Digitize Your Family Movies: Part I

Do you have a box or a drawer full of videotapes that contain your family’s treasured memories like birthdays, holiday gatherings, dance recitals or your baby’s first steps? Do you want to watch those family movies again, but the tapes are too deteriorated that you’re afraid to play them to avoid destroying the whole footage? If your answer to these questions is yes, then this article would be of help to you.

Basically, you need a computer and a VCR or camcorder that is capable of playing your old videotapes. In addition to these basic equipment, you will also need a video capture hardware, editing software and a DVD-burner.

This article is just the first part of the two-part discussion regarding this topic. On this part, we will be discussing how you can convert your videotapes into a DVD format using video capture hardware.

There are three major options available for you to choose from when transferring your footage from an old videotape to the computer, namely:

a. Transferring the footage through a video card.

This method is applicable if you have a newer computer version. If you do, check the back of your computer and follow where the cord from your monitor is connected to the CPU. Check if you have multi-colored plugs – red, white and yellow – on the same area where your monitor cord is connected. If you have those multi-colored plugs you will need an RCA A/V (audio/video) cable in order to directly connect your video camera or VCA to the computer.

If your video card has a round S-Video jack you must use an S-Video cable in the yellow RCA video input so that you can achieve a superior video quality.

If your video card does not have the RCA input jacks, you may replace it with a new one or you may opt to use the other two options given below.

b.      Transferring the footage through a video capture card or device.

Replacing a video card could be expensive, but you need not worry, there is still a cheaper alternative to this. You will need to add a video capture card to your computer. To do this you will have to empty a PCI slot at the back of your computer and install the video capture card at the empty slot.

Alternatively, you may also find a video capture card that has a USB plug which you can directly plug-in to an available USB slot in your computer. This is easier than having to install a video capture card, right?

Either way, once you have one of these in place, you can use the video capture card’s software, which is usually placed in a CD, to walk you through the process in transferring your video from your camcorder or VCR to your computer.

c.       Transferring the footage through a DVD burner.

If none of the above-mentioned options are applicable to you, then this third option might be of help.

You will have to buy an external DVD burner and connect it to your computer through a USB port. Most external DVD burners have a built-in video capture technology which will allow you to capture the video, edit and burn it to a DVD. So, it’s basically an all-in-one device.

Now you already know the process in transferring your footage to your computer. In the next part of this discussion, we will be learning about the editing software that you will need to finalize the conversion of your videotape footage to DVD format.

Continued in the next post

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