Preserving Analog Video by Converting to Digital, with a Chromebook ?

Who knew such a thing is possible?

Oh what an intertwingled journey to figure that out.

For almost two decades, I've been trying to figure out an easy and budget-friendly way to backup/preserve years of precious family moments all on Hi8 video camera footage.

Although I tried, repeatedly by unsuccessfully, to create DVD backups with a DVD player/recorder, I had to give up on that idea.  To me, the results were not all that great, and the process was much too tedious: no joy in it at all, and the thought of in the future backing up each individual DVD depressed me silly.

I then considered the purchase of a powerful enough computer, Windows or Mac, for digitizing the video tapes.  It did not take long for me to discard that idea.  Despite my whole career thoroughly enjoying creation of business applications for Windows with Gupta Team Developer, I am a Chromebooks-only-at-home kind of fella.

After a several-years-long break from the problem of digitizing my camcorder tapes, I started looking into it again last week.  Very haphazardly, I found this very interesting YouTube video:

The Best Easy Way to Capture Analog Video (it's a little weird)

That's a really informative video, well-worth the time to watch.  My take-away from that information:

  • an inexpensive AV-to-HDMI converter does a really good job converting analog video to digital video output to HDMI
  • an HDMI video-capture device will take HDMI input and output that video to a computer
At first, knowing it is impossible to install drivers (like software of any kind) for hardware on Chromebooks, I thought this was a dead-end solution.  There are stand-alone (i.e. no computer required, save right to SD card) HDMI video-capture devices, but I find them expensive.

Then it occurred to me: an external web cam works fine via my Chromebook's USB port as-is (i.e. no software required), and an HDMI video-capture card is just feeding video to a computer's USB port, so why wouldn't that work?

I wasn't overly optimistic because every product I looked at stated a need for either Windows, or Mac, or Linux.  I decided to do some searching and found this one and only very informative video on YouTube:

After viewing that, I immediately visited and ordered the following two items which I received yesterday (related links below each image):

It works!  I tested digitization of a 5 minute video segment today after testing, last night, capture of output from an inexpensive video game console.

Because Chromebooks don't have that much storage space, I immediately ordered a large and fast SD card and will start some serious video conversion when it arrives.

Find further below image and amazon link for the SD card I ordered, and my first test of this equipment to capture a little bit of Coleco Head to Head console gaming.

I'll post about the experience of converting my Hi8 video tapes to digital after I've done a few.

Cheers !

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