How to Improve Video From Old VCR Tapes

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If you are like most people, you are almost ready to get rid of your old VCR, preferring a DVD or Blu-ray player. However, you may hesitate for fear of losing access to your collection of VHS tapes. Luckily, with a small investment, you can convert your collection to DVD, and improve the quality of video in the process.

Things You'll Need

  • VCR
  • Computer with DVD burner
  • Analog-to-Firewire video capture device
  • Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum

Connect VCR to Computer

  • If your computer has RCA (red, white and yellow) connections, you can connect the VCR directly to the computer. If your computer does have RCA connections, connect the VCR to the computer, skip to Section 2.

  • If your analog video capture device included a software disk, install the software.

  • Connect the analog video capture device to the computer's Firewire port. Also connect the device to an AC power source.

  • Connect the VCR to the RCA inputs on the analog capture device. The RCA inputs are red, white, and yellow, and will be marked INPUT. The red connector is for the right audio channel, the white is for the left audio channel, and the yellow is for the video.

Capture Your Video

  • Open Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum by double-clicking the program's icon. If you do not see a shortcut on your desktop, go to "Start"-->"All Programs"-->"Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum."

  • From the Project menu of Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, choose "Capture video". When prompted, select "DV". This indicates that you are capturing standard definition, as opposed to High Definition, video.

  • Insert a tape into the VCR and cue the tape.

  • To begin capturing the video, hit the "Capture Video" button within the "Video Capture" dialog. Now press the "Play" button on your VCR. You should see the images from the VHS tape appearing on your computer screen.

Refine Video Quality

  • Click on the "Video Output FX" button above the preview window, and then select "Brightness and Contrast", "Saturation Adjust", and "Color Corrector".

  • In the window that appears, drag the "Brightness" and "Contrast" sliders to increase their levels. This can add definition to the video and improve upon the faded look of old tapes.

  • If the colors appear over-saturated, decrease saturation by adjusting the slider in the "Saturation Adjust" window. Be careful not to reduce the saturation too much, or your video will become black and white.

  • If the video has a greenish or bluish tint, you can reduce the level of this hue in the "Color Correction" window. Adjust the sliders until the colors of the video look more natural.

  • Next you can edit out unwanted sections of video. To do this, select a segment on the timeline of unwanted material, then hit the "Delete" key on the keyboard.

  • If you wish to add titles or credits to the video, click the Media Generators tab. Drag a default text object onto the timeline. Next, enter your text in place of the words "Sample Text".

Burn to DVD

  • To burn your video onto DVD, you must first render the video as an MPEG-2 file. Click on the "Make Movie" button in the Toolbar. You will be guided through the rendering process for DVD by a series of prompts. Once rendering is complete, click "Yes" to send the video to DVD Architect Studio.

  • Insert a blank DVD-R or DVD+R (recordable DVD) into your DVD burner.

  • In DVD Architect Studio, click the "Make DVD" button. Once again, you will be guided through the burning process by a series of prompts.

Tips & Warnings

  • In addition to Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum, there are other programs that can be used to capture, edit, and burn your video to DVD.
  • Make sure you have plenty of hard drive space available in your computer. Digital video may require up to 13 GB of free space per hour of captured video.
  • Not all video capture devices and video editing programs are compatible with one another. Check the documentation or web site, or contact the manufacturer to inquire about compatibility before your purchase your equipment.
  • Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum does not support Mac OS.

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