Best method for transferring 8mm video tape to DVD?

I have several home movies on 8mm videotape that I need to get onto DVDs. I still have the video camera.

Has anyone here accomplished this? I have a feeling there are several methods, I’m looking for the most straightforward.

Is there a way to connect the camera to a PC? I assume there may be some software involved?


Does the camera have a FireWire port? Maybe labelled DV or 1388? Looks a bit like a mini USB port?

If your camera only has analog output, you can get a video capture device to convert the component outputs to USB. Then you can get some video software to capture the signal and create the DVDs. You can often find software and hardware together in a package.

Take them to Walgreens and have them do it.

Standalone DVD burners exist, although I’m not sure if they are made anymore. I have several, and you can plug the analog output of the camcorder directly into the DVD burner’s input and press “record.”

It may not provide the very highest quality, but it sure is simple. Just be sure to set the recorder to the best speed available. The recorders seem to have only fixed encoding rates, not variable. If your original is less than an hour, set the record to the highest quality and there will be very little loss.

Agree with filmore. Ive used the same device to transfer a bunch or VHS to DVD. Will work fine for your 8mm, as long as your camera still functions as a player.

If the cam has a digital output, direct capture to AVI and then AVI-DVD is a pretty simple process, and I believe there’s freeware that will do all of it. A cable might be needed, but that’s cheap if you buy it online.

If it’s analog-only, it really might be cheapest to have a service do it for you.

Analog output only, this linked product might be worth it.

Any software recommendations?

(BTW, Costco charges $20 per disc for this service)

ETA: Now I see the capture device that is linked to has included software

Check your local craigslist and you may find someone selling their video capture device. Also check for DVD recorders. They have DVD recorders which are like VCRs and you can use that to record the camera output directly to DVD.

Another option is to use a Digital8 camcorder. The Digital8 ones usually have a digital output through usb or firewire. Some of them can read an analog 8mm tape and output digital. If you know someone who has a Digital8 cam, you may be able to use it to do the video conversion.

One common problem when doing video capture is that the audio gets out of sync. The video/audio are encoded separately, and sometimes they can get out of sync towards the end of a long video. When you’re looking at capture devices, be sure to read the reviews to see how common that problem is.

If you do use a capture device, have the software* encode directly to mpeg2 format. That’s what is used for DVDs. Hence no additional decompress/compress cycle. (And if you can save it in the “transport stream” mpeg format: .ts, even better.)

  • And decent capture gadget attached to a PC should come with suitable software.

Considering this is a service you will find all over the Internet (iMemories, Costco, etc.), consider the cost of buying all the hardware/software, learning how to use it, and the time involved, versus the relatively low cost of sending it out to a service to have it done. Unless you have a lot of 8mm tapes, or the content is say, sexual or controversial in nature, I would recommend the service route.

How many tapes, and approximately how long (each) are they? I’ll do it for less than Costco.

AVI is uncompressed and can be archived for later conversion to newer formats. Other than for the least-demanding home user, video should never be captured to a lossy format.

MPEG-2 is also difficult to edit, especially with consumer-grade tools.

Let the DVD builder do its own conversion and compression from uncompressed master files - because then you can do it over, and over, if necessary.

This is the best advice.

I’ve been doing analog-to-digital conversions for nearly 20 years and still convert a couple hundred hours of material each year. It is not expensive to do, but it’s tricky to find the right components and software. You are better off simply paying someone else to do it for you.

FTR, I’ve tried many USB video capture devices and never found one that worked reliably, kept everything in sync, and produced high-quality analog video captures. I feel like some must to a decent job, but I’ve spent several hundreds of dollars and been disappointed every time.

I still have my Philips stand-alone DVD burner ($500 mid 90’s).
Beware - they came in two flavors then DVD-R and DVD+R.

Modern equipment doesn’t give a rat’s ass, but if yours is a +R, you may need specialized +R discs.
I have no idea if the distinction still exists - I have not cut a disc in years.

Sometimes I am in wonder that my “State of the Art” equipment is now antique and even its basics need explanation…

For the next “things which used to be common but are now known only to the Old Ones - winding a watch (and the reason why they were called “Wrist watches”) and never, ever lay one down resting on its stem”/

Basically none of this is true.

avi is a container for a variety of encodings. Almost everything you come across naturally will be compressed. You can store video uncompressed in an avi file, but it will be astonishingly large and that will make things difficult on its own regarding editing and such.

(And there is nothing special about avi format and uncompressed. A lot of video containers can store uncompressed video.)

I regularly edit mpegs all the time using free tools. I have no idea why anyone would claim that it was somehow harder to edit them than avis. This is absolutely ridiculous.

And, again, mpeg2 is the default format of DVDs. You can “do it over, and over, if necessary” so much easier starting with mpegs. In particular, there is no conversion/encoding cycle to be done each time! The speed of processing will be so much faster. If doing multiple DVD compilations is an issue, this will be an incredible time saver.

Why not have the two biggest time eaters (the capture and the encoding) go on at the same time?

I concur. Capture to MPEG-2. Also capture at 720x480, 4-5Mbps bitrate, and with AC3 audio. Most capture software I’m aware of has a DVD-quality option, which you can just use.

There is no reason to store the video uncompressed (or losslessly compressed) on your hard drive unless you plan on editing the video. And, even then, only constant edits will degrade it noticeably. You’re dealing with video that is almost certainly lower quality than the DVD can handle.

My step father did this for my wife’s mom as a Christmas gift this year. They have two or three hundred films from the 70s and he took ten as a test to someone he dug up. The whole family had a great time watching the DVD on Christmas day. In addition to the DVD the guy put them on a flash drive.

I don’t know the technical details but I wanted to pop in to say that a few came out a little dark so stuff in the background wasn’t all that visible. I don’t know if that was the film quality or the conversion process. Overall, though, it was impressive.

ftg, post #16, is absolutely right. I edit AVI and MPG files on a daily basis. I stopped saving video as AVI because it took way too much space for too little reward. All my editing now is MPG.

Still, if all you want to do is make a DVD copy of a tape, pressing a button and letting the machine do the rest sure is simple. No need to worry about formats, editing, data rates, storage, etc., so if you can get a standalone unit, it will make your life a lot simpler. You can always rip from the DVD to a computer later if you decide to take the plunge into editing.