Daniel Lemire's blog

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Digitalizing my old VHS tapes

I started out a big project a couple of weeks ago. Using my MacBook, I decided to digitalize my stuff. I ordered from FrontierPC
(probably the best e-commerce site for techies in Canada) an ADS PYRO A/V Link Analog to DV Video Converter. Several years ago, I had bought an earlier USB-based ADS converter but it kept on crashing my PCs: the driver was poor and USB didn’t have the bandwidth. This last version is firewire-based which is much better suited for the task. You basically just have to plug it in and MacOS will recognize the video source, without any extra software. However, things are far from perfect: you can’t digitalize noisy video content since the ADS box will simply fail and skip video streams with too much noise. It is not clear either what constitutes “noise” since it failed on videos that looked nice enough to me.

However, if you have good quality VHS tapes lying around, this is a great time to digitalize them on the cheap. As an example, here is a TV interview I gave in 2001 for the TV show “C’est mathématique” (in French):

I consider that the quality is excellent, especially after all the compression Google Video does.