At Clipsake, we are passionate about making, preserving & sharing memories. If your families are anything like ours, they have some VHS tapes in a hallway closet somewhere gathering dust instead of garnering embarrassed laughter as they should.
Who doesn’t want to remember their bad 80s hair-dos, their awkward crooked smiles or the moment your uncle fell in the pool during his rousing (read, lit) rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. ~Jane Howard
Further, VHS and increasingly, DVDs are obsolete “analogue” storage media and are more vulnerable to physical degradation over time. The time to act in preserving those memories is now. Even better? Get started on this project now and you will have time to make some pretty great Christmas gifts for your family!
You have 2 relatively easy options when it comes to making those VHS tapes into watchable memories. There is a 3rd - using an analog-to-digital adapter but we figure the majority of you will not have a VCR. If you do - we recommend getting instructions for this method, which will include cord & software purchase, here.
A VHS-DVD Combo Player
This is a one time purchase, either new or used and it will allow you to convert all of your VHS tapes with minimal effort. The cost of these players vary widely depending on whether you buy new or used. Our research shows you could find a new combo player for around $150 (Canadian of course ;). Do be sure to clean the VCR heads if you buy used. Peek here for the 2016 top ten reviews on these players.
- Hook up the VCR/DVD combo player to your TV and turn it on. Make sure the VCR’s heads are clean before starting the recording process.
- Insert the VHS tape into the VCR deck. Play the video and make sure the quality is good. Rewind the tape to the beginning. If you don’t want to record the entire video, this is a good time to use the fast-forward and rewind features to set the video to the place where you want it to start recording.
- Insert the blank DVD-R disc into the DVD tray. Once you insert the disc, close the tray. You can also use DVD-RW media. Both will work.
- Press record This sounds pretty straightforward, but you might have some settings or special instructions that are unique to your VCR/DVD combo. Before you press the record button, check the manual. If you don’t have one because you got this used for example, it is likely you can find one online. Typically, there’s a record button, and the machine does all the work. When it’s finished recording, test the DVD by pressing play and watching it on the TV.
Find a Service To Convert Them
There are services all over BC that will convert your VHS tapes to DVD or MP4 files. They tend to charge in two different ways. Either by length of the original VHS tapes or by hours worked to convert the files. Most companies offered a bulk order discount at around 10 tapes, so be sure to ask about bundle deals!
We found that prices per VHS hour ranged between $12.50 per hour to $30.00 per hour. A quick google search returned results with this big box store converting tapes for $19.99 this service for $24.99 per VHS tape (up to two hours). These guys charge $29.99 per hour of VHS on the mainland, and the same price for this company on Vancouver Island.
Whichever service you choose, think carefully about the style of conversion. A digital file like an MP4 will allow you to save your digital files safely on your hard drive & the cloud. Ensuring their preservation for a LONG time and giving you maximum flexibility for editing, watching and maybe even hiring a cool local company to make those rough cuts into a polished, video keepsake ;)