the hypothetical maximum data transmission rate of a telecommunications medium

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Dumping VHS

Posted by dlandgren on 2008-10-06

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been copying our old VHS tape collection onto DVD. The process is pretty simple since the DVD player has a built-in hard disk. It’s just a matter of firing up the copy and forgetting about it. The DVD will record a maximum duration of eight hours, otherwise if I’m around I can stop the recording earlier.

Afterwards I break out the films from a single tape into separate files and edit out the advertising, station identification segments and whatever else happened to be captured during the original recording, since many were done via timer, and one always had to allow a decent overlap to take into account the fact TV stations are never on time, at least, not in France. After everything is done I then burn the films onto DVDs. It took me a long time to realise I could use quite heavy compression and save three or four films onto one DVD will no real loss of quality. Duh.

It’s actually quite a giggle to look at TV advertising from 15 years ago. Things go out of date so quickly. I think I’ll assemble some of these out-takes on a DVD.

In the meantime, I now have a couple of linear metres of VHS cassette tapes to throw out. And I’m not even half-way through home recordings, never mind store-bought tapes (and I haven’t made up my mind yet about their fate). Laure rang up the recycling hot-line to ask how to dispose of them, and they said to throw them in the non-recycling bin.

So the tapes will be incinerated and finish up generating enough energy to run a lightbulb for three hours, I suppose. There must be a certain amount of valuable minerals on the recording coating, just not enough to yet be worth recovering. This seems wrong.


2 Responses to “Dumping VHS”

  1. alan said

    That was an interesting entry,thanks.
    One question to arise is how your DVD player functions as a DVD recorder. As one red-headed
    Australian pollie was wont to say: “Please explain”.

  2. dlandgren said

    The DVD player/recorder is hooked up to the VCR via a SCART cable. The DVD has various inputs: (antenna, up to three separate analog inputs, DV input and no doubt others).

    I choose input source that corresponds to the VCR, hit record, and then press play on the VCR. This gives the DVD recorder the time to do whatever it needs to do to initialise a new recording (this takes a second or two), and any wasted space can always be clipped out afterwards. Some of the recordings start on the first frame of the VHS tape.

    Theoretically I should be able to use a magic “Rec Sync” button on the remote control of the DVD player, which would cause the recording to start as soon as it detected the incoming signal, but of course, technology being what it is, it doesn’t work.

    I could record directly to a DVD, but instead I save it on the hard disk. Once the recording is done, I can go back and clip off the beginning and end, and cut it into however many films are recorded on it.

    We’re onto our third DVD player/recorder in as many years… but that’s a story for another day.

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