Tools: Digitize Your Old Videos

If like me,  you have a pile of old personal videos on VHS, Betamax, Hi-8 etcetera, why not move them to your hard drive or a DVD instead!

There is of course many ways to do this, but what we use is our old video tape machine, Kdenlive video editing software, and a simple USB video / audio dongle.

And there’s the rub. Finding a USB capture device that will work with the Linux video driver can be a challenge. I tried several, before settling on the Easycap dongle.  While I just linked to one, it turns out there are several versions of this capture device, and not all of them have the chip set required to work happy with Linux so it does take some digging.

Keep in mind that most of the sellers of these, ship directly from China, so don’t be in a huge hurry to get it!

Instead of rehashing what is already available on the topic, I’m going to send you off to the LinuxTV.org site on how to find the unit with the chip set you need.

I got lucky, because they are so inexpensive on Amazon, I went ahead and purchased a couple of these units, each from a different vendor. Of the two, one of them had the required Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd chip set.

Carefully read the above LinuxTV site for more information on choosing your capture device.

To see the specifications on your dongle once you have it in hand, and plugged into your computer, simply type the following in a Terminal window:

~ $ lsusb

Linux will then report the devices plugged into your USB ports, including your new USB video capture dongle, like this:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 046d:c534 Logitech, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 05e3:0606 Genesys Logic, Inc. USB 2.0 Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID Syntek Semiconductor Co., Ltd STK1160 Video Capture Device

Of course, once it’s all up and running, it’s a pretty simple matter to let Kdenlive do the capture, and then edit your personal video the way you wish, finally, encoding it as an mp4 video or for burning to a DVD.