Got Some VHS Tapes You Want to Digitize?

Pile of VHSs from Flickr User  makelessnoise

No, this is NOT my brother’s basement.

Digitization comes in many forms: print newspapers to pdf files, pictures to jpgs, and print books to eBooks are a few of the most common. Though, that last of those is becoming less common as publishers have come to embrace the born digital book. But one lesser known form of digitization we offer at the library is VHS to DVD.

Using a VHS player hooked up to a Mac we can allow patrons to copy their VHSs to DVDs, thus preserving little Billy’s birthday party or maybe their parents’ wedding video in all its polyester glory. Here’s how it works.

First, you log into the computer. Then you launch the Elgato Video Capture Software. Next, give the project a name. After that, pop in the VHS. Once the VHS is in, the software will verify the video and audio settings. If all is copacetic, you hit record and watch as the VHS is copied to an mp4 file. It’s that simple. There are a couple of issues, though.

The first is the copying is done in real time. So no matter if the video is 15 minutes or 150 minutes you’re going to be sitting at the computer for as long as the video is playing. The second issue is the video is being copied to the computer, not a DVD. After the mp4 file is complete, Elgato gives to a chance to edit the file. If you didn’t start recording soon enough and had to rewind the tape, this is where you can cut out that rewinding. Once that’s done, you’ll need to burn the file to a DVD. Luckily, this isn’t done in real time.

While those issues can make things a little less convenient, where else can you do this type of thing? Sure there are companies that you can pay to do it. Or you can buy the Elgato software yourself. But we allow you to do it for free. It’s a great service and one a lot of people don’t know about. Which is why I wrote this blog. If you’re looking to do come digitization yourself, stop on by the Wilmington Memorial Library and I’ll get you started.


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