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  1. Member
    Join Date: Jun 2012
    Location: United States
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    I have several 20 year old vhs tapes of home movies and I want to transfer them to dvd soon before they ware out. I was thinking of just buying a VHS/DVD recorder combo deck and doing it that way. Is that a good idea and would the transferred video look close to the quality of the original vhs tape? I am trying to keep cost down and the combo deck will cost $150 to $200. I was thinking about getting a capture card but I am not sure my computer is fast enough to encode video with the capture cards that are out now. How much does a good capture card cost and would I need a new video card as well considering that I only have integrated graphics? So basically, I want to keep the cost low and still have good picture quality. What are your thoughts?
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  2. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
    Join Date: Jun 2003
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    Originally Posted by dm2012 View Post
    I was thinking of just buying a VHS/DVD recorder combo deck and doing it that way. Is that a good idea and would the transferred video look close to the quality of the original vhs tape?
    No. Quality on a cheap combo deck (all combo decks are poorly made) makes DVDs that look worse than the original tape. The best methods require a good VCR, followed by a good DVD recorder.
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  3. The best (quality) methods will cost you US$1000 in equipment (all used because they don't make it anymore) and many hours of learning and processing. A few hundred dollars invested in a good DVD recorder won't give as good quality but is much simpler. Buying a cheap capture card ($5 to $200) and using some old VHS deck you have sitting around will give you the lowest quality.
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  4. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
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    VCR/DVD recorder combo decks are also notorious for refusing to copy some homemade video tapes because they freak out over the least little issue and just assume that you are trying to copy a commercial tape, so they refuse to let you do it. This can also happen with standalone DVD recorders, but it's less of an issue and there is a way to fix it by buying a TBC (time base corrector) and putting it between the VCR and DVD recorder. There is no fix if a combo player refuses to record your tape.

    This is a subject of disagreement, but in my opinion the better capture cards come with encoding chips so that they don't rely on the CPU to do the encoding, making your concerns moot about your PC.

    You could just pay a video shop to do it. It might be cheaper and save you a lot of time and effort. Our own lordsmurf offers these services, should you not have a shop in your town.
    http://www.digitalfaq.com/services/video-conversion-tape-to-dvd.htm
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  5. Banned
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 25th Mar 2014 at 02:35.
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  6. Member
    Join Date: Jan 2013
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    Originally Posted by sanlyn View Post
    Originally Posted by dm2012 View Post
    I have several 20 year old vhs tapes of home movies and I want to transfer them to dvd soon before they ware out. I was thinking of just buying a VHS/DVD recorder combo deck and doing it that way. Is that a good idea and would the transferred video look close to the quality of the original vhs tape? I am trying to keep cost down and the combo deck will cost $150 to $200. I was thinking about getting a capture card but I am not sure my computer is fast enough to encode video with the capture cards that are out now. How much does a good capture card cost and would I need a new video card as well considering that I only have integrated graphics? So basically, I want to keep the cost low and still have good picture quality. What are your thoughts?
    I think your question was the "best" method, not the "cheapest" method, not a "good" method, not a 'better" method, but the "best" method.

    Old tapes + low cost + no effort + quality don't sum up well in video restoral and transfer. The comparable formula has also been stated as garbage in = garbage out. While it's not possible for most people to build a pro-level home studio -- you'd need $$$$$$ in at least 6-digits for that, not to mention the training and expertise to use it -- the usual method for transferring old retail and home vhs tapes are usually rated along these lines:

    Worst: record tape directly to DVD using a DVD/VHS combo.

    Somewhat better, depending on the tape: play tape with a quality VCR to a midline or upscale DVD recorder from the 2000-2006 era.

    Visibly better: play tape with a decent VCR to DVD using a good-quality (not very cheap) PC capture card with good image and noise filters, and with line tbc somewhere in the circuit.

    Best (within reasonable means but still not really cheap): With a good line tbc device somewhere in the setup, play tape with a good VCR to a decent PC capture card, recorded to lossless-compression AVI, then after-capture processing and cleanup with Avisynth and/or VirtualDub (these two items are free), encode with a quality MPEG encoder (some are free, some not, but good ones are not that expensive), then author and burn to DVD disc.

    The older the tape and the worse the quality of the original recording and equipment, the more time and effort will be needed. Can't tell you how many times I've seen home tapes transferred in the manner you describe. It's painful to watch. But, then, some people think they look terrific as long as people in the videos are recognizable (more or less). It depends on what you like, and on how much you value the memories.

    I'm with lordsmurf and the general consensus: tape + DVD/VHS combo will look worse than the original.
    Thanks for the long explanation. I know I'm reviving an age old thread, but can you recommend some hardware/software for the "Visibly Better" and "Best" options? I used the elgato video capture device but experienced significant frame rate shifts, making the audio out of sync.
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  7. Banned
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    Last edited by sanlyn; 25th Mar 2014 at 02:35.
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