How to Digitize Old Videos
Here at Regal Computers, we receive a lot of emails asking “what is the best way to transfer and store all of my old videos?” While the process of safely extracting footage from old VHS tapes and securely storing it may seem like an overwhelming task, it doesn’t have to be. Indeed, there are many options from paid services to a do-it-yourself approach involving a video capture device. In this article we aim to look at a few of the more well-known services and compare them to one another. Then, we will provide a how-to for those still looking to go the DIY route. Read on to find out how to digitize old videos.
A Comparison of Paid Services
As mentioned above, perhaps the easiest way to accomplish the task of digitizing old videos is to pay for the service. From our research and experience, there are two main companies that offer this type of service.
YesVideo offers transfer of VHS, film reels, slides, and photo prints. This service can likely be found at your local Walmart, Costco, CVS, or Walgreens. A quick search using the online store locator returned more than a half dozen stores within 5 miles. YesVideo offers VHS transfers starting at $20 per tape with a time limit of 2 hours. Film reels are similarly priced and prints can be transferred for about $0.50 an image for the first 50 images, and $0.39 after. YesVideo asks to allow 3-4 weeks to digitize your order and even offers business services for companies with bulk orders.
While YesVideo has brick and mortar locations to which you are able to bring your videos, Legacy Box mails a box to you which you can fill with any combination of VHS, film reels, slides, or set of 25 prints. Pricing varies between $27 and $30 per item depending on how many pieces you mail. Legacy Box claims to digitize your videos in “a few weeks” but reviews online often complain of longer waits of a month or more. The convenience of not having to schlep all of your videos to a store is a plus, however, the pricing is noticeably more than YesVideo and you are limited to 40 items in the biggest offered box. Those with hundreds of videos to transfer will be limited by the size of even the biggest option.
Is There a Clear Winner?
The answer to the question of “which is better, YesVideo or Legacy Box,” will depend on your situation. If you want the convenience of doing all your sorting and boxing from the privacy of your own home and don’t mind paying a bit more and waiting a bit longer, then Legacy Box is probably your best bet. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind spending time dropping off and picking up your videos on your own, then YesVideo will offer the cheaper, faster solution.
The DIY Method
For those who don’t trust their precious videos in the hands of other people or those who are on a tight budget, the DIY method may be the best option. Before beginning, there are some prerequisite items that need to be addressed. Firstly, you’ll need to dust off that old VHS player and drag it out of storage. If you don’t have one available, you will be able to find one on Ebay or Amazon from between $50 and $100. The next item you will need is an analog converter, for around $100. Last but not least, you will need a sizable chunk of time.
After obtaining the pre-requisites, the next step of the DIY process is some initial setup. The analog converter will have to be connected to your VCR which may or may not require an adapter. Also, you may have to install some software to your PC that allows you to use your adapter. Once everything is powered and connected, you will have to rewind or fast-forward your tape to the exact spot you want to start your recording. Once there, you can adjust some capture settings, file format output, and file folder location. Once this is complete, you are finally ready to digitize. This last step involves rolling the tape on the VCR and letting it play for as long as you want the captured clip to be. Any fast-forwarding, rewinding, or pausing will be captured as well.The last step of the DIY process is editing and sharing your videos. While your analog converter may have come with some editing software, why not spend some time learning any number of better, free software available for download? If you have dozens of videos, also be sure to check and make sure you have adequate storage for your files. The last thing you want is to spend even an extra minute in what is sure to be a long DIY video digitization process.