Digitizing VHS Tapes and MORE

2 minute read

Digitizing VHS Tapes and MORE

I’ve spent the last month resting after a tough semester implementing distance learning as well as finishing up my masters degree. In some of my free time I have been working on personal projects here and there. For my birthday my family gave me a little bit of money to go towards digitizing old home movie tapes (VHS, Hi8, MiniDV).

To start this journey I luckily had a Elgato EyeTV Hybrid already in my possession. I spent a few weeks combing eBay and finally snagged a Philips DVD Recorder/VCR DVDR 3545V. With these two devices I’ve been able to convert all VHS tapes while simultaneously dubbing DVD backups. I’ve also utilized the EyeTV Hybrid to record a .mp4 of each MiniDV tape [and will do the same for Hi8 once I find a camcorder].

The following is a digital procedure for digitizing and DVD Dubbing tapes using my setup. If recording from another device record as usual and follow conversion steps onward.

Dubbing VHS->DVD

  • Place in VHS player and rewind.
  • On Remote: SETUP -> RECORDING
  • Set Dub to VHS -> DVD
  • Autofinalize
  • No Chapters
  • Make Compatible (Still need isobuster)
  • Put blank DVD into player
  • Goto DVD
  • On remote check REC MODE for dub type or length
  • Set eyeTV buffer to 0 MB
  • Press RECORD in eyeTV software
  • Press DIRECT DUBBING on remote to begin VHS->DVD Dub.

When Done

  • End recording on eyeTV
  • Let DVD Finalize
  • RW VHS
  • Eject DVD and label immediately

DVD File Rip(if eyeTV fails)

  • Load DVD into PC
  • Open DVD in isobuster (paid software)
  • Navigate to “Video.vob” and extract

Converting Files

  • Either, find eyeTV recording in package contents of recording
  • Or, find “Video.vob” extracted from DVD
  • Open file in Handbrake
  • Convert to .mp4 or .m4v, 480 Fast or Standard Quality is fine, HQ Surround is a pain when clipping videos for iOS

Creating Chapters

  • Load .mp4 into Subler on OS X.
  • Add chapters every 30 minute, then delete all but one
  • Add chapters at times as needed, include titles
  • Save to save chapters into .mp4

Splitting Chapters into individual files for mobile or family sharing

  • Open .mp4 saved from Subler in Handbrake
  • Queue up conversions of specific chapters one at a time, Fast 480 is fine.
  • Files will be saved as Title > Chapter Number unless settings are changed.
  • Rename files as needed

Please note I have not found a good way to automate the last step of splitting a .mp4 based on chapters. Instead I’d rather spend my time just getting everything digitized. Let me know if you find a better solution!