Putting Home Videos on YouTube

8 years ago or so, I took all the old VHS home videos I could find and transferred them to DVD, thinking I was saving them and making it so they’d be much more watchable in the future. (The process at the time involved the purchase of a VHS/DVD player that was specifically made to make those transfers. It took a long time–it would literally play the VHS and record it on a DVD as it went.)

Of course, at the time, YouTube looked like this. The thought of just taking all those movies and turning them into digital files and then uploading those files to the internet didn’t even occur to me. We’d be talking about gigabytes of information. The average internet download speed then was 4mbps. Upload would have been much worse.

Of course, technology has come a long way since then, and in the intervening years, I discovered that I’ve mostly stopped watching movies on disc. I prefer streaming. (Don’t we all?) And DVDs can get scratched and stop playing. So . . .

This year I decided to take all those DVDs and put them on YouTube. (I made them unlisted, so that people with the link can see them, but they won’t show up in just anyone’s feed. I could have made them private, which would mean only I could see them, but I wanted other family members to be able to see them.)

The process itself was about as problematic as getting them off VHS. I used Handbrake, a free program for transferring movies from one format to another. (At least I didn’t have to deal with any privacy locks on the videos.) Basically, you open Handbrake and have it scan the DVD, then have it transfer it to mp4 format. Once that’s done, you upload it to YouTube. Your main limiters are internet speed and the speed of your DVD drive. I did it all in small sessions, because I didn’t have time to do it all at once.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the end result. I can watch those movies anytime, anywhere I can view YouTube. So I’d definitely recommend it to others. (Of course, the question remains as to whether or not I actually WILL watch the movies. As I posted back when I first did the VHS to DVD project, home movies often depress me . . .)

But if you’re looking to make your movies more accessible, this is a process I can give my stamp of approval to. Just make sure you have plenty of time.


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