How do I transfer programs or episodes from video tape to my computer?

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Transferring Video at SCM

Seattle Community Media has many edit stations that allow for the capture of video.  All of the edit stations allow for video capture. 

Our main edit platform is Final Cut Pro, a Mac based, edit program.  We recently added to PC-based edit stations, one of which is already connected to a VHS deck.  One PC-based edit station has Adobe Premiere Elements 10 loaded onto it.  The other PC-based edit station has Sony Movie Studio HD (Sony Vegas) loaded onto it.  Both of these programs are similar to Final Cut Pro, one of the video industry standards.  All members are welcome to come in and use the SCM edit stations to capture your footage. 

Transferring Video Away from SCM

If you are interested in editing on your home computer, or other non-SCM computer, there are dozens of software programs available to help you capture these programs on a computer.  If you are going to invest in software, know that there are generally "light" versions of most "pro" editing software that will be a little (or a lot) easier on the pocketbook.  Also know that some programs will work on Mac only or PC only, while some work with both platforms.  

Mac or PC

Final Cut Pro can be is a fairly pricey, if you are working on a Mac.  iMovie is a very capable program though, and most Macs should have that already loaded. 

If you are editing on PC, you may have Windows Move Maker on your computer already.  If not, it is available for free and may be an option for you in capturing video from your VHS tapes.  Both Premiere and Vegas, mentioned above, come in Pro versions, which are more expensive, and "light" versions are relatively inexpensive.  You can test drive these options at SCM first, if you'd like to get a feel for how they are set up and work. 

These represent just a small number of the dozens of software programs available.  Either search online or see what your local tech store might carry to see what options are available.  And remember that a great source of inexpensive capture and edit software are stores like Half Price Books.  In the past some of our staff have had great success locating popular edit software for under $10.

Free Programs

There are also a number of other potential software solutions for use on your own computer.   Many are free.  Although we have not tested all the programs listed below, they are a representation of what is available. 

A search of the web turns up many free video capturing software solutions, among them are Debut Video Capturing Software, NCH Golden Videos converter, WinAVI Video Capture, Free DVD Ripper and many more. is a great resource for software and offers a list of free video capture software, which includes AVS Video Recorder. is a website dedicated to free or inexpensive software.  Placing the words “video capture” in their search engine provides many free options for video capture, among them is the program “Univision Video Capture.”

Capture Device

If you do not have a higher end video card on your computer, you may need a capture device between your tape deck and your computer to allow you to record your video. 

If your camera is your tape deck and it can connect to your computer, the camera is your capture device.  If you are transferring VHS tapes and that camera has audio and video inputs, the camera can act as a capture device.  

If you don’t have a camera that can act as the intermediary, you’ll need a USB Video Capture device.  They generally run between $17 and $50 (or more). 

Let Us Know

If you need help figuring out what you need to do, let us know.  If you've had success with any of these suggestions, let us know.  If you discovered something better, let us know.  If you've discovered one of these suggestions isn't as described and we should not suggest it, let us know.