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October 12, 2011

Convert Those Old Home Movies to DVDs

Readers of Olive Tree Genealogy blog might recall that I finally took the plunge and bought a device to capture old VHS tapes and burn them on to DVDs.

Well, I'm still struggling with the whole process but I am really enjoying watching bits and pieces of the home movies we took back in the 1980s! So far I've watched my youngest son's 5th birthday party where he asks "Can I open my presents now?" every few minutes, my oldest son reading a story called "Skindiver" (complete with actions) to his 5 year old brother, watched my youngest son's Kindergarten Christmas play, a very old family reunion that I'd forgotten we held, and many other snippets of family life when my boys were young.

I've laughed, I've chuckled and I've shed a few tears. The reality is that many of the family in these videos are deceased. That's life but it is sad to see them smiling and laughing and realize they are no longer with us.

But it's worth a bit of sadness to preserve the memories. So far I have managed to capture and burn almost 2 hours of tapes to DVD. Mind you I can only watch them on my computer as I wasn't able to convert them to be viewable in a DVD player but I'll figure that out eventually. For now I'm just happy to have them in digital format.

It's a very long process though so I hope my boys aren't in a rush for these. I think they'll be so pleased to watch that they won't mind the wait.

Back of old VCR
If you are thinking of taking the time to convert your old VHS tapes, here's what I had to do with my Diamond One-Touch Video Capture unit from

1. Download the software and set that up first
2. Next I hooked the cables that came with the unit to a borrowed VCR
3. Plugged the other end into my USB port
USB port plug-in
4. Open EzGrabber and fiddle with settings until you find the one that works for you. You will have to play a tape in the VCR to see what setting gives you the best quality capture.

I used  the following:

* Video: Video Format NTSC_M   Video Source Composite
* Capture Button: Capture Video
* Snapshot: jpg (although I don't plan on capturing any still photos)
* Record: DVD

These settings worked for me. They might not work for you so try different settings if you need to


Sierra said...

Does this let you copy small sections of a video? Or do you copy the whole VHS? We have dozens of tapes my husband's grandparents took. There are parts that we would like to cut out if possible. For example we only need 30 seconds of a 5 minute video looking at scenery on vacation.

Genealogy Blogger said...

hi Sierra

As the VHS tape is being recorded to computer, you can see the movie playing in real time on your monitor. So it would be easy to press STOP on the RECORD button of the Diamond One Touch, and fast forward to the next bit of the VHS movie you want to record.

Or you can record the whole thing (I am doing it in one hour blocks) and then edit your digital file before burning it to DVD

Caveat: This is all new to me, I'm not an expert in any way, but this is what I've learned so far as I use the Diamond One Touch