6 Replies Latest reply: Nov 26, 2010 2:41 PM by Noah Apodaca1
depecher Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
I can't find a straight answer to this question.

I want to convert my VHS to digital format. I have purchased the RCAtoUSB dongle. Is iLife capable of recording the actual footage, or do i need a third party program to capture the video?


iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.2), 27" i7 Quad Core. 8gb Ram. 1TB storage
  • Tom Wolsky Level 10 Level 10 (110,190 points)
    iMovie won't capture with this dongle. The only format it can accept digitized analog media is through DV, which is only accessed via FireWire. Is this the EasyCap device? I don't believe it offers Mac support.
  • depecher Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    i am just looking at any of the capture devices sold through Amazon.com. I have read several posts from people who ask about the dongle, but not the software they will use to capture the VHS movie.

    Okay...so iMovie will not capture the vuideo. Will any other program built into OSX do this for me, or will i need to use the software that comes with the device?

  • AppleMan1958 Level 7 Level 7 (27,370 points)
    I recommend the EyeTV Hybrid. It works with USB, RCA (composite video), and the Mac. It includes a dongle-like device as well as capture software for the Mac.

    As Tom mentioned, your other option is a Digital Analog Converter (DAC) such as those made by Grass Valley, which work through Firewire and converting to DV.

    I don't believe your dongle will work on the Mac.
  • Daniel Slagle Level 7 Level 7 (22,415 points)
    Any old "good" DV camera will work too. If you find an old working camera with Firewire port, RCA and/or S-Video you can use it as a pass-thru. My old Sony VX-2000 excelled at this. Especially since it read in though the S-video port which was a semi-rarity.

    Daniel C. Slagle
    Keeper of the
    "Unofficial" iMovie FAQ
    I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link
  • Ziatron Level 4 Level 4 (3,460 points)
    I want to convert my VHS to digital format. I have purchased the RCAtoUSB dongle.

    Oh Boy...

    In my experience Firewire converters give higher quality results.

    I like the ADVC300 Firewire converter.

    I've played around with countless other conversion systems, ranging in price from $79 to $399. Short verison, this is the ONLY unit to own. No dropped frames at all, even with questionable quality tapes, no jitter, great color, excellent sound quality. Zero setup with iMovie 06 and iDVD 11.

    This is a prosumer deck. The time code function is alone worth the price if you have old analog footage. Absolutely NO "Out Of Sync" audio.

    ADVC300 is for anyone who wants to do editing and is concerned about quality of color and speed, for the novice it is an incredible gizmo that will restore VHS tapes to a state close to the original fixing midtones, highlights and shadows on the fly. Not only can you simply convert analog to digital you can actually manipulate the signal going in (if you want to).

    A bit pricey bit it WORKS.


    Is iLife capable of recording the actual footage

    Yes, use iMovie

    do i need a third party program to capture the video?

    I would use iMovie 06 with iDVD 11, why?


iMovie 11/09 uses 'single field processing' meaning every other horizontal line of the video is thrown out, which reduces the sharpness of the footage. iMovie 06 uses ALL of the image to form the video.

If your primary workflow is editing DV clips and making DVDs, iMovie '06 is better suited. Your movie will arrive at iDVD in DV format, which is an ideal match for making a DVD: same resolution, same pixels aspect ratio, and original quality. If you share your movie from iMovie 11, it gets re-rendered at 640x480 or less, and then iDVD upscales it back to 720x480. The end result is obviously not as good.

iMovie 06 and iDVD 11 is a 100% "lossless" combination and my DVD's look like they came from Hollywood!
  • Noah Apodaca1 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    My rig has 5 video input options, and they all have their own quirks and specialties:

    ADS Pyro firewire DV bridge: this is an older unit that I don't think is produced any more. You might be able to find one on eBay if you're lucky. It's a real swiss army knife of consumer inputs - lots of inputs to it, and it plays nicely with iMovie as well as Final Cut.

    ADS Instant DVD for Mac: another older unit, this one has an onboard MPEG-1/2 converter, which makes it particularly appealing if I'm capturing video with no intent of editing, and I just want to author straight to DVD, or if I'm needing to output MPEG-1 to try to appease the dinosaur Windows user crowd (as MPEG-1 seems to be the only baseline of video compatibility over in their camp).

    Pinnacle Video Capture For Mac: This is another hardware encoder, but encodes MPEG-4. This is great if I'm trying to capture a video that I'm not going to need to do much editing to (the supplied tools work fairly well for trimming, but not much else), and which I'm going to deliver straight to HTML 5, or straight for iPod viewing.

    elgato EyeTV Hybrid: Using the dongle that others have mentioned, this can capture analog video as well, and the onboard editing tools in the EyeTV software are a little more robust in terms of making basic cuts and butt-edits. However, the timeline is not precise so when editing out commercials or glitches or whatnot, there's usually a little bit more (or less) than what I want. I can edit in iMovie if I export, but I'd rather not take the extra lossy trip if I don't have to.

    my old, trusty Canon DV camera: this has a firewire output as well as analog inputs and can serve as a bridge directly into iMovie and Final Cut. Worst case scenario here, I record the analog source to DV, and then run DV to the Mac. Though this is the least elegant part of my rig, it pretty much always works and pretty much always works right.

    If you can swing the financials, then definitely go with the ADVC-300, as previously mentioned. However, you can apply bargain solutions, but realize that they're usually pretty inflexible, so know what they do before you implement them. If you're good with getting what the bargain item will give, then you'll be happy.