Most of us have old VHS home videos that have been collecting dust in the back of the closet for years. Breathing new life into these home movies is one of the most common reasons people start video editing. This article will answer basic questions about converting your VHS tapes to DVD. For example, how does it work?

To transfer a home VHS movie to a DVD, the movie must be transferred from the VHS analog tape to the computer, where it can be edited and enhanced. Once the movie is tweaked to perfection, you publish (or burn) the final version to a DVD.

Video Editing Software

To copy VHS tapes to DVD, you will need video editing software that can capture analog video, edit the video, and burn (publish) the video to a final format, such as a DVD.

You can compare video editing software features, strengths, and weaknesses on our Video Editing Homepage and in our Reviews. We definitely recommend Cyberlink PowerDirector and Corel VideoStudio, two of the best video editing software solutions available. In general, high-ranked products were strong in all three areas (capturing, editing, and burning). Top products made the many editing choices understandable and tempting to try.

But if you're not into spicing up your video with transitions, sound effects, backgrounds, voice-overs, and animations, the lower-ranked products will do a fine job of transferring from your old VHS to DVD.

Once you have all your tools in place and have learned to use them, you can archive your old videos quickly onto quality DVDs.

Video Editing Hardware You Need

Capturing and digitizing video is similar to copying VHS tapes. You plug colored wires into the video source   your video player and tape or movie camera. The other ends of the wires go to the back of your computer, into the video capture card, usb port, or firewire port.

Click here to purchase the cord to transfer VHS tapes to your computer.

We'll assume you understand how to use your camcorder and the connecting wires that come with it. Below, we'll focus on the computer hardware you need to make a successful copy from VHS to DVD.

Read the reviews and see our side-by-side comparisons of VHS to DVD converters.

Computer Memory, Speed, and Disc Space

Video editing is a power-hungry task. The more memory your computer has and the faster your CPU is, the quicker and easier the job will be. We recommend at least a 2.8GHZ CPU and at least 512MB of RAM.

Movies captured from VHS are temporarily stored on the computer hard drive during editing, hogging your hard drive space. To manage this, you will want ample disc space   at least 40 to 120GB of storage. External hard drives are inexpensive; you may consider buying a large one just for video editing.

DVD Burner

Unlike CD burners that have only one format, DVD burners and DVD discs come in two formats, DVD-R and DVD+R. Video editing software can burn to both formats, but not all DVD burners are compatible with all DVD discs. Check the specifications on both your DVD burner and your DVD discs to be sure they are compatible.

If you plan to watch your finished DVD on a DVD player connected to a television, I suggest using a DVD-R burner and discs. DVD-R is the format used by most commercial DVD manufacturers and so is most widely supported by DVD players. Click here to see our reviews of the best external DVD burners.

Video Capture Tools

Your computer must have a video capture card (or a similar device) that can capture or convert the analog video signal from the VHS tape to a digital format. Don't worry, most modern computers are more than up to the task.

Here are three choices for capturing and digitizing video: 

  • A Video Capture Card records (captures) and converts (digitizes) the video. These cards are the best choice for high-end video editing. A quality capture card gives you customizability and top quality results. If you are not comfortable opening your computer to install a video capture card, consider a simpler method such as an external capture device. Capture cards cost from $100 to $10,000.
  • An External Capture Device is a small box or cable that sits between your VHS tape player and your computer. This is the best choice for a computer beginner. Connecting data cords run to your VHS tape player, through the box, then to a USB port or FireWire port on your computer. This box allows you to capture VHS video without adding a video capture card inside your computer. These devices are easy to use and affordable   from $50 to $150 Click here to buy   but don't give you as much editing freedom or power as video capture cards offer.
  • Graphics Cards with Video Capturing Capabilities are a new commodity being produced by graphics card manufacturers. These cards incorporate video capturing capabilities so you don't need an additional video card. This is the perfect choice for those purchasing a new computer, because they're less expensive than buying a video card and a separate capture card. A single card also puts less strain on your computer.

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