Sharing memories with your loved ones is one of the most enjoyable parts of holiday get-togethers or family visits. However, while the movies themselves are always a joy, setting up the equipment to watch them, or coming to find that your tapes and film have decayed over time, is not at all enjoyable.
That’s why so many people these days converting their home movies into a digital format. If you’re considering that as well, then you’ve probably found that the information on how to do it can be complicated and even conflicting, which makes finding the best approach difficult.
So, in this article, we’ll go over some of 5 of the easiest ways to digitize your home movies. We’ll cover ways to do it yourself as well as why you should consider a video conversion service.
Use a DVD Recorder
If you want to digitize your home movie collection while still maintaining a physical copy such as a DVD, using a DVD recorder for the process is an excellent choice. DVD recorders can be connected with a tape player and can transfer the analog footage into a DVD, digitizing the movies and allowing you to view them not only on the DVD player but on your computer as well.
The only drawback of using a DVD recorder is that you’ll have a hard time finding a new model and will likely need to look for a used one, but there are still plenty of them around, so you shouldn’t have much trouble tracking one down.
Transfer the Footage to a Computer
If you’re looking to create a digital file rather than a DVD, then you might want to consider using a video-capture device that allows connecting your tape player directly into your computer and converting the movies into a digital format. This way you wouldn’t need bulky equipment and could use a relatively straightforward adapter to connect the tape player to your computer’s USB or VGA ports, and then allowing the tape to play and for it to transfer the data.
There are a wide range of adapters available, ranging in price from around $50 all the way up to a few hundred bucks. Be sure to read the reviews to ensure that it does the job correctly. Most adapters come with software that will allow you to save the files in the desired format or even burn them onto DVD afterward.
Record It on a Screen or Projector
If you don’t want to buy any equipment and are just looking for a quick and easy way to transfer the footage, you could the most basic form of video transfer, which is projecting or playing the footage on a screen or a projector and recording it with another device. Even today’s smartphones have good enough cameras to capture footage in acceptable quality, so you could be able to get by with filming the projector and saving that new footage on your computer.
However, keep in mind that while the footage might still be watchable, the quality will be very questionable. First off, VHS tapes and analog film already don’t have excellent quality and are prone to decay over the years, and when you’re filming the footage with a second camera, the quality will be reduced even more.
So, in the end, the only viable scenario for using this method if you just don’t have the time or the resources for a better approach and just need to save the tapes before they are completely ruined. To at least make the picture stable, make sure that you put your digital camera or phone on a tripod so that it doesn’t shake throughout the recording process.
Use a Film-to-Video Converter
If your home videos are stored in 8mm film, there are actually special converters that you can use that can help you preserve the quality at least to an extent. On the outside, it looks a lot like a reel-to-reel projector, but you can actually insert an SD card into this type of converter and have it transfer your footage directly into it.
However, there are a few problems with this approach as well. First off, it can be very time-consuming – to make it work, you’d have to run through your entire collection, so if you have 25 hours of home videos, you’d have to go through the whole length of the films if you want to convert them into a digital format. What’s more – these types of converters still capture video from a projector, so you must have a very even and clean surface on which to project, and might still lose some of the finer details or colors due to the process. And finally, film-to-video converters aren’t cheap and can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a thousand or even more, depending on the quality that you need, so buying it just for one digital conversion project doesn’t really make sense.
Hire a Professional Service Provider
Now, if you feel like you don’t have enough time to research the best conversion methods in your situation, or just don’t want to risk putting in the effort to produce subpar results, your best bet is to use a professional convert VHS to digital service.
Today, there are a few companies that offer these types of services, and they can take your home footage and use cutting-edge equipment to convert it into a digital format without compromising on quality and ensuring that each detail is captured just as is. After all, turning analog to digital comes down to not only having the best software and equipment but also to having the experience of solving various issues and masking the effects of deterioration in the footage quality. When you hire a service, you can just leave your collection in reliable hands and wait for them to hand you to footage in a convenient digital format, which you can then share with your family and friends.
Brandon Harris is the owner of Smooth Photo Scanning Services, one of the leading photo scanning service providers in New Jersey, providing slide scanning services, negative scanning services, conversion of CDs and VHS tapes to DVDs, and more. Prior to that, Brandon owned and operated a small bakery. Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and family.