Digitizing VHS tapes with Elgato Video Capture

Overview

If you have digitized with us recently in Post Production, you'll know that we have made changes to our suggested digitization workflows in order to maintain compatibility with our operating system and software.

Our new Elgato Video Capture Workflow is easier than before and faster than ever. Thanks to our new Video Capture Hardware, we can also scan the entire un-cropped frame for the first time in our labs. 

Tapes digitized using this workflow will be 640x480, 29.97 fps, with stereo audio. Standard Definition is typical for VHS tapes.

Equipment

You will need to check out the following items from the DPL Annex (Ansin 810):

  • DPL1-04 (Important: Lab Stations must be reserved at least 12 hours in advance using the Patron Portal)
  • Video Capture Device_01
  • VHS Deck_01
  • RCA cables

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We advise reserving all the equipment you will need in order to guarantee that it is available upon arrival. 

Set Up

Plug the RCA cables (yellow, white, and red) into the corresponding 'Video Out' outputs on the back of the VHS player.

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Plug the other ends into the corresponding colored inputs on the Video Capture Device. Ignore the 4th input on the Capture Device.

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Plug in the power cable for the VHS deck. Outlets are available behind the monitor in the labs. 

Plug the USB end of the Video Capture Device into an open USB port.

Elgato Video Capture

On your computer, open the Elgato Video Capture application.

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Get Started

Name your recording - this will become the name of your final file.

Estimate the length of your tape. We suggest over-estimating if you are unsure.

Click Continue.

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Connect Video

Turn on the VHS player. Insert your tape. Control the playback using the buttons on the device.

Select the video input: Composite ("RCA") 

Select your Aspect Ratio - most tapes are 4:3.

You should see your tape playing the in preview. If not, double check that all cables are securely connected and plugged into the correct inputs/outputs.

Click Continue.

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Connect Audio

Check that the software is registering Audio Levels - displayed as green bars below. The computer will also play your tape's audio if you have headphones. 

If you see levels, click Continue. 

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Record

Decide whether or not the software should stop recording automatically after the estimated length you set in the beginning. This is checked on by default.

Make sure "Mute sound" is unchecked

We are now ready to start recording! Rewind your tape to the beginning using the controls on the VHS deck. Hit stop to pause until you are ready to being recording. 

When you are ready, hit "Start Recording" in the Elgato Video Capture Software then press play on the VHS deck. 

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The duration of your recording will appear on screen. 

When you are finished, hit "Stop Recording"

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Trim

The trim step is optional.

Here we have the ability to watch our digital file. We can also trim off the beginning or end of our recording if there is some extra content we don't want included in the file.

Trimming (optional) is done by dragging the blue handles below the silver "timeline" 

Click Continue

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Finish Up

Almost done!

Your file was already saved to the location shown in this window - most likely your "Movies" folder.

Click on the file name in the Elgato window to open the file location in a Finder window. 

In Finder - Copy your file to an external hard drive, online storage (Box or Google Drive), or the server for safe keeping! The lab computers are wiped every night. 

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'Quit' if you are finished or select 'Again' if you have more tapes to digitize!

Don't forget to take your tape out of the VHS deck!