THIS WEEK'S COLUMN

Digitize your movies

Roxio Easy VHS to DVD has the tools for transferring analog tapes to DVDs.

Don't procrastinate!
By Harold Glicken

 

Procrastination has its consequences, witness the dozen VHS tapes I should have digitized years ago. Now, many of them are faded. I am fearful that the films will tear before I can digitize them, and I’ll be left only with fading memories in my mind.

I remember somewhat fondly carrying a 10-pound camcorder on my shoulder and shooting hours of our life events: bringing home our first-born, his first steps and a classic watermelon competition when he was four years old. Our other children barely merited cameos until they were old enough to participate in No. 1 son’s watermelon-eating contest.

Digitizing those moments means I needed to get a device that will attach both to a VCR or other analog device and my Mac. There are several such devices. The $60 Roxio Easy VHS to DVD device for Mac and Windows suits my needs. Pinnacle makes a $60 Dazzle device, which I tried several years ago. Both work the same way.

Connect the video and audio out cables from the analog device, such as a VCR player, connect them to the transfer device, which consists of color-coded inputs on one end and a USB 2 cable on the other end. Plug the USB cable into a port on the computer, install the software, which is intuitive enough that you don’t have to read the short manual.

You then turn the VCR or other device on, click on the “record” icon on your PC, press “play” on the VCR, and you’re in business. Video footage is displayed in a window on the PC’s monitor. Scenes can be cut as they’re played. The device captures sound, too. Alas, my video cassettes have degraded to the point where the sound is great, but the images are grainy and oftentimes blurry.

The video footage can be burned to a DVD or exported to iMovie or other video-editing software, and then into an iPhone. The video-editing software is where the real editing and sound mixing are done.

 

I used Pinnacle Studio for the editing process, since I’m familiar with the program. I was able to sharpen images a bit, but sadly, unless there were closeups, movies shot at a distance still were blurry. My son’s graduation speech sounded great, but his face, shot at a distance, was not recognizable.

So, my advice is this: Even if you don’t edit the footage you import with Roxio Easy VDS to DVD, import your movies and burn them to DVDs, which the program almost does for you. You can always edit them later.

Importing from an analog device is in real time, so depending on how much space you have on your hard drive, you can run through all your tapes in as much time as you can spare, confident that you are at least saving them from the degradation that occurs as analog tapes get older.

I procrastinated writing this column, because I didn’t want to admit that I’d messed up. Spending $60 for a transfer device years ago in earlier versions and a few pennies for DVDs would have meant the difference between fading memories in my mind and fading movies.

 

 Procrastinating has its consequences, and the results aren’t pretty.

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