Okay I still have a VCR (yes it came from the ark). Doesn't get a lot of use these days, but I was going through some of my old VHS tapes, and I found some of my now 23yo son video, taken back in 1990.
I know that time is running out for these tapes. So I am wanting to get them onto DVD asap.
Now this is where I have some questions.
VCR is a JVC HR-S5990AM
Digital Camcorder (older tape style) is a JVC GR-D290
At the moment I am trying to transfer the VHS recording to the Digital Camera, I don't know quite what I am doing, but hopefully given time I will work it out.
Cost = $0
Time = Heaps
Dick Smith have what is called a Gadget Geek
Cost = $50
Time = Unknown
Send the three VHS tapes away and have them done professionally
Cost = From $100 and Up
Has anyone ever used the Gadget Geek? My fear is I buy it and it doesn't do what I want it to. So that is $50 down
the tubes, then I still pay someone to get it done Professionally, raising the overall cost.
Another option is to go out and purchase a VCR / DVD combo, starting price for those are $300.
My main aim at the moment is to get my son's baby footage onto DVD, however I also have a collection of bought VHS tapes, that if I were to be able to burn onto DVD may make VHS/DVD viable, my only concern with that is the copy-write protection on them.
So has anyone used this Gadget Geek?
Okay update I tried unsuccessfully to copy from VCR to Digital Cam, I seem to get about a 10 second play time, and although the Dig Cam appears and sounds like it is recording. When I play it back, I get up to 10 seconds of playback then nothing.
According to both JVC Digital Cam Manual and JVC VCR, it can be done. The Dig Cam Manual calls it VHS dubbing, and providing I had set my VCR to "Edit" it is supposed to work, providing I had all of the settings in both the Cam and VCR set up correctly, I rang JVC just to confirm I had all of the settings in the Cam correct and also the cabling, I was told yes I did. I had 1 brand new 60 minute tape in the Dig Cam.
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Thread: VHS To DVD
Last edited by Fiery_WA; 4th Sep 2013 at 12:46.
For only 3 tapes, I'd recommend a pro lab to do the transfer. You can probably find a better price.Author, Producer, Composer, Director - Sony HDV, Konica SLR, LG BD burner
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Most US commercial VHS tapes have Macrovision added to keep you from copying. Unknown what you might have at your location. It usually manifests itself with changing brightness levels in the copied video. You can try some of your tapes and see if that's a problem once you get your copy setup going.
If your existing VHS deck works well with your tapes, maybe good enough. Otherwise I would also suggest looking into some business that could do the copying for you, especially of your home made tapes.
The 'Gadget Geek' device from Dick Smith. I would either get a demo of it or try to find some reviews. Most common of those devices are made by EasyCap, but there are a lot of inferior knock-offs out there. They offer poor to decent quality. But for best quality, you would need to spend a fair bit of cash for a good VHS deck and other accessories for capturing and converting.
Not sure about the camcorder. Maybe the VHS signal drops out and the camcorder gives up. Others here with more camcorder experience may be able to help.
And welcome to our forums.
To get to DVD from your camera, you would have to re-encode the entire video to DVD standard. The rule of thumb for re-encoding is this: never re-encode, especially from a VHS source. I'll repeat that in other terms: encoding/re-encoding from analog source loses quality big-time. I'll repeat again: encoding/re-encoding from analog source loses quality big-time. In short, the results will look worse than the original tape.
You seem to be starting from the beginning when it comes to this area, so try browsing this eye-opening website: http://www.digitalfaq.com/guides/video.htm
I'd suggest sending one tape to a pro service and checking the other party's work. Make certain they return your tape. One pro shop that we recommend is owned by a long-time pro who is a member here. Basic info on contacting him is here: http://www.digitalfaq.com/services/video-conversion-tape-to-dvd.htm
Try the digitalfaq site first and find out what it's about. There are several informative articles in the "Guides" section.Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
You don't want a VCR/DVD recorder combo for sure. Those are rather infamous for being pickier than standalone DVD recorders in that if your source tapes have certain defects, the DVD recorder will assume that the tape is Macrovision protected and refuse to record it. There is nothing you can do if that's the case whereas there are solutions if you have a separate VCR and DVD recorder, but it involves spending more money for more equipment.
Ask around for a reputable transfer service, and have the three tapes of your son done professionally. Even if its the local wedding photographer, and he runs the transfers on a DVD/VHS combo, the results would be the same you'd get yourself minus the expense and trouble of buying your own hardware. A truly talented transfer specialist, like our own LordSmurf, could do an incredible job for you if you can afford to pay more.
As for your old pre-recorded Hollywood tapes: don't waste your time trying to dub these. Clearing the copy protection requires yet another dongle that will cost you at least $50, and they don't always work. When they do work, they tend to pollute the video quality, and they have odd interactions with DVD recorders or PCs that can result in additional unexpected artifacts. It can be done, many of us with huge collections continue to do it, but is a pain and not terribly worthwhile for anyone with less than 100 tapes in their library. Most movies older than three years are available on studio DVD in bargain bins and web dealers for $5. The commercially prepared DVDs are way better than anything you could make from your old tapes. Save yourself the effort and disappointment: just buy the Hollywood DVD reissues a few at a time as your budget permits.
