Archiving the Work of John Saxon

My husband is John Saxon, and we have many of his movies on commercial VHS and DVD, while others and some of the TV shows he has appeared on are recorded on a DirecTV DVR. We'd like to make DVD copies of the tapes and DVDs as well as archive the TV programs from the DVR. What would you suggest for a DVD recorder?

Gloria Saxon

For those who might not know this film and TV actor, John Saxon has had a long and illustrious career, with roles in such classics as Nightmare on Elm Street, Enter the Dragon (a scene from which is seen above), and The Last Samurai. He also guest starred on many TV series in the 1970s and '80s, including Murder, She Wrote, In the Heat of the Night, Matlock, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, and Magnum, P.I., to name a few.

Saxon's commercial VHS tapes are most likely copy-protected, but they can probably be copied from a VCR to a DVD recorder using a device called a digital video stabilizer, which I explain in response to a similar question here. His commercial DVDs are probably copy-protected as well, and a video stabilizer might do the trick between a player and the DVD recorder, but I've never tried this—DVDs might use a different type of copy protection than VHS tapes.

I know you can use a computer to copy commercial DVDs. On a modern Macintosh, you simply create a disk image of the DVD using Disk Utility, then burn a copy onto a DVD-R. This must also be possible using a Windows computer, but I don't know how to do that—perhaps some of our readers can help with this point.

TV shows on the DVR might be copy-protected as well, and I don't know if connecting a digital video stabilizer between the DVR and DVD recorder will work, or even if it's necessary. First, I would try simply connecting the video and audio outputs from the DVR to the video and audio inputs on the DVD recorder and see if that works. If not, try connecting the video stabilizer between the DVR and DVD recorder. If that doesn't work, I don't know how you can copy the DVR content to DVD.

As for which DVD recorder to get, I'd stick with the name brands—JVC, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba—though my impression is that few such devices are being made these days, so you might have to look for one on eBay. In your case, I recommend a simple, straightforward DVD recorder without a built-in TV tuner or hard disk, since you record DirecTV on that service's DVR. Also, a VHS/DVD combo unit won't do you any good, since such a device won't let you copy commercial VHS tapes.

I would get one with an S-video input, since that's the best-quality connection available on DVD recorders. And record at the highest possible quality setting, but keep in mind that the higher the quality, the less time you will have on one disc. In any event, you're going to lose some quality from one generation to the next.

If you want to be able to play the DVDs you record on any DVD player, be sure to use one of the write-once formats (DVD-R or DVD+R). Don't use any of the rewritable formats (DVD-RW, DVD+RW, or DVD-RAM), which are less compatible with most DVD players. And get a unit that can record on dual-layer (DL) blanks, which will give you twice as much recording time. This is especially important when recording long programs such as full-length movies, at the highest quality setting.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askscottwilkinson@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
uavAVTheaterGuy's picture

Gloria,

I own a Panasonic DMR-EZ28K Panasonic DVD Recorder, and I find it works very well for things like you're describing.

For the copy-written tapes, I would recommend connecting the VCR to a Receiver that has S-Video output to a monitor, and then connecting that S-Video cable into the back of the DVD recorder.

This should by-pass the copy protection on the Tapes. You could probably do the exact same thing for DVR shows. I have recently been copying from HBO on Demand the new show Game of Thrones, and I can't imagine that an On Demand show has any different Copy protection than whats on the DVR. Anything that is being sent out of my Cable box I can record on the Panasonic DVD-Recorder.

The Panasonic DMR-EZ28K model supports EVERY recordable DVD disc (DVD+/-R, +/-RW, RAM, and Dual Layer discs), has a digital tuner, has a USB port, and can take three separate video input signals (two AV, one Coax cable).

This just might be the way for you to get everything you need.

ONE BIG CAVIOT. All video recording is done in REAL TIME. If the episode or movie is 60 minutes long, it takes 60 minutes to record.

Hope that helps,

-Adam

shstrang98's picture

I have a Panasonic DVD burner and have had great experience with it and all of theirs seem to be good units. Avoid any DVD burners from Sony; they're not capable of making good DVD recorders.

Something else that might be interesting is the new Tascam stand alone blu-ray/HD/DVD recorder. It has an internal 500gb hard drive and can record on blu-ray blanks. It's far more expensive than the others mentioned here ($2200) but would certainly be worthwhile for archiving such a far reaching career.
http://tascam.com/product/bd-r2000/

studiogaming's picture

You may want to reconsider the concept of archiving the content to DVD. While multiple DVDs do accomplish the goal, gaining quick access to the content would require a detailed table of contents for reference, retrieval of the physical media, followed by insertion, startup, and potential forwarding to specific scenes. It is a plausible solution, but I think the project could benefit from a more inclusive approach that would consolidate all of the content into a single unit solution complete with detailed information, menus, search capabilities, chapter specific access to his appearances, etc. This approach can fit inside a box the size of hardback book and be used almost anywhere. Plus, it

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