Help with finding hardware

rictheobscene wrote on 5/2/2008, 7:31 AM
I have Vegas 8, and all I have used it for thus far is importing video of my son from a handycam to the computer. I am by no means a power user, and I have just scratched the surface of what Vegas can do. Basically, my handycam sits out on firewire and Vegas rules the show. I guess you could say that I am a total amateur

I have been asked by the local senior citizens group to transfer some home made video tapes of some of their past events to DVD. What I am looking for is a device that will sit out on firewire, that will accept the composite video and audio signal from a VCR such that Vegas can record it in. I know that Vegas won't be able to control the VCR like it does my Handycam, and that's OK. I just want to get the video and audio from the VCR onto the PC. Therefore, I turn to the more knowledgable people in this field for some suggestions.

If it had been someone other than some senior citizens on a fixed income, I would have suggested that they locate a professional, but I feel like I should try to help them out if it is within my means to do so.

Thank you in advance for your help.


Jeff9329 wrote on 5/2/2008, 7:42 AM
There are many analog to digital converters with firewire output on the market today. You shouldn't have a problem finding one.

I use the Canopus AVDC 110. It may be a little expensive for your project @ $240USD, but it works great.

You can see it here.

Here is a description:
Canopus' ADVC110 is a one box video conversion system that makes transferring files easy. The front panel has a 4 pin FireWire port plus S-Video and composite inputs along with RCA audio in ports. The back panel has a 6 pin FireWire port, plus S-Video and composite outs plus RCA audio outs. Push the input select button to switch between analog and digital in. Then send the signal to a recording console or computer.
rmack350 wrote on 5/2/2008, 7:53 AM
WHy not feed the video directly into your camera? If you record it onto DV tape then it's recapturable later.

Rob Mack
johnmeyer wrote on 5/2/2008, 11:18 AM
I have answered this one dozens of times before. Short version:

There are two good ways to do this:

1. Many camcorders (especially older models) have analog capture built in. Many of these can "pass through" the video so that it doesn't have to be recorded on tape. In essence, these camcorders -- when used for this purpose -- are nothing more than external encoders: Plug the RCA audio and video from the VHS deck into the camcorder, plug the Firewire from the camcorder into the computer, and capture and edit, just as if it were DV, HDV, or AVCHD. Create your DVD from this edit.

2. Most people find #1 to be too time consuming when transferring dozens and dozens of VHS tapes. A faster approach that provides very good quality, although not as precise navigation on the finished DVD, is to purchase a unit that has a VHS playback unit and DVD recorder in the same box. You press "play" on the VHS deck and "record" on the DVD recorder and that's all there is to it. If you already have a VHS deck, you can purchase a standalone DVD recorder.

Option #2 is what I am now recommending to everyone who is trying to get through stacks of VHS tapes. What I have found is that everyone likes #1 better, since it gives you the ability to create great DVDs with the navigation and menus just the way you want, and potentially the picture can be better because the MPEG-2 encoding is done offline, but when the rubber hits the road, most people wimp out when they realize how much time it is going to take. I have tried to take dozens of people through this process, and without exception none of them have produced more than two or three DVDs using Option #1 because they just ran out of time.

I have transferred almost 100 tapes in the past eight years using option #1 and have done advanced restoration on all of these, but it has taken hundreds of hours to do it. Most people don't have that kind of time.

Coursedesign wrote on 5/2/2008, 11:56 AM
Drugstores charge $19 per VHS->DVD Transfer.
JohnnyRoy wrote on 5/2/2008, 12:53 PM
> There are two good ways to do this:

There is actually a third good way. ;-) Purchase an ADS Tech DVD Xpress DX2 and you can capture Direct-2-Disc. Pop a DVD in the burner, pop a tape in the player and capture to mpeg2 and burn in one shot. The nice thing about the DVD Xpress is that you can also capture direct to mpeg2 on your hard drive if you want a little more control over authoring the DVD.

The advantage of this method over option #1 is that you don't have to render to mpeg2 because it captures in that format already. The MPEG encoder is on a chip in the device so this puts no strain on your CPU. There are even controls to clean up the video a bit as you capture. I have an older model and it's great for just getting VHS tapes onto DVD's to preserve them.

johnmeyer wrote on 5/2/2008, 1:07 PM
The ADS Tech DVD Xpress DX2 looked interesting, so I downloaded the manual both for the hardware and for the Arcsoft direct to disc software.

Based on the quick read, I would NOT recommend this package. Reason? The Arcsoft software only supports a single session. Thus, if you want to start/stop your VHS tape and exclude certain portions, or if you want to put more than one tape on a disc, you are out of luck. For me, this makes this solution a non-starter.

Here's the relevant excerpt from page 23 of the manual:

"Single Session only
In speaking with Customers we found that most people just want a fast and simple way
to archive video tape to DVD. We have excluded features such as leaving a disc open
for multi-session recording (adding more video files at a later time), editing the DVD, and
other features found on full featured DVD Authoring packages. Again, the goal is to keep
the Direct to Disc capability in CapWiz very fast, simple and easy.

What is a Single Session?

Single Session mean that once you have recorded to the disc, the disc cannot be
appended or added to. You can record only one time to a disc, one home movie, one
video capture session. You can only record video to a blank disc. If there is existing video
content or some other type of file on the disc, you will not be able to capture video to
that disc. The disc must be blank. Therefore if you are using a re-writable disc with video
content on the disc, you will have the ability to playback the file (so you can see what is on
the disc) but if you want to capture to that RW disc, you will be forced to erase the video
file before capturing, or you can choose a different disc to record."

Jeff9329 wrote on 5/2/2008, 1:59 PM
Drugstores charge $19 per VHS->DVD Transfer.

This would clearly be the way to go over buying equipment you will seldom use.

If your camcorder will do the conversion and you have a good VHS player, you might try it. It's certainly very easy.