Magix – Rescue Your Videotapes review

USB video capture with video editing software
Photo of Magix – Rescue Your Videotapes

Recordable DVDs have taken over as the video medium of choice for those who want to archive video content. VHS tapes are coming to the end of their natural lives, as fewer VHS players are available and even the magnetic coatings of some tapes are starting to degrade.

The idea behind Magix’s software and hardware product, Rescue Your Videotapes, is pretty self-explanatory. It’s designed to capture analogue video from a VHS tape and record it, complete with front-end menus, on DVD.

The physical set-up is surprisingly easy, as Magix provides a Scart to phono adapter, a triple-head phono lead and an in-line USB video capture device, called EasyCap. With all three connected between a VHS player and your PC, just install copies of Magix’s Movies on DVD 7 and the EasyCap driver (shame the driver installation is a separate operation).

The first stage in transferring a video is to capture it from tape. Most of the parameters can be left on their defaults, but you can select different video qualities, up to 720 x 576 at 25fps and 48kHz stereo audio, in either Magix’s native MXV format or in MPEG 2. You have to explicitly authorise an MPEG 2 codec before you start, but there’s no extra cost.

As the video’s recorded, the file is saved on your hard drive at just under 50MB per minute, and at the end the software’s editing functions come into play. You may just want to chop off the start and end of a recording if it’s a full-length film, or extract advertisement breaks if it’s a programme from a commercial TV channel. There’s an automated ad-extraction tool which works pretty well, though it may require slight trimming afterwards by hand.

There’s a reasonable range of other editing tools, for titling, transitions and special effects, though Movies on DVD 7 isn’t as comprehensive as Pinnacle Studio or Adobe Premiere. Once you’ve set up titling, including any front-end menu for the DVD, which will automatically take the scenes and chapters you’ve defined to make a professional looking secondary menu, the content can be burnt to DVD (or CD for shorter programmes, such as home videos).

The finished video will still, of course, be at its source quality. This software can’t create DVD quality output from VHS quality input, but it’s very little different from the source material and at least it’s preserved… until your DVDs start to deteriorate, anyway.

Company: Magix

Contact: 01305 642 6300

Rescue Your Videotapes does very much what it says on the box. It'll capture videotaped programmes in VHS, Hi8, in fact virtually any format that will stream and capture. It then enables you to clean them up - there's automatic noise reduction - and produce DVDs with professional-looking front ends. For the money, it's something of a killer bundle.