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7 minute read
24 May 2023

Convert your VHS tape to digital – file, DVD, or Blu-ray

Automatic subtitles

The wedding ceremony of a 60-year-old marriage. The recording of the birth process of a now-grown son. The naming ceremony of a dear son. The graduation ceremony of one’s dad. The list is endless. What list? This is a list of memories that one might decide to keep individually or as a family for generations to come. Alternatively, it might be the perfect gift from a doting child to his parents on the celebration of their wedding anniversary. It is important to keep the memory alive, either as a gift for a loved one or a personal collection.

However, most of these videos are old, and most likely, they are only available in videotape recordings known as VHS. This poses a longevity problem because, after some years, these recordings are lost in mold infection or complete decay. If you still have some stored in good condition and want to preserve the memories for generations to come, what you need is a VHS to digital converter or a capture card. Using a VHS to digital converter or capture card helps you digitize the recordings and safely keep them on different storage platforms. There are two available methods available to anyone that wants to convert their VHS to a digital file.

How to use a VHS to Digital Converter

VHS to digital converter

The process of using a VHS to digital converter is a simple one that doesn’t require much expertise. Though the steps involved are straightforward, the whole operation takes time and might require hours depending on the length of the video. However, time is just a small price to pay for saving the memories from eternal extinction.

For digitization, you need a VCR. It might be challenging to get a new one, but if you can get a second-hand VCR in good shape, then it is all fine. Alternatively, if you remember keeping a VCR in the attic, it might be time to get the brush and do some digging. If the VCR is still in shape, then you are in luck.

Next, you need a VHS digital converter. It is a simple device that you can get online at a tech store. There are some VHS to digital converters available for sale. Your budget and the importance of this project would determine the VHS to digital converter of your choice. This converter should have a converter cord as part of the package.

The cord is RCA phono output and S-Video with a USB connector at the other end. Some VCRs have the S-Video output face; you should use this for video output. It is better than the yellow composite jack at video output quality. If your VCR does not have the S-Video output and you don’t care for top quality, you can go ahead with the digitization.

A laptop or desktop computer is only optional here. Some VHS to digital converters have built-in screens. This means that you can complete the whole process without a computer. What you need in this case is a flash drive where the digitized recordings are saved and stored. Once you have everything, you are ready to go. Now we go through the steps involved.

What you need:

  • A working VCR.
  • The VHS(s) in working condition.
  • A VHS to Digital Converter.
  • A laptop or desktop (depending on the type of converter)

Steps involved:

  1. Clean your VCR lens: It is advisable to clean the VCR with a cleaner to make sure the lens is working optimally.
  2. Next, test your VHS and your VCR by playing the video. Make sure the play is smooth and without issues.
  3. If you are using a converter that requires computer software, install the software and open it. The software installation is always easy.
  4. Rewind the VHS and press play, press record on your converter. If you are using a computer-linked converter, press record on the menu of the software.
  5. The recording occurs in real-time, so you might want to do other things while the process is going on. However, you should stay during the process to inspect for issues or glitches.
  6. Once the recording is done, you can save it in the most common format, which is MP4. You can also upload directly to your movie folder or YouTube depending on the type of VHS to digital converter used.
  7. As an option, you can decide to trim some parts of the video and edit it as you wish.

What is the best VHS to digital converter?

When looking to buy a converter, most people would like to buy the best type for their operations. While there are a lot of options out there, few have stood out based on customer’s reviews and recommendations.

Based on the types, we have two different categories. Those that require a computer for digitization and those that do not.

For converters that do not require a computer:

  • ClearView VHS to Digital Converter

For converters that need a computer for software installation:

  • Elgato VHS to Digital Converter
  • DigitNow VHS to Digital Converter

These are the top converters, according to research and reviews. There are many other options available for personal use. If you don’t have a large budget, you can still get other cheap options that fall within your preferred budget.

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Capture Card

Capture card

The use of a capture card is another method that is available to you. Capture card allows your computer to work as a VHS converter. The process of using a capture card is almost the same as using the VHS to Digital Converter. However, some steps are involved in using a capture card that is not exactly needed when using the converter.

What you need

  • Capture card with accompanying cord and software.
  • A suitable computer. Note that capture cards have minimum requirements for installation. Not to worry, your laptop would most likely meet those requirements.
  • A working VCR and the VHS.

Steps involved

  1. Set up the capture card by connecting it to the computer.
  2. Install the accompanying software. The software installation is usually straightforward. The software is usually available as CD-ROMs. If your computer does not have a CD drive, you can always check the manufacturer’s website to download the software on your computer.
  3. Insert the VHS and configure your software before recording starts. The process should be automatic. If it isn’t, check below for instructions on how to do this.
  4. After configuration, press play on the VCR and press “Record” on your computer.
  5. Do not fast-forward the video as the recording is done in real-time.
  6. After the recording is complete, save the files using the preferred format. That is it! You are good to go.

Configuration instructions

  1. Open a new project on the installed software.
  2. Set the canvas size. For personal use, the canvas size should be 320 x 240. This will give you a better picture output.
  3. Next, turn on interlacing. Interlacing emulates how tapes are displayed on the TV. You might have to repeat this process at the start of each conversion.
  4. Refresh Rate. The refresh rate option is NTSC or PAL. If you are in North America, set the rate to 60Hz (NTSC). If you are outside North America, set the rate to 50Hz (PAL).
  5. After doing this, your software is ready for recording. You can refer to the steps above to continue.


Here are some tips that can help you go through the process without or with minimal issues.

Dust up your VHS

  • The VHS would mostly be more than a decade old. It is important to dust it up before inserting it into the VCR. A simple brush could do the trick.

Check the tape for crunch

  • Check the tape by opening the cover on it. Press the button on the side to reveal the black tape. Turn one of the sprockets (the two grind-like circles) with your hand to reveal the inner part of the tape. If there is any part that is crunchy or bent, straighten it out.

Add subtitles to your videos

Now that you have your video digitized, there is just one step to complete the project. You can add subtitles to the videos. The videos are probably more than a decade old, and you are wondering how it is possible to add subtitle files to the video.

Well, here comes the good part. With a trusted digital platform and online software, you can do this without stress. There are other options like manually writing the subtitles, but that would be stressful, especially if the video lasts for hours.


To get the best subtitle for your old video, you should use the Amberscript AI speech engine to generate automatic subtitles for your video. Amberscript offers services that include automatic subtitles. We also help to transcribe your video and audio to text, if that is what you need. Unlike the digitization process that is as long as the video, generating subtitles is as fast as it gets. The whole process takes minutes.

Visit Amberscript and upload your video.

The speech recognition engine starts to transcribe your video. This process takes just a few minutes. The online text generator provides the first draft. You can download this draft if it is to your satisfaction. The online text editor option allows you to edit the text. Editing includes grammatical structures, punctuations, highlighting, and many more.

You can download the file by exporting it in the format you want. For subtitles, the format would be SRT file format.

Add your download subtitle to your video, and you are set. Alternatively, some formats allow you to burn the subtitle directly into the video. That way, it would be a single file. The formats include SRT, EBU-STL, and VTT.

Try Amberscript’s solution

Amberscript is fast and saves time. Our AI-based engines give the best accuracy in speech-to-text conversion. You do not have to worry about the security of your uploaded video; the whole process is through a secured network.

Digitization is needed for the obvious reason of preserving old tapes and the memories they bring. This process is straightforward with the right steps and tools. A VHS to Digital Converter is one of the pieces of equipment needed for this operation. With that and the use of Amberscript to generate the automatic subtitles, you have everything necessary to enjoy a wonderful experience. You will be glad to have digitized your video.

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