Video Home System also known as VHS

Posted by Robert Sharp on

Recently I mentioned we originally developed LifeFlix in 2012 because of old MiniDV tapes in a shoebox. I then described how we realized that just as many, if not more people, are using LifeFlix to capture old 8mm video formats like Video8, Hi8 and Digital8.

I started thinking about Video Home System, better known as VHS. It was originally developed by JVC in 1976 instantly changed Hollywood and home movies forever. The first consumer camcorder using the VHS format was released in 1983 by Panasonic and used the smaller VHS-C cassette. 

I remembered I had a Panasonic Palmcorder IQ PV-IQ305 VHS-C camcorder stored away but surprisingly never used LifeFlix to capture the old tapes. It's just not what we designed it for! But thinking about how 8mm tapes weren't what it was designed for either, I quickly ran and pulled it out of storage and dusted it off. 

I knew it was an analog only camcorder. I also know LifeFlix can only import a digital video stream. So I grabbed my old Sony DCR-PC110 DV camcorder. My goal was to run the analog video stream from the Panasonic Palmcorder through the Sony DCR-PC110 where it would get converted to digital "on the fly". I'd then output from the Sony DCR-PC110 into my Mac using LifeFlix as the capture software. 

Guess what? It worked! First I noticed the Panasonic camcorder had only a single 3.5 mm jack AV Out port. The Sony also only a single 3.5 mm jack AV In/Out port. I only had an RCA cable (the yellow, white and red plugs on each end) so I bought an adaptor which converted both ends to a single 3.5 mm male plug.  

I plugged the cable into both AV ports (on the Panasonic and Sony camcorder) and turned both devices on. FYI - make sure there is no tape in the DV camcorder as you just want the analog video to get digitized and passed through the device. You don't want to record anything.

I launched LifeFlix, clicked Import, pressed play on the Panasonic camcorder and there was 25 year old video on my computer. More precious memories rescued!

We're pretty excited to now say, LifeFlix officially supports VHS transfer. 

By the way, here's some interesting VHS trivia!

  • The first VCR to use VHS was the Victor HR-3300, and was introduced by the president of JVC (Victor Corporation of Japan) in September of 1976.

  • Not until 2003 did DVD rentals surpass VHS rentals in the United States.

  • The last known company in the world to manufacture VHS equipment was Funai of Japan which ceased production in 2016.

  • 94.5 million Americans still owned VHS format VCRs in 2005.

  • In 2015, the Yale University Library collected nearly 3,000 horror and exploitation movies on VHS tapes, distributed from 1978 to 1985, calling them "the cultural id of an era. Check it out here!


Older Post