How to Convert VCR or VHS to Digital Files and DVDs using a Capture Card

videocaptureMillions of us have childhood memories and cherished family moments sitting dormant on a format which nowadays is almost totally redundant. Video tapes are only going to become more obsolete as time goes on, and the time to convert those videos to digital files, or move them onto a more current format such as DVD or Blu-Ray is now. Fortunately, there are multiple devices out there which can help, one of which being a capture card, often used to capture footage from games consoles, they do just as good a job on a VCR assuming you set it up correctly.

For a brief period of time, both VHS/VCR and DVD were en vogue, and in this time there was such thing as a combined VCR and DVD player/recorder. This enabled you to make DVD copies of videos with relative ease, however, the prices of these devices skyrocketed when they stopped being made, and the technology is now old and not really supported. If you or a friend happen to have one kicking around, you’re in luck, but if not, then Capture Cards are definitely your best option.

How it Works

Capture Cards or leads work by taking the output of a device (such as a VCR) and recording it onto a computer. The videos are converted as they’re captured by a ‘codec’ and this means the file size doesn’t become astronomical too quickly, meaning it is manageable for the average spec home computer or laptop. This is one of the jobs of the capture card, to turn the file into something manageable for your computer using hardware, so when it ‘arrives’ in your computer it is easy enough to store and even go on to edit.

One of the key things to consider is the output of your vhs or vcr, and the capture card you’re looking to buy, many capture cards will capture from an RCA, so if your model has a Scart output, you may want to look at either buying a scart capture card, or a scart to RCA adapter.

Recommended Model

Regular readers of our site will know that we love Elgato, and their capture product range is really exceptional, this is backed up by many consumer reviews all over the internet. The Elgato Video Capture is our recommended model for this, specifically designed to be easy capturing vhs and vcr footage straight onto your computer or mac, or even your iPad, iPhone or other device. It comes with all the software you need and can feed into your existing software such as iMovie and Windows Live Movie Maker. This captures in H.264 format which is pretty much industry standard for this type of video, and this even has adapters for scart connections in place. It captures high quality video at 640×480 and excellent, crisp, clear audio, true to your original recording. The vast majority of the reviews for this product on Amazon are currently five star, which speaks for itself in terms of the quality of this product.

Capturing and Editing

A lot of different models of capture card come with their own bespoke software allowing the capture and even editing of the footage from your video. This is usually easy to use and navigate and the process really isn’t too complicated.

All this new technology being added to your old videos can have a huge amount of benefits too, you can do a lot more with digital footage with ease, even with built in video editing software such as iMovie on a mac or windows’ movie maker. This makes things a lot more fun, you can edit multiple home movies together, cut out any boring bits you didn’t have the chance to edit back in the days of cassette tapes, and even add effects and chapters. You can make a whole DVD out of your children growing up, old beloved family pets or whatever happen to be on the videos of old.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *