Home movies to digital

I have a bunch of old home movies in Hi8 and, more recently, in Digital8 (Sony) format that I would like to transfer from tape to a more permanent format. I have transferred some movies to my computer hard drive (avi), edited them with various programs (Roxio, Adobe Premiere Elements, NEODVD) and then burned them to DVD with mixed results. I have a reasonably fast computer (P4 CPU 2.66GHz, 768 meg RAM) but the editing is slow going. Converting them and burning them to disk takes several hours. Sometimes after hours of work, I end up with a coaster. I think my computer or the software is not up to the task.

I’ve also tried a standalone Lite-on DVR to record the videos, but after finalizing the disk, some were not readable in my computer DVD drive.

At this point, I just want to preserve the videos (especially the old Hi8) in a digital format in the easiest way possible so that I can edit it sometime in the future when the software/hardware improves. What is the best way to to transfer the movies to disk? Should I use +R, -R or DVD RAM? Should I record direct to disk? Which level of quality would preserve the quality of the videos? I have lots of footage and I’m getting frustrated, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

There are many factors that can contribute to bad quality dvd’s or coasters. The first thing you should do is switch to quality media. Use only Verbatim MCC code media, or Taiyo Yuden to ensure quality and compatible media. Some standalone DVD players prefer -R, and some prefer +R. Opinions vary as to which to use, but I’ve never had a problem using +R and bitsetting to -ROM. I haven’t had one fail yet. Your process can also effect the quality of your video. I recommend that you spend some time reading at www.videohelp.com especially about capture, conversion, and encoding. The bitrate you select for your encoding, how much you try to put on a dvd, and the audio type and bitrate all determine your end result. The software you are using should give you good quality results with the correct settings.