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  1. Member
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    I have a Toshiba PC, Windows 7
    Pioneer LD player
    Polaroid DVR
    and lots of connection cords.
    With this stuff can I get my LDs onto my PC?
    Thanks!
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  2. Member solarfox's Avatar
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    I'm afraid we'd need a lot more detail to answer that question.

    Toshiba PC -- what model, and what kind of connections does it have for importing video? (USB 2.0? USB 3.0? Firewire/IEE1394?)

    Pioneer LD player -- again, what model, and what kind of A/V outputs does it provide? Composite only? S-video? RGB component?

    Polaroid DVR -- what model, and what are its capabilities?
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  3. Yes, you can get your laserdiscs onto your PC with your existing hardware. Whether you would like the results, or the workflow, is another set of questions.

    Your current setup requires you to dub the laserdiscs to dvds using your Polaroid recorder, then rip the the dvds to your PC hard drive. Once on the PC, you can keep the dvd files as dvd files (so they can be played just like actual discs using any PC dvd player software). Or, you can modify the dvd contents into individual MPEG2 files using a utility (this doesn't offer any advantage when the dvd contains a single long-form video like a movie, but can be useful option for archiving TV episode, animation, and music clips).

    The big "gotcha" here is that the dvd MPEG2/VOB format is somewhat limiting, and the video encoder of your Polaroid is probably not good enough to capture the maximum detail possible from laserdisc sources. Getting the maximum from laserdisc usually entails a separate, dedicated AV encoding device that connects between LD player and your PC, recording video files directly to your PC in some sort of "lossless" quality. Such files can be huge, so storage can be an issue, and re-encoding them to a smaller "everyday" size is a black art not many people pull off successfully.

    Another point to be aware of with laserdisc is neither players nor discs age very well. While they were noticeably better than VHS way back when, when confronted by today's digital encoding workflow they aren't really all that wonderful anymore. They tend to be very noisy/grainy, which looks "sharper" on older TVs but creates mucho problems with digital encoding. Also, they're letterboxed, which wastes bandwidth and leads to another workflow issue many newbs don't pull off too well: cropping the black bars from top and bottom so the widescreen image fits more accurately to modern 16:9 displays.

    Even if you do manage all the variables successfully, you'll be left with somewhat mediocre results. If your laserdic collection isn't all that important to you, or you just want to get them on your PC for convenience viewing on smaller screens, digitizing them can be a tolerable option. But if you do really care about video quality, forget about digitizing your LDs and just go buy the commercial studio DVD or BluRay versions. Prices have dropped like a stone, with most movies made earlier than 2010 going for $5 - $15 new, less second-hand on eBay. The only laserdiscs worth the trouble of DIY digitizing are the few rare titles that were never re-released as DVDs or BluRays (or ones that include LD-exclusive bonus material that did not migrate to the later dvd/bd re-issues).
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  4. Member
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    Thank you for the good info. I have purchased many of my LDs on DVD but, as you said, there are a few that have not been released on DVD so I wanted to try and save those. Just so I am clear, once I get the DVD recorded to my DVR, I burn to a DVD and then place that in my PC DVD player and capture? I think I will not like the quality all that well either, as you pointed out, but worth a shot just to have the few that aren't available any other way.
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  5. Originally Posted by majel View Post
    Just so I am clear, once I get the DVD recorded to my DVR, I burn to a DVD and then place that in my PC DVD player and capture?
    Yes: take the dvd from the recorder, load it in your PC disc drive, then "rip" (copy it) to your PC hard drive. There are several ways to rip a dvd to a PC, all of which can be a little confusing until you get the hang of it.

    Some people prefer to copy the dvd as an exact ISO dupe of the disc: this is best done with the free imgBurn disc utility (available in VH tools section).

    Other people simply copy the VIDEO_TS folder from the dvd to their PC (that folder contains everything on the dvd). The trouble with VIDEO_TS folders is figuring out how to store and organize them: in order to open correctly in PC dvd software players, the folder MUST be named "VIDEO_TS", but since every dvd uses that folder name you would need to store each VIDEO_TS folder inside another folder that you would give the name of the movie. When you want to play that movie, you select the VIDEO_TS folder inside the movie-name folder.

    A third option is to rip the VIDEO_TS folder on the dvd thru the free MakeMKV utility. Instead of a confusing folder, this creates a single convenient MKV file on your PC hard drive, which you can rename with the movie title. This file can be stored like any other video file, and played by most software players like VLC, KMP, and MPC. Be aware that it will be a large file, same size as the dvd itself or VIDEO_TS folder (approx 4 GBs). This is fine if you have a large external HDD to store them on, and you're happy viewing them on the PC or TV only. But such files are much too large for tablets or phones. Many utilities (both freeware and payware) can shrink the size of the dvd file dramatically while converting to a more portable format like MP4. Of course the video quality drops accordingly, but this may not matter on much smaller screens.

    You can completely bypass the intermediary step of making a dvd with your recorder by purchasing an encoder accessory for your PC, something like EZcap. These little pods connect your laserdisc player directly to your PC via USB, allowing you to capture directly to whatever video file format you want. But it can be difficult to find a really good USB video system: the names and distributors change constantly (EZcap is notoriously ripped off, check threads here on VH for the latest "genuine" websites selling them). Also, the software capture process can get very complicated very fast: if you don't have a geek mindset, just use your dvd recorder- it may not offer the ultimate in quality or versatility, but its easy, and you do get a dvd disc backup copy out of it.

    Over time, I replaced most of my own LaserDisc collection with dvd or bd re-releases. Eventually I was left with about a dozen movie and concert LDs that were never released on dvd/bd, or were released in altered or butchered versions. These I simply copied to DVD with my Pioneer recorder. I considered going the "direct-to-PC" route for better quality, but my LD player didn't merit the effort (it was an old industrial Sony LDP-2000: bulletproof reliability, but average-mediocre playback). Also the laserdiscs themselves weren't pristine enough to make the effort worthwhile. Even though I've long since junked that old player and most LDs, I do keep a few on my shelf for nostalgia sake, and because they cost me a small fortune 25 years ago (remember when the special CAV box sets of "Fantasia" and "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" went for $99 at Tower Records)?
    Last edited by orsetto; 17th Nov 2017 at 01:21.
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  6. Member netmask56's Avatar
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    Most LD players have the same outputs as VHS machines ie left and right rca audio outs and a yellow rca composite video out. The ideal way to do it is to get a capture card for you PC. there are external ones that simply plug into a USB socket on your PC. The better quality ones are internal cards.. just look up video capture cards.

    Decades ago I used a DVICO MPEG capture device to do the same
    BeyonWiz T3 PVR ~ Popcorn A-500 ~ Samsung ES8000 65" LED TV ~ Windows 7 64bit ~ Yamaha RX-A1070 ~ QnapTS851-4G
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