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Thread: VHS to USB

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    VHS to USB

    Hi guys dumb question laptop running Ubuntu 18.04 got the hard drive better anyways I have a old vcr and thinking on moving my 4 vcr tapes to digital on my hard drive theres a piece a best buy that can do it but was wondering if it would work in linux possibly threw wine or something I really don't want to go back windows want to learn more and more in the linux community and I've in and out of ubuntu for 10 years


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Ubuntu Mate 16.04 Xenial Xerus

    Re: VHS to USB

    You need a video input capture device. Look up the V4L2 compatibility, then you can use any Linux software that accepts video input to capture the VCR input. You will need a VCR player and recording will take however long playback requires. I use OBS to record, but it does need a fairly capable Linux computer - at least a Core i3 or high end Celeron - somewhere above 3000 passmarks.

    Some cheap TV ATSC tuners with USB ports have 3 inputs - coax, s-vhs, and the yellow video cable. I have an old Haupauge 950Q (not sold in years) when I need to convert analog video into digital. Something like this should be about $25. Most of these output mpeg2 files, which is fine.

    For newer needs, like recording game play from a game console, people often prefer to use stand-alone capture devices. I have an HDMI capture device that was about $70 new. AGPtek is the vendor. It writes to USB2 storage directly which must have either NTFS or FAT32 file systems. No Linux file systems are supported. The resulting files are H.264/AAC/mp4 cut into 2G splits. They merge seamlessly. The h.264 is really nice either 720p or 1080i. The AAC is stereo only. There are different models depending on the type of input - 3 HiDef Component cables or 1 HDMI cable. This would not work with any VCR player that I've owned, because getting HiDef signals out of a VCR doesn't happen.

    I don't use 18.04, so whether any of these things works with that release is completely unknown to me. 16.04 works fine. Any video files generated by the capture devices will be huge. They trade file size for speed so that no frames are missed/dropped. You'll want to transcode them using something like Handbrake to drastically reduce the file size.
    For example, a TV recording at 704:480 resolution that is 85 minutes long resulted in an mpeg2 file 2.4G in size. Transcoding that into h.264 is 1.9G. With Hi-Def files, the transcoding will save about 60% off the size without any visible difference seen. If you care more about file size and have powerful playback devices - more powerful than any I have, then h.265 is usually about 40% better compressed than h.264 video. With HiDef, that makes a huge, huge, difference in file size.

    No WINE needed. For capturing video, I'd bet that WINE would have too much latency to be useful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Mystletainn Kick!

    Re: VHS to USB

    Thread moved to Multimedia Software
    I know easycap devices can do it,
    Several programs should work such as vlc or even ffmpeg.

    Edit: ^^^that in post #2 got it covered.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: VHS to USB

    put together a little howto in recent times on this
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    what I like MOST about our Ubuntu ... The Community
    Playing with Slackware too now ...


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