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Professional VHS Transfer vs DIY VHS Transfer

Now that DVDs and digital formats are available, more and more people are transferring their VHS tapes to the latest formats. The process of transferring the VHS content is not extremely difficult; however, requires someone to know what they are doing so as to not ruin the quality or completely destroy the VHS tape in the process. This is something that can be a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) project or it can be done professionally. Let’s take a look at how this is done and the pros and cons of professional transfer vs DIY transfer.

Professional VHS Transfer

The professional process of transferring VHS to DVD or digital is more intricate than the process that an individual would follow at home. Depending on whether you are mailing your tapes in or taking them in-person, the entire process could take anywhere from 3 days up to 3 weeks. The most common steps of the professional transfer process are as follows:

  • The VHS tape will be inspected and wound end to end at least once to reset tape tension on spool.
  • To capture the highest quality transfer of a VHS tape or any analogue tape a professional deck is employed and operated by experienced video technicians, manual adjustments are made to the picture and audio levels and time base correction is employed to correct and stabilise the pictures which is essential for a good transfer.
  • The analogue signal generated are then fed into a digitsing box or card that converts to a digital signal that can be recorded by computer, professional encoders are not cheap and therefore make a better job of the A to D transfer process.
  • The most popular formats for transfer of VHS tapes are DVD and Digital Files such as AVI.

DIY VHS Transfer

Some people find it too expensive to take their VHS tapes to be professionally transferred or some are tech savvy enough to handle the DIY process themselves. Before taking on this task, you will want to be sure you understand each step and make sure that you’re not at risk of losing your VHS content. This is especially important when transferring home movie VHS which can contain special memories of occasions such as weddings.

The following steps are involved in the DIY transferring process:

  • Before you get started, you will need some equipment. There are two ways to transfer. The first involves having (or purchasing) an analog-to-digital adapter, a VCR, and a computer. The second can be done using a VHS-DVD combination player that has recording capabilities and a computer.
  • Using the first method, you will want to plug the A/V cables of the adapter into the VCR and the USB end of the adapter into the computer. The adapter should come with software and this should be installed on the computer per the instructions. You will then put the VHS tape in the VCR and find the point on the tape where you would like to begin recording, open a new file and name it using the software on your computer, hit “record” on the software, and then hit “play” on the VCR. Once the video is done being captured, open it in the video player program you have on your computer. Watch it to be sure that you’ve captured everything. You will follow the instructions per the software you are using and save the video. It can then be transferred to a DVD or saved in one or various digital formats.
  • The second method of transfer, using a VHS-DVD combination that has DVD recording capabilities, is a bit easier. Put the VHS tape and a blank DVD-R or DVD-RW in the machine, hit “record” on the DVD side and “play” on the VHS side. The specifications for what type of DVD to use in the recorder should be stated in the machine’s instructions.

Once you have all of the necessary equipment set up and ready to use, the DIY transfer process generally takes the amount of time it takes to play your VHS tape, as it records in real time. When the transfer is saved as a digital file it can be edited using the video player program on your PC.

Pros and Cons

When comparing the professional service or the DIY method, there are pros and cons to both. Having someone else take care of the job is convenient, but there is a cost.

However, you need to consider the cost in any investment that you will you need to make to do the transfers yourself. Not only in equipment but in the time you will need to complete the job.

The quality that you will get with a professional service is, more than likely, going to be better that what you can achieve for yourself and you will have the guarantee that the format that is used will be compatible with your DVD player or PC/MAC.

To find out more about our VHS transfer service please get in touch or view our Video & Camcorder Transfer to DVD & Digital information page.