Last edited by orsetto; 5th Sep 2013 at 09:10.
As you have correctly guessed I am new to this area, so I am somewhat lost.
The only reason I mentioned the commercial VHS movies, was to try and justify spending $300 on a VHS/DVD Combo Unit.
I did some reading on the forum before posting, and while I am no dumby when it comes to PC's in general this particular area is completely foreign to me. I already got the message you guys do not like the VCR/DVD combo recorders, the only reason I mentioned it was for the above, and because a salesman at my local electronics store said "yes get one of these it will do the job for you". However $300 is a lot of money for an item that in all honesty would be used solely for the conversion of three VHS tapes.
I have read the links kindly provided, some I understand, others may as well be in a foreign language.
I live in Australia.
You could record those commercial tapes to the DVD unit of a combo unit by using another DVD recorder as a tbc pass-thru. There are several threads in forum about using a DVD recorder in that manner. Many older DVD recorders from Panasonic and Toshiba had built-in line-tbc circuits that do a fairly decent job, and most of them will ignore copy protection when used as pass-thru (all 4 of mine defeated copy protection when used in that manner). For recording commercial tapes, You could save money by getting a non-combo DVD recorder and an older unit as described. And this would at least allow you to use higher quality s-video as connecting cables.
The only other way is to use your current VCR with a full-frame tbc (or pass-thru unit) and capture to a computer with a capture device. That's usually the way it's done by advanced hobbyists, but it's the long way around.
Last edited by sanlyn; 5th Sep 2013 at 08:35.Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
A combo unit MAY do the job on YOUR personal tapes. Or it may not. Probably it will, but as I pointed out, if your tapes have degraded over time or simply were recorded on a less than optimal VCR, there may be enough "off" with them that the "OMG - it's Macrovision! DO NOT record this!" panic mode of the DVD recorder kicks in and that can't be fixed in a combo unit.
Unfortunately salesmen are the WORST possible people you could ever ask a technical question of. You may be surprised, but many businesses do little or no training of their staff and simply throw them out to the customers in a sink or swim kind of thing. Almost always I know more than the salesman does. Even if they do know their stuff, in your case the guy may have realized that the odds are, say, 70% that your personal tapes will record fine in a combo and he may not be able to sell you anything else, so yes, he's going to swear it will work fine so he gets commission because the odds are that it will work for you. But if it doesn't, you are screwed. There is no chance at all, none, that a combo unit will ever record commercial VHS tapes unless they lack Macrovision. I have absolutely no knowledge as to whether Macrovision was used in Australia or not on VHS tapes, but it was certainly used in the USA and Canada.
In truth, if you get into video capturing you will find that the quality on VHS tapes is actually pretty low and sometimes the best even the pros can do is just make it incrementally better, say 5% better, than you can do yourself. I've done a few VHS captures of old tapes that I bought that are never going to be released anywhere on DVD, ever (yes, such things do actually exist) because I have a hardware setup that defeats Macrovision. But I have to say that while what I got was certainly watchable, you'd be on drugs to think that it was anything close to DVD quality. VHS was actually a pretty lousy method of storing video, but it's all we had at the time.
It's "dummy" not "dumby". I am really amused by that one as it kind of defeats your argument to misspell it. No offense intended, but it does.
Sorry, Fiery_WA, I didn't catch that you lived in Australia. My previous advice still holds, although Aus had (and perhaps still has) a better selection of DVD recorders than North America, and I do not know if you enjoy the same very steep discounts on pre-recorded DVDs.
You said you're very new to the whole "digitize my VHS" arena, and admit to being confused by our replies. This is actually good: it means you understand your instinctive "geek level", and aren't running to embrace the first solution that presents itself (regardless of whether it suits you).
Your situation is a common one. There are still many many people who never bothered with DVD recording or digitizing their tapes until just now, when it suddenly occurs to them they have some old family tapes that should be archived. They look around, and find they're about six years too late: standalone DVD recorders are dying off around the world, the few remaining are overpriced junk, and the PC alternatives are a minefield for the uninitiated or non-geek.
At the risk of repeating myself, it is simply not worth it for a non-geek user to do their own transfers if the number of personal family tapes is only a handful. The combo deck will do an adequate (if not stellar) job of it, but it costs much more than what most local shops would charge to transfer just 3 tapes. The advanced transfer geeks here on VH and elsewhere will often caution that local shops and services usually just run your tapes thru a combo DVD/VHS deck anyway, just as you would do at home. What they don't factor is the expense of the deck: if you don't already own one, it is still more cost effective to pay someone else to do it on theirs.
