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How to Convert Videotapes to DVDs

Reduce that jumble of old VHS tapes to DVDs and vastly reduce the clutter in your entertainment area. You only need an analog-to-digital converter along with a DVD burner in your computer to make this easy transition.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Transfer video tapes to DVDs

If you're over 30, you probably have drawers full of bulky VHS tapes that chronicle family highlights. With the compact, high capacity of DVDs, you can now reduce that jumble of tapes to a neat (short) stack of discs. They take less storage space, you can burn endless copies and mail them to anyone, and they're simpler to play.

You can easily make this conversion with an “analog to digital converter” even if your computer skills are a bit “lite.” You'll need your VCR, a computer that sports a DVD burner, blank recordable DVDs and the converter. The heart of the system is a piece of hardware that converts the analog signal from your VCR into a digital signal so your computer can then burn it onto a disc. (Look for them online. We used Dazzle made by Pinnacle Systems.)

Load the software into your computer, and then hook up the VCR to the DVC and the DVC to the computer. While the tape plays, digitized video is fed into the computer, where it's stored on the hard drive ready for disc burning. However, this isn't a high-speed operation. You'll have to run the VCR tape at real time (standard play speed) to complete the digitizing process. The system shown also has built-in editing features, which allow you to delete or shorten boring (or embarrassing!) scenes, type in on-screen notes and even add a sound track. And more, the software even has options to enhance washed-out colors and stabilize shaky movies. You can order this system directly from the company or contact the company to find a retail store that carries it.

Tip: Convenience isn't the only reason to digitize those treasured recordings. VHS tapes aren't much more than magnetized plastic ribbons that will eventually degrade. The plastic wheels and bearings they run on won't last forever either. And every time you play a tape, there's always the risk that it will be eaten by a hungry machine!

Analog to digital converter

Analog to digital converter

Cable connection ports on converter

Cable connection ports on converter

Tools for Converting Tapes to DVDs

Along with your computer and VCR player, you need an analog to digital converter. When making connections, hook up the VCR to the converter with S-connectors for the best signal. If those jacks aren't available on your VCR, use the red, yellow and white RCA connectors.

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