VHS Digitization

Audio and video digitization in the IRIS Center is set-up on the George Mac, the computer furthest from the front door. Next to George are speakers, a VCR/DVD player, a video encoder, and a tape deck. We only need the VCR/DVD player and George to digitize VHS tapes.

Step 1: Equipment Setup

First, turn on the VCR/DVD player by pressing the power button (red box):

Next turn on the video encoder. Its power button is on the back (red box):

Next you’ll need to make sure the video cable is connected from the VCR/DVD player to the encoder. It is connected with a component cable, whose ends look like this:

In the VCR/DVD player, the component cables go here. The section is labeled “Line In”:

The component cables plug into the video encoder here (red box):

Now you’ll need to connect the video encoder to George if it isn’t already. The cable connects to the encoder here (red box):

The other end plugs into the back of George here (red box):

Now take the VCR you wish to digitize and put it into the VCR/DVD player. If you want to digitize the whole tape, make sure you rewind the tape to the beginning using the playback controls on the front of the player (red box):

You are now ready to start digitizing on George.

Step 2: Capture Setup

Login to George. Open the application Premiere Pro. Just create a new project and use all the default settings. Hit okay a bunch of times until you get to this screen:

Next go to

File > Capture:

If the box here is blue instead of black, then the settings are already set and you can skip ahead to step 3. Otherwise we will need to set up premiere pro to read the video playback from the encoder.

Click the Settings tab on the right. Then click the “Edit…” button (red box):

Then click the dropdown and select “HD” instead of “HDV.”

Next click options (blue box above):

Click each dropdown and select these options. Click “OK.”

Premiere Pro should now be reading the video playback from the VCR. If it isn’t working, check over the steps to this point and make sure you did everything correctly.

Step 3: Capture

If it was set up correctly, the screen should look like this:

If you hit play on the VCR/DVD player, you should get the video to display in the box:

If you hit stop, rewind, fast-forward, and pause, it will also show up on this screen.

Before you start recording, make sure you get the VHS to where you want to start. Press “Stop” on the VCR/DVD player.

Next click the record button at the bottom (red box):

Premiere Pro then takes a bit of time to actually start recording, so wait a bit until you press “Play” on the VCR/DVD player. It starts recording when this text appears (red box):

Notice how the timer is steadily increasing. It also tells you how much recording time you have left based on the storage size of the PC. It will almost certainly be enough.

Now that it’s started recording, press “Play” on the VCR/DVD player. Now let the VHS play until you’ve recorded everything you want. When that happens, press “Stop” or wait for the VHS to stop at the end of the tape. Then, press “esc” on George’s keyboard. It then takes Premiere Pro awhile to get ready to save the recording, so let the computer sit for a bit. Once it is ready, this screen should pop up:

You can then title the clip whatever you’d like, so long as it isn’t the same name as another tape recording. Then press “OK.”

A digital file then saves in:

/Users/[username]/Documents/Adobe/Premiere Pro/6.0/

If you try to close out of the capture window now, at times Premiere Pro slows down quite a bit, and may crash. You may also have to Force Quit by pressing “Command-Option-Esc” on the keyboard. Don’t worry, if Premiere Pro closes at this point your file should still be saved in that location.

Navigate there using Finder on George, and your tape has now been digitized as an .mov video file.