How To Connect a VCR to a Computer

Video cassette tapes used to be the norm in recording videos and watching home videos. However, these have been superseded by optical discs, particularly DVDs and the even newer BluRay technology. Optical discs are a much better way of storage, because they don’t rely on magnetism, unlike VCR tapes, which can be prone to magnetic fields. Also, videotapes are prone to forming molds and mildew if left in dark and humid environments.

A good way to save your videos and recordings on VCRs is by archiving them into optical media. However, you will need to connect your VCR to your computer, in order to save these in digital format, and then burn then onto DVDs for later use.

Not all computers have inputs that support VCRs, though. You will have to purchase an additional peripheral, which lets you input audio and video from analog sources like a VCR.

What you will need

  • Your computer
  • Analog TV or video tuner or capture device.
  • Your VCR
  • RCA composite cables

How to do it

  • Look for a video capture device that’s compatible with your computer. You will need to check your computer’s specifications to know if it’s powerful enough to handle video capture and processing. You will also need to check your hard drive space, if it’s big enough to process videos and store these after conversion. You can check this by right-clicking on My Computer and clicking on Properties.
  • Video capture devices are usually sold for $50 or less. You can look for popular brands like ATI. Make sure that the video capture device is compatible with your computer. Some devices only plug into a free PCI Express port on your desktop computer. However, if you are using a notebook computer, you will need a device that connects through USB.
  • Install the drivers for your video capture device and then plug it in.
  • Install your favorite video editing software. For example, you can try Adobe Premiere. However, even the built-in video editing software on your PC or Mac computer will suffice.
  • Connect your VCR to the tuner box using RCA outputs. The yellow jack is for video, and the white and red are for audio.
  • Run the software for capturing videos from your adaptor.
  • Next, turn on your VCR and insert the tape you want to backup or watch on your computer.
  • Play back the tapes that you require encoding. As you press the play button, you should already start recording on your PC.
  • Different TV tuners will require different software and different setups. Refer to your user manual on how to best capture videos from a VCR into your computer.

After you have recorded your video into a digital format on your computer, you might want to compress this into various formats that are more easily stored in other media. Once you have reduced the file size and converted these to formats like .AVI and .MPG, you can already copy the backups into optical discs like DVDs.


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