I am wondering what cheap ways there are for getting old footage of a old video camera (that uses tape) onto my computer?

The camera does not have FireWire or anything like that, just the video cables.

I have a DVD recorder that I use to play the footage off. I hook it up to the front then hit play on the video camera and it plays through that. So I guess it is possible maybe to have it record it in real time.

However I am not sure what kind of format it will produce.

I also have an Xbox 360 so could I somehow hook it up to that and stream it somehow to the computer?


If you record it to DVD with your DVD recorder and be sure to finalize the disc when it's done (many recorders require this step, but not all), then you should be able to take it to your computer and rip the video from the DVD with any video editing or capture software. That would be the easiest.

In order to copy it straight from the camcorder to your computer, you would have to buy one of the variety of video capture/input hardware devices that are out there that are capable of capturing using the type of cables/jacks your camcorder has installed (most likely the standard RCA red/white/yellow jacks for an older camcorder).

  • Will finalizing a disc change it's format? I have to try it but I think I can play unfinalized recorded dvds without finalizing the dvd. I however have no clue what format it is in. I have to try that later. – chobo2 Jul 28 '11 at 15:52
  • I have two DVD recorders at home. On one of them I have to finalize the disc before my computer will read it and on the other I don't have to. I don't think it's changing the format on the disc. I seem to recall someone explaining it to me once that when you finalize it formats the header/trailer records on the disc to their permanent state so that they can be read by other systems. But I have never validated whether that was true or not. – BBlake Jul 28 '11 at 17:44

I think you have two possibilities:

1) buy some video grabbing device for your computer (various types - external for usb, internal for pci slots etc.), connect it to the computer and record the video to the computer (recommended is MPEG2 format) - it will take the footage real duration to record it. Then you can use something like Avidemux (free and opensource, you can work in Copy mode, so you do not need to re-compress the video) to cut bad parts or to split the video into small parts.

Finally, you can burn this as DVD-video, but if your players support MPEG-4, then I would use it. MPEG-4 ASP (XVID), 1500 Kbps video bitrate with 128 Kbps CBR stereo MP3 sound, AVI container is approved format, which worked on many standalone DVD players with DIVX support and also on many current LCD TVs with usb input.

2) record the video using your DVD recorder, then transfer the video from DVDs to your computer and use the same technique as in 1). This approach does not need to buy any new device, but you will have a plenty of DVDs with your raw video (maybe you could use RW disc to avoid this).

I chose MPEG-4 AVI instead of MPEG-2 as output format because there is no visible quality loss but significantly smaller filesize so you can put hours of your video on one DVD disc.


Take a look at this: What do I need to be able to convert analog video (VHS, or an old camcorder) on a Mac?

The software works on both Mac an PC.


There are lots of analog video to digital converters, but none are free. Basically, your problem is that you need some hardware. You could pay a local shop to do it for you(probably a good deal if this is a one time thing, but they usually charge enough that 2 or more tapes will probably be cheaper to DIY).

I've used the XLR8 Pro View($99, PC & Mac) in the past with excellent results. It isn't perfect, but it will probably be as good quality as you'd see playing it back on a tv. Remember VHS is only 333x480 resolution at best.

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