Converting VHS Home Movies to DVD Format

I'm in the midst of a huge undertaking for my parents. 3 years ago, my sister suggested converting our old VHS tape collection to DVD as a Christmas gift to our parents. We have quite the collection of nearly 80 tapes covering 7 decades if you include the ones of my dad as a child. Sorry for making you sound so old, Dad, I know you're not close to 70 yet!

Going through the movies opens such a floodgate of memories and deja vu moments. With such a large family, I'm always thinking "wow, my sister looks like my mom, or my niece looks like my sister, or my nephew looks so much like his mom." It's fun to watch videos of myself at Cecelia's age too!

While this has been quite trip down memory lane, it's been tedious at times. Did you see how I mentioned my sister brought this up 3 years ago? In the event that anyone reading wants to embark on such a mission themselves, I wanted to share a few do's and don't's of home movie conversion.

We started out with a converter system similar to this which basically connects a VCR to your computer with that mysterious looking cord, allows you to upload a video to your computer in order to edit, then allows you to reconvert it into a new format which may then be burned onto DVD.

Each of these steps took awhile, some up to 2 hours each! So you can imagine our frustration when we realized that the audio on our lovingly prepared DVD's were more than 2 seconds out of sync with the video. They looked like poorly dubbed, sad versions of their previous selves. We tried a multitude of fixes, but we were pretty stumped.

Finally, with our mother's birthday fast approaching (what's better than a gift you can give twice, eh?) last week I had my sister over to see if we could get it to work, again. The software refused to install on my computer so I desperately started searching for alternatives. Oh why did it take me so long to do? First we explored services which would have cost around $1,500, with a volume discount. Yikes! Then, after exploring Google for a bit more, we found a possible solution.

In under an hour, my sister was back from Best Buy with a brand new DVD recorder. It took about 15 minutes of setup before we could just press record on the DVD recorder, press play on the VCR, and let it take it's course! I completed 11 DVDs in three days (before my VCR broke down, poor machine)! I think that's more than we did in 3 years, which is a little painful to write. The VCR may be broken, but I'm currently plowing through the mini VHS tapes which need to be done through the old camcorder. We should have a pile of movies to show my mom on her birthday this weekend!

After all this work, we need to make sure we don't lose any of these videos. I've been meaning to follow the 3-2-1 back-up rule for my own media files, so I may suggest that. We're already planning to make a second set of DVD's, so we have a set for use and one for storage. Maybe we could designate an external hard drive to store digital files which would make the videos easy to copy if a sibling wants to have some of their own. That may take a bit of time, so for now I'll revel in the fact that we actually seem to have a solution to the converting.

While I'm on the topic of memories, I had an especially nostalgic moment as my daughter discovered a little dress that used to be mine... It's too big for her, and very out of style, but she loves the big twirly skirt just as much as I did. I named it the bell dress because a tiny bell lies in the petticoat to jingle while you twirl. It's all she'll wear for the last two days, much as I remember doing when I was 5. She even napped in this.

I'm so glad my mom saved it!