Saving Magic Videotapes

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 07/18/04 12:48 AM

It's great to hear about people concerned about indexing Genii for posterity and magic resources on the Internet. I wonder about my own personal magic instructional videotape library.

I have several concerns:

*How long will my videotapes last? When will they begin to not play back? I recently went back to a videotape I hadn't viewed since 1998 and found that I gleaned much different usable material from it.

*When will VCRs go off the market? DVDs have obviously taken the lead in sales, but will there come a time when I won't even be able to buy a machine that will play back my J.C. Wagner videotape?

*Can I transfer my videotapes to another media? Is it easy? What kind of machine do I need? After all, not all magic instructional videotapes are being reissued in DVD format, and some of them are quite valuable, although perhaps not as broad in their appeal as Jeff McBride's stuff.

Postby mrgoat » 07/18/04 03:12 AM

Originally posted by David Groves:

*Can I transfer my videotapes to another media? Is it easy? What kind of machine do I need?
It's very easy, once you have the right kit. You literally plug the OUT from your VCR into your PC and press 'record' on the pc and play on the VCR.

Should be able to do that with a fairly low spec PC. 1 gig CPU or something similar. Then you would need a 'capture' card. Pricing is a bit 'how long is a piece of string'. Then you would need storage. Video files that are uncompressed are huge. But a large Hard Drive is cheap nowadays.

If you want any more specific help, feel free to contact me off list.
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Postby Guest » 07/18/04 06:18 AM

With DVD recorder decks becoming more common, and not at all expensive (under $400), I would think that you could dub the tapes to DVD to save a backup copy. It is important to get a recorder compatible with your home players.

As I understand it, DVD-R is the format of choice, rather than DVD+R. Some of the cheaper recorders will only record DVD+R format. Some of the really expensive recorders will let you choose which format you want to use when you make a disc. The compatibility problem is that most consumer home DVD players and computer DVD players read DVD-R only.

All of this is theory only to me, and there might be some issues with VHS copy protection smearing the transfer. Or, you might need a piece of anciallary video gear from Radio Shack to stabilize and enhance the video for the best transfer. There was a thread on this some time back on MAGICTALK forum. As I recall, Bob K on that forum had a lot of experience doing this transfer, and I'll see if I can get his experience to share here.


Postby Bill Mullins » 07/18/04 01:26 PM

If you are considering buying a DVD recorder, look hard at one with a hard drive. This will give you the ability to time shift and edit MUCH easier than one that only records to DVDs.

I had a Panasonic DMR-E80H (which was stolen), and then a Toshiba RD-XS32. Each of them has an 80 GB hard drive, which will record 30 - 100 hours of video, depending on the quality. They both have editing features (where you can seamlessly trim commercials from off-the-air programs, or merge two programs into one).

I have used the hard drive feature much more than the DVD recording capability -- it's almost like having a Tivo, without the subscription.

THIS site has a great deal of info on the various types (computer, standalone) DVD recorders, plus forums and articles with all sorts of reviews and help.
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Postby Adrian Kuiper » 07/18/04 01:46 PM

You might also have a problem merely copying video tapes to DVD if the tape is copy protected. I'm transferring many of my tapes to DVD using the PC. I have a capture device between the VCR and the PC. Capture to hard drive, use software to "author" a DVD and burn. Takes a bit of time but the convenience is well worth it. No more fast forwarding to find the special routine. A real menu that allows access to any of the routines on the DVD.

I actually plan on transferring all of my tapes. I'm lots of time!!! <grin>

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