Transferring VHS movies to VCD or DVD

Mail from Maurie Reed about VHS home movie transfers to digital formats.
MR: Dave, I’ve read all of your threads on video editing with interest. I’m not claiming to have understood everything but I’m less in the dark than I was before ( a 20 watt bulb as compared to a 10?).

DF: Remember, there are people who get 4-year degrees in this stuff. And graduate degrees after that.

MR: My question is: does the Pinnacle DV500 work in conjunction with a regular AGP video card or is it the sole video device in the system?

DF: It works in conjunction with another card. The DV500 does the heavy lifting and then sends its display over to the other card. So if you’ve got a DV500, any video card on the market today will be way more than enough. I used an S3 Savage4 card for a long time, and it was fine.

MR: Maybe better yet, what I’d lke to do is take the VHS tapes that we have made of the family over the years and transfer them to DVD. The first reason is to archive them for safety. After that’s done I’d like to edit them for quality, i.e., clean up, lighten,etc.

DF: PC Magazine’s Lance Ulanoff has done some columns on that. His approach, using Sonic MyDVD 4.0 (though Dazzle DVD Complete gets better reviews), is simpler than mine and eliminates the DV500, though you’ll still need some way to get the analog video into your PC. An ATI All-In-Wonder card would be good for that. I know Newegg has the less-expensive All-in-Wonders sometimes but they tend to sell out quickly so you’ll probably have to use their notify feature. Then you can spend the money you’d spend on a DV500 on a DVD writer instead (I suggest one of the Sony drives that can do DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW, that way if one format works better in your DVD player, you’re not stuck.

Keep in mind that Ulanoff used Firewire to get his video in, but that’s because he used Hi8 as his source, and those tapes will work in a Digital8 camera. If you’re using VHS, you’re limited to using analog inputs.

What you gain in simplicity you lose in power, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

MR: Toward this end I’ve been slowly building up a new machine: P4-2.4, Asus P4-533E, 512M PC-2700 RAM, 120G WD HD (SCSI’s not quite in the budget right now although I do have some Adaptec 2940 cards). I’m running an old S3 8M video card in it right now to test components (all from newegg…thanks for thesuggestion!) and I have no DVD-ROM drive or DVD burner yet (I do have a LiteOn CDRW). I thought I’d work on the video first. I’m sure at some point down the road we would like to do more video but never anything professional (read – making money at it). It would probably be my wife and daughters working with it anyway as I’m more of an audio person then video.

DF: You’re off to a great start. Add a DVD burner and an All-In-Wonder card (or a similar nVidia card with analog inputs–if your camera or VCR supports S-Video, use that, since its picture quality is noticeably better) and you’re ready to go. You might want to grab a smallish drive to hold your OS and apps so you can dedicate the WD drive just to video. Watch the post-Thanksgiving sales. For VHS-to-DVD transfers, IDE is sufficient.

Since you do have a CD burner, if you want to get started right away, get the All-In-Wonder and the software and start making VCDs, then get the DVD burner later.

As for being an audio person rather than a video person, I come at it from a magazine/newspaper background. I think it’s a shorter step from audio to video than it is from print to video! (And you knowing what it takes to make the video sound good is a very good thing. The audio quality on some of my projects has been positively awful.)

MR: I understand you’re very busy and NOT in the free advice business so I’ll understand if you decline to comment.

Thanks (no matter what the answer) in advance and have a great Thanksgiving!

DF: Thanks for the good questions. You have a great Thanksgiving too.

Looks like Premiere 6.5 will be a keeper

Adobe announced Premiere 6.5 yesterday, and it’s got just about everything that should have been in 6.0.
It promises to work better with native DV (which will alleviate the need for hardware like the Pinnacle DV500 card), provides native tools for exporting your video to DVD, VCD, and SVCD, and a titling app, a busload of fonts, better audio tools, and real-time effects and transitions. That’s probably the most important thing; it’s annoying to apply a bunch of effects and then to have to wait a few minutes for it to render all the frames, only to find it wasn’t quite what you were looking for.

I guess it’s like the difference between a film camera and digital. Read more

What I’ve learned in my current video project

This is a selfish post. I want to record my notes of what I’ve learned on my current project so I don’t forget them, and so I can access them anywhere. Other video hobbyists might benefit.
This is almost exclusively theory, so it should be applicable to any video editing software/equipment you find. But as far as specific tips for helping Premiere… I doubt there’ll be anything directly applicable. Read more

A CD burning linkfest

Yes, another shovelware day for me, where I mostly share links and a few comments on them. Fortunately I found some good stuff.

Multiboot CDs. Did you know you can make bootable CD-ROMs hold more than one floppy image? I can think of a couple of different uses for this capability. A developer might want a boot CD containing MS-DOS 4, 5, 6, 6.1, 6.2, 6.22, 7.0, 7.1, and 8.0 as well as various versions of PC-DOS and DR-DOS for testing purposes. (And speaking of DOS, I found an outstanding repository of more than 600 DOS must-have freeware utilities this weekend. If you don’t fear the command line, get thee over there now. Even if you do fear the command line, there’s stuff over there that’ll probably interest you from the day when a utility that took 1 MB was considered large, most of which still runs under Windows and some of which still has no good Windows-based equivalent.)

Someone who does desktop support would probably love to have a CD containing an image of an NT boot floppy and a DOS boot floppy containing CD-ROM drivers, network drivers, and an NTFS driver for disaster recovery purposes. And why not include an image of the PC’s OS and a utility for restoring the image on the space left over on the CD?

Maybe all that is useless to you, you just wish you could make a boot CD that worked with a variety of SCSI and IDE drives? That’s possible too.

And what if I told you all the software you need to do this is either already on your PC, or free for the asking? Yeah, I was happy to hear that too!

The witchcraft necessary to create such beasts is over at Bart Lagerweij’s place at .

And an NT4 install CD with a timeout. And here’s some interesting stuff. The Windows 2000 CD gives you the option to boot from HD or CD when you boot off it, defaulting to HD, with a timeout. This is great for those times when you accidentally leave the CD in the drive and reboot–you won’t run Windows 2000 setup by mistake. NT4 doesn’t do that. What if you could burn an NT4 CD that does that? You can!

And if you’re tired of installing service packs manually after installing Windows 2000, you can use Windows 2000’s slipstream feature to patch a copy of the Windows 2000 CD sitting on a hard drive, then burn a Windows 2000 CD from that. End result: The time it takes to build a new Windows 2000 system from scratch decreases by a few minutes and requires less user intervention.

You can find those tricks at .

And bringing back CDs from the dead. Sometimes. And what about CDs that won’t read? Enter a freeware utility called IsoBuster, which you can find at .