Ripping Video Tape

27 May 2008

Great Southern Land
(Click to enlarge)

This is a video tape. Great Southern Land by Icehouse, never released on DVD. What’s a collector to do? It wasn’t that hard to rip, as long as you’ve got the tools.

Firstly, a friend of mine (because his VHS deck was stereo, and mine is mono), ripped it for me by connecting the deck to his EyeTV. He then recorded in real time, producing an EyeTV file that was 720 x 576 (PAL). I then used EyeTV to rip to iPod (640 x 480, 1500kbps H.264/128kbps AAC). This gave me one long iPod file. I used QuickTime Player Pro to cut out the separate videos, tagged each with Lostify and dragged them into iTunes.

The result? Pretty crappy video on Apple TV and the computer. Looks okay on iPod. I’m not overly concerned about the quality because there’s nothing you can do about it. The good thing is that I can now enjoy this content again without endangering my tape through wear and tear.

This process took me back to the ’80s and the positively archaic video technology of the time. DVD truly is a quantum leap forward in quality and usability. Luckily, that’s the only tape I needed to rip. The only other VHS I own is the original Star Wars Special Edition widescreen set from 1997, and there’s no way I’ll ever play it again. It’s purely a collector’s item now.