How to Transfer Your VCR Tapes to DVD

The inexorable transition towards a digital environment took a while to progress from the realm of audio recording to video recording, but in November 2004 Dixons – then the UK’s largest electrical retailer – announced that it would be phasing out video cassette recorders in favour of the DVD player. They cited a dramatic fall-off in demand for VCRs since the middle of the 1990s to a level where DVDs were outselling VCRs by a ratio of 40:1. This led to a situation where there were as many people considering converting their collection of video cassettes and reels of Super-8 to DVD as those looking to digitise their record collections!

The reasons for transferring video to DVD are much the same as for transferring vinyl LPs to CD:

  • DVDs (and other optical media formats) are far more durable than tape
  • they don’t deteriorate with repeated viewings
  • they can be played on a wider range of devices than analogue tapes
  • they allow much easier access to particular portions of a video recording than does tape
  • they take up much less room to store than video cassettes

Finally, developments in hardware and software made the process both easy and inexpensive.

This tutorial will provide a detailed, step-by-step guide for transferring in a Windows XP environment. The chosen method will be to use a dedicated external converter box for capturing the analogue video and digitising it with associated software for controlling the capture process, performing any necessary video editing, and mastering the final DVD.

Strictly speaking, it is illegal to copy any material that is copyright protected, and under no circumstances should you do this for financial gain. It is, however, highly unlikely that anyone making a backup copy of a commercially-produced video cassette tape – albeit to a different media – for their personal use only, would get into trouble for so doing.

The enforcement authorities are far more concerned with commercial operations that generate huge profits from duplicating and distributing hundreds or thousands of bootleg copies of commercial video releases.

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