Preserving and reliving cherished memories by converting VHS tapes to digital format has become popular. In this comprehensive guide, Capture will walk you through the entire process, providing step-by-step instructions on converting VHS to digital. We will cover everything from the necessary equipment and software to the digitisation steps, and also share invaluable tips to safeguard those precious memories for future enjoyment.
What do you need to convert VHS to Digital?
To begin with, it is essential to gather the necessary equipment. Here's a list of the hardware and software you'll need to complete the conversion.
1. The Video Converter
This device acts as a bridge between your VCR or camcorder and your computer, allowing the analogue signals from your VHS tapes to be transformed into a digital format that can be stored and edited on your computer.
Video converters come in different forms, including internal ones installed inside your computer and external ones connected to your computer via the USB port.
2. VCRs and Camcorders
To digitise your VHS tapes, you'll need a functioning VCR or camcorder to play them. However, finding a working VCR could be difficult since they are no longer in production. Your best bet is to search for a used VCR online.
If you have mini-sized VHS-C tapes, you may require a camcorder or an adapter with a regular VCR. It is crucial to ensure that whichever device you choose is in good working condition to prevent any potential damage to your delicate tapes.
3. Analogue Video Capture Cables
To establish a connection between your VCR or camcorder and the video converter device, you may require AV cables, commonly known as RCA cables (typically red, white, and yellow). Make sure to check the connections on both ends to ensure compatibility. These cables are widely available and easily found at most electronics stores or online retailers.
4. VHS-to-digital software
To digitise your VHS tapes, you'll need to install VHS-to-digital software, also known as Video Capture Software, on your computer. These software programs offer essential tools for capturing, editing and saving your VHS tapes in a digital format. When selecting software, suggest choosing one that ensures high-quality transfer and digital copies.
5. Storage Space
Prepare sufficient storage space on your computer, an external hard drive or a cloud storage service to accommodate the digitised videos. VHS tapes can take up a substantial amount of space, so ensure you have ample storage to preserve your converted videos.
We recommend storing them in a reputable cloud storage service like Google One for convenient and secure storage. Google One ensures that your videos are safely preserved, and easily organised, enabling you and your family to enjoy your cherished memories anytime.
Steps to convert VHS to Digital
Step 1. Connect your video capture device
To connect your video capture device, plug it into your computer using USB. If you have a USB video cassette converter, simply connect it to an available USB port. However, if you're using a TV tuner or frame grabber card to convert a cassette, you'll need to install the device into a free expansion slot on your computer.
It's important to ensure that your software has the necessary drivers. These drivers enable Windows to connect with and capture video from a VHS-to-digital converter. Typically, these drivers are provided along with your VHS-to-digital software. However, it is advisable to check the manufacturer's website for any potential updates to ensure you have the most current versions.
Step 2. Connect your VCR
To connect your VCR or camcorder to a video converter device, ensure proper connections using analogue video capture cables. Follow the colour-coded standards, with red and white designated for stereo audio and yellow for video.
When using VHS-to-PC converters, you have two options: RCA or S-Video cables. For RCA cables that transmit audio and video, connect the RCA plugs from the VCR or camcorder to your PC using a cable with RCA plugs on one end and a 3.5mm audio cable on the other.
If you opt for S-Video cables for higher quality video, leave the yellow RCA plug disconnected and connect the S-Video cable directly to the S-Video sockets on your VCR and the VHS-to-digital connector.
Step 3. Insert your VHS cassette
Insert a VHS tape and rewind it. Switch on your computer and any capture devices, and wait for Windows to detect the hardware.
Step 4. Install the VHS-to-digital software
Install the VHS-to-digital conversion software on your computer following the provided instructions. Ensure that the software is compatible with your operating system.
Once installed, you can configure the capturing settings based on your preferences. This includes selecting the desired video format, resolution, and frame rate for the digital output.
Step 5. Start the VHS conversion
When you’re ready, click the "Capture" or "Start" button in the software to begin the VHS-to-digital conversion process. As the VHS tape begins playing, the video capture software will start recording the video and audio.
Throughout the process, monitor your computer screen for any video quality or audio sync issues. Adjust the capture device settings or clean the VCR player's video heads if necessary.
Step 6. Edit, share, and store your videos
After the conversion, you can use the software's editing tools to enhance and refine your digitised video. Trim unwanted footage, adjust colours and brightness, and add titles or captions as desired. Once you are satisfied with the edits, save the video to your preferred storage location. You can now share and enjoy your VHS memories in a digital format.
The easiest way to convert VHS to Digital
If you prefer a more convenient and hassle-free option, consider using a professional digital service like Capture. Capture specialises in converting VHS tapes to digital format, ensuring high-quality results and saving time and effort. Simply mail your VHS tapes to Capture, and we will handle the entire conversion process for you, delivering the digitised videos directly to Google Photo. Click here to learn more about Capture’s services.
Tips for converting VHS to Digital
Here are some useful tips for you to convert VHS to digital smoothly:
- You don't need a TV: Performing VHS-to-digital conversion doesn't require connecting your VCR or camcorder to a television. Instead, the video capture device and software enable you to view and control the VHS playback directly on your computer screen.
- Trim the video: When saving your digitised video, it is recommended to trim unnecessary footage to create a more concise and enjoyable final video. By focusing on preserving the essential moments, you can enhance the overall viewing experience.
- Make sure you have backed up: It's crucial to create backups of your digitised videos to prevent loss or accidental deletion. Consider saving the converted videos on multiple storage devices or using cloud storage services for added security.
- Copying your videotapes to DVD: If you prefer physical copies of your digitised videos, you can convert them to DVD format. However, DVD storage does not offer substantial advantages over VHS for long-term preservation. DVDs degrade over time and generally last between 25 and 100 years. Thus, the most effective way to preserve your videos is by storing them on a computer with reliable backups on another physical storage device or in the cloud.
*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.
Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.
Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.