28, 2005 at 13:40:18

I had a Hauppage device a while back - try going to their web site and downloading the latest drivers.

I also seem to rememberhaing to install the software before the device, but it was USB, so may not apply in your case.

The capture seemed to work OK, though it was of poor resolution as it was only USB 1.1.I now have a Winfast card, which works well but produces MPEG2 files that, for some reason, lose audio sync when compiled for DVD. Consequently I re-encode all the capture files using TMPGenc, which solves this problem and also provides a simple method of cutting and splicing files; also adding a music track if there is no audio on the tape.

If there is udio on the tape and you want to blend in music, you will need something fancier. I would use TMPG to split off the audio, then something like Goldwave to merge in a music track, after which TMPG can re-combine with video.

BTW, Bryco's figure of 1Gb for ten minutes video is very high, especially in AVI! Makes me wonder if there is a setting wrong somewhere.

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September 22, 2005 at 06:24:01

Use a DV camcorder as the converter.
If you already have a newer DV camcorder this will save you buying a converter.
You can use the "pass through" feature on many new Mini DV camcorders to convert VHS and DVDs. Hook up the dubbing cables between your camcorder and VHS deck then connect the DVi/firewire output of the camcorder to your PC. Optionally, you can record the VHS output on the MiniDV tape for transfer to your PC later.

Jim R

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