A few weeks ago I purchased Elgato Video Capture, a hardware and software package which allows computer-based digitising of video from analogue video sources such as VHS cameras and VCRs.
In 1999 I bought a VHS-C video camera, which I used on two overseas holidays and various social events.
For many years, the 18-odd VHS-C tapes I shot have been my only copies of the footage I captured long ago, and about a year ago I started thinking about transferring the footage to DVD media. I am not a fan of analogue media, and magnetic tape has a tendency to deteriorate with usage, and is sensitive to strong magnetic fields such as my amplifiers.
I looked at the Elgato Video Capture package about a year ago and took note of it, but decided it was not a priority. When I was at the Apple Store a few weeks ago to buy an iPhone case, I again looked at the package, and this time decided to buy it.
Tonight I started the process of digitising my many hours of home-made video. To my mind it made far more sense to store the video footage as digital files on a computer rather than format-shifting from VHS-C to DVD. (I am not a fan of optical media either.)
The Elgato package consists of a dongle-like hardware device with a USB cable on one side (for connection to the PC), and RCA and S-video connectors on the other end (for connection to a video camera or VCR).
It also includes a very simple-to-use, step-by-step software package (for both Mac OS X and Windows) for performing the digitisation, which, as one reviewer commented, even your mother could use. You simply connect your PC and analogue output source to the dongle, run the software, click a few buttons and away you go.
After stopping the recording, the software provides a simple, effective interface to trim any extraneous footage from the beginning and end of the recording, which saves post-production in video editing software if the footage has been shot such that it does not need any other editing.
After completing the capture, the software provides quick shortcuts to play the video, upload it to YouTube or load it into iTunes.
As I type, I am in the process of digitising my second tape. It is such a simple and elegant package which gets the job done nicely. Having reviewed the footage from my first tape, as well as another video I digitised earlier, I am happy with the result.
I have many hours of digitising ahead of me, but once I have completed this long-overdue project, I will have peace of mind, knowing that my legacy video footage has been digitised, is more accessible for viewing, and most importantly, is backed up.
That is quite a good return on my $200 investment.