How to convert old movies to digital format

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
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VHS (Video Home System) cassettes were once the standard for videos during the 1980s. However, they started to decline in the 1990s with the advent of DVD and are now obsolete. Do you have some old recorded VHS movies gathering dust that need converting to digital DVD format? If that’s the case, there are three ways you can convert antiquated analog video movies to DVD.

First, note that old movies does not mean copyrighted films. It’s illegal to copy copyrighted VHS films to DVDs. However, it’s fine to convert your own recorded VHS movies to a digital format. This is how you can convert old movies to digital format.

Take the Video to Walmart or Alternative VHS-to-DVD Conversion Service

If you have just one or two VHS videos to convert to DVD, it’s probably better to take them to a VHS-to-DVD conversion service such as those provided by Walmart. Walmart will convert a two-hour VHS video to DVD with chapter menus and music video highlights for $24.96. You can find further details at this web page.

However, there are plenty of alternatives to Walmart. Southtree convert old movies to digital format for $13 per DVD. Costco also converts a variety of video formats to disc at $19.99 for two, two-hour tapes. As you’ll still need some extra software and hardware to convert an old movie yourself, the conversion services might be a better alternative.

Convert the VHS Movie to Disc With VHS-DVD Combo Player

It might be more economical to convert lots of VHS videos (perhaps 10 or more) to disc yourself with a VHS-DVD combo player. VHS-DVD combo players play both cassette videos and DVD, and you can copy a VHS video to DVD with one of those. Combo players are also in obsolescence, so they’re getting cheaper. This page includes an example of a VHS-DVD player you could transfer a VHS tape to disc with.

Converting a VHS video to digital versatile disc is straightforward with a VHS-DVD combo player. Just insert the VHS cassette and a blank, rewritable DVD in the VHS-DVD player. Then press the record button on the DVD side and the play button for the VHS video – or the combo player might have a direct dubbing option. That’s all there is to it usually, but some VHS-DVD combo players might have more unique settings. So check the manual first before converting VHS to DVD.

Convert the old Movie With VHS to DVD Software

VHS to DVD software that comes with a digital-to-analog converter is an alternative to VHS-DVD combo players. That software enables you to convert VHS to digital format by connecting a desktop or laptop to your old VHS player with a digital-to-analog converter like the one shown directly below. The best VHS to DVD programs will include a video editor and options to burn the captured video to disc. As such, you can enhance the footage with the software by removing some content from it and adding transitions and other effects.

Diamond One-Touch Video Capture VC500 and Roxio Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus are two of the best VHS and DVD programs for Windows. Diamond One-Touch Video Capture VC500 for Windows and Mac is retailing at $36.99 on Amazon and comes with software to burn videos to DVD. Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus is currently retailing at $59.99 on the Roxio website, and with that you can burn video to disc and set up DVDs with menu navigation. This is how you can convert an old movie to digital format with one of those programs.

  • First, connect your desktop or laptop to the VHS player with the digital-to-analog converter cables that came with the software. Insert the USB end into the laptop’s or desktop’s USB slot and the red, white and yellow RCA cables to the matching colored outputs on the VCR (videocassette recorder) player.
  • If your VHS video is dusty, dust it down; and insert the cassette in the VCR player.
  • Open your recording software in Windows and press its recording option.
  • Next, play the VHS tape on the VCR player.
  • When the video finishes, stop the recording software.
  • Then stop the video on the VCR.
  • Now your old movie is a digital video! Insert a blank, rewritable DVD in your laptop’s or desktop’s disc drive, and you’ll need an external DVD drive if it doesn’t have one.
  • You can add the captured video to the disc with the software’s DVD burner tool for imported files. However, you could also use software such as Windows DVD Maker for adding the video to disc; and this Windows Report article tells you about some of the best burning programs.

So that’s how you can convert old movies to digital format for playback on DVD. When you’ve converted the videos, you can toss away those dusty VHS tapes that had piled up and watch the movies in digital format. Then you can also add the video clips to YouTube and share them on social media sites, which is another big advantage of copying them to Windows.