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3 Ways to Digitize Your VHS Tapes

By Christian Roemer

Let’s go on an adventure. Stand up from the computer, walk to the spare bedroom that you never use, and open the door. Temporarily recoil in fear of the mess that stares you in the face. Dodge the box of old Halloween candy that just toppled from the top of the huge pile of junk that stuffs the closet from floor to ceiling.


Peer at the box in the back, lodged between the record player you don’t use anymore and the sewing machine that you probably never used. There they are--all of your old VHS home movies that sit sadly on the ground collecting dust.


Let’s digitize them!

As far as I know, there are really only three ways to digitize your VHS home movies. I’m going to tell you what they are, then give my opinion about which option is best for you.

Camera on a Stick Method

Materials Needed: Digital Camera, Tripod, VCR, TV

Anyone who bought bootleg tapes from the corner store back in the 90s will be very familiar with this method. It’s astoundingly simple, but its simplicity is directly correlated with its lack of quality. For the Camera on a Stick method, you’ll aim your digital camera at your TV, set it to record, and play all of your old VHS tapes from beginning to end. Once you’ve completed this task, you’ll load those videos onto your computer. As you can imagine, your video quality will be bad, the sound will be worse, and instead of having a box of old home movies on VHS tapes in your home, they’ll clutter up your computer instead. Needless to say, I don’t recommend this method.


High Roller Style

Materials Needed: VHS to Digital Converter, Computer, Video Editing Software

Are you a person who likes projects? Are you perpetually bored? Do you sometimes think to yourself, “Hmm, I’d really love to spend the next week and a half digitizing my old VHS home movies myself!” Do you have more money than sense? If so, High Roller Style is for you. The first thing you’ll need to do is purchase a VHS to digital converter box. They’re not cheap. Next, you’ll install the box onto your computer, make sure you have video editing software, and you’ll begin the process of digitization. Since the tapes have to play in their entirety in order to fully load on your computer, the amount of time this step takes is wholly dependant on how many tapes you need to digitize. Once the tapes have been ripped to your computer, you’ll want to splice and edit them with the video editing software of your choice so that they’re a manageable length. By the way, do you have any idea how to use Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or CyberLink PowerDirector? Me neither.




The Smart Way with Legacybox

Materials Needed: None
Gather your VHS tapes, pack them lovingly in a box, send them to Chattanooga, TN, and let Legacybox do everything for you. Done.

    Let’s compare the different methods. The Camera on a Stick Method is time consuming, results in poor quality, and you’ll likely never watch the videos ever again. High Roller Style is time consuming, results in good quality (provided you edit the videos properly), and it’s expensive. The last option, sending your videos to Legacybox, is easy, no stress, and you don’t have to edit anything. Your old VHS home movies will come back to you on a DVD and thumb drive, ready to watch right out of the box. Did I mention that it’s completely affordable?

    I know which digitization option I’m going with. If only every decision was this easy to make.

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