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How To Convert VHS and Camcorder Tapes to DVD Using a DVD Recorder/VCR

If you have analog home videos, either VHS tapes or analog camcorder tapes (Hi-8, etc.), to convert into DVDs and you want to use a DVD recorder to do the conversion, this article will assist you with that process. To view other options to convert analog tapes to DVDs, read How To Convert Your VHS and Analog Camcorder Tapes to DVD first.

Note: It is illegal to convert copyrighted VHS tapes unless you own the copyright. Many commercial VHS tapes employ a copy guard known as Macrovision. DVD recorders recognize Macrovision and will not permit duplication of tapes that employ this copy guard.

What You Need

In order to convert your analog tapes, you need to have the following:

  • A VCR or an analog camcorder
  • A DVD recorder (or DVD/VCR combo drive)
  • Blank DVD media

The Process

At a high level, the process consists of playing the analog (VHS, Hi-8, etc.) tape through the VCR or analog camcorder and then simply burning it onto a DVD for playing in a DVD player.

Make the Connections

Note: If you are using a DVD/VCR Combo Device, skip this step entirely.

First, determine the video and audio inputs on your DVD recorder. Almost all DVD recorders should have at least composite and S-Video input as well as an Left/Right RCA audio input.

Next examine your VCR or analog camcorder for the outputs it supports. If you have an S-Video connection on both this device and the DVD Recorder, you should use that video connection as it produces the best quality. Assuming S-Video, connect an S-Video cable between the two devices. Next, connect the white and red RCA audio jacks from the DVD recorder to the VCR or camcorder's audio output.

If you don't have S-Video on one end, you must use the composite (yellow RCA) connection. For this connection, use a three plug white/red/yellow RCA accessory cable available at any electronics store. Follow the color scheme (white/red/yellow) to make the connection between the two devices in this case.

Perform the Conversion

  1. Turn on the VCR and DVD recorder (or combo device). If using a camcorder instead of a VCR, turn it on by putting it in 'play or vtr' mode.

  2. If using a separate VCR or Camcorder, switch the input on the DVD recorder to reflect where the device was connected. There is usually a label, like INPUT 1, i.Link, or 1394, which tells the DVD recorder where it should capture the video and audio information.

  3. Check your compression rate for the video capture. Most DVD recorders support multiple compression rates, which affects the quality of the video captured, but also the maximum recording time on the DVD. There should be a menu on your DVD recorder to set the resolution appropriately for your needs. Make sure that you have enough space on your DVD media for the length of the tape. Refer to your user manual for information on how much space each compression rate will use.

  4. Rewind the VHS tape (or analog camcorder tape) to the appropriate place where you want to begin capturing your video.

  5. Insert a blank DVD into the DVD burner. Most players will play both DVD -R and +R formats, but there are still some that will only record one or the other. If using a different DVD player for playback, be sure that it supports the format of the recordable media by looking in your DVD player user manual (if you're not sure, try playing your first attempt in multiple players before you copy all your media to a single format). For more information the types of blank DVD media available and what's right for you, read Understanding The Different Types of Recordable DVDs.

  6. Hit the play button on the VCR and the record button on the DVD recorder simultaneously. If using a DVD/VCR combo device with a dubbing feature, there should be a single button that performs both of these functions.

  7. You are now converting the video. If your DVD Recorder is also connected to the TV, and the TV is tuned to the appropriate input, the video should appear on your TV screen.

  8. Let the tape run through to the end of the video, then stop recording. If using a combo, this should happen automatically, so you don't need to wait around for the tape to end if you don't want to. When using seperate devices, the recording will need to be stopped manually or it will record blank information throught the rest of the DVD. If you have a DVD recorder that supports rewritable media (DVD -RW or +RW), you might also want to try and capture 10 second clips initially, just to get the hang of how your recorder works and the quality of the output.

The DVD is now ready to be played in your DVD player. Enjoy!

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-4 of 4 | Latest Comment

May 26, 2009 12:49 PM

where do you get one of these? i have alot of tapes, and want to convert the tapesto dvds. where do i get th machine to convert them? thanks jody

May 26, 2009 12:50 PM

where do i find and how much is the machine that convets a vhs tape t a dvd? thanks jody

May 19, 2010 9:28 AM

OK, have one, did it, but how do you change multiple VCR tapes and still record on the DVD??? Every time I change a VCR tape, the new material records over the old material. I have read the instruction manual cover to cover and it does not talk about this topic.

September 7, 2011 10:39 PM

I have chatted over 45 minutes with a Sony rep and voiced my opinion about one of their combination DVD/VHS recorder/players. I mentioned that when I play a home video recorded on VHS, the quality is clear. But when I dub it to DVD, the quality drops probably 25% at least. I am wasting my time trying this step. I purchased a Sony machine thinking it would be better because of the brand name. Is this large reduction in quality to be expected, or have I purchased a "lemon"?

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-4 of 4 | Latest Comment

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