So its a paradox for someone with just a handful of family tapes: if you don't own a combo or didn't buy one when they were still cheap, the cost can't be justified given you could get the same basic quality for much less money by paying a shop to do it for you. OTOH, if you want the best quality transfer possible, you need to pay a specialized tech upwards of $60 (US) per tape, which adds up very quickly and makes doing it with your own hardware seem more attractive. But someone with no experience or skill starting from scratch cannot achieve that quality easily: you need exactly the right PC, software, and knowledge to equal the results of a $60-per-tape expert. That is why they can justify charging $60 per tape: you are paying for skills and gear that you do not have and will not need after your specific project is done.
Learning the ins and outs of PC digitizing hardware, software and formats is an unpleasant confusing chore unless you have a natural aptitude and interest in the subject. The effort involved is not worth it unless you plan to make a hobby of it, and/or have hundreds of pre-rec tapes that would be impractically costly to replace with pre-rec DVDs. As samlyn mentioned, you cannot transfer pre-rec VHS to digital with a combo: only family tapes. To dub pre-rec tapes, you need a separate VCR connected to either a DVD recorder or a PC, with a device between them that can defeat the nasty anti-copy signal embedded in the tapes. Samlyn's suggestion to use an older DVD recorder as pass-thru filter between your VCR and a second DVD recorder is just the sort of bizarre illogical-sounding geek strategy you should expect to learn about if you insist on dubbing your pre-rec tapes.
Many people do what samlyn recommends, but it might be impractical in countries that don't have huge numbers of the correct second-hand recorders available. It is more typical for people to buy a dedicated VHS filter like the Grex or a TBC like the CTB-100 (same as the AVT-8710 sold in USA). These connect between VCR and DVD recorder (or PC) to filter anti-copy signal from old pre-rec VHS tapes. The Grex costs approx $90 (US) and the CBT-100 approx $229 (US), so here again the expense to "do it yourself" can be substantially more than you might expect.
This is why my first question is "how many pre-rec tapes do you need to transfer?" whenever someone new posts here for advice on how to copy their old VHS. If one doesn't already have a good VCR, DVD recorder (or PC video system) and anti-copy filter, the initial hardware cost can easily be $500 (US). For that amount of money you can buy the far FAR superior commercial DVD versions of approx 70 to 100 movies, and avoid hours-weeks-months of DIY drudgery for subpar results. Digitized pre-rec VHS always looks notably worse than the professional Hollywood dvd, so if your collection numbers less than 100 pre-rec VHS there is much more value in simply buying the studio DVDs.
Last edited by orsetto; 5th Sep 2013 at 10:29.
I agree with all of that. The "geek way" with a handful of hardware pieces is probably the "clean" way as well as the most time-consuming. And after a newcomer puts forth the time and effort into learning the geek stuff, actual processing itself remains time-intensive.The usual response in the forum is to suggest more than one method. Not everyone is supergeek enough to spend weeks or months obsessively undoing every spot of dropout, border stain, rainbow, or unwanted grain from an old VHS tape. Which path you choose depends on what you expect and how much time and/or resources you're willing to invest. A pro restoration and historical archive shop would use methods and money that are inconceivable even to geeks. As one who has actually used several methods over the years, I can advise that the geek way requires that you really love it, or you're bonkers, or both.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. -- Henry David Thoreau
Okay I went into my local Dick Smith's store, and I know even though you advised against buying a cheap converter, I got one, because I asked the question if it doesn't work for me can I return it for a refund, the answer was yes. So no money will be lost, and it maybe something else for me to learn. (Worse case scenario, I cant get it to work have to pay a Pro to do it, and get a refund on the converter)
Now for my results so far, as I said I have three VHS tapes I want to convert, one is of medical footage of myself, the other two are of my son when he was a baby.
Started with my medical footage, there are roughly four different sessions of taping of myself on the one tape, totaling 33 minutes for all sessions.
Started the capture, on my laptop, then went away to begin dinner, came back in 30 minutes only to see a message to the words of this is copy protected capture failed. It had captured the first 13 minutes, I pulled the tape out to make sure the tabs were still in place it was, but I stuck a bit of sticky tape over the tab just in case. Tried capturing the video from the 13 minute mark onward, and it automatically stopped and came up with capture failed copy protected.
So I gave up on that tape for the time being. Put in the tape of my sons 1st and 5th Birthday (total time 50 minutes), started the capture and left it to do its thing. Came back, and surprise capture failed copy protected. But it had captured all of his 1st birthday and half of his 5th birthday.
So I retried the capture of just his 1st birthday to start with, SUCCESS!, I then started the capture of his 5th birthday, and low and behold SUCCESS!!
I have yet to double check that I captured all of his 5th birthday, but I am pretty sure it did.
By the time I had attempted the captures, it was getting late and I was beginning to feel brain dead. So I packed it in for the night.
I am very happy to say I have at least almost one hour of video captured. Over here in Australia you have two options when it comes to getting VHS to DVD done, one is by two hour increments @ $40 - $50 per hour, or $40 AUD per VHS tape, and the $40 is one of the cheapest I could find.
From the specs in our profile, it appears that your PC will more than suffice.