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How to Convert Grainy Video to DVD

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/6/2010

Here is an easy guide for getting your grainy old VHS tapes onto DVDs.

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    VHS to DVD Transfer

    Grainy video, like all video, is a simple format that can be converted to almost any disc or digital format through common computer technology. The only thing that separates grainy video from other types of footage is that once it is placed onto a DVD the video noise will become more apparent. This is not avoidable, but it can be reduced in certain situations.

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    Video Capture Before Conversion

    Take your VHS copy and use a conversion format to move it onto a digital platform. This means that you can find a VHS deck and plug it directly into a capture card in your computer. Many people do not actually own a capture card that is plugged into their computer, and therefore it may be necessary to find an intermediary format. For this you could easily find a VHS-to-Mini DV transfer deck, and these are easily purchased or rented from a film production equipment house. Here you can transfer the grainy VHS footage onto a Mini DV tape, put that into a Mini DV camera, and then capture the footage from the camera on the computer with a simple FireWire cord. FireWire is the fastest practical way to connect the digital video camera and your computer and can be purchased independently.
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    Video Editing Program

    Capture the footage with non-linear video editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. Once the footage is captured through the standard process you can break up the clips and arrange them as you would with any post-production process. Here you can begin to use video filters to aid in polishing some of the grainy footage. You can use things like noise reduction, color correction, and other video filters and video generators to try to bring the footage up to standard for DVD.

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    Export and Compress

    Export the footage from your non-linear video editing software using a video compression program of some sort, though many non-linear editing programs will have an associated compression program. Here select an MPEG-2 codec for the video, or a different codec that is preset for DVD authoring. The MPEG-2 codec is a smaller compression option that is perfectly designed to transfer onto a digital disc format. Try to use the largest compression size possible to reduce further degradation of the video footage.

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    DVD Authoring

    Open the DVD authoring software you are going to use and put together the menus as you would want them to be. Begin importing assets, which is both your footage and anything you want to put into the menu systems. Put the footage as it is compressed onto the tracks and go through the normal process of creating an effective DVD menu. The depth of the menu and interactivity you create in the DVD authoring menu is as detailed as you need it to be, but if you are just looking to transfer the medium for your footage then you can just use some of the built in menu systems.
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    DVD Choice and Care

    Burn the DVD file to a high quality DVD disc, and if Blu-ray is available in your DVD authoring software and DVD burner then this will be a great choice. The higher the quality of the DVD disc the better the footage will look and last over long periods of time. Make sure not to write directly on the DVD as this will degrade the disc, and to store it away from strong light or temperatures.