VHS to DVD with Windows Movie Maker 7

The standard video editing software found in recent Windows operating systems is known as Windows Movie Maker. With the help of this program, you can upload videos to your computer, edit them with transitions and titles, even narrations, and make your own movie to convert to DVD.

The Windows ME operating system was the first to bring this program, and Vista and XP carried it as well. After Vista, Windows Movie Maker was removed instead of Windows Live Movie Maker, a different but newer program. However, you may not find many of the desired features in Windows Live Movie Maker that were in its predecessor. Windows Live Movie Maker seems to have been created for the sole purpose of making quick videos for uploading to YouTube and the like; however, Classic Movie Maker features many more editing and transition tools than is desired.

However, if you have Windows 7, there is hope, as Microsoft’s website will allow you to download Windows Movie Maker for free for your own use.

Using Windows 7 to convert VHS to DVD

You need to get some tools and programs for Windows 7 to have the ability to convert VHS to DVD, which are listed below. You need:

A. Windows Movie Maker. Since you won’t get this automatically from Windows 7 like you would from other operating systems, you need to download it from Microsoft. Although the Live version is newer, it is much simpler and lacks many features that you may want to use.

B. Video capture device. To get the analog data from your VHS tape to be converted to your hard drive, you need it. You can find a large number of capture devices that Windows 7 will recognize, making installation and setup a snap, so there are no worries on that front.

C. Software to burn and create DVD. In case you want to use a DVD player to play your DVDs, you need DVD authoring software to convert it to video DVD.

Step 1: connect the capture device

First, you need to connect the capture device to your computer. You shouldn’t have much trouble with this, as with the right driver and hardware, Windows should recognize the capture device. All you have to do is plug it in, update the drivers, and you’re done.

Since Windows 7 recognizes a large number of devices, we will not go over every possible device procedure out there. However, since this Windows operating system is designed to make installation extremely easy, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Step 2: put Windows Movie Maker on your computer

You have to download and install Windows Movie Maker on Windows 7, as it is not automatically included with the operating system, unlike most older versions of Windows. Once you have installed it, all of its myriad functions will be provided to you.

Step 3: start recording

Connect the VHS to your capture device and get ready to transfer the video to your Windows Movie Maker program. The main feature of Movie Maker, which is called Record Dialog, is the means by which it will convert the video to your computer.

You will appreciate many of the features found in Record Dialog. Before recording, you will have the option of telling Movie Maker that you want to record sound and video, or one of them separately. Naturally, video and audio capture will be your ideal choice if you want easy VHS to DVD editing, but if you want to play around with it, you can choose one or the other for various situations.

After this, selecting the capture device is your next step. If you have multiple capture devices on your computer, you need to select the one you want. The Switch Device button is there for this express purpose. Click on it and choose the capture device displayed from the drop-down menu you will find there.

The “Recording time limit” function can also be useful. Use this option when you want to stop recording at a specific time interval, Windows Movie Maker will stop recording once it reaches that mark, saving the file for later. You can use this option to avoid suffering the unenviable task of being a slave to your computer while the capture process is complete, in case you only want a particular clip from your VHS tape. In case you don’t set a record time, you need to stop capturing manually.

After this, video capture quality should be next on your list. Note that there is a correlation between file size and video and audio quality; Don’t worry though, because Windows Movie Maker will only record if it knows you have enough disk space. In the event that your quality setting is too high for your remaining disk space, it will give you the highest quality it can provide while still using the disk space you have. It is also possible to choose another hard drive to save it, if you want to take that option.

The High and Medium quality settings are the options you want to pay attention to. While you still get 320×240-pixel resolution with either setting, the medium setting will only capture at 15fps, while you get 30fps with the high-quality option, ensuring better capture. Your video will be much smoother on the High setting than it is on the Medium setting.

You will also get better audio quality if you choose the High setting. If you set it to High, the audio will be recorded at a higher bit rate, making it clearer.

Additional tips

Your computer will use all the resources you have while converting. Pressing the Disable Preview button will free up more space and processing power. Choosing this option will remove the preview window as it records and captures the video for you. With this, you will not be allocating resources to watch the video while it is being recorded, giving you a better quality video in the end.

Do you want to know why there are times when it is better to choose Medium Quality? Basically it leads to a smaller, more manageable video file. When you choose the high-quality setting, the video file will be twice as large, and if you have a lot of movement in these videos, that’s an ideal setting. You need to make sure you know what you want in terms of what’s in the scenes and how large you want the file to be. You can easily record fairly static motion video on Medium without a huge loss of quality, but if you have a lot of motion in the video, there will be motion blur. A car race, for example, will have a lot of movement and as you move the camera the movement becomes exacerbated, so an average capture of this will look like a slideshow.

Video quality is another important consideration. If you are converting a VHS tape, you may notice some degradation in the image as the years go by, making it difficult to see what is happening. Using Medium to capture it could improve the image in the long run as it softens the image.

Step 4: Burn

Once everything is set up and ready to go, just hit the Burn button and Windows Movie Maker will do the rest for you, capturing the video as directed. time limit settings and file names will be assigned to the video, so you will hardly be asked to do anything else until the file is captured.

Once you have your captured file, you can play with it in Windows Movie Maker, using all the features that Windows Live Movie Maker lacks in its program. Compared to the default Windows 7 video editing program, you will have a much better experience with Windows Movie Maker.

Step 5: Burn DVD

You can’t just copy and paste the video file to a DVD and expect it to play on a DVD player. Licensing issues prevent Windows from providing you with a DVD authoring program to use. You may need to purchase a separate DVD authoring package to convert your video file to DVD, which will allow you to read the DVD on your DVD player just like a regular disc, allowing you to watch the movie on your TV.

You can find a host of DVD authoring packages that allow you to create a professional-level DVD package for your video, complete with chapters, menus, and transitions; there are so many different options, you’ll have to wait until another article to go over what you could do.


Compared to Windows Live Movie Maker, you can have a lot more luck editing your videos with Windows Movie Maker. There is no reason to ignore the program, as Windows 7 fully supports it and is available for free from Microsoft’s website. After setting it up, you can use Windows Movie Maker in Windows 7 to transfer a VHS tape to your computer and create a DVD from the footage.

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