I’ve still got about 8 VHS tapes that I either cannot get on another format, or are particular cuts or releases of film that have not been re-released. I’m sure many of you have got home movies too that you either don’t want to play for fear of wearing the tape out, or don’t have your video player rigged up to your television anymore.
This is where VHS to digital converters come in, so we’ll be taking a look at “Rescue Your Videotapes 6” from Magix. The basic premise is simple – connect your video player to your computer, press play, and record the outputted signal. It is a little bit more involved than that though as we’ll see.
First of all, the software comes in a nice box, and has almost everything you need to get started. In the box you get a DVD, a Manual, a USB video converter, a Scart Adapter with Phono and S-Video plugs on, and a USB extension lead if you need it.
Starting the Recording
To get started, firstly you’ll need to install the software which is a fairly simple process. We installed on both Windows XP and Windows 8 64 bit without any problems, although the software does needs a minimum screen resolution greater than that of most Netbooks.
Then, you plug in the USB Video Converter, and let Windows install the device driver software. When this is complete you can fire up the program and either create a new video project or open an existing one, and start connecting the cables from your VHS player to the USB converter. Then you just need to press play on the player, and wait for the image to video appear on the screen.
It’s then a case of getting the video to the right place, and hitting ‘Transfer Video To Computer’. Then you just leave the video to play until you’ve captured the video you want.
Processing with Video Easy
When you’ve captured to footage you want you can enter the Magix Video Easy program. This will let you make all sorts of adjustments to the finished article. You’ve got all the standard types of filters (black and white, sepia etc.) and you can also add titles, transitions and video effects as you see fit.
I had a quick play with the various settings (I tried the ‘old movie’ setting to give it a bit of a retro feel and to cover up some of the imperfections!) but in the end just left it as it was and clicked the ‘Finish Movie’ button. This then takes you to the rendering options where you can choose to save as a file type (WMV or MPEG-2), burn it to disc, or publish it to YouTube, Facebook or the Magix Online Album.
The program is pretty simple to use, and in most cases you’ll probably just want to leave the video as it was, but it’s nice to have the option there with the Video Easy program to be able to enhance it if required.
The End Results
The whole process can be quite lengthy – if you’re recording an hours video, you’ve got to let it record for an hour, and then wait for it to do the final render. How long this takes is entirely dependent on your computer. I ran this test on as slow a PC as I could find (an Intel Atom based laptop) just to get a low benchmark score and it was predictably slow. It took around 4 minutes to render 1 minute of actual video – but I would look upon this as a worst case scenario, it’s likely to be much quicker for you. Trying the same clip on an Intel i5 took less than a minute.
The end result was very pleasing overall. The clip was predictably pretty poor quality compared to what we’re used to now, but that said was marginally better than the original clip so the system must be doing some slight clean up. The sound was also surprisingly good, and the level of bass was especially impressive.
What to consider…
I mentioned above that the pack contains almost everything you need – the one major component you definitely need is a video player! If you don’t have one then you can still buy them new, but they are expensive so it may be best to beg or borrow one. You’ll also need a decent computer if you don’t want to spend a long time waiting for the video to save.
Why you should buy the Rescue Your Videotapes 6
The main reason to buy this software is so you can record those treasured videos permanently, and without any worry about the tapes degrading (which they will) or the tapes getting damaged (which they unfortunately often do). You also won’t have to worry about your VHS player breaking, and not being able to buy a new one. If you have videos you really don’t want to lose, then you ought to consider transferring them sooner rather than later. It may not be the quickest or most fun job you’ll ever do, but “Rescue Your Videotapes” makes it at easy as it can be, and you’ll have many more fun hours re-watching those videos when they’re all done.