Gone are the good old days when you could watch your favorite movie in analogue-tape format. These so-called video cassettes were popular during the 1980’s through mid-1990’s, and are notable for their not-so-convenient features such as needing to be “rewound” if you want to watch the film from start to finish. This also makes it harder to view or repeat certain chapters of the movie, or videos of your wedding, for example. As the analogue tape was almost exclusively the only way to record videos back then, however, virtually every early recording from the aforementioned era is in cassette format. Which is okay as long as you have a working video cassette player, right?
There is one other tiny bit of a problem, though. Analogue tapes “fade”, or deteriorate over time. If you like watching videos of your 1989 graduation or wedding occasionally, then this problem is worth thinking about. The more you play your cassettes, the more they’re subjected to wear and tear. Eventually, your video cassette will be totally unplayable. Fortunately, there are workarounds to this issue. The most obvious solution is to simply convert your film video into DVD. You can then convert your DVD to AVI video format if need be. In addition to being able to watch your old film in high-definition format, selective viewing of certain parts is so much easier with digital format controls. Excited already? Then read on to learn ways of converting old films to DVD.
There are a couple of options for an analog-to-DVD conversion, depending on the equipment at hand. The first one involves the use of a DVD/VCR device; the second requires a computer with DVD writer and video capture card installed.
1. Using a combination DVD/VCR device (or one DVD and one VCR)
This method is specific to a VHS-to-DVD conversion. You simply play the VHS using the VCR component while your DVD device records it. While a combination DVD/VCR would equate easier operation, you don’t need to purchase one such device if you already have your VCR. Just buy any standard DVD player/ recorder, plug it in, and then record. With your old film now in video, you can put away your VCR and take it out only if you need to convert more analogue videos. The tradeoff with this technique, though, is that there is little (or no) way of editing the contents of your DVD. And since a standard VCR typically plays only VHS cassettes, an analogue camcorder cassette will need to be converted to VHS format first prior to conversion to DVD (which is extremely impractical).
2. Using a computer with DVD writer and video capture card
If you have access to a fairly high-end computer with a good video capture card (a device that allows video played on analogue equipment to be recorded to a computer’s hard disk), then this might be the better method for you. Simply play your old analogue film, connect the VCR to your computer, run the video capture card software, have the card convert it to digital format, and finally save the converted file to the hard disk. You can then burn the digital video on a blank DVD or, if you want to alter the content a bit, use appropriate software to make changes to the video prior to burning to a DVD. This method is handier with the amount of editing options available for the final output. It does, however, require a fair bit of technical know-how (especially with the necessary computer software). Another issue is the cost: tweaking your computer to become capable of video capture is also a tad expensive, if you only need to convert a few old tapes.