I am often asked about transferring VHS or another format to MP4. Since my typical transfer job for a customer is usually to convert a lot of videos to either DVD or USB, I need to carefully consider the most efficient way to do this. One approach is to use a simple interface between the VHS deck and my computer. A device like the”Video 2 PC” converter from Ion enables you to bring the tape into your computer. But you can only do one at a time. Some of the tapes, however, are six hours long. That’s too long to tie up a computer.
It’s possible to have several VCRs feeding the same computer at the same time. But this requires a multi-stream capture card. These can get pricey. Here are a few if you are interested: SlingStudio Hub $999 10 which offers simultaneous inputs at up to 1080p30. The Osprey 845 and 460 are about $2000 each and they are all good at converting videos to mp4. And keep in mind that VHS VCRs have RCA connectors.
Here’s what I do and why. I first make a DVD from the VHS. With 4 decks and 4 burners I can do 4 tapes at a time. Then I convert the DVDs to MP4 one at a time. These take from a couple minutes up to 10 minutes each. Even when there is a 6 hour tape using one VCR and one DVD burner, the other three keep working.
I use a free program called VidCoder to convert the DVD to MP4. This program is for Windows only, but it is based on Handbrake which is available for Mac as well as PC. This is much more profitable than using a computer card. I doubt that the cards are available for Mac. If the client wants both a DVD and a USB, we’re all set. Otherwise I keep the DVDs for a week, then throw them away. Converting videos to mp4 must be a capability in a video transfer business.