From VHS to DVD & YouTube

One of the reasons I bought my Sony VAIO with Windows XP Media Center 2004 was to capture video off of old VHS tapes for transfer to DVD and storage in Internet friendly file formats. Though I’d dabbled enough to capture a little video from a tape, I didn’t pursue any further.

That is, not until a couple of weeks ago when the Austin City Council honored those who stopped the Charles Whitman shooting rampage at U.T. August 1, 1966. One of the honorees was the great-grandfather of my grand-daughter. I taped the proclamation ceremony off of the city cable channel and used Sony’s “Click to DVD” application to make discs.

The intermediate storage seemed like reasonably standard MPEG (.mpg) files. Click to DVD doesn’t allow editing the files proper, but does allow for logically deleting video segments before the disc(s) are created.

After capturing another tape this weekend, I wanted to upload the segments to YouTube, but needed to edit them first.

I naively assumed the mpg files could be processed with Windows Movie Maker and/or iMovie, but both of those claimed the mpg files were in invalid format. (Not too invalid, since the DVDs were fine.)

After a little searching, it seemed worth trying AVS Video Converter. That handled conversion from the particular mpg format to AVI files that Windows Movie Maker would edit and to MOV files that iMovie would edit. AVS Video Converter worked well enough in the trial version that I paid for a copy. It seems pretty flexible and capable. I have run into a couple of limitations. It doesn’t get the color right in converting an old RM (Real Media) file, and it won’t handle (the now obscure) Vivo format file that I created in 1996.

Both Windows Movie Maker and iMovie would do what I wanted to do, but, given all of the praise iMovie receives, I was suprised that Movie Maker seemed much more efficient. If nothing else, iMovie took hundreds of seconds for import/export tasks that Movie Maker handled in tens of seconds.

It took me hours to figure this all out and get Texas Reach Out on KNVA 54 August 19, 2007 posted on YouTube. Now that I know the ropes, things seem pretty easy. The only problem with the Charles Whitman segment was that it was five minutes longer than the YouTube 10 minute boundary, so I had to split it in two. The resulting posts are at Honoring those who stopped Charles Whitman pt. 1 and Honoring those who stopped Charles Whitman pt. 2.

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