How to Convert VHS to DVD using a DVD Burner or Computer

There are two common methods for those of you need to learn how to convert VHS to DVD formats. One method involves buying a DVD burner and the other method involves recording the video on your computer and then transferring that information to a DVD. Both methods have merit and should be considered with your personal needs. Let’s look at both the burner and the software individually.

How to Convert VHS to DVD using a DVD Burner or Computer

How to Convert VHS Tapes to DVD using a DVD Burner

The first thing you need to do is purchase a DVD Burner, I’ve personally used Panasonic versions, but many are available. Most DVD burners require you to own a separate VCR. If you do own a VCR then go with these because they are a bit cheaper than the self-contained versions.

  • Step 1: Look at the output cable from your VCR. Ensure your DVD player has an input that matches your VCR’s output. The two most common types of outputs are the traditional coaxial cable (the type with the needle and then threads on) and the composite video cables (the red, yellow, white ones.)
  • Step 2: Plug the VCR Output into the DVD burner input. If you bought a DVD burner capable of your VCR’s output this shouldn’t be an issue. If you aren’t able you should return the DVD burner for a type you can or go to your local Radio Shack for a video cable conversion kit.
  • Step 3: Place a blank recordable DVD into the DVD burner. Remember not all DVDs are recordable. They shouldn’t cost you more than 50 cents apiece.
  • Step 4: Put your VHS into the VCR and ensure it is all the way rewound. Too many times I’ve wasted a perfectly good DVD by starting my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Return of the Ooze in the middle of the tape. Don’t ask.
  • Step 5: Press Play on your VCR and Record on your DVD burner.

The main advantage to this method of how to convert VHS to DVD is it is really simple. The bad side is what is on the VHS is exactly what you get on the DVD. Some of the newer burners have some chaptering capability and other gimmick tools like recording digital pictures from your camera into a slide show. The main disadvantage to this system is it will usually cost a few hundred dollars to set up.

How to Transfer VHS to DVD Using your Computer

Many new computers come with nearly everything you need to record your home movies right to your desktop, then onto DVD or YouTube. These instructions will be a little more complicated than the burner, but what you can do with your VHS movie after that is nearly endless. It’s worth the extra patience finding the right software and learning to use it correctly.

  • Step 1: Check your computer for the following equipment:
  1. DVD Burner – If it doesn’t have one, plug in (USB) DVD burners are available to add on to your PC or laptop.
  2. Movie Capturing Software – There are too many choices to name here, but odds are you get what you pay for. Cheap software will record whatever is coming into your input port, but expensive software will clean up bad tapes, edit, set the DVD chapters, allow you to add your own narration, and anything else that will make you feel like you need one of those funny folding director’s chairs and a megaphone yelling “Cut!” Just make sure your computer can
  3. Input Ability from the VCR – This is generally accomplished in two ways. One is to have a multimedia graphics card that accepts composite cables the other is to buy a USB to composite cable input converter. Again my bet is Radio Shack or eBay perhaps.
  • Step 2: Connect the output from your VCR to the input on your computer.
  • Step 3: Start your video capture software and change all your settings in preparation for the recording.
  • Step 4: Press Play on your VCR and Capture or Record on your computer
  • Step 5: Edit your movie to your taste.
  • Step 6: Save your Movie
  • Step 7: Burn your Movie to a Recordable DVD

The huge advantage of this process is flexibility. You now have the ability to save your movies on the computer, DVD, thumb drives, or other data storage devices. Also, if you run your TV through the input of your VCR and set the VCR tuner to the channel for the TV you can record TV shows straight to your computer. As you get better with the software you can edit previews out of movies, add your own funny narrations like Mystery Science Theatre, and piece a whole trilogy together on your computer (it won’t likely fit on 1 DVD.) This setup should cost you less than the DVD burner if you already have a computer. The obvious disadvantage is if you don’t have a computer or are afraid of them. The software can be intimidating at first.

Make Money Converting VHS to DVD for Others

While generally illegal to make copies of movies for others you certainly could make the money back on the setup by taking peoples’ old family movies on VHS and having them converted to DVD for them. Most families only have one or two VHS tapes they care about and it’s not worth the purchasing of equipment or the hassle to do it themselves. Twenty or thirty dollars is not uncommon to convert a home movie. If you have become savvy with the software you can offer restoration services for an extra fee. Many of the VHS tapes used to record home videos are grainy or off-color. For a sizeable fee, of course, many would be happy to have you save their vacation to Hawaii with the kids. This business could be run with nothing more than a website, your computer, some blank CDs, a VCR, and some spare time in the evening.